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Thursday, October 27, 2011

L'art Nouveau

by de Fuere

If you haven’t noticed I throw the phrase “I love” or “I like” at a lot of different topics. I have interests or some knowledge on a lot of topics but I never feel like I have that niche. One of those topics that I have great admiration of and sometimes put myself in the category of having some talent is…ART! That’s right I love art. Well, that’s broad, and I don’t love all art styles. I now have a name to one style that I have admired for a couple years. I don’t think I realized that I liked it so much until I spent a 2.5 hour lecture on it yesterday in interior design class…ugh. Sitting for that long is difficult, but at least I got look at pretty art!

I like the French variation of L’art Nouveau. It is a style that basis is rooted in Japan and was adapted to become what it is by Europeans. This was very surprising to me because I don’t usually like East Asian art, but I am learning I am fond of Japanese art and how it was shaped into L’art Nouveau. It was developed and invested in by this man named Siegfried Bing. One of my favorite artists was a designer of his, de Feure. De Feure originally designed posters so basically an early graphic designer {is that why I like his designs?}. The other designer I really enjoy is a Belgian designer named, Victor Horta.

Ok now that all you non art fanatics are bored and weren’t looking for a history lesson or to tour a museum we will do a little segway. This style that I have finally learned the name to and could give you plenty of information on now {ask any questions you may have} was realized and centrally located in Paris in France. They have some great museums with this style and impressionist art {another favorite, ironically appearing just before this style in history} in Paris.

Victor all mediums
This weekend I am headed to Paris. I keep getting the question of why I am going if I’ve already been before {it’s true}. I had a fine experience in Paris, but there are a few things that need to redeem themselves…hence why I’m going again. I am all about second chances and redemption, please Paris redeem yourself. And really, who wouldn’t want to visit this famous city?

All these pictures are not my own, so I do not take credit for them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Most people don’t like conferences. Well at least they act like they don’t like them. I sometimes pretend I don’t like them either. But really, secretly, I kind of like them. I like them when I know I’m going to learn something and my interest is going to be captured.

I knew I was going to learn something yesterday at our international business conference. And I think that my dad was even more excited than me about the speakers {even though he wasn’t going…sorry!}. You see one of the speakers was the famous car designer Tom Tjaarda. He is such nice gentleman that lives in Torino, born and raised in Michigan. He had some fun stories to tell us and admitted that he never really knew quite what to say when he was asked to speak. He told us about his life and how he got to where he is at. He showed us pictures of the cars and other products he has designed.
One of the other speakers was a woman who did the same program some years ago. She stayed with one of the families in the area and that family’s daughter is my Italian teacher! My Italian teacher, Aida, is such a sweet woman and the two women are good friends still. Mona has set up her own international business of gourmet wine and foods. She originally was going to sell in Dubai (she is originally from Iran but immigrated to the US at a young age) and China, but now the US is her target market. Her products can be found in specialty stores and are now available for order online.

I love that hearing someone else’s life story can inspire someone to live their life a little bit differently and can lead to some inspiration. Maybe that’s why I love conferences…

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Venice {Parte due}

We woke to the bright sunshine streaming through the windows and none of us wanted to get up. But get up we did. We decided to have breakfast at the hotel and the woman was so sweet. Momma and I got yummy hot chocolate. One thing I want to integrate into American society is small pitchers. Momma got a pitcher of hot chocolate. Daddy got a pitcher of coffee and one with steamed milk. I got a pitcher of hot chocolate. And then there were two more with milk for cereal, yay know for good measure.
After we hit the water on the vaporetto headed for the Rialto Bridge in the daylight. After seeing the bridge, climbing its steps and taking pictures with it as the lovely backdrop we went on our way to Frari Church. It has the tallest tower in Venice. It was nice but since we were there in Sunday there was a service going on so we didn’t go inside. In was so fun to be inside the city. We walked past a coffee shop but we ended up there later.

