Ciao Tutti! This was the second week of our Italian intensive. I am slowly learning more and more, but it is somewhat difficult to try using the bit I know so far in conversations. I can ask Italian people yes-or-no questions, or questions involving numbers which usually goes well, but often they answer saying more than “si” or “no” or a number and I get completely lost! This week in Italian class we learned tongue-twister words. Because different combinations of letters create completely different sounds, this was a very helpful thing to learn! My favorite word we went over was “chiacchiericcio.” It is essentially prounounced “kee-ah-kee-eer-eech-ee-yo.” It means idle chat or gossip!

It snowed some again, and schools were cancelled, again! (Not my school of course!) Tuesday evening commenced a series of artists’ talks at my school. This artist, Ellen Altfest, is from the United States, and he work was incredibly intricate and meticulous. I can not even fathom trying to render the kinds of details she does. Much of her work was about nature. One of the most amazing pieces was of a huge piece of tumbleweed she had from Texas. She painted every single strand in the huge tangle, but she also gave equal care to the detail in the background. She also painted a lot of male nudes. I was amazed by the hair she painted on to their bodies. I asked her if she ever gets overwhelmed by these details and if she just makes them up sometimes. She said “I never make them up, I paint exactly what I see.” Wow! She did say that it is frustating when an aspect of her subject changes, because she only paints from life.

On Thursday I went to a dance class with two girls from my program at this cultural center called Corte dei Miracoli. This wonderful woman was the teacher, and it was a contemporary class. I plan on going back every week. She was kind enough to teach the class in English for us! We told her from now on she should teach in Italian because we can’t let ourselves be babied! I am a little nervous to take the class in Italian, but I will just have to WATCH carefully everything she does, and hopefully she will continue to use French ballet terms every now and then. Her style was very organic and loose and free-flowing and I loved it!

On Friday night we went to la discoteca! It was about a 30 minute bus ride outside of Siena. It was a blast!!!

Yesterday I went with a bunch of friends to see a movie in Italian! We saw Hugo and it was very good. I understood what they were saying every now and then. Luckily it was a very visual movie and fairly easy to understand without fully comprehending the dialogue. After the movie we went out to dinner at an osteria! Osterias are the best option for going to eat if you are young and trying to save money. In Italy there are pizzerias and cafes where you buy your food and leave with it or eat it standing up, then there are osterias which are sit down and very lovely and have a nice ambiance and it is around 7-12 Euros for a dish, then there are ristorantes and trattorias which are more expensive. Every restaurant is so different in its decoration and ambiance, but they are all beautiful and feel very intimate! There are usually only a few tables in most restaurants.

After dinner we went to this place called Tea House where they serve tea and desserts and wine and other nice things. It is beautiful and the ceilings are arched and the decor is jazzy/Alice in Wonderland/comfortable living room! They have wonderful teas and beautiful cakes and pies and other desserts.

I just ate lunch with my host family. I was asking them about Disney movies and they sang Robin Hood together and my host mom cries during Bambi and she does not enjoy movies where the mommy dies just like my mom detests them!!!! Now we are about to watch a Disney movie in Italian!

Sometimes I realize food in Italy tastes so good because they indulge in ingredients that make everything taste soooo good like olive oil, salt, butter and cheese. The other night we had a soup made out of butter and cheese. That is all that was in it. Annalisa asked “Ti piace?” “Do you like it?”. SI. YES. How could a person NOT enjoy a soup made solely of butter and cheese!!!!???

Tomorrow begins the final week of the Italian intensive. Then we have our exam on Friday. Saturday I go to Florence with my art class because we could not go due to the snow this weekend. I am hoping to go to Venice for the Carnevale after my trip to Florence. It is apparently something not to miss!!

There was an intermission during our movie! Italian movie theatre screens are so much smaller than American ones!

Decorative pots and pans in an osteria near my school