Thursday, September 25, 2008


This weekend we're heading out on a three-day to Pompeii. Lots of pictures when I get back.

Knee is doing a lot better. No pain, no meds- it's still a bit swollen but it'll hold my weight. No brace either. I can manage with one crutch for a while too.

I'm working on some special plans for next weekend- that's our four day weekend where we don't have to be anywhere from Thursday afternoon til Monday morning. It's going to be awesome, I can tell you that much.

Care Package: Can someone please, please send me a box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese?

Monday, September 22, 2008

What not to do in Florence...

I dislocated my knee walking through a 15th century house. I haven't had a full dislocation in about six or seven years, so besides the pain it was really, really annoying, since I couldn't walk around Florence anymore or go to Milan over the weekend like my roommates and I planned.

Spent Friday night watching Torchwood with one of my Professors, Saturday reading, and Sunday watching the second season of Doctor Who. Nothing more strenuous than walking to the kitchen. As of now, Monday morning, my knee is still swollen a bit, but it'll mostly hold my weight without pain. The muscles ache, and until all the swelling goes down I can't have my full range of movement, and despite the fact that I know what I'm doing with ice and ace bandages I'm being strongarmed to the emergency room this afternoon (with one of my other classmates who's appendix might need to come out, so at least they're not just taking me in). It's not bad.

Thankfully, before I dislocated it, we had a lunch break from class in Florence for about an hour and I was able to get the pictures of Perseus and Medusa I hadn't gotten before and Professor Shealy told me where there was a.... get this.... English Only Used Book Store. In Florence! They only take in english books, all the people that work there are Brits, and the books are all cheap. Considering a new paperback here can go for 18€ I'm surprised there aren't more used book stores.

Anyway, don't dislocate your knee. It's not fun. Especially don't do it while in Florence- you'll wind up sitting in the McDonald's next to the train station for hours. You won't get to go to Milan either. But you can watch Doctor Who all freaking day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rome Part 2

This is one of the first marbles in the Capitoline Museum. It was really well preserved, great details in what they were wearing. There were several others, a few soldiers... Every little piece of the armor was as fresh looking as if it had been carved yesterday.

This has to be the best fountain ever. EVER.

The Dying Gaul. You can't see all of it in my picture, but it's near a window and hard to get a good angle on without back lighting it. It's a really, really sad scene- he's dying from a wound in his side and was apparently carved after conquering the Gauls. What really got to me about it was seeing how graceful the statue was- how much it broke your heart to see- I felt like they had so much respect for their enemies.

This is probably the worst looking picture I've taken all trip- but one of the ones I like the most. Saturday night after we'd seen Saint Theresa in Ecstasy, The Capitoline, the ruins of the Forum, the Colosseum- Kayla and I (she's one of my seven roommates) wanted to go see the Opera in Rome. Turns out there was one near our hotel, sort of down the block, past the Basilica that used to be Diocletian's Baths; it was in an old church (which we hadn't expected) with a mosaic apse (the curved, arched bit over the altar) done by.... A Pre-Raphaelite. We're sitting there a few minutes before the Opera started staring at it, just boggling, wondering how old it is. At intermission we got up to wonder around and found some fliers on the church... It's a bit hard to see, since it was so dark, but at the top (the orange bit) is a vision of heaven, hovering over Christ on a chair made of angels, with five open windows beside him, each with one of the four arch angels standing in front of it... The empty one on Christ's right is where Lucifer was supposed to be, which is supposed to be a message to all the church goers about how even the mighty can fall... Below that is a row of angels separating the heavens from the waters (it looked like this game we used to play in elementary school with parachutes)... And below that is five groups of people meant to represent the five parts of the church... Apparently there were some famous faces hidden in the crowd of people, since the artist was using contemporary famous models as was popular. There's supposed to be J. P. Morgan and Abe Lincoln. In a few weeks when we go back to Rome I'm going to try and get better pics.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Last night I got through that scene that I've been building up to in my novel for about a year. I've been trying to do about 500 words a night, at least, since I've been here. The first night it was like pulling teeth, next night I missed it due to homework, night after that 1k came easy. Last night 3,005 was easy enough and it got me through the hard scene. Yay!

I'm now at... 266 pages, 131,079 words.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rome Part 1

Rome was absolutely amazing. We went almost too fast, but we saw so many famous things it's impossible to fault the speed.

Friday we took the train early in the morning from Chusi to Rome, which is going to be one of the things I miss the most about coming home. Taking trains is awesome! Especially when it's cheap, easy to use, safe, and well planned. On the way home it rained, which I hate to drive in, and riding in the train while it rained was very restful- just the sound of it.

So, we get there, get to our little hotel, and head right off to the Vatican and St. Peter's. It was insane, some of the things I saw.

That was probably part of a public fountain. Possibly it was a bathtub- same shape. It was in the Vatican.

Back in the old days people used to cross the Mare Nostrum on sea monsters. Really. This was also in the Vatican.

This was one of the "here there be monsters" bits in the Hall of Maps at the Vatican.

This was my delicious Friday night dinner, the "American" pizza with hot dogs and french fries.

This is Marcus Aurelius at the Capitoline Museum. The Last good Emperor.

I think that's it for now. We had a long train ride today, lots of travel, and the weather changed. One of the Professors said that it would probably rain over the weekend, and once it did the heat would break. He wasn't kidding- it went from blast furnace to I NEED A SWEATER in the course of an hour or two.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Market Day!

Buonjourno! It's Thursday, which is Market day. Not market like the markets on all the streets that sell various things, but Market like a Fair.

That's right, we get a weekly fair.

