Italy: Traveling, Housing, Customs

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Perseus, Piazza della Signoria  Florence, Italy  Charolette Stoehr@2005

I just had toast and cheese in honor of my upcoming trip to Italy on September 23rd! In Italy a typical breakfast consists of bread, jam and cappuccino or some kind of pastry and cappuccino. My son will love this, he has never been much of a breakfast person. I will adjust as I can make polenta cereal in our apartment and grab a cappuccino on my way to class. When you order a cappuccino in Italy you will want to order at the bar and drink it standing at the bar unless you want to pay a surcharge to sit at a table and linger. Lunch or the midday meal is typically the largest, with dinner being smaller and lighter. The Italians do not drink milk or latte’s containing milk after say 11am! An espresso is okay or anything not containing milk. A staple for my daughter, Stacy and I when we traveled in Italy in 2005 was bread, cheese and tomatoes. We are vegetarians and found that Italy was pretty easy on our diet, as was Greece. The one food we could find no matter what country we were in was pizza! 

Our travel to Italy will be somewhat long and involved because I would like to save money. There are direct flights from Portland to Italy but they are expensive. We will be flying into Dublin, Ireland which is one of the least expensive airports to fly into in Europe. We will then stay at a hotel near the airport and fly from Dublin to Rome the next morning on a smaller European carrier. The flight is only a few hours and very inexpensive. From Rome we will take a bus to Siena that will take about 3 hours. Italy has an extensive rail and bus system. Stacy and I traveled the rail system all over Europe with a Eurail pass during our trip in 2005. Now I see that is not the less expensive way to go or necessarily the best route. The Siena train station is far outside the city, where as the bus takes you directly to the city center. 

We will arrive in Siena a day before I need to check in with my program to get settled into our rural apartment. It will be a 7 minute walk to the bus at the end of our road each morning followed by a 15 minute bus ride to city center. My school is in the city center of Siena. Our apartment is a cute, cozy one bedroom with a sofa bed pull out. The walls are stone and there is two stone fireplaces in the apartment. One in the kitchen and one in the study nook. The kitchen is more of a kitchenette but is fully equipped to make what we need. Some observations while researching housing: Italian law prohibits the use of heat before November 1st, (ahhh this is where the fireplace will come in handy!) bath tubs are a luxury but bidets are a necessity, (I had to actually look up how to use a bidet), no dryers at all, (all clothing is hung out to dry), the rural buses stop running in the evening and beware of postings that say the rental is close to the city without giving the distance, (close to Italians is not close to Americans). It took some trial and error to find us a place to live but I am happy with the choice even without a bathtub to soak in. We will take advantage of the hot springs an hour away!

I have received my class schedule and it looks like this:

Mondays- Italian 3:00-5:30p.

Tuesdays/Thursdays- cross cultural, Journal, painting concepts, art history and Italian 9am-5:30p.

Wednesdays-art history 9-10:50a and Italian 3-5:30pm. 

Friday reserved for class trips to Venice, Rome and other places. Not every Friday will be class trips so Chad and I will be taking 3 day weekend trips to Germany, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain and other countries close to Italy. A ferry ride to Spain or Greece only takes a few hours and can be done rather easy. I showed my son Chad the size of Europe on our globe compared to the size of the United States and on the globe it looks like you can fit three of Europe inside the United States. This is a good perspective on how easy and close travel is in Europe. 

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