On the way to St. Mark’s square to see it in the daylight we hit a road block. There was a marathon going on. So I know that Venice is made up of more than 26.3 square miles but it just seems like an odd place to have a marathon. They had to use floating buoyed docks to create a path spanning the Gran Canal. It was a little odd but I guess if you are going to do a marathon why not do it in Venice?! My dad mentioned that it would be interesting to do a triathlon in Venice. The water is gross…sorry I veto that one Daddy! And as you so clearly pointed out biking in a city with water at every turn would be disastrous. Oh the things we joke about in my family!

Again we tried to have coffee in St. Mark’s square but I wanted to people watch and watch the marathon and neither of those were possible from the spots we had to choose from. Instead we weaved our way back through the streets to the first little coffee shop. Daddy and I had coffee with nutella lined cups. Momma had the café specialty and we shared an almond cake yum!

I'm not excited at all... Having a little fun after our coffee We made our way back to the hotel and got things ready from me to leave and then I was hopping on the train. It was a short time, but we covered so much of the city. I loved wandering through the streets. There is a sense of mystery in deciding which alley to take and finding the next bridge that completes the next part of the path like a puzzle.

Today I had an International Business Conference and I can't wait to share what it was all about!

Monday, October 24, 2011

City of Love {Venice}

It has been a wonderful week having my parents here. I miss all the others at home, but again I repeat myself when I say it has been a gift! We headed to Venice for the weekend and after a series of events finally arrived! I could go into all the details of the missed trains and time that kept ticking by, but in the end it didn’t matter. We were together. In Italy.
We arrived in Venice to be able to check into our hotel. Again it took us a little while to find it. As an added bonus we got to see the back alleys and forlorn park of Venice. The woman behind the desk was so adorable when we arrived. As we described later, it was if someone’s grandma was welcoming us into her home. After settling in we headed to figure out this Venice transportation.

We ended up on a Vaperetto (a water bus) traveling down the canal towards the open water and the island of Murono. Murono is home to very famous glass and glass blowing demonstrations. We were late enough that the demonstrations were closing or already closed. It was still fun to see almost every shop be filled with glass objects. They were all such different styles even though they were the same material. We walked through a few of the galleries as well.
We stopped at a small café that was bursting with people and served pretty much everything a café in Italy might consider serving! We grabbed a bite to eat and then wandered the back alleys of the island. In one of the alleys we found a little fresh market where I ordered cheese for our dinner. The man behind the counter had a huge smile on his face when we said good bye. He was obviously amused by my limited Italian!
I just got this red coat and it made me smile the entire day. {and it was thonly coat I brought to you will see it a lot!}A vaperetto took us back to the main piece of Venice {I can’t say mainland because it isn’t…}. We walked through more alleyways with little pieces of light catching on the otherwise dark waters. Finally we made it to St. Mark’s square. There we “illegally” had our picnic dinner Stothers’ travel style; bread, salami, cheese, and limited utensils.
One of the things that I really wanted to do {or so I thought…} was to have coffee at one of the café’s in St. Mark’s square. I wanted to watch people and stare at the basilica in the moonlight. I was creating a fairytale dream for the land of fairytales. Unfortunately one wakes up from dreams and that is what happened. It was cold. Fall has come and it is similar to a Californian winter. Because it was cold people were not sitting out watching and taking it all in. Coffee is really expensive in the square even at the “cheap” places. Don’t let them fool you, it’s not cheap. The place we thought about going, well my two requirements would not be getting knocked off the list.
Needless to say, skipped the coffee and we went down the Gran Canal. It would have been nice to warm up, but it was so much more worth itto sit on the vaporetto! We sat in the back where it was cool, but quiet and there wasn’t lights shining in your face. There were two small boys riding and it was so fun to hear their banter and laughs in Italian.

Do you think we were in Italy?!?
After a little more wandering we settled in for much needed rest. And that was my first 10 hours in the famous Venice.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saying good bye again

Today is the day that there will be hugs and love and then the final moments.
I will say good bye to my parents for the next couple weeks. I will hope on a train and wave good bye.

We will be on different schedules,

in different time zones,

living in different cultures


I feel so blessed to have them come and see a little part of my world.

Stay tuned for the adventures of Venice...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tasting new things...

