Monday, December 04, 2006

Week 6/7 - Part I.

my goodness. i don't even know where to begin this time, guys.
i'm going to have to do multiple emails to get everyone up to date, because i had about 20 pages of notes and journal entries for the nine days i was gone. i'm going to do my derndest here, though.

so. thursday, june 22nd:
i finished finals and felt pretty good about how my classes ended. i went out for dinner afterwards with my friend graycen, the precocious photographer from arkansas. we spent the rest of the evening with her friends from arkansas, and it was the most perfect, comfortable environment i had been in since arriving in italy.

friday, june 23rd:
i joined graycen, her friend drew, and his parents for lunch, and then boarded the train to begin my vacation within a vacation. simone picked me up in asti, and we went out for apertivo, pizza, and then met up with his best friend for gelato. in case there was any question--arugola on pizza is delicious. it was an interesting night to be in asti--the polls were open on sunday and monday to vote on an amendment that would allow berlusconi's cronies more power--i think. in any event, the piazza was flooded with politicians, and there was an open forum we watched for a while. i believe the amendment was voted down--according to most people i've talked to, this is a good thing, because berlusconi (former right-wing italian prime minister, proprietor of most italian media outlets--hmm.) is pretty slimy. corruption is even more rampant in italian politics than at home, largely due to the fact that politicians are immune to the legal system here. there's also a pretty prominent liberal population here, though. my photo professor last term said that the first anarchists were actually from a small town near the cinque terre, but their ideas were based much more on the idea of mutual aid and harmony than the nihilism and chaos that is so frequently associated with the philosophy today. again, hmm.

in any event, it turns out that simone's house is not in asti proper, but near the outskirts of costigliole, a tiny village formed around a 13th century castle, about 15 minutes away from asti. the house itself was on the top of a hill that overlooked vineyards on one side, and had a steep drop down to a valley that belonged to a different municipality on the other. it was the first time i've been inside a real house since arriving in italy.

i spent the next day mostly relaxing. simone went to pick up my travel-mates from the airport, but their train was several hours behind, so i was left in the house with his 78 year-old mother. there were a few moments of awkwardness because i was not feeling very confident with my speaking skills, but we managed to keep up a pleasant banter. she adhered to the stereotype of the italian mother in every way, and refused to let me help in the kitchen. the girls finally arrived, and we went back into asti, where simone played tour guide and gracious host, feeding us and educating us in one fell swoop. after we got back to the house, megan and i decided to go for a walk. it was so refreshing to actually be able to see the stars again. we pointed out the constellations we knew to eachother, and traipsed through the muddy vineyards to hide from approaching cars. i've been doing a lot more walking here, just for fun. i find it very relaxing, though it now takes a lot for me to feel like i'm actually getting exercise.
after we had been up and down the road a few times, we settled down on the patio out back and just talked for a while. i really, really liked megan. it's rare that i meet someone i have so much in common with, so when it happens, my heart just swells. i also enjoyed the company of the other two girls, jen and becky, but megan and i just clicked. we have many plans for adventures upon my return to the states, and i feel so thankful to have been able to share these experiences with such a cool lady.

sunday, june 25:
we all had intentions of getting up earlier to get on the road for milan, but megan and i had been up talking until 5:30 in the morning, and simone likes to sleep in, so things were a bit slow-going. when we finally did set off, i was allowed DJ priviledges for the ride up. we all had a sing-a-long to david bowie and joy division and the cure and depeche mode, and, yes, simone sang, too, and dubbed me an honorary gay man!
i probably could have gone without seeing milan. the duomo was impressive, of course...very different from anything in florence, but the rest of the town was pretty much shopping, which isn't a big priority for me.

the school is closing, so i must end this a bit abrubtly.

all apologies,
grace a. woodard


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