Tuesday, January 20, 2009
1:00AM January 17
When I awoke this chilly morning, I found that all of the heat was off. It made for great sleeping weather, but was quite a shock when the shower would not reach above 50 degrees. I braved the frigid water just long enough to wash up and then realized that the towels were no longer heated as well. We’d been told the day before that if your heat went out on a Friday, you probably wouldn’t get it back till Tuesday, and we all braced for what looked to be a long weekend.
As the orientation seminars were optional today, my roommates and I decided not to show up until lunch. We had rigatoni in a marinara sauce with mushrooms. I still have a hard time believing this is school food. After lunch we found that the internet was working, and each of us scrambled to look at the email that had built up over four days. By the time we were finished, a huge line had built up outside to sign up for the day trips to Lucca next weekend. As I approached the other jazz studies students I knew in line, they informed me that I had won the raffle for 30 Euros at the bookstore. As I was not around to claim it, they had called another name and given it to someone else.
As we waited in line, the time approached 3:00, when we—all but one of my suitemates is majoring in music—had to meet with the head of the music department, Antonio Vanni. With some twenty people still in front of us, we left the line to sign up for the trip to Lucca, knowing we’d have an opportunity to do it after the meeting. Antonio only spoke to us for about three minutes though, going into no detail about the program, but insisting we would have a great time. He informed us he was a curator at the Uffizi Gallery as well, and we were soon aboard a bus that would take us to view some of the greatest art of the medieval and renaissance periods in order to inspire our musical palettes.
A half-hour later we were looking at the famous sculptures which line the gallery. Antonio had a great knowledge of the works at the museum at took us on a personal tour, giving us background on many of the important pieces we saw; among them were Boticelli’s famous Birth of Venus and Primavera which I’d viewed countless times before in the classroom of my 10th grade English teacher. Now seeing them in person made it all the more clear why she had hung these paintings.
Adam and I journeyed back to the apartment with Sean, our suitemate who plays bassoon. Being stubborn, and trying not to stick out as tourists, we did not look at the map and soon got lost. It was when we passed Santa Croce and headed down Via de Malcontenti that we knew something had to be wrong, so we studied the map to put us back in the right direction. When we got back, we found that the heat had returned, and John speculated that it must have been turned off during the construction in the lobby to our apartment.
Tonight all of my suitemates and I went out for pizza. It was the first time we’d all dined together, and we toasted to a good semester in this wonderful town. As expected, the pizza was better than nearly any found in America, but it was not quite as good as that which I had had at Tacconelli’s the week prior back in Philadelphia. It seems that the Tacconelli family lost none of the pizza touch when they emigrated from Italy.
John, Adam, and I decided to walk around tonight, eventually choosing to go see the river Arno. Along the way we became horribly lost though, walking west when we thought we were going south , and we ended up in a pretty shady part of town. Even with a map we found it hard to get oriented though, and the more we checked it the more confused we became. Eventually we did find the river, and we walked back east along it, watching the ducks swimming in the opposite direction. We took some solace in having been asked for directions in poor Spanish by a group of clumsy American girls who thought we were Italian. We took it as a first step into being recognized as members of the Firenze community.