January 18, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009, 4pm

It’s Saturday, and everything is finally starting to come together. I’ve figured out the metro stops, found the grocery stores, and this morning experienced the outdoor market. The market is crazy—hundreds of little old ladies pushing you aside to get to the produce. The market closes at 2pm and isn’t open on Sundays, so when we got there at 12:30, most of the best produce was already gone. By 1:00, when we had had time to look around and decide what we wanted to get, most of everything was gone! We only managed to get onions and some cashews, then had to go to the regular grocery store for the rest of what we wanted. Below is a photo of our school in the Villa Caproni:

Villa Caproni

Fortunately, all the Italians I’ve interacted with have been very helpful and patient with me. At the grocery store, someone helped me find the right button on the scale so I could print the sticker for my broccoli… the lady selling nuts had to explain that they were 1.5 euro per 100 grams (un etto), not per kilo, as we assumed… etc. I’m still intimidated by stores and ordering things there, because my Italian isn’t good enough for me to understand everything they say, but not bad enough that I’m forced to point, so I’m not sure what to do! But in time it’ll be fine.

On Thursday morning was a walking orientation: we walked with a graduate student down Via del Corso toward the center of town, passing the Piazza del Popolo, the Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon. After lunch we wandered around town, saw the Ara Pacis Museum designed by Richard Meier, the Mausoleum of Augustus, and the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna). In the evening we went to a cooking demonstration at the school with the professor of printmaking, who’s going to be my professor! His pasta sauce was really delicious. Afterwards we made spaghetti with pesto.

Yesterday (Friday) we had most of the day free, so we went to the Villa Borghese park (not to the museum itself) and walked around; the park is very nice, with a pond for rowboats, lots of little museums, and monuments, including an enormous one of King Umberto I. We found really good pizza near Via Vittorio Veneto. Then we climbed up to the overlook over Piazza del Popolo to take pictures, then back down, then walked down Via Cola Rienzo to find the department store there and saw the Piazza Cavour. In the evening we went to a talk about Italian culture.

Today (Saturday) after shopping in the afternoon we tried making our own pasta sauce, but we forgot to get the herbs we needed so it was a little bland. But we’re learning! After dinner we took the metro downtown to see the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), which is lit up at night and looks really nice. I hope you enjoy my pictures!