First and foremost, I would like to give a shout out to Matt - this ones for you.
SO, I am fully aware that I am providing you all with a post a week approximately and I am making sure that doesn't happen again - I have way too much to write about to only conserve myself to once a week.
As I stated in my last post, I would now like to talk about my school, Accademia Italiana.
As the sign reads, Accademia Italiana is a school for Art, Fashion and Design as well as for the Italian language and culture. I did not realize the fact that I would be attending a fashion school until a month or two before leaving. Just my luck. I would characterize my style as safe. I take no chances with my outfits and prefer to stay within the lines. Before I left for Italy, my greatest friend Anne flew from San Francisco and helped me pick out/buy my Italian wardrobe. The first few days I was here, I dressed in my comfort zone - there was no way I was going to be wearing frilly dresses with belts and boots/heels to class. The more I become established here and formulate my own sense of self, I have proudly begun branching out. For instance, last night I went out in my killer heels (previously mentioned in my first post), a high-waisted skirt with a kick ass belt and a baby blue shirt...with feather earrings!!! who have I become!? I don't even know...but I love it. entirely. I am owning my style and I attribute THAT to Accademia Italiana.
My Italian class (which I have four days a week for two hours) consists of half Americans and half Swedes. And those Swedes know how to rock their look - I'm not sure if it helps that they live in Europe already but they are uber confident and walk the walk (or is it walk the talk or talk the talk?!) when it comes to personal style. Everyone here in Florence wears whatever they want - seriously, whatever they want. So, anything you wear, you most likely will fit in - except if you are wearing gym shoes, cargo shorts, a polo or any t-shirt that has 'Firenze' on it, then you will be dubbed a 'tourist'. Oh, and if you are wearing a circle sticker on your chest, following a woman with her umbrella in the air, or are eating gelato at 8:30 in the morning.
Ok, back to school and classes. The school is located in Piazza Pitti, literally right across the street from this:THAT is the Palazzo Pitti, residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany - the Medici. My school is in a beautiful building and the top floor, the loggia, has a great view of the rooftops of the city. In order to get here, I have to walk across the Ponte Vecchio - the sole remaining original bridge after WWII. Swamped with tourists, the Ponte Vecchio is also known for the gold jewelers lining the sides. Here is another picture of my walk to school, across the Ponte Vecchio:The school also has a studio on the Lungarno (the road that follows the river Arno) which has a spectacular view. Seriously, THE best view of Florence. Here are some of my favorite pictures:
Looking out across the Arno to San Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo.
Looking to the right down the Arno. The next bridge that you can hardly see is the Ponte Vecchio.
Palazzo Vecchio, Il Duomo e il centro.
Santa Croce. (my neighborhood)
Obviously, the city is beautiful.
Moving on... I am taking 5 classes. Italian class, as I already mentioned, is held every day (we have no classes on Fridays - to encourage traveling and such). I am in the beginners stage and so we are moving at a snails pace - which is a good thing for me - just so I can get the language down. I have been able to converse with a couple of Italians. Exhibit A: last night we went out to Moyo (a hip nice bar close to our house) and I was able to have elementary dialogue with handsome Niccolo. I have found that if you attempt to speak in Italian, Italians are extremely willing to help you out and teach you a few more phrases and words. Yesterday, as a class, we went to the main market next to San Lorenzo. We had to go around the stalls of fruits and vegetables and gather as many names as we could. The class is really great - it's a living learning experience. On Mondays, I have Italian Cinema. The professor is so passionate about his films that you cannot help but to feel for his words and the scenes and clips we see. Last Monday we saw a few clips from Rome, Open City... I had tears in my eyes. Italian art, especially cinema, comes from the heart. It is real. It is raw. It is beautiful. On Tuesdays, I have History of Italian Medieval and Renaissance Art with Rocky - what a hunk! He is handsome for sure but what really gets me is his teaching style and the amount of knowledge he has. Our first day he walked us to the Piazza della Republica and the Piazza della Signoria and talked about the history of Florence and the architecture and the roads and the government. I fell in love. Mom and Dad, I cannot wait to give you a walking tour of the city - there is so much here! I am so looking forward to the class as most times we will be learning inside museums, while looking at the actual piece of work. You can not get this experience in the States. This may be my most highly anticipated class - may be neck and neck with History of Tuscany, which I have on Thursdays. The other class on Tuesdays is Italian Style which encompasses all things Italian: government, current events, geography, music, media, family, food, sports, the Church, art, fashion. We are able to have class discussion about anything and everything. The teaching style here is so much more personal and encourages self-thought and participation. None of my classes at Ohio State have affected me as much as the few classes I have taken here. Last but not least, I am taking History of Tuscany with Dr. Niccolo Capponi. Google him. Just do it. His Palazzo Capponi was a huge scene in Hannibal, as he was the curator of the Capponi Library...the same library where I will be doing my research this quarter. Dr. Capponi has already taught me so much. He is big on teaching AND training us as historians this quarter. There are six students in the class. Last week, he took us to a nice little restaurant and we drank a nice French red while talking about our papers and asking Capponi questions. Is this for real? This is a class? I am in love with everything about it. His personal library has manuscripts going as far back as the thirteenth century with the oldest being an Illuminated cover page. When he took us to his Palazzo, I was speechless. My palms got sweaty because I was so overwhelmed with the magnitude and importance of what I was experiencing. I will never forget this.
Walking to school, I find that I often rush to get there, partly because I am running late and partly because I need to get past the tourist hoards as fast as I can. I regret this. I want to leave the house to give me plenty of time to get lost on my way to school. I still need to work on slowing down and taking it all in. I want to take back roads to school. I want to think about the day before I experience it. Florence is a city of such inspiration and life. I cannot let that pass me by.