Venice Day 4: La Salute, Splitting Up, and Sunny Skies

Venice Day 4: La Salute, Splitting Up, and Sunny Skies

June 7, 2017 Wednesday

I started the day with class, per usual, and we discussed Henry James’s “The Grand Canal.” After the academic part of the day ended at 12 pm, my whole class, including the professor, took the 12:50 vaporetto to the San Zaccaria stop to begin a sort of field trip. Now, the weather report predicted that it would rain, but so far the sky was sunny with only some clouds in the sky.

So, we traversed the calle of Venice until we found the restaurant we had reserved for lunch. There were about 15 or 16 of us and the restaurant was pretty small, so we took up a significant portion. We were separated into two tables, and I was sitting at the table the did not include my professor. The food we ate was delicious! Each table got 2 plates of meats and cheeses and bread along with some pickles and olives. To drink we had different kinds of water: fizzy water or mineral water. Overall, the meal was one of my favorites.

After we ate, we all took a traghetto to cross the canal. Unfortunately, the boat was only allowed to sit 14, so our professor had to wait for the next one before he could join us. As we landed on the other side, it began to rain and we still had to walk to La Salute, a famous old Church that houses the painting Le Nozze di Cana by Tintoretto. We all went to see it because this painting was referenced by Henry James in “Grand Canal.” It was beautifully painted and the information about it was very interesting to read.

When we had spent some time seeing the painting, our class split up to have our own adventures. A group of us stayed at La Salute to attend the 4 pm mass. That was a cool experience because obviously it was in Italian, but it was also in a church that visitors were passing through and some would stop to watch the mass. It was almost like being in a zoo. Anyways, mass was only a half an hour, so after, we continued on our way traveling around Venice. The rain had stopped and it was a beautiful sunny sky, the kind that only happens after a rainstorm.

We were pretty tired at this point, so we grabbed the 7:10 vaporetto and headed back to San Servolo to have dinner. After dinner, we congregated because one of our friends hadn’t been in touch with us since we left her in the church around 4 with a guy she befriended talking about art. It was 9 pm and we were worried so we emailed our professor, but then about 20 minutes later our friend finally texted us back that she had been out of wifi range so she could not send or receive text messages. We were relieved to hear from her so we split off to go to our respective rooms. I got ready for bed and then went to sleep.

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La Salute

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I just thought this was beautiful. It’s some kind of stain for art that was in the window of a nice little shop.

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Ciao for now!

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Venice Day 3- Churches, Canals, & Cantina do Spade

Venice Day 3- Churches, Canals, & Cantina do Spade

June 6, 2017 – Tuesday

As usual, I started the day by waking up around eight and heading to breakfast for 8:30. I had my usual (or as usual as the past 2 days has been) breakfast of scrambled eggs, Italian bread with ham, and a double espresso. Our group made it to class for 9, and we discussed Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark in depth. In the most simplistic way possible (since we spent 3 hours talking about it, which was too little time), one of the main points was that the book is a love letter to Venice written through beautiful language and imagery.

After class, I got lunch with a few of the girls from class and we had an in depth discussion on what love is and whether or not all love is selfish. It was collegiate in the most cliche way, but it was philosophical and a fun way to pass a couple hours. When we finished lunch, a group of maybe 10 of us took the vaporetto to the San Marco stop and got off to explore the city more, but it was so crowded at the San Marco stop that 3 of the girls were left behind. So, when we arrived at our destination we waited for the others to catch up, and in that time we made reservations for dinner at a great restaurant I found in my guidebook (Frommer’s Venice Day by Day).  We started off going to the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (a beautiful church) where we just went and quietly observed the elegance and history. I did not know that we would be visiting a church, so I was wearing jean shorts (they’re from h&m with adorable cacti on them) and was made to cover them with a piece of stiff red cloth that I transformed into a skirt.

Later on, around 6 pm, we walked down to the restaurant to see if we could be seated early, but we weren’t able to. Instead, we walked around by the Grand Canal and took photos of the surrounding area. There was one building across the canal from us that had giant white hands coming out of the water and grasping at a building. I think it was part of an art display, but it was a cool sight to see. Finally at 7 pm, we made it to dinner at La Cantina do Spade, one of the oldest restaurants in Venice that is over 500 years old. We shared a platter of chicetti between 6 of us, and I ordered a side salad because I felt the need for vegetables. For the table, we ordered 1 liter of the house white wine and 1 liter of the house red wine, which was perfect for the 10 of us to share. At the end of the meal, four of us decided to get 2 orders of tirmasu and share. I have to say that normally I’m not a tiramisu type of person, but this was so light and delicious that I couldn’t put my fork down.

By the time we left the restaurant it was around 9pm and we were pretty tired. So we hopped on the first vaporetto (which gave us an amazing view of the Rialto Bridge lit up in the dark) that would take us back to the San Marco vaporetto stop where we then had to switch vaporettos in order to arrive back at San Servolo. By the time we got back it was around 11pm and I was ready for bed. I took a quick shower when I got back to the room and then went to sleep ready for whatever the next day would bring.