Nonagressive driving, a weekly fair, cheap mozzarella? That's right, Italy is looking pretty darn awesome, isn't it?

Our weekly fair is outside the city gates, down in the back parking lot of the Bus Station. It's maybe, maybe a ten minute walk down a really steep hill, and then it's all the knock-off homemade Prada you can carry, as well as homegrown veggies and fruits, sliced meats from butcher shops in RVs, high fashion clothes, shoes, kitchen stuff, jewelry, leather jackets, towels... If you can't get it in Montepulciano, or Montepulciano Scalo (the new town outside the walls) (everything in the walls dates from at least the 1500s) it's going to be for sale at the weekly market. It's a bit like a flea market except everything arrives on fold out robotic vans.

I'm going to take some pictures of it when I run down during my lunch break from classes so in the event you're reading this at 6AM (go back to bed!) when I come back in an hour and update this with pictures and comments about this week's fair.

Edit: After a misadventure on the buses, I'm sad to admit I couldn't get any pics of the fair. I got some vile looks the second I took out my camera. However, today they were selling everything from fresh cheese to veggies to italian leather pumps to chainsaws. I bought a sweater, a really light one; v-neck, dark gray and green stripes, long, 3/4 sleeves.

In Chusi (Que-see), which is where the bus misadventure went off to, also the main train station near here, I saw a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the window. In Italian. It reminded me that I hadn't seen any bookstores yet. I didn't really expect there to be too many, so I was hoping on this weekend's trip to Rome I'd find one at least.

On the way home I managed to get a pic of Conad; the local Dollar General/Kroger/Walmart which is about the size of a Walgreens at home. It's where you go when you want something that's a little too name brand to be at the streetside markets.

We've got to be at the bus station before 7AM tomorrow. I'm going to bed. Expect a big report on Rome come Sunday night, or Monday- I won't have my computer with me until then.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stranger Days

There's some things I'm going to miss when I come home.

50 cent balls of fresh mozzarella cheese. Cappuccinos for a euro. Pici. Oh man, I'm going to miss Pici- it's this local noodle, really thick, really long, like spaghetti- every noodle is made by hand. You can get it fresh at any market here. Hell, the markets. These little street-side markets on every block where some nice old lady will pick out all your apples and pears for you, since she doesn't trust you to do a good enough job. No one drives aggressively which is why they can all drive between the lanes and zoom around on Vespas without anything tragic happening.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

From bad Traveler to Worse...

Ok, the reason I haven't posted is I've been sick. Like, sick unto dying, the kind of sick where I'd actually call out of work... Which I don't think ever happened while I was at Dr. No's, but I've got to be at the point where I can't stand without getting the shakes before I'll do that.

I got sick late Thursday night (Friday we were going to Florence, of course) and spent most of the night huddled in the bathroom. Come morning the others in my apartment are packing up to head out and I'm wondering if I should call the Professors and tell them not to expect me. I finally decided to tough it out when one of my roomies got on me that I'd already paid for it. That was sort of a mistake, because I only felt worse all day and don't recall much of the Ufuzzi Museum. Probably the coolest thing I saw that really got to me despite being sick was the bronze Perseus and Medusa.

Sorry- more later! Have to run off to dinner!

Ok, back from dinner! That picture above is from Saturday night- after Florence, we had the choice of either coming home for the weekend and chilling in Montepulciano or going out to Hostels and adventuring around. Since I wasn't doing so well I chose to stay home. And Kayla was staying home too, so we decided to have a dinner party at our flat with all the other kids who stayed home too.

Because we set up the party the Professors asked Kayla and I if we wanted to go look at some of the local towns on Sunday, for lunch, which is where that nice picture at the top came from. We drove around for a bit, some nice countryside and pictures. We wound up eating in Monticchiello (Monte-Kaylo) at this really lovely open air restaurant and touring the town, as well as looking at a local church, which is where the following picture came from.

It's apparently a story about three men taking a bath in barrels while being yelled at by a flying Pope. :3

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mailing Address

In case you need to mail me something (which would be awesome!) I can be reached at...

Whitney Donald
Il Sasso
Via di Gracciano nel Corso, 2
I-53045 Montepulciano (SI)

And I've been playing with fire! Be scared! On our stove you actually have to turn on the gas, then hold the stove nob on, then light a match...

Monday, September 1, 2008

The First Day Of Classes

Yesterday was the big day with the Barrel Race in Montepulciano. Like I was saying before about all the contrada (the different neighborhoods with the flags), there are about eight of them. And to work out any neighborhood tensions they have a ritual battle (I assume that's where this came from, but it certainly seems to work for that effect since they're all so contrada-proud yet don't get in fights about it- also, tourists) where teams of two men from each contrada roll one of the 150lb wine barrels through the city streets. There was a huge parade before, with costumes from the renaissance.

None of the reinactors looked like they'd gotten married for love, either. ^_^ But I supposed that's mostly historically accurate.

This is the winning team of the barrel race. They're not from my contrada so I couldn't cheer too much.

The doors in this town deserve to have stories written about them. Lots of stories. There's ones that look like dungeon doors, ones that look like city gates, ones with knockers, ones with the knob in the middle.

This is the atrium in one of the houses next to mine. Since the house has probably been divided up in flats like my house is, I couldn't go in, but I could take pictures from the open door. Imagine having this in your front hall!

This is Punchinello. He tells us what time it is by ringing that bell. He actually moves! Apparently this Bishop (I think) get exiled from Rome to here and was homesick for Punchinello, so he sent someone to buy one and had the tower lowered so he could see it better. The tower is about forty feet tall now, but used to be about 60 or so.