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Torino and Lake Como

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Torino. Though a beautiful city, I was a little underwhelmed. Torino feels more like little Milan than a city of its own. But I did attend a 20th century art exhibit, ate agnolotti, and breathed in the River Po.

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Piazza San Carlo

I’m not very well versed in fauvist or cubist art styles, but I do appreciate the 20th century artists for their understanding of color. A body is painted in pinks, whites, and light browns with a beautiful blue outline. I never would have thought that the broad strokes and thick layers of paint could so effectively convey meaning. Matisse was the most prominently featured artist and I left with an increased appreciation for his work.  In contrast, I disliked almost every Picasso in the collection. I think I ought to stick with Renaissance art.

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#SorryNotSorry

After a lunch of agnolotti (roast beef filled ravioli), a very famous dish in the Piedmont region of Italy, I went to put my feet in the River Po. Unlike the River Arno that slices through Firenze, the Po is sparkling clear and beautiful. The riverwalk was a beautiful place to soak up some sun and enjoy the local architecture before moving back into the bustle of the city.

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Posing with street art

In celebration of Pasqua, I went to Lake Como. The city of Como was beautiful and warm today. The huge open air market being held in honor of the holiday was incredibly interesting. You could buy mops, dental equipment, and marzipan with everything in between. I don’t have a picture, I was too intent on eating, but they were selling little roasted chickens for lunch. Absolutely delicious.

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Cathedral of Como

The city surrounds one branch of the River Como and is a favorite location for the wealthy’s summer homes. Several of the historical villas feature beautiful statues and gardens. Many places boast of influential and historic guests like Napoleon Bonaparte and Czar Nicholas II.

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Villa Olmo

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View from Olmo

Como is a community of diverse interests. As the birthplace of Alessandro Volta, one of Italy’s most influential physicists, a strong tradition of study and devotion to the sciences has become characteristic of the city. Besides the academics, flight and boating enthusiasts flock to the city during the warm months.

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The “temple” to Alessandro Volta

Torino and Como were the two most northern cities on my list of “sights to see”. I’m very happy I had the weekend free to adventure and explore. Soon, I’ll be going to the most southern city on my list. Stay tuned for more!

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Milano Durante Pasqua

I’m visiting three Italian cities in three days. Here is update One!

The highlight of my day in Milan was a two hour visit of the primary cathedral, Santa Maria Nascente. The famous cathedral is a gothic structure with flying buttresses and countless spires. In contrast, the inside is quite barren. The high ceilings are supported by twenty or thirty immense pillars. The whole construction leaves you feeling very small.

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Gothic Architecture

 

Afterward, I climbed to the roof to view the gothic-ness up close. After climbing the roofs and domes of a few cathedrals, I feel like I can offer a slight critique. Climbing the dome in Firenze is a very different experience than climbing the roof of Santa Maria Nascente. Brunelleschi’s dome was built in such a way that those ascending and descending took separate paths to minimize obstruction of work flow. Once you arrive at the peak of the duomo, there is a simple catwalk surrounding the dome from which you can view the city. In contrast ascending and descending the roof of Milano’s cathedral must be done by the same path. Not exactly efficient. But, instead of a walking around a small circular path, you get to walk on a football field of gothic art. There are statues and gargoyles showcasing the absolute most that Milano could offer. Before the roof was opened to visitors, I don’t know who these wonders were meant for as many of these gothic beauties are impossible to see from the ground.

 

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Hidden Gems

My favorite meeting was with a food vendor who was very excited to have his photo taken.

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FRIED FOOD!!

For those who can’t wait for halloween, here’s a creepy yet famous statue of Saint Bartholomew.

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Musculature: On Point

For my closing notes on Milano, I have one question.

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Overalls

Why are overalls popular? My father has been trying to popularize this look for the last decade. So if someone can please explain this, I’m open to thoughts.

 

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Eating Brain

Even though Chef Boy O.V’s video ‘Eat Like a Fat Kid‘ is my life anthem, I will resist the urge to become a food blogger. All I will say is, I cooked and ate cow brain this week. ‘Cause I want to be that creepy psychologist when I grow up.

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I’m nearing the three month mark and have begun missing the States. I don’t know if it helps, but I’ve been watching movies and listening to music that remind me of home. I miss the variety of cultures – the difference between Texas and Chicago and Montana and Florida. I think I’m learning an appreciation of my home that I wouldn’t have developed without being away for so long. Italy will always have a special place in my heart, but nothing like my home.