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This is me on the Rialto Bridge on Monday

Venice Day 2: Sun, Spritzes, and Strolling through Streets

Venice Day 2: Sun, Spritzes, and Strolling through Streets

June 5, 2017 Monday

Today was my first day of class, so  I had to be up early. I woke up around 7:45 am, got ready for the day, then headed down to breakfast with my roommates. The restaurant place where we ate is pretty much right below us in our building, so it wasn’t a far trek to find food. I had the continental breakfast which consisted of eggs, bread, meat, and fruit along with a cappuccino. All in all not a bad way to start the day. We then all headed over to the classroom which has a stunning view of the water and the breeze gave it the perfect temperature. The class is from 9:00- 12:00 with a 15 minute break around 10:45. Because today was the first day, we had some introductions and an overview of the class for the first part. We then discussed our readings (selections from Judith Martin’s No Vulgar Hotel, selections from John Berendt’s City of Falling Angels, and Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark).

After class, a group of us girls took the 12:40 vaporetto from San Servolo to the stop at San Marco’s and decided to get lost in Venice. Some people needed to buy SIM cards for their phones, so we followed a map to the recommended place. After that, we found a crowded restaurant to eat lunch at. The eight of us took us most of the counter, and each ordered a slice of a different kind of pizza. I chose the pizza with meat on it, which turned out to be a great choice. We then just traversed along the calles looking at the various stores and just taking in everything Venice has to offer. It was hot out and we were all thirsty, so we continually stopped so people could buy some water.

Around 5 o’clock, we split into two groups of four since some of us wanted to drink spritzes and talk while the others wanted to go back to rest. The four of us who remained enjoyed our spritzes then continued to wander, eventually ending up in some kind of courtyard art exhibit. Later on, around 6:00, we decided to head back, but when we tried to get off the boat we realized too late that we had missed our stop. We figured since we had to wait another hour anyways, we might as well walk around some more. So, we found this quiet residential area/ park to walk through which was beautiful and quiet and serene. By the time we returned to the busy areas, it was time to catch our boat. But when we got to the boat stop, we realized too late we were at the wrong one and had already missed the boat. So, again we traveled around the streets to distract ourselves while we waited yet another 45 for the boat. This time, by 7:50, we made it to the boat and finally got back to San Servolo. We had dinner outside and sat and talked until 9:30, then I went back to my room to shower and do some homework before turning in for the night.

Ciao for now!

Venice Day 1: Stepping off & Sightseeing in San Servolo

Venice Day 1: Stepping off & Sightseeing in San Servolo

For the next month, I will be in Italy learning about the culture and taking a class on literature about Venice at the International University in Venice. As a way to preserve my memories and experiences, I decided to write them down in a travel diary along with the many pictures I will invariably take.

June 4, 2017

I arrived at Marco Polo airport around 11 am Venice time feeling exhausted, gross, and sleep deprived yet nevertheless excited. I met the representative for my college outside baggage claim where I and 12 other students waited to be shuffled off into a bus that would take us to the water. Because there was a regatta on the airport canal, we had to take a bus to the water where we then got in a water taxi that drove us to the island of San Servolo. The ride over was amazing because the view of Venice from the water is incomparable. By the time I arrived at this island, it was 1:30 and now I was not only exhausted and gross, but I was also very hot. I waited in line at reception to get my room key and then headed over to the farthest building to the room at the farthest end of the building. When I got inside, I saw three beds, each with a nightstand, a long desk with a TV, and three wardrobes, along with a bathroom. I immediately tried out the shower and emerged feeling refreshed. I said hello to my new roommates, put away my clothes in the wardrobe, then subsequently fell asleep for two hours.

When I woke up, met up with one of my friends and together we walked around a bit, saw that there was a wedding reception going on, then continued on towards the room where we and the other students would be meeting with our professors. Once there at 6 o’clock, everyone filled out some necessary paperwork, handed in important documents, and got to know the people around them. Around 7 pm, we all headed down to an airy room that opened into a courtyard and had an amazing view of the water through the windows. Here we spread out over four tables and ate our dinner. This meal was set up along a long table where you could choose from cod, octopus, stuffed pepper, risotto, eggplant with sauce in a cup, fruits, breads, and an ice bucket filled with different kinds of wine and drinks. There was green apple juice laid on the table in a clear bucket that looked really pretty. Everything not only looked great, it also tasted delicious. When  the meal was over, I took a walk around the grounds then headed back to my room where I eventually fell soundly asleep after a long but rewarding day.
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Ciao for now!

Visiting Edith Wharton’s House (of mirth)

Visiting Edith Wharton’s House (of mirth)
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This is the view of the house from the back

Last summer, I took a day trip with my mom to visit the famous author Edith Wharton’s “house” in Lenox, MA. (I say “house,” but in reality it is more like an estate.) It was one of the most beautiful days of the summer and a perfect time to see the gorgeous gardens her estate is known for. The house is gigantic and was built under Edith Wharton’s instructions, so it is magnificent. There’s even a little cafe on the back terrace that serves delicious lemonade and lots of different treats to snack on. My mom and I chose to go on the guided tour of both the house and the gardens, although there are also separate tours of both if you want to look at one or the other on your own time.

