Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hiking local trails

Embarking on Week 4 here in Arezzo, which means one thing: Commedia!  Yes!  We will finally be starting our intense work in Commedia dell'Arte this week with Michele Bottini.  Just this week we have at least 3 hours every day, starting with 6 hours on Monday.  I'm incredibly excited!  Only downside will be laundry this week... we found out after arrival that Michele requests that we work in all white outfits every day.  We all came equipped with one white shirt and one white pair of pants each.  With no dryers, that basically means we're all going to smell even worse than usual during this unit.  Oh well!

This week has been up and down.  As the head of the school warned us we might when we arrived, I've started slipping pretty heavily into some third-week homesickness.  I had a good chat with Mom yesterday where she pointed out how normal that is considering I have such deep roots and close-knit communities both at home and at HPU.  It's actually made me kind of satisfied to know how much I miss HPU, considering it took me two years to admit it was the right place for me to be.  Don't get me wrong-- I'm not letting myself miss out on the greatness that is where I am right now, but I can't help got long for my loved ones back home, and sometimes for America in general.

So... what's the best cure for homesickness?  Why, organizing an epic hike that starts right outside your front door!  On Friday our voice teacher Kevin had mentioned a 5-6 hour hike that can be taken through the huge hills near our school from Arezzo to Anghari, a cool little mountain town.  I set out yesterday (Saturday) with my friends Jonny and Stuart knowing only where the trail begins, not even remembering the name of the town we were ultimately trying to get to.  It was magical.  I couldn't have picked to better companions.  We talked, laughed, and sang for hours going up and up into the hills.

Goin' up the hill!

...and up...

Motorbikers... Beware!

Stuart learning to commune with nature.

...and up...

...and up...

...past many beautiful orchards and vineyards.

Stuart overlooking the towns.

A gate that probably served a purpose at some point but now not so much.

The guard dogs around here are all really really cute.

More orchards

About 2 hours in, the trail forked and we could not tell which path to take, as both had the red and white markers that we had been following thus far.  At that moment a car drove up to the gates of a beautiful private property that we had just been ogling at, and Jonny (who knows the most Italian of the three of us) boldly attempted asking their advice.  This was a very old Italian couple who didn't speak English, but they motioned us to wait while they went and got the man who lived there who spoke English (though still very little).  He ended up not knowing much by way of trails, but did take us into his house (AMAZING! I wish I could have taken pictures; so quaint and rustic) and pull out a map for us to look at.  That's when we discovered that the town we were heading to was in fact Anghiari, and that we were still only about a third of the way.  We couldn't tell from the road map which trail to take still, but it was quite enjoyable to be helped by this old man, Silvano, nonetheless.

We left the house and picked the trail that more closely resembled a road, thinking this would be more likely to lead to some town, even if it wasn't Anghiari.  We continued seeing amazing views and stopped on a giant rock to eat lunch.  I must admit, there's nothing like sitting on a giant rock eating a sandwich (salami, mozzarella, and fresh tomato) with your friends and overlooking a Tuscan landscape.  I announced at that moment that it was the best meal I've ever eaten, and it might just have been true.

My favorite scenery picture.

Jonny and Me.

Best. Sandwich. Ever!

The rock where we ate lunch.
After continuing on a bit we started getting a bit worried about finding a town or somewhere that we could bus back to Arezzo, so we gave thought to turning back and returning the way we came just to be safe.  As we were turning around a cyclist came by who we stopped to ask advice from.  He spoke excellent English and told us that if we continued on the road in the direction we had been going, we would eventually hit San Polo, a very small town with a cool church that also had a bus that goes to Arezzo.  We regained momentum and continued down the road.  We peered over the road at some point and noticed that down below us there was a beautiful stream.  I, of course, insisted that we go down and frolic in it.  It was probably my favorite bit of nature that we enjoyed that day.

Heading down to the stream.  So gracefully...

...and less gracefully in Stuart's case.

The stream!

My other favorite picture... I definitely want to find this spot again.

I doubled up on HPU t-shirt and sweatshirt on this outing... perhaps something will make it into a newsletter or something.


We made our way to San Polo, and found someone standing outside of the church who let us in and showed us around.  We couldn't really understand one another well, but she was very nice and told us about the church's history, including that there was something in there (we think some of the columns) that were from 5 B.C.E.  It was pretty incredible.

Heading down the road to San Polo.  So many olive trees.  Everywhere.

Beautiful countryside in the town's outskirts.

Yeah... We found it!

Villa with a name kind of like mine.

Cool WWII memorial.

The church we loved!

We hopped on the bus back to Arezzo without buying tickets... Luckily they never checked.  We got off in town and walked right into a little convenience store and each bought a cold beer to drink as we walked around the city.  It's the first beer I had since leaving the states; quite enjoyable.  And so funny to be able to just walk around in the open downtown with a beer in hand.  We got some delicious pizza and looked around a few of the churches, including the main one of Arezzo which I had still not entered.  It was a good day, but trudging back up to the hill to the Villa I was spent.  I Skyped a bit with Mom and Pops afterward then basically fell into bed for the rest of the night.

I'm spending today just catching up and writing my first essay for Philosophy.  The assignment is to write a personal essay about an event in our life that caused us to look at life in a completely different way than before.  I'm writing about Pops' time in the hospital, which is always a hard one to revisit.  I'm trying to write a bit then break here and there so as not to stay with it for too long at any one given time.

Thanks for your continued good thoughts and messages!  Keep 'em coming!

Love you all!

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