Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How do you make Tirimisu?


Lunedi: Tonight I had my Italian cooking class! It was amazing. We made from scratch Ravioli di spinaci al burro e salvia, Tagliolini al pomodoro e basilico, Tagliatelle ai peperoni, e Tiramisu!!

I was in the group that made Tirimisu, then the Tagliolini and Tagliatelle. The group next to us first made the dough, and then we all cranked it through a small hand-crank pasta machine (Imperia is the brand of the machine; excellente). Our dough was egg dough made with simply eggs, flour, salt and olive oil. In fact, the flour used was half white flour and half hard wheat flour called semola.

To process the dough into the pasta, we used the hand-crank machine to flatten it. First we ran it through ten cranks at setting one, then put it successively through settings two through five, then floured both sides, cut it in half, and cranked each dough half through setting six. We then let the dough sit for a little bit, then placed on the attachment for turning the flat, long and silky soft dough into pasta noodles. Taking turns we fed the pasta dough into the machine while cranking… and out came beautiful noodles!! We first made the taglionini, then the tagliatelle. The tagliatelle noodles are smaller, like angel hair, quite graceful and delicate looking! When making pasta it is very important to separate and toss lightly the noodles with a bit of flour to keep them from sticking to one another. (If you wish to cut the pasta with a knife, put a lot of extra flour over each side of the flattened dough and roll it up loosely; then cut the roll into the desired thickness and unroll into noodles!) Separate and spread the noodles out on your marble table-top. (Use marble because it is porous (has small holes) and thus can be easily washed. The only thing you should keep away from marble are foods such as lemons and lemon juice because the citrus is corrosive to the marble and eats it away.) Lucky for me, the table-top in my apartment here in Firenze is marble, so I can use it to cook!

Making Tirimisu is incredibly easy and fun, and requires no baking. The simple ingredients needed: eggs, mascarpone cheese (this is from cows and is probably one of the fattiest and heaviest cheeses), sugar, Savoiardi biscuits (or any simple, plain cookie), coffee (or whatever you prefer, you can use cherry sauce, chocolate, etc; it's is what the biscuits are to be dipped in), and cocoa powder (to dress the dessert). If you're curious, a recipe that serves otto: cinque uovi, cinquecento grammo formaggio di mascarpone, centocinquanta gramma zucchero, duecentocinquanta gramma biscotti, tre decilitro caffe, e dieci gramma polvere di cacao.

First take your eggs (usually roughly one egg for two people) and crack them over a large bowl. The game is to make sure to let the egg whites go into the bowl but not the egg yolks: toss the egg yolks back and forth in the split shell halves to shake out the whites; then toss the yolks in a second bowl. Add the sugar into the egg yolks (don't be bashful, add really heaping spoonfuls!) and beat lightly so to make sure it becomes soft and smooth; do so until it becomes light yellow (actually you can beat this as long as you want). Once at the desired color and consistency, carefully add the mascarpone cheese to create cream. Don't whip this new combination too fast or too long, or else the result will be full of chunks of butter that have formed! On the other hand, for the egg whites, it's okay to whip them into fluffy clouds! Then slowly and delicately pour the whipped egg whites into your cheese, sugar and egg yolk mix... do this slowly in order to keep the egg whites fluffy; we want to retain the air-filled pockets. Whip carefully by taking your spatula and running it under the mix and then bringing it to the side and out to the top--this method helps to retain the air and volume.

Next is the construction stage: take out a fairly deep dish (preferably a clear one so you can see your layered formation from the sides; but we used foil tins which work, too!) and splat down and spread out a little bit of our creamy egg and cheese fluff to keep the final structure from sticking to the bottom of the dish. Now get to those biscuit cookies and dip each one into a bowl of coffee (or whatever you'd like) till soaked well but not falling apart. Place the biscuits down in your dish as a neatly-laid foundation. When finished, pour in a nice layer of egg and cheese cