Missing Italy Again Tuesday, Jun 5 2007 

I studied in Florence for four months in the fall of 2004, and I wouldn’t trade those months for anything. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier, or more fulfilled, than when I was in bella Firenze, and Italy as a whole.

On occasion, people ask me if I miss Italy.

My response? “Every day. Every minute.”

It just doesn’t leave you. And when I talk about missing it, I’m not talking about the alcohol-soaked nights (and days), clubbing until 5:00 AM and flirting with just about every American guy in the city. (The ratio of female to male students was about 5:1 overall, so guys were especially precious.)

I’m talking about the people: meeting the Greek guys, Klement and Soni, on the Ponte Vecchio, and going to get a drink with them (all the time thinking, “What am I doing? Are these guys going to sexually assault me?” We actually had a very pleasant afternoon, attempting to communicate in broken Italian and English.) I met so many wonderful shopkeepers as I searched for the perfect Florentine jewelry.

And the food — oh God! SUCH consistently amazing food.

The beauty of the city, the art spouting from the pavement in every direction, the feeling you get when you walk across a piazza or climb hills to view the city at its finest….oh god, I miss Italy so much. I ache, literally. I watched Under the Tuscan Sun last night (I had seen it once before, shortly before I went to Florence), and seeing the brief images of Florence almost made me burst into tears.

There is a thread on Bootsnall discussing what songs remind you of certain places. At first, I remembered my homestay in Normandy when I was in high school, and how it seemed like the only song they would play on the radio was “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy. EVERY time you turned on the radio, there it was!!

And then I began thinking about the dance music at the clubs in Florence. I hold that music so close to my heart. When I returned to Florence for Gleetalia in spring 2006, some of my friends and I went out to my favorite club, Maracana, and I was delirious with happiness that they were playing the SAME EXACT SONGS!

So I began to write about that on Bootsnall….and I realized that I could only remember a few of them.

This devastates me.

This is what I can remember:

–Eric Prydz “Call on Me”
–Black Eyed Peas “Let’s Get Retarded”
–Black Eyed Peas “Hey Mama”
–Beyonce “Crazy in Love”
–Jay-Z “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
–“Bodiqua, Morena, Dominicana, Rubiano….”
–50 Cent “In da Club”
–50 Cent “P.I.M.P.”
–The Game “Fresh ’83”
–Houston “I Like That”

I think in addition to that, there were the classics, like “Yeah!” by Usher, “Big Pimpin'” and “Ice Ice, Baby” and “Baby Got Back”….but I can’t remember.

This is really bothering me and making me upset, so if you can remember any other songs, I would really, really appreciate it.

Funny Venice Monday, Jul 17 2006 

This graffiti made me laugh….

….but not as hard as this man’s ensemble did. Yep, that’s a fanny pack on his fanny.

These Native Americans played really good music — and, oddly enough, they were also performing in Bruges when we were there!!

Venice Sunday, Jul 16 2006 

Here are pictures of Venice — my second time there (but first time during the tourist season) and Sars’ and James’ first times there. Venice really is magical, but I wouldn’t recommend staying longer than a day. Not even if you were on your honeymoon and doing everything slowly and romantically. AND AVOID TOURIST SEASON. It was much more peaceful when I went there in November.
Venice is full of bridges like these over the canals.

We had lunch at a place called Vivaldi, and it was completely decorated in a musical theme. But you’d think that for a place that so embraced a classical music theme, they would play something on the radio besides cheesy 90s music.

Another canal.

A doorway — I really like this picture.

Pigeons are one of my biggest fears, so Piazza San Marco is a nightmare. You can actually pay money to feed the birds. And I kept scaring Sarah because I kept singing, “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag….” from Mary Poppins in a spooky voice.

Basilica San Marco, and Piazza San Marco.

The view from the top of the Campanile. On a clear day, you can see to Slovenia and Croatia.

The side of the Palazzo Doges from the Campanile.

The Bridge of Sighs — really disappointing. It got its name because it’s the last thing prisoners would see before they were executed.

A bird caught in mid-flight in Cannaregio.