The house was phenomenally decorated and had exceptionally beautiful artwork all around. It was also neat to find out many little facts about this famous female author. For instance, apparently she would write in bed for the first few hours of the morning and then get up. One of the floors was turned into a museum type area with walls of informations about Edith Wharton’s life, while on the first floor there was a bookstore selling all of the books she wrote along with some nice memorabilia. Overall, it was an amazing house.

The gardens were my favorite part, mainly because I could imagine Edith Wharton walking around on a similar sunny day 100 years prior to me and taking inspiration from her beautiful surroundings. There were two different gardens on opposite sides of her giant walkway. One was French inspired (my personal favorite one) while the other one was inspired by the Italian gardens. There were so many beautiful flowers to see, although some were not in bloom since it was the middle of summer.

Essentially, to get to the actual house and gardens part of the property, we had to walk through what was basically a park. Now, whoever runs the estate allows artists to put up their sculptures or pieces of artwork along the grass or in the woody areas. Some of them are really cool, while others are just plain weird. They are for sale… for a hefty price. There is also a large building (which in itself looks like a big house) that used to be the stables. As we were leaving, The Shakespeare Company was putting on a Shakespearean play right outside this building on the lawn. So, if you’re looking for a nice day trip, I highly recommend checking out the Edith Wharton house because there is so much to do and see.

Here are some of the many photos I took while visiting:

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This is the front view of the house (as you can see, it’s very impressive).
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This is one view of the backyard area on the far side of the very large back terrace.
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Here I am enjoying some snacks on the back terrace which also has a little cafe
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This is the French inspired garden
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This is the view of the house from the French garden. If you look closely, you can see the grass stairs.
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Here is a panoramic view of the stunning French garden.
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I am standing under a trellis in the Italian garden, and a bit farther back there is a pond.
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Here is the library.
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And here is the dining room table. Edith Wharton did not like to associate with anyone she was not particularly fond of, so her dining room table is small. This way she can have intimate dinners with only the people she liked.

This was such a fun trip, and I would gladly visit again because there is just so much to see. I could spend all afternoon sitting in the gardens they’re so beautiful.

Ciao for now!

 

Plymouth- A Pilgrimage of sorts

Plymouth- A Pilgrimage of sorts

This past weekend I visited the Pilgrims’ first landing site. I had signed up for a retreat with my college and it just so happened to be in this historic town. While it wasn’t exactly bustling with activity, it was a very quaint little area with plenty of sea-themed restaurants. If you’re someone who likes seafood, then I think you’ll like the cuisine they serve.

I stayed at Hotel 1620 which, I have to say, I found to be lovely. The rooms were spacious and cleanly kept, and the woman at the front desk was so helpful and sweet. And, don’t get me started on the food. It was amazing! (Maybe I’m biased because I’ve been eating the same college food for the past two months, but, I mean, my opinion still stands that the food was delicious.) The hotel was also a five minute walk to the beach, and I could see the ocean from the front of the hotel.

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We only had about two hours to visit the town, but I felt like that was plenty of time since there wasn’t much to do (in the area I went to) other than visit the main attraction: Plymouth Rock. This famous stone was bigger than expected and about ten feet below the sidewalk. To be honest, my friend and I walked past it before our other friend called us back. It was not really publicized other than the tall sign that read Plymouth Rock. We held on to the black metal fence as we looked down into the pit of sand that was separated from the ocean and saw the acclaimed rock with “1620” carved into it. It was neat but pretty underwhelming. Unless you think of how old it is and how long it has been there for. Then it’s pretty cool.

The town itself was quite quiet, and there was not much to do other than walk by the water or go into tourist shops. Most of the places I passed were closed, presumably because the town is situated on the water so most places are probably seasonal. There was, however, a cute little shop that sold souvenirs, and it sold candy for 15 and 25 cents! I felt like I was in the 1950s. Fortuitously, I had found a quarter an hour before in the conference room of the hotel, and I ended up using it to buy my favorite candy: Hot Tamales. They also sold Tootsie Rolls, Nerds, bubble gum, chocolate coins, etc all for 15 to 25 cents, and it was amazing. I think this was one of the best parts of the trip.

On Sunday, the day we were leaving, each group went out onto the jetty and walked the length of it, looking out into the ocean. The jetty was pretty long with a wire rope on one side for those who felt like they might fall off the rocks. It was a gorgeous February day, sunny and 60 degrees with a bit of wind on the water. It was so nice that I took my jacket off and walked along in just a sweater. It was the perfect day to see the ocean and this moment was the highlight of my trip. If ever you get a chance to visit Plymouth, I highly recommend walking along the jetty and observing the serenity of nature.

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Overall, it was a great weekend in which I met new people, reflected on myself and my thoughts, and explored a historic place. The town, while not terribly exciting in February, was fascinating in its history and its impact on America. It was fun to escape campus for a couple of days and stay in a nice hotel and to see the beauty of the natural world.

Ciao for now!