Dateline: Florence, Day 1 – Return to the Scene of the Crime

Florence, Italy
9 July 2009

I was in Florence once before, almost three years ago. A lot has changed, not in Florence so much as with me. I graduated, secured a job, and am back in Seattle.

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Florence, Tuscany, Italy


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There’s something to be said for traveling almost a third of the way around the world and seeing good friends.

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Interestingly enough, “grand teton” doesn’t quite translate the way you think it might from French.

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Everyone I know is Studying Abroad!

Not everyone. But a lot.

Jeff Staples is in El Salvador. Charlie Wyman is in Ecuador. Amelie Mabbutt and Hannah Bellinger are in Spain (although not with the same group…as far as I know). Julia Masnik and David Clausen are in London (together). Jessen Myburgh is in Greece. Alison White is in New Zealand. Katherine Staples is at St. Andrew’s in Scotland. Katie Shaiman is in Edinburgh, Scotland. Matthew Knowles was in France. Amy Dubetz is in Budapest. Amy Beck is in Buenos Aires. Lindsay Hansberry is in Europe.

There could be others, but I’m done looking through Facebook, for now, trying to figure out where everyone is. The point still stands though: A crap ton of people I know are not in the United States (or Canada or Mexico) right now.

Update:
Mesa Schumacher is in Peru. Kelly Nolan is Florence.

Next school year, Brittany Linton is going to Japan and Devan O is going to London.

Update II:
Lauren Rubinfeld is in Sydney, Australia.

Update III:
Dan Lecocq is in Japan!

Greetings from Agnone

Dateline Rome, Italy.

A really long day today with lots of traveling.

Took a train from Florence to Rome (1.5 hours)

Rented a car and then drove to Agnone (3 hours)

Investigated Agnone, where my mothers, mothers, father was born.

Learned they make world famous bells in Agnone

Drove back to Rome (3 hours)

Found hotel (1 hour)

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We fly out to Switzerland tomorrow afternoon.

Random Notes on Italy

Dateline Florence, Italy.

On English
———-
Italy is the first country that I’ve been to on this trip where English was not the primary language. However, it is interesting to note how many people speak English, both the local Italians and many foreigners who don’t speak English as their first language.

In many ways, English seems to be the universal language of the world. I find this somewhat surprising as a majority of the world does not have English as their first language.

Words in Italian
—————-
Despite the fact that I really could get around without learning any Italian, I’ve tried to pick up some basic words and phrases:

Florence => Firenze
Hello (and Goodbye) => Ciao
Thank you => Grazie
You’re welcome => Prego
Print => Stampa
One => Uno
Two => Due [doo-eh]
How do you say…in Italian? => Come si dice… in Italiano?
Hello (on the telephone) => Pronto
Hour => Hora
Beautiful = > Bella
You often see the phrase “Ciao Bella” on shirts, which translates to “Goodbye Beautiful”.

I’m sure I could also have used most of what I remember from Spanish and that would have sufficed.

Cords
—–
All the restrooms have pull cord in them. In case you fall down, you’re supposed to pull it to call for help. Funny thing is, the cords are placed way up high so they’re out of the way and there’s no what you could pull them if you were to fall.
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Streets
——-
All the streets in the city center are made of stone.

Illegal street peddlers
———————–
There are lots and lots of people who have carts to sell their goods from (think of the Mexican side of the US-Mexican border in San Diego). However, there are also lots of people who just peddle goods in the street. They almost always peddle the same things: knock off purses (Louis Vuitton anyone?), knock off watches, and prints.

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When the police come, they have to quickly pick up their goods. However, it appears that the police turn a blind eye and will wait for the merchant to pick up his stuff before walking by them.

Vespas, cars, and parking lots
——————————
Vespas are every where. They really are, I almost was run down by one. Not many luxury cars can be seen on road, however a quick look into a garage reveals where they are.
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Internet Cafe Prices and Laws
—————————–
Rick Steves says that Internet Cafes can be found for €4/hour (€3/hour for students), we found the best Internet cafe (in terms of quality) for €1.50/hour for everyone. I also saw another one offering Internet for €0.99/hour.

Just walk around and you’ll find something. As I mentioned earlier {link that, please}, Italian law requires that owners collect user information before allowing them on the Internet. I did go to one cafe where all they took was your name, but everyone else seems to abide by the rules.
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I’m sure I’ll have more notes and thoughts on Italy later.

Ciao Italy

Dateline Florence, Italy.

Today wrapped up our final day in Italy. We depart first thing tommorrow morning via high speed train into Rome, which should take about an hour and a half.

I slept in today, got up just after noon, had an awesome sandwich at the local cafe (although I belive they call them bars).

Did a little bit of writing, and then walked around. It started raining shortly after I left the Internet Cafe. I headed back and mostly sat around and watched the European Games on TV and some CNN International. Florence really isn’t any fun in the rain.

Tomorrow we leave at 7:10am for the train. We’ll arrive in Rome and then make our way to Agnone where my great-grandfather (my mothers, mothers, father) is from.

We leave Monday for Switzerland where we’ll see Remo and Günter.

I leave late Wednesday or early Thursday for Germany so that I can fly out of Frankfurt Airport to Denver via Dulles.