Cute Florence Pictures Saturday, Jul 8 2006 

Here are the rest of postworthy pictures from Florence.

Artists emulating Botticelli by Piazza della Repubblica.

I put a coin in il porcino’s mouth while rubbing his nose to guarantee a speedy return to Florence. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it had the adverse effect, considering that I had never done so before, yet returned quickly twice.)

A little boy gets so excited to ride a motorino!

Sars and I check out the best deals in Florence!

Lisa has loved this guy since we were abroad. She visited me in Florence and we ate at Le Collinine three times. This guy is the cashier at the restaurant, and he speaks no English. Lisa loved him because he’s a tall Italian — but he always had TONS of stuff in his pockets. Hence, what was written on the placemat. Lisa was THRILLED when she saw this!

The crowd for the World Cup game — there were thousands of people watching!

U-S-A! U-S-A! (The game was a tie, 1-1.)

We had the best seat there — just hoping on a very comfy motorino with a perfect view! (We were also near the corner of American students.)

A kid with an awful rat-tail sat in front of us.

In Milan, outside our ONE STAR HOTEL, which definitely lived up to its rating!

Florence Night Scenery Friday, Jul 7 2006 

The Ponte Vecchio from that little place where you can take the road down to right on the river, near the Uffizi.

The Ponte alle Grazie from the same position.

I believe this is the Ponte alle Grazie from the Ponte Vecchio.

Ponte alle Grazie again, from the Oltrarno….

I think James took this amazing picture. Again, the Ponte Vecchio, from the Ponte alle Grazie.

Goodbye Oil Shoppe Tuesday, Jul 4 2006 

Since I’m into my Florence pictures right now, I might as well post my Oil Shoppe-related post that I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I spent my first semester of junior year — fall 2004 — in Florence, and it was absolutely fantastic. It wasn’t until after fall break that we found out about a place called the Oil Shoppe, a little sandwich shop only a few minutes away from my apartment. We went and fell in LOVE with the sandwiches and went as often as we could.

The shop only sold sandwiches from about 11:00 to 2:00, or whenever they ran out of bread — the rest of the time, they sold varieties of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wine, plus meats and cheeses that they used in the sandwiches. The man who owned the place was named Alberto and he made every sandwich to order. You would make a simple request — salami with parmesan cheese, for example — and he would immediately chew you out for choosing something that didn’t mesh well, and he’d make the rest of the sandwich for you, choosing everything down to the sauces.

The best part was when Alberto would yell at you — it made him like the Sandwich Nazi. Sometimes my friends would intentionally concoct something inedible and feign ignorance, just to hear what he’d say. Alberto was amazing. He would often say, “I am the poet of the sandwich.” One day he cut himself on the meat slicer, and, after bandaging his hand up and slipping a rubber glove on top, announced, “I am the doctor of the sandwich.”

My favorite sandwich was spicy salami with spicy sauce, pecorinato cheese, arugola, bell peppers and artichoke hearts, with oil and vinegar, of course. There were so many combinations — turkey with parmesan and truffle sauce, or prosciutto crudo with pesto….

I’ve been back to Florence twice since then. It’s completely different.

When you go into the Oil Shoppe nowadays, it’s obvious that it now caters ENTIRELY to American students. It’s covered in signs, all lettered in English. It’s a bit obnoxious. There’s now a kitchen in back, where you can get hot food. (That I don’t mind.) And the prices are different — 3.50 a sandwich, 4 Euro for a sandwich and a water — and the formerly plain white bags are now emblazoned with the shop’s logo. Not that much of a difference, but enough to show that the place keeps improving upon itself.

But worse things happen.

You can’t pick out a sandwich from scratch.

Alberto has a list of ten different sandwiches you can choose from — a certain kind of meat with a certain kind of cheese, with the appropriate sauce and accoutrements. (Hehehe. That word always reminds me of The 40-Year-Old Virgin.) You can’t order a sandwich from scratch. My favorite thing to do was to tell him the kind of meat I wanted and then for him to do “whatever would be good with that.” Now, if you ask him that, he’ll look confused.