I had another cooking class this week. I am loving the cooking and getting to know more people in my program in a different way, but this week, not so many recipes I’m going to duplicate. Ok about half and half, it was either a hit in my book or not so much.
We started with 2 antipaste {<--using my plural Italian} or 2 appetizers that were:
Bruchetta the poor man’s way and Bruchetta with chicken liver
And then the 2nd {I know but those were variations of the same thing…} Grilled vegetables with Anchovy cream sauce

So here are my least favorite dishes and you might think I’m a picky eater. Above all I did what my momma taught me and I tried them {with a glass of water close at hand}. This is not now bit we are talking about here. I’m being brave in coming here, new situations and in eating food.

Moving on…the pasta {or first course} was risotto with saffron. It was delicious but I had a wonderful risotto here so I was expecting a little bit more flavor. The saffron does not do anything but turn it yellow. We get a history lesson with our food and that was one of them. The saffron was added to it to show that the man who came up with the idea had more wealth. The more yellow or gold your food the more financially stable you claimed to be, and it’s not like saffron is inexpensive!

My favorite dish is right here…and I had a very similar version last night. It comes from a famous battle dealing with napoleon when they ran out food and threw whatever they had into a pot to feed soldiers. Italians are all proud because it it’s the dish that has a birthday! Beef {or chicken} with a sauce that combines herbs, orange peel, onion, wine and a few other ingredients. Tomato paste was later added in.
Served with it is polenta which is truly a poor man’s dish. It’s filling and cheap and easy. {College students did you hear that?} But really I would make this again, maybe modify the recipe a little but it was delicious! It has four cheeses layered with the polenta and then you bake it. It is the only Italian recipe that I have seen so far that slightly resembles a casserole.

For dessert {which always happens to be amazing, maybe because I don’t have to try funny things and there is sugar} was similar to a homemade gelato. It is slightly frozen and has eggs, cream, hazelnut nuggets, and crumbled meringue {did I mention eggs?!?}. We drizzled some dark chocolate sauce over it. I know your mouth is watering…so is mine not to worry!

There you have the installment of Italian cooking class.
I will be in and out this weekend internet wise as it is the last time with my parents before Christmas! I am trying to soak up all the time I can, because when I get back in the states I will only have a few days with them before heading back to school.

Off to Venice it is!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Walking in the Dark

So are you ready? Ready for a story of finding things down dark alleyways in Italy? Don’t worry it has a happy ending, and no one got hurt. Sorry I had to go spoil it but I didn’t want you to be all worried!
My parents got into Italy after missing their connecting flight and the next day headed to Lake Como. It was our meeting spot and let me tell you, we picked good! Coming out of the slightly scary train station after sitting in the pitch black train for at least a half hour meant they were a welcome sight. Good things coming from the night seemed to be a theme this weekend.
Of course our adventures in the dark didn’t end there. For the next night the Bed and Breakfast host had reserved a table for the three of us. It’s always a little interesting when the Italian recommends his friend down the street. Culturally Italians become friends and then have a huge trust in eachother which then leads to them sticking with their friends for all recommendations. And it gets even more fishy when he says that it’s a good value. But we decided to give it a try.
We came back Sunday night and went to find the host for directions and specifics. He was nowhere to be found and the building was again pitch black. So off the little remembrances of taking the back path, that it was a fish restaurant, and “the perch was excellent” we headed off with my flashlight. We walked the highway for a bit until the narrow bridge and then we doubled back to a small path I had seen. This was the only path that didn’t have a gate and didn’t go directly into someone’s back yard or front door.
We headed down the path and it was according to my mom “a whole different world.” My dad said it said “like I stepped back into time.” I’m a little more used to the narrow roads and stone building alleyways but it was still awe enticing. We would get to a dead end in the low light and say well, I guess we’ll go right. Or we would say wow that looks dark, but it goes up. When we came to a dead end the only way was up so we took the stairs toward the highway. We came out and heard people’s voices and dinner plates clinking. Could we have actually found it? We looked around and yes, we had found it. I felt like a mole coming to the surface.
The food was amazing. I had to practice my interpretive skills. And it was a good deal for the incredible food. The owner sat and personally helped us order. He laughed at my Italian and made up a dish for me. I want to decorate as tactfully as the adorable restaurant. It was a wonderful experience.
Going through darkness just means there has to be something better when you come up. Right?

