Saturday, May 2, 2009

Italian Labor Day

Me and Jessie at the Piazza del Popolo. We got there as the concert was being closed down. Obviously we're sad about it.
Me, Jessie, and Kelsey.
The Ecstasy of St. Theresa! She was one of Michelangelo's first pieces of work, and in a church really close by our hotel. She's important because of the great emotion she shows (the one on the right).
Me and my new scarf.
We saw this mannequin in a window and it cracked us up because it looks like Christopher Walkin.

Hello world,

Today was Italian Labor Day, and most everything was closed. I went out today with the girls I hung out with yesterday: Kelsey, and Jessie. We decided to get a later start, and left even later than expected, 10:30. It was nice to sleep in a little, eat some breakfast, get ready slow, and check my mail. We met up with Jessie's Italian friend Zuleka, who showed us around a lot and translated rude comments from Italians for us. We hunted out the cathedral with Michelangelo's Ecstasy of St. Theresa. SO COOL! I love finding sculptures that I've seen before in pictures. It makes me feel accomplished. Then we went to find the Rose Line like in the Da Vinci Code, and this priest from LA came out and started telling us that the whole Rose Line thing was a myth and that it was in France, so basically contradicting himself. He was so stunned that we hadn't read the book. "What, you haven't read the Da Vinci Code? (Who are you?!)" Seriously, priest, when do YOU have time to read Dan Brown novels?  We finally found the church we needed, and there was definitely a line. But the nun there said it was a clock, and nothing to do with the Rose Line. At least we got to see some crazy mofo protestors outside. They sounded so angry. There were police everywhere that looked so nonchalant. Zuleka says protests happen at least once a month, so I guess it's not a big deal. All the tourists had no idea what the guy was saying, so he was pretty much ignored. Not good for a man who has a message. 

After we saw the fake rose line, went to meet people at the Pantheon. They weren't there so we just walked around and took pictures. This girl walked in front of our picture and realized it half way through. She was in the perfect position to look like she was posing for it. I don't have the picture but I will try to post it eventually. It was awesome. She just looked really confused. Then Zuleka took us to the best gelatto place in Italy, apparently. They put cream on top! It was weird and made me kind of sick of gelatto (WHAT?!) But delicious all the same. Kelsey kept getting teased by the ice cream man. She asked for hazelnut chocolate (bacio) which is the same word as kiss. He said, "How do you want it?" She didn't understand and Zuleka just started laughing. She ran around following him and he ended up getting fake frustrated and kissing her on the cheek. It was cute. 

After the gelatto we met Zuleka's friends at Burger King. It was so expensive there so we went next door to get pizza. It was only 3 euro, but it was GROSS. I have been so unimpressed with the food here. Maybe I need to shell out more cash to get better food, but I'm spending way over my self-imposed limit every day. It is kind of frustrating. One day I will splurge, and I hope it is delicious. After we ate, we walked to the church that has shrines made with the bones of its priests. It was closed so we left. Then we took the metro to the Piazza del Popolo to see a store called Mondo Pop there. It was a graphic design store kind of like Paul Frank. Too bad that was closed, too. But we ended up seeing the coolest thing! A bunch of artists were having a sort of farmer's market, each with their own booths down a long side street. Each was so different and beautiful. We wanted to buy something, but the pieces were either too big or between 30-200 euro. Not our kind of art...But it was really nice to see some modern art for a change. Too many Madonna and Childs is exhausting and mundane. 

After that we walked up to the Piazza del Popolo because there was reportedly a free concert there. It wasn't up yet, so we sat and talked and looked over the city. Then we went to the market outside of Vatican City to get some scarves for Kelsey. They sell them for as low as 2 euro, and are willing to barter. I bought some dried fruit there. Note to self: never again. I tried to barter for some souvenirs and ended up giving up after like 10 seconds. I am so disappointed in myself. Next time I will be tough. Being in an unfamiliar climate sure makes a person weak. 

Then we went to eat at a restaurant nearby. I ordered pasta with "tomato, mozarella, and basil." To me that meant pasta with sauce made out of those things. Delicious, right? WRONG? It was cold...all of it, the tomatoes were whole, and the cheese was just sitting there. Maybe I should be grateful they took the time to cut it up? Either way, I was way sad and am still hungry. Since the internet isn't working at our hotel, we went to an internet cafe where I called Matt and got to hear his wonderful voice for twenty minutes (felt like 4), and realized it was our NINE MONTH ANNIVERSARY TODAY!!! What the what? When did the happen? I got on facebook and saw Wistie's beautiful face and saw a comment from Jeannette and i was happy. After that we went back the the Piazza del Popolo and realized we had been gone so long that we MISSED the concert. How were we there three times today and didn't see one big crowd? Such is life. So we walked up these lookout spots, and saw the whole city lit up at night. It was so beautiful and made me miss Matt even more. Friday night is apparently date night in all countries, because we saw about a million and a half couples kissing on each other all over town. Boo. However, if anyone wants to go on a honeymoon in Rome, I know just where you should go to get romantic in public!

We won't have time to eat breakfast tomorrow so we stopped at a small cart that sells fruit. The vendor was so blunt with us. He got annoyed, sighed a lot, stroked my hand playfully when I handed him a euro, and joked around. I guess the Italian way is just to make fun of Americans and act all put out when they talk to you in English. In America, it's the opposite. If you're put out, you don't say so. I know at Jacob Lake when I talked to Europeans, I never acted like that. It's so interesting to notice the little nuances that make up different cultures. I don't think I could make it in Italy unless I changed to fit into their culture. My appearance gives me away right away,  specifically the shoes, the whiter skin, the shorts, and the backpack (according to Zuleka). I feel like a blundering idiot everywhere I go.

Even though it's a big culture shock, I have been feeling the overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Everywhere I go, even if I'm tired or homesick or not enjoying the food, I still feel so lucky to have the chance to be here. I'm in freaking ITALY and I don't have any responsibilities yet. I am fulfilling my dream of traveling before I get married, and feel really good about it. Check this off my bucket list.

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