I hate it! THIS is what made Oil Shoppe so good back in 2004! It was all about the attitude you’d get from Alberto! Getting yelled at by him was the best part. Of course, the freshly sliced meats and good prices were good incentives as well, but you can get amazing food all over Florence.

Alberto wouldn’t compromise for anybody or anything, so it really sucks that he’s sold out for better business. The perfect example of this is in the signs that have been added. I’ve seen people ask him for two kinds of meat, and he’s adamently refused. But now you can get “double meat” for a slightly higher price. There are also sandwich combo deals, as if we were at a Subway. Nobody self-respecting Italian orders a sandwich combo any more than he would order cappuccino past noon.

I’ve been back to Oil Shoppe on two separate trips since my semester abroad: in March 2006 for Gleetalia, and just now with Sars. Both times I told Alberto that I was a faithful customer in fall 2004, and the first time he was absolutely delighted to hear that and told me how excited he was about the changes. (The second time, he apologized for not recognizing me. I’d never expect that!)

But it’s so disappointing now. The essence of Oil Shoppe, and any other cult food place, is that you don’t expect them to compromise; you get great food and you get it THEIR way. But now they’re conforming to the standards of what American college students want, and I think it’s much worse that way.

I’m never returning. My lunch of choice in Italy is pizza for less than 2 Euro now, anyway. It’s too bad. I just hope that Alberto doesn’t expand Oil Shoppe into a franchise, because he is the REASON why people go there.

Florence Scenery part I Monday, Jul 3 2006 

Here are some lovely scenery pictures from Florence.

Tuscan countryside in the distance from Fiesole.

In Fiesole, a Tuscan hill.

The view of Florence from Fiesole.

The Ponte alle Grazie and the Oltrarno at sunset, with San Miniato al Monte up there.

A slightly askew shot of the Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset.

A dramatic shot of the city at sunset. It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.

The view of the Campanile and the city from the top of the Duomo.

Santa Croce and, slightly to the right of there, my apartment where I lived when I studied abroad there! 😀

Blogger is being weird again, so it will probably be longer before I can get more pictures up here. Enjoy these for now.

Florence and Venice Monday, Jun 19 2006 

Okay, where we left off, James was being insane. Since then….

That night, we just couldn’t sleep. Well, James did, for an hour, but Sarah and I couldn’t, in spite of our earplugs. Once James woke up and we all kept tossing and turning, we just turned on the lights and decided to have a slumber party of sorts. We talked, told stories, etc….it was so nostalgic, playing sleepover games! (Don’t worry, there was NO truth or dare!)
We slept two hours. Then woke up at 6:15 to go to Venice.

Aside from being naturally grouchy, Sars and I grew out of that and had a great time in Venice with James. We started by walking through Santa Croce all the way to Piazza San Marco, stopping at this little restaurant called Osteria Vivaldi, which had good food (although wasn’t NEARLY as cheap as Let’s Go said) and was decorated in a Vivaldi theme, with instruments hanging from the ceiling. So cute — but you’d think that a place like that would play classical music and not early 90s hits!

We arrived in Piazza San Marco, and James dropped his camera while giving money to a gypsy (I told him “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!?!?!”) and he was upset, but it started working again when we got to the top of the Campanile, the bell tower. We had GREAT views of the entire island and the lagoon, and if the day had been clearer, we DEFINITELY would have been able to see all the way to Slovenia and Croatia. We probably did; it was just a gray mass in the distance.

After the Campanile, we took plenty of pictures and took the water bus (WHY does that cost 5 Euro a trip?!) and went to Murano, the glass island, where we watched a demonstration and browsed the glass boutiques. Since we didn’t take a gondola ride (SO expensive), I instead got a pair of Murano glass earrings for 15 Euro — they are so me: pink and black glass spheres with gold shining throughout!

In the end, we walked around Cannaregio, including an area where absolutely NO tourists were (which was nice). Sarah saw a woman teaching her son how to ride a bike! We got some food, then took the train back. Sars and I were CRAZY TIRED, as was James.