We went and walked the path in the daylight. Way less scary and intimidating!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fun times

Done, oh yes! I have finished my Italian classes. I am going to be continuing to use my {limited} Italian knowledge because people in Torino generally do not speak English. In Florence last week it was the opposite. You could live in the city for the same amount of time and have no more knowledge of the language than when you arrived. To me that is sad and disappointing. What do you think?
I know that I haven’t updated in a few days. Here is what has been going on:
-Lots of class. I had the same amount of class, but for some reason it seemed like so much more!
-Lots of studying. Like stated before, I am done with one of my classes, so we had a final that I needed to study for. Success!
-Planning for many adventures to come…
-Planning for my parents arrival! They are in Italy with me! Yay!

My parents and I just spent some time at Lake Como {fun fact: that’s not its real name…do you know what the real name is?} taking in the little towns, the way the water hits the shore and some delicious lake fish! I am so incredibly blessed to have them come visit. To be honest it’s a bit surreal that they are here.
Because I have been with my parents my mom has been taking the pictures. She is so excellent at capturing life! But that means there aren’t any pictures on my camera to show you that they are actually here. Ya’ll have to wait a couple days…

On Saturday before I met up with them, I went with people from school to the international truffle fair. It’s a huge deal here, and it’s truffles as in fungi…as in mushrooms…as in, not chocolate. Bummer! But the fair had some hazelnuts {which mix well with chocolate}, truffles of course and wine. I’d say it was a good day. The town of Alba where this is held each year was so adorable and it was fun to walk the streets. {I found the nutella factory…dangerous, very dangerous!}

On the bus on the way...REALLY expensive food On the way we stopped at a castle and saw a beautiful hill turning colors

I’m a little disappointed…I don’t have any questions to answer from any of you. It’s never too late for inquiring minds to get some answers… just leave a message in the comments section or send me an email

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Florence in a Day

Yep, that’s right I basically visited Florence in a day. And I am satisfied with that. I visited the sites and got to enjoy a little flavor of the city. Mixed in with the “what I did there” part of the post will be a few tips of what I learned about visiting Florence. Future travelers take note!
On the way to Florence I found out that it is cheaper to a) Travel through Pisa {plus you can take a detour and visit the miracle tower} don’t go through Milan! b) Buy your ticket at each leg of the trip
When we woke up on Saturday we put on warm clothes {the weather station lied} and went across the street to the first café we saw. This was a good choice! I got a cappuccino {sorry but Torino has better ones} and my first pastry filled with blueberry. Surprise!

Then we headed to the Accademia to see David {make this the first of your day so you avoid long lines like us}. We referred to him as David, not the David. Clearly, we are on a first name basis. We didn’t have to wait too long to see him, and he was larger than life! And we traveled a little more around the museum before heading out.

They wouldnt let me take a picture of David, so here's typical FlorenceSee we had this plan and then we went searching for this mysterious bank {that we never found}. We went to this recommended place for calzones, and they were good…but I wouldn’t recommend it. Travelers get lots of food recommendations from the place you stay and then shop around a little.

We ate in front of the Duomo and then ventured inside. We did not climb it, I don’t regret this decision but if I were to go back I would. It’s free to go inside and see the vastness…its not to climb it. The place is huge and incredible inside. There’s this automatic loudspeaker that goes “Shhhh…silence…silence please” in Italian and English if it gets too loud inside. Admittedly, I almost started laughing.

Then we walked the streets headed for Dante’s house. It is amazing to me that there is still standing and intact a house of a famous person from so long ago, and in a place where hundreds of people live on top of each other.

From there we headed to the leather market. So many choices and colors! It’s an experience and I highly recommend going in even if you don’t buy something. On the edge of the market is the famous wild boar that you rub its nose for good luck. The kids were adorable as they timidly inched forward and then reached for the nose!