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Bombolone

Again, I spent the weekend in Florence where I had the most serendipitous meeting of an old friend. We went to the second best club in all of Florence, Yab, and danced the night away. I’d never seen a German dance before, but I’m now convinced that that was the most German thing I’ve ever seen happen. A lot of stomping was involved.

My exploration of Italy continues. For Easter, or Pasqua, I’m looking to visit Torino and Milano again. The week after I might visit the Puglia region, located in the “heel” of Italy. I currently live in the Umbrian region, famous for chocolate, forests, and truffle hunting. To continued searching and adventures, we raise our glasses. Until next week, Lila.

San Miniato al Monte

San Miniato al Monte

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The Kitchen Special

The University for Foreigners has an incredibly large population of Chinese students. Most are looking towards art or medical school when they come to study here. Unsurprisingly, there are many restaurants and supermarkets that cater to this large population. One of the best fast-food Chinese restaurants is very close to my house and is always full. It’s normal to wait 45 minutes for your food and many more to master the chopsticks.

Recently, I’d been invited to dine with some Chinese friends at their house. The food was absolutely astounding. The meat was so tender it fell off the bone. At this point I was tired of having to go out or impose on my friends every time I wanted Chinese food. So I decided I would learn how to cook “cibo Cinese” and I asked one of my friends to teach me.

Today I learned to make beef and potato stew, beef and egg stir-fry, cabbage stir-fry, and pasta with fried onions. I can barely use a fork and cook spaghetti while Zhang Liang can cook a four course meal and do it with two little batons of bamboo. Great culinary envy was experienced today.

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Assisi

Besides the Chinese food, I’ve also found an Indian restaurant. This foodie is happy!!!! I’m also happy because of the contemplative type of week I’ve had. I’ve had several important realizations about myself. I don’t do yoga, but I think it would feel the same and maybe have the same results.

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Madonna and Child

For the first time in years, I feel like I’ve had some relief from my chronic depression. Depression is a disease that makes your past a nightmare and your future a complete blank. I have never had any future beyond “get degree and get job”. There was no more substantial planning; no characteristics, no dreams, and no feeling of certainty. It was impossible to think any further than the end of the week. Even when I thought I was going to get married, thinking towards the future was nothing more than a game. Nothing felt possible or attainable.

Suddenly as of this week, I have a future. It’s simple. More like a crude sketch than a plan, but for me, this is a huge breakthrough. My plans to work in psychology are unchanged, but I know what I want in my private life. I want chickens and a few pigs. I grew up with all types of animals and have realized that I was always happiest looking after pigs, which are basically giant dogs. Chickens are just too useful. What’s a household without fresh eggs? The answer is: Barbarism.

Life is much simpler when you know who you are. Without the terrible, sickening cloud of depression, I feel like myself. I wish my grandmother and close friend, who both passed away late last year, could see me now. I think I’m a very different person than the last time I saw them.

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Milano

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Nothing Tastes Good

This week has been a little rough. I contracted influenza earlier this week and have been bedridden for a few days now. I was then lucky enough to receive an internet STD from a Facebook friend. I’m still trying to apologize for the explicit images that consumed my Facebook page. Adding insult to injury, the only thing that tastes good is popcorn. I’m in the promised land of food and everything is going to make me hurl.

As I’ve spent an inordinate number of hours horizontal, trying to calm my stomach, I’ve caught up on some reading. For those of you who have always wanted to but never found the time, I have finished Robert Graves’s Claudius the God and his Wife Messalina for you. Please, don’t thank me. I’ll sum up here.

First, there was Caesar Augustus; an alright dude and good leader.

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Caesar Augustus

Augustus was then followed by Tiberius and Claudius. Between these two, the Roman Empire was systematically bankrupted.

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Emperor Caligula

Enter our protagonist! Claudius become emperor and successfully rebuilt and extended the Roman Empire.

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Emperor Claudius

Claudius was followed by Nero. And as we all know, Nero was a megalomaniac and tore apart the empire once again.

The general take away from my bedrest and foray into historic novels? Well, as long as your predecessors and successors are really bad at their job and you do your best, they’ll make you a god. Literally, they’ll vote on it and add you to their pantheon.

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