So this morning we slept in and decided not to go to Viareggio. We might do that tomorrow instead. Today we got Oil Shoppe for lunch, and we’re about to go get gelato and climb the Duomo. We’d go see Santa Croce, but it’s closed by now.

Overall, Venice was great, and I was especially glad that Sarah loved it. But I am never going back there in the summer EVER again! Too many tourists. It was much lovelier in November — quiet and a bit gloomy with overcast skies. I think Venice is one of the cities that looks better when it’s not-so-nice out.

Paris on Wednesday!

Also, hello to a few people that I met in London and have been reading this! You guys are awesome. 😀

Bella Firenze Saturday, Jun 17 2006 

Okay, I’m going to start with the most vivid thing that’s happened.

James is a crazy, uninhibited drunk. Usually I enjoy it. That was until tonight —

When, walking back from the game, he saw one of the African guys with the sheet full of knock-off designer bags and goes, quite loudly, “OH, IT’S THE AFRICAN BOY AND HIS BLACK MARKET GOODS.”

“JAMES!” Sars and I squawked. We had to keep him quiet the rest of the way home. Since making a criminal angry is exactly what you want to do.

Other quote classics:

“Dammit, I got a mosquito bite RIGHT IN MY HAIR! Everyone’s going to think I don’t shower cause I keep scratching it!”

“I haven’t heard this song in ages. By ages, I mean yesterday.”

“It is obvious that I am not 100% sober right now.”

He also tripped in a crowd while holding the bottle of wine in his hand. And I have some video classics.

Right after I wrote the last entry, Sars showed up. Not a lot of time here (although James DOES have mysteriously free wireless internet!!! It’s probably illegal but AWESOME!!), so I’ll bullet the main events.

–Sars showed up around 3:30, a bit more than an hour after she landed. The thing was, I was exhausted from a mere two hours of sleep the night before and walking around London for six hours or so without much of a break. So I went to sleep with my earplugs in and the eye mask on. She comes upstairs without a key because the guy at reception told her that I had one. So she knocks and knocks, and I don’t answer. She goes ALL the way down (a few flights), gets a key, comes back, comes in, and tickles me awake.
–We slept for a LONG time, then had Thai food for dinner.
–We checked out the bar downstairs and met two really cool guys from Virginia, Doug and Rob. They were awesome, and we hung out all night. We’re going to meet up with them in Venice tomorrow!
–Woke up extremely early. There were two other guys in our room (the night before, it was just me and SEVEN guys, a few sleeping only in their underwear and money belts!). Got a cab to Stansted and flew to Bologna. RyanAir SUCKS, but hey, you get what you pay for and the biggest discount airline in Europe doesn’t have much to offer in terms of comfort. Sars and I slept on each other on the plane.
–Took a bus to the Bologna train station, took a train to Florence — and missed the time to meet James by a few minutes, but totally ran into him by chance on the street! It was awesome.
–Spent the afternoon walking all around the city. Got gelato at Neri, which finally made it to Let’s Go! I’m proud — my roommates and I LOVED their gelato more than any other place’s.
–Went to dinner at Le Collinine with James’s friends — really nice girls. Then walked around by the river and took tons of pictures.
–Sars and I slept in earplugs from 11 PM to 10 AM. James kicked us once by accident, and he says we were so OUT neither of us stirred. We’re sleeping on pool mats and they’re incredibly comfortable.
–Woke up and James brought us GIANT cappuccinos from News Cafe, and croissants! We went to the market and I bought a skirt and a dress, then we went to Oil Shoppe and found out it was closed on Saturdays, so we went to Piazza San Marco and got pizza slices.
–Went to the station and got Venice tickets, then grabbed a bus to Fiesole, a tiny Etruscan city older than Florence on a giant hill overlooking the city. We went, and stayed, merely for the views — they were breathtaking.
–Got some dinner (I had pasta with wild boar sauce and some spinach), then met up with the girls and BOOKED it to Piazzale Michelangelo — what a walk!! Very strenuous. We went to watch the World Cup, but it was tough to get a good seat, so we walked to right beneath the piazza to get a seat at the other large screen.
–WORLD CUP: ITALY VS. USA. I can’t believe I got to see this game IN ITALY. And it was awesome. We actually ended up sitting in this little American corner with tons of other students, and Sars and I sat on a Vespa. Lots of fun. It was a tied game, 1-1. Would have been 2-1, USA, if they had allowed a goal that kind of resulted in a penalty. CRAZY game and SO much fun. We just got back.