We decided to go to the Piazza Michelangelo because of the great views, and they were…but we had some adventures getting there. We went past the Uffizi {sorry all you art fans…} and across the river. We wanted to go to this church that we had heard was amazing and we followed the signs to a church. To the wrong church. It was a good walk, up a steep grade, and I probably wouldn’t have done it if I had known, but it was beautiful. The church was famous for being around since the 12th century and having some old panels…but not important enough for pictures.

the uffizi outside

So we walked down the steep grade and then up the second stairway to heaven {I’m exaggerating but at this point I wasn’t sure if we were going the right way} to a gorgeous look out. It had amazing views of the city. So amazing in fact, that we sat there for hours and concluded our lounging by watching the sunset. The pictures I have do not even compare.

We traveled back down the hill and went looking for a restaurant that was recommended. And we got a second recommendation for a pizza place called Gusta pizza. Second recommendations mean it’s really good! And I’m telling you that when you go there, this place is on your list to eat at. The man behind the counter joked with us which made my night! And…he made me a heart shaped pizza! Yummy!

After dinner we walked across the famous bridge the Nazi didn’t destroy looking to get waffles and gelato which seemed to be the “thing” in Florence. {Note if you aren’t by yourself share, you’ll be glad you did.}

And that was the adventures of a day in Florence!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A day to Remember

This weekend was one of those where you take the time to just be in a city and not just seeing its sites. I know Florence pretty darn well now after looking for a restaurant the first night and then a particular bank for hours { I am convinced the bank is only visible at night…sometimes}. I am so glad I got to visit this famous city!

Friday as you all know was my birthday, and I rang it in at midnight with friends, dancing and a countdown in Italian. After late night packing, I woke up and my California roommates sang “happy birthday” over skype. My roommate Robyn and I went ‘our’ café for breakfast and then grabbed a treat and our friend Mitch before heading off to the train station.

Heading out!

We were on our way south and enjoying the ride when we found out that this train had assigned seats. We were in car 2 and our seats were in car 5…and there were a lot of people in the aisles. Some of the seats literally take up the aisles and there was someone sitting in every single one. Instead of climbing and tripping and falling over every.single.person. We stood. And waited. Oh, and we had that little treat we picked up that morning called a meringue… with chocolate chips {which are a novelty here…talk about expensive chocolate chips!} It looked kind of like it had snowed where we standing when we were done, but that’s ok, right?!

To solve the assigned seating problem we got off at the next stop and walked to the correct car and got back on again. I then sat in silence for the next 2 hours with 5 strangers. I didn’t mind, and there was an Italian wearing a Santa Cruz surf t-shirt which made me giggle. We got off in Pisa for a little detour. It took a little while to find it on the map {…ahem, public city map where the most famous landmark and the only thing your city is known for is scratched out!!!} but we figured out directions to the Tower of Pisa. I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and it is a real building, and it leans way more than you would think is possible before falling over. {As my friend remarked, “someone messed up”}.A little sun in the eyes :) After our tourist indulgence we walked through the delightful little town {I also know the geography of this little city quite well, it’s that small} to the train station and hoped on a train headed for Florence!

We arrived in one of the most bustling train stations I have ever seen, and promptly crossed to the street and went looking for our hostel. After we found the hostel and checked in we naturally went looking for food. We walked past a beautiful lit Duomo, and down some lovely old cobblestone streets. We were looking for a little Trattoria [family owned restaurant] that Robyn had been to. Her memory was not helping her out and we ended up walking a good part of the city before finding out the name, street and directions to the lovely little place. It was a perfect birthday dinner.

I had my first risotto in Italy and a piece of pear chocolate torte for dessert {sorry, but after searching the city I was hungry and forgot to take pictures}. We sat and enjoyed the restaurant, and tried to keep warm. It has been ridiculously warm in Italy, and fall had miraculously decided to drop in on Florence and we were not prepared!

The Duomo

This picture is only trimed, not edited
That was my long, fun filled, marvelous birthday! More on Florence tomorrow!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Today is...

My Birthday!

