Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Taste of Winter

Things can be a little unpredictable around here. One day, it's snowing inches. The next, it's raining. And two days later, it's so sunny that you can look out the window and think it's summer again-until you step outside and go numb in two minutes, that is. I'm enjoying the mixture. The gray weather can get a little overbearing but hey, that's what a good book and some cute little kids are really good for. Whenever it's sunny, I try to get out and run, ride my bike, somehow just soak the warmth and radiance into my skin. These are some shots from some of the best days I've seen, at both extremes.

The pictures with the snow are from a small community outside of Bologna. It's where I spent two weeks working and even more vacationing this summer. I went back down to visit my friends and some students (and to say goodbye) one more time before I leave-at least until I'm back next summer, that is. It's hard to believe how much has taken place since July, my first time there. I feel so happy and so at home when I visit them now, I know it will be a destination for me for a long time to come. Maybe one day I'll get to call it home too. It was a fun and adventurous trip. My goal was to go to Ferrara, the city of bicycles, and take my bicycle too. It was supposed to be sunny that weekend...well, from the pictures at the train station with almost two feet of snow, you can tell the weatherman had it wrong that day. It was quite humorous, trying to forge my home in the snow with a bicycle; I must have looked insane. It didn't bother me much though. For the opportunity to be with friends, almost anything is worth it. Crazy to think just four months before people were crying that it was too hot. Ah, I love diverse seasons.

Padova Field Trip

Okay, I'm done apologizing for my long gaps in posting on my blog. It has finally hit me that since I've known my time here is not permanent or even that long, I SHOULD be out enjoying my days, staring at fascinating architecture, getting lost in cappuccinos, and in general soaking in all of my time and opportunities while they last. That being said, I'm still very glad to share my finds with you and I appreciate you taking the time to follow me through my journeys. So I'll go back to where I left off...

Winter is not quite as dreamy as the incredible summer Italy has-not as much juicy produce, enchanting warm evenings with late dinners outside, laughing and enjoying moments with friends. But in its own way, it is still romantic. I mean, it IS still Italy. The buildings seem to stand with proud endurance, taking the cold of winter as just another moment in the world they silently witness. Italian fashion certainly does not lack, with adorable coats, plenty of warm scarves and hats, and tons of lights everywhere, not just for Christmas but also New Years and La Befana. The hot chocolate is to die for, and the winter cuisine just as quick to make your mouth water. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I went to Padova early in December. Already though, the decorations and markets for Christmas were blooming, and even for a non-celebrator, it's charming. The markets are very popular for Christmas; in many ways similar to the weekly markets in every community, but more of them and more variety of goods to buy. I still favor the natural settings and the architectural charm of the cities, as my pictures show, but the markets bring the streets to life even in the cold weather, and feel so inviting. This field trip was solo, which always leaves me to ponder my surroundings a bit more intently. I've decided I'll take Italy any way I can have it (though I really would like to wander the streets with my friends in the warm summer evenings).

The terrible thing I must confess is, despite having been here for months, I still have done very little research of reading on the history of many of the places I visit. But here is what I do know about Padova: Padova is famous for Cappella degli Scrovegni, a chapel with frescoes by Giotto. It also boasts the largest piazza in all of Italy-always a popular place for meeting and socializing. With a tourist's eye, after a while each town can begin to be the same. But when you learn the history, taste the unique culture in each region-sometimes even each village (one word: dialect. Yikes!)-each place you go is a completely new experience. I'm enjoying it so much I don't want it to end...
PS-The photo with the strange monument with a piece of metal in it is a tribute to 9-11. The metal is a piece of the World Trade Center structure.

Here is Padova:
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