Tomorrow: Venice
Monday: Maybe the beach at Viareggio (just me and Sars)

We are having the BEST time.


James is taking a shower and he just screamed, “OW!! FUCK!!” at the top of his lungs. Hopefully he’s okay.

Best of Gleetalia: #5 and #4 Thursday, Mar 23 2006 

I don’t have pictures from either of these, so I’ll just run through them.

On our first night in Florence, I was up in the hotel bar when Dwight came by and said he was meeting his friend from home at a club. I asked him which club. “Mara…cana?” I absolutely FREAKED out when he said that, realized that it was Wednesday, the night that we always went, and I knew right then and there that I HAD TO GO BACK!

I changed quickly and met the group downstairs — Dwight, Joe Duffy, Alison Rivers, Liz Chatel, Cameron, and I BELIEVE that’s it…. Since our hotel was right in front of the train station, it was a quick walk — and I showed them Lorenzo de’Medici, Fairfield’s tiny Florence campus.

Going in, it was UNREAL — it felt so AMAZING to be back! It was still a free cover, but drinks were 5 Euro instead of 3 — but they were normal-sized drinks, not the dinky ones from before. The men were as sketchy as ever — one of them actually pulled me by my HAIR at one point!! Joe had to be my pretend boyfriend a few times to scare them off. Heh. But the best thing was the MUSIC — it was exactly the same as a year and a half ago. I had the most fantastic time, drank my usual red bull and vodkas, which I always drank at Maracana, and we stayed on the dance floor for hours — until 3:30 or so. (I’ve closed down Maracana as well as Dolce Zucchero in the past, and they go until about 4:30.)

Between the city, the dancing and the alcohol, I felt high. That’s how it felt.

In Rome, we went out to a place called Dar Poeta for dinner. The group was me, Kelly, Dwight and Juice. The place was listed in Let’s Go as a place where you wouldn’t find any other Americans, and you know how I believe in Let’s Go!

It was a tiny place in Trastevere, a very authentically Roman neighborhood that I wish I had more time to explore. The place was tiny and the moment we walked in, I knew it would be great because nobody even tried to speak English to us!! It was WONDERFUL!

We started out with the famous bruschetta, and got a huge platter of twelve slabs of bread, each covered with something different: olive paste, tuna and tomatoes, zucchini paste, this amazing cheese and corn, and so many more kinds that I can’t remember. Then we got pizza, since that’s the only thing on the menu. Mine had so many things I can’t remember, but the sausage I’ll never forget — that was the best damn sausage I have ever had in my life. Forget Santarpio’s, the awesome place in East Boston with their famous sausage pizza — nothing can beat Dar Poeta!

But more than the food, it was the overall experience. Everyone was young, yelling and laughing. One guy bumped into my chair and threw a “Scusa” over his shoulder — that’s such a small thing, but I loved it! And at one point two guys with a bass and an accordian came in and played music — it was so great. Such an authentically Italian atmosphere!

Best of Gleetalia: #3 Thursday, Mar 23 2006 

On our last night in Rome, we decided to go to dinner in the Jewish Quarter (I finally got my zucchini flowers — I actually DREAMED of them last night!!) and, from there, walk to Campo dei Fiori to hit up the bar scene. When we got there, there were a bunch of American high school-aged guys (which was interesting in itself, since Cameron said that a few of them were in the group that a bunch of girls in glee club hooked up with) standing on tables, jumping into the fountain, and singing at the top of their lungs. We took a few pictures and went into Bacchanalia, where I had my first Roman blackout a year and a half ago.