I'm going to be a little MIA this weekend. I'm off to explore Florence for the weekend. {and study for next week's final...but shhhh that's only for on the train} Can't wait to share some more traveling adventures!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Living in History

Used From: no endorsement

I don’t know how much you watch, listen to, or consume the news but Europe is trouble. Or rather the European Union is in trouble which includes 27 “European” countries. So that means it’s a big deal. There are constant negotiations going on about whether to let Greece go or collectively pay for its debt. If Greece is let go…well…then Italy is next to be under fire. This is not to worry you, or to make you think that I’m unsafe over here. I’m living in history. Isn’t that amazing?!
There is an aspect to all of this that is hard to think about. As my professor said today “When I read the reports of people that are more intelligent than I, I get thrill and have trouble sleeping” {He is Italian, so English grammar/words is not always perfect when he speaks}. What he is referring to is the possible collapse of the Euro, or monetary system. If the euro collapses then the EU will most likely collapse. No one knows the consequences of Greece staying or leaving and no one knows the future if the euro collapses. He asked a German girl in my class what the German people’s attitude was to all this and she said that the people feel “…quite lost, and disappointed in the government. It is negative and pessimistic…” attitude in relation to the euro and the government pushing for the euro to be imposed. In a way the members of the EU are waiting for what might happen. Like I’ve said, I’m living in history right now.
In about a month I will be going to Brussels to see the EU buildings and to meet some of the officials. Yes, I’m going to meet really important people that change the lives of Europeans that ultimately change the lives of you and me. Is that scary or wonderful? I’m not really sure.
I guess the point of all this is; live in the moment, say a prayer for the leaders of the world {specifically the EU}, and keep tabs on World news {none of that just American news stuff}.

On another note:
Life is not dull here, but is settling into a pattern with classes and tests and snippets of time to explore the city. As well as keeping everyone informed on day to day adventures, I would love to hear your questions and comments. I had planned to write a post about the differences in life here and America but they have become less apparent. Here is where you come in…Ask a question about life here or Italian culture or anything that applies to what I have written. It might get put into a post or at least will be answered by me!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Oh my, wondrous food! This week in cuisine class was better than last week for me. So good!
*This is your warning; do not read if you are hungry! And there is going to be major picture overload so you can get a full experience…
Here’s what we made:
Piedmontese Fondue which was delicious! It has fontina cheese and egg yolks, milk and pepper in it. We served in little flaky pastry bowls. We all smiled when our teacher called this dish nutritious. I can pretend it’s really good for me, it has calcium right?

Carne all’Albese is raw meat (beef or veal) with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and flakes of parmesan. We also used truffle oil which added a very different flavor. It’s a thing to do here to have raw meat. I don’t know if I’m a fan, but this appetizer was really good.

Can you guess what this is?

Oh yes…Pesto! It was delicious, simple, and easy.

We also made a sauce called Spaghetti all’Amatriciana. I really like this simple sauce and it’s filling because it has meat in it. Italian’s don’t do meat sauces like Americans. This one comes close though. I also learned about different types of pasta while this cooked. Did you know… that before World War II spaghetti was eaten with your hands and was primarily for lunch, not dinner?

For our secondo, or meat and vegetable course we made Saltimbocca alla Romana. Translated this means to jump in your mouth created in Rome. That’s right they are so good that they jump in your mouth. It is meat with bacon, sage and if you choose a carrot slice rolled up and cooked in butter, oil and Marsala wine. The flavor was the best part! This was served with greens to add a lighter aspect.

Dolce was nothing other than Tiramasu. Which means “pick me up” because of the rum, coffee and chocolate all wrapped into a dessert.
Happy face! Full tummy!
Ok now that we are all hungry I have to let you in on the fact that we have to wait for 2 weeks before another class full of recipes. I know it’s disappointing, but I will have lots of recipes when I come back from Italy!

Side note: I have changed the comment’s section so that anyone can leave a comment (: Please, if you decide to be “anonymous” either sign your name or leave me an email telling me who you are. I love to know “you” are reading.
Please pray that I don’t get sicker. I’m trying to knock this cold out of my system, but there’s a little something going around here.