Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Final Firenze Weekend

9:00AM May 12

Saturday started out like any other weekend day in Florence. I finished a complete rough draft of my politics paper and ate up the leftovers of my arrabiata pasta from the previous night before heading up to campus. With access to the internet there, I was able to double check many of my online sources for the essay and catch up on my email. I also got a chance to practice piano, which I desperately needed to do for the upcoming final. There are only two rooms on campus with pianos, and it is difficult to find time in my schedule to practice, let alone at a time when other people aren't already using the rooms. On the weekends it is much easier to find time, as most of the music majors aren't up on campus.

It felt like a very productive day for me, and the girls were hosting a "Great Gatsby" party that night, so I headed home to concoct a dessert to take with me. I figured that my apple pie over Easter weekend was such a big hit that I'd try to work around that idea, although I didn't have time to put together a batch of pizza dough. Instead, I got a bunch of ladyfingers to make a doughy base to cook the apples over. I then whipped up a some mascarpone with sugar and cinnamon to lay over top of the baked concoction.

By 5:30 I headed over to the girls' for what would turn out to be quite a grand party. They did a great job of getting into character with their 1920's style outfits, and the apartment was decorated with stars and streamers hanging from the walls along with post-its of quotations from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. They were pleased to see that John and I also dressed up in suits for the occasion, but they jokingly dismissed Sean and Adam for not coming in costume. The two of them immediately left, disheartened, and I think Sean took it a bit personally, coming back in a full tuxedo—Adam didn't care that much and returned in his same street clothes.

The girls all dressed up for the "Great Gatsby" party. From left to right, Brittney, Yvette, Jaimie, Lauren, Rishma, Kate, Jen, Alex, Marielle, and Emily.

By 11:00, at national quiet hours, the apartment was filled with more people than ever before. I saw everybody that had ever been to that apartment on any occasion and then some. It certainly overwhelmed the girls and their expectations. At this point I brought out my dessert, and I got several comments from people I didn't know saying it was "really awesome," or "completely made the party." Some of our friends who live on campus had a little too much to drink, so John and I rode the bus with them back to campus to see that they got back safely, and then we walked back home in a light drizzle—the last bus of the night only got us as far as the bottom of the hill.

I was still up early on Sunday, studying music theory terms for our final the following day. Around 11:00 I headed back over to the girls' to retrieve my pans from the night before, and they were still trying to recover from the mess the party had created. They've hosted many events before, but nothing had ever been nearly as big as that, and I'm not sure they were ready for that kind of responsibility.

I then went up to campus to work a bit more on piano and my politics paper, and I was pleased to find that there was a group of students from my music theory class there who were getting ready to study for our comprehensive exam. We headed over to Villa Ulivi (top), where I got to see the library for the first and only time. Our session was extremely helpful, figuring out the easily confused terms that go along with serial music and discussing how to approach the essay questions comparing different types of music we'd studied that semester in both conceptual and theoretical terms.

That night I met with my politics class in Fiesole for communist pizza. The Italian Communist Party runs pizza parlors and cafes—as does the Catholic Church—where they sell a good product for cheaper than normal prices. For that reason, they have good business, and the party gets to make money. We thought this would make a good field trip, and our teacher knew just where to go. As our teacher had informed us, there were no pictures of Stalin or Lenin hanging on the walls. It looked like any other pizza parlor, without any real attention to decor. The party did not use it for propaganda, but simply as a way to make money. I'm sure if you sought it out, you could get more information on the party, but that wasn't the goal of the place.

I ended up getting a pizza with Italian sausage, "salsicia," and onions, which was maybe the best pizza I got in all of my time in Italy. I was never particularly impressed with Italian pizza. I found it consistently very good, but rarely, if ever, great. This was that exception. Everything about it, from the sauce, to the toppings, to the dough, was stronger in flavor and tastier than any pizza I had in Italy, with the possible exception of the pizza I got in Venice.

As usual, I had a great time discussing politics with my teacher and classmates. Our class has only four students, and it has been a great forum for discussion. Given the chance, I also bounced off some of the ideas from my paper on Lega Nord to my professor, who always gives me good feedback and direction. I feel that I've been able to take a balanced look at Lega Nord largely because he always taught it that way. He introduced them as a radical party, but he always acknowledged the validity to their main positions, something I've never heard from a Tuscan. One of my classmates, from China, and I discussed the merits and demerits of communism on the ride home, and although I believe she took everything a bit too personally, it was a really fascinating discussion. It's nice to be able to share such ideas with people in a cool manner without getting into the heated arguments that have become all too common when chatting about American politics.

Fiesole (the clock tower sticks out at the dip in the hills), as seen from Piazzale Michelangelo, on the south side of the Arno in Florence.

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