Not long after we sat down, we heard a huge BOOM! and the people in the piazza started going crazy. It turns out a homemade bomb had gone off — though it was probably more the size of a firecracker. Everyone got locked inside the bar, which went on at all the bars in the Campo, reportedly. The carabinieri showed up and started firing flare guns, which gave the place an eerie red glow. These pics were the best I could do from the inside of the bar.

THEN, after that, people started running all over the piazza like crazy — the carabinieri had helmets with face shields on and were running after people, clubbing them! It didn’t look like it was THAT necessary, but maybe they just really needed the area cleared. (The only thing we were thinking about was how long it was taking for us to get our drinks. I needed my Italian caipirosca alla fragola!)

Well, when the world is going crazy, sometimes the only thing you can do is buckle down and drink your absinthe. Note: it’s not meant to be drank straight, which I did. It’s either 78 proof or 156 proof (I always mix up proof and percent), but either way, the stuff is VILE! It won’t make you hallucinate unless you drink a lot of it, though.

By the time we left the bar, the Campo was deserted, so we figured the best thing we could do was get out of there as quickly as possible. There was a line of carabinieri cars — I got a picture of one of them. And that concludes our evening in the middle of an Italian riot, complete with bomb. I didn’t realize how dangerous it sounded until I told my dad about it.

Best of Gleetalia: #2 Tuesday, Mar 21 2006 

After our concert in Assisi, we had three hours of three time. We decided to get some 2 Euro pizza at this place I had in my Let’s Go (it was actually only 1.70 for a delicious slice with salame piccante!), then climb Rocco Maggiore. Rocco Maggiore is a castle-like structure that has walls bordering the town of Assisi. It’s up on a hill — that’s the view from the town. Our guide said that it’s the castle used in The Chronicles of Narnia — or it inspired it, or it just looks like it.

The view just got more and more beautiful as we went up. We were constantly taking pictures of the changing views of the Umbrian countryside. This part of Umbria is in the Appenines, and mountains were sprouting up in some directions, but giving way to endless valleys in others. That’s the town of Assisi behind me.

Kelly and I decided to storm the castle. In her skirt and long shirt, she looked like she was in The Sound of Music! Yep, we sang that at the top of one of the many hills, and yelled out the stereotypical “Ricola” and, since Sean, Shannon and I are Massholes, a nice round of “Yankees Suck.” (Cameron and Jen were with us as well.)

For a mere 1.50 Euro, we got to go inside the castle and, as Let’s Go says, “make like a mole” through this long tunnel. It’s about 50 meters long and is about six feet tall, since Cameron could stand up but not go on tiptoe. Parts of it were lower — BE CAREFUL of the ceiling if you ever go in it!

The view at the top? Nothing short of BREATHTAKING. Imagine a 360-degree view of perfect valleys in one direction, mountains in a few others, and Umbrian hills all around. We dubbed a teeny building a “castle turd,” and Cameron was so afraid of heights that he wouldn’t move from the very center of the tower we climbed. It was so beautiful — and so nice to be out of the pollution-filled atmosphere of Rome and in the quiet country life of Assisi. An unforgettable experience.

Best of Gleetalia: #1 Tuesday, Mar 21 2006 

On our first day in Florence, I decided to ditch the tour and was joined by Luke (who’s been to Florence before) and Jeff (who was just sick of the whisper device). We spent the morning walking around the city, just seeing the sights and taking a few pictures.

We then went to my beloved Oil Shoppe for lunch. (That’s Alberto on the left!) I was surprised at how much it’s commercialized since I left — now you pick a sandwich from the list (in English) on a board, with substitutions, if you’d like, and he makes it. The bags are no longer plain but emblazoned with the logo, and they now cost 3.50 Euro (as opposed to 3). But the sandwiches were still delicious.

Also, Alberto was thrilled to hear that I was a customer from way back in fall 2004. His face lit up, actually. It was nice. I chatted with him about all the changes and he told me that he’s always working on improvements! Above all, I pray that this doesn’t become a chain. The Oil Shoppe is what it is because of Alberto.

The three of us then bought a bottle of wine and sat on the steps of Santa Croce, right by my old apartment (where Erika Ludwig lived when she studied in Florence over the summer — she was in my room!!!!). It was so great.

I don’t know what was so great about this day. It clearly wasn’t the most adrenaline-filled experience or the most beautiful setting. But it felt so wonderful to just be in Florence, to just sit right on the Santa Croce steps, to drink (amazing) wine for so cheap, and to be back where I spent the happiest four months of my life.

We proceded to drink two more bottles of red wine that afternoon. You can see the purple evidence on the insides of our lips.

Gleetalia was AMAZING! Sunday, Mar 19 2006 

There’s so much I have to say here….

Gleetalia was amazing, every aspect of it. Being in Italy felt like the most natural thing. It was weird — I felt almost emotionless! Never hyperventilating with excitement; never distraught to leave. It was just natural. Italy’s my place — well, Europe’s more my place. I did have the best time when I got to my old apartment on Borgo Santa Croce and hugged it. Twice. I wanted to go in, but didn’t — it’s time to let it go.

A few things have changed in Florence. The Oil Shoppe, though still making delicious sandwiches, has commercialized. There are three kinds of bread now, there are lists of specific sandwiches for you to choose from (Alberto doesn’t do a lot of making sandwiches from his mind anymore), there’s a deli in the back (and less seating), the price is now 3.50 for a sandwich instead of 3, the bags now are printed with the Oil Shoppe’s logo. I chatted with Alberto for a bit — he couldn’t believe that I was a customer from fall 2004! — and he said that he loves his place so much, he’s always working on changing it, improving it for the better. I just hope that the Oil Shoppe doesn’t become a chain. Alberto is what makes the place what it is.

A few other things changed — I saw a few new stores on Via dei Benci. And at Maracana, Wednesday nights had no cover and 5 Euro drinks, not 3 Euro. They were bigger, though. But the absolute best thing was that the music was EXACTLY THE SAME! With the exception of Gasolina and My Humps, this could have been the same playlist from a year and a half ago. Bodiqua, Crazy in Love, Crooklyn Cran, P.I.M.P., Fresh ’83, Let’s Get Retarded, To the WINDOWWWW TO THE WALL, all the songs that we LOVED.

I’m doing so much stuff right now but I plan to blog about my top five moments a little bit later. Until then, VUOI VOGLIO BENISSIMI, I MIEI GLEETALIANI!

Gleetalia bound! Friday, Mar 10 2006 

Well, in just a few hours, I’ll be off to Italy for spring break!

It’s surreal….I don’t even realize it yet. I’ve had my mind on my health all this week, but now I’m FINALLY starting to relax because I woke up today feeling better than I have all week, I didn’t even need the pain pills so I’ll just keep them as backups, and for the first time since Monday, I have an appetite!

I’m just planning on picking up my People magazine between 2 and 3, while the bus is loading, since it wasn’t there this morning. And passing my newest story, “Cut.,” out to friends on the bus so I can get a bit of feedback. The theatre people will especially enjoy it, since it’s about the politics of theatre and the feelings it stirs up in others.

I can’t wait to EAT LIKE CRAZY in ITALIA! Oil Shoppe sandwiches, balsamic steak at Acqua, pasta sampler, pappa al pomodoro, ribbolita, tiramisu, cappuccino, ciccolato caldo con crema, EVERYTHING. It’s going to be an amazing trip. I just hope that we sing well to represent the university.

The schedule:
Sat: Arrive in Rome; bus tour; free day.
Sun: Touring the Ancient City (skipping that), lunch, touring Spanish Steps/Trevi Fountain (skipping that), singing Mass at Il Gesu
Mon: Touring the Vatican (actually doing that, since I want to see the Sistene Chapel again), concert at Santa Maria del Priorato
Tues: Free day in Rome
Weds: Depart for Assisi, sing in Assisi, depart for Florence
Thurs: Tour of Florence (skipping that, obviously!), concert at Basilica di San Lorenzo
Fri: Free day in Florence, maybe going to somewhere in Tuscany or Verona or Venice for the day! Farewell dinner at ASTOR CAFFE, where Boner was stabbed!! Probably skipping that, too.
Sat: Coming home.

I’ll try to update while I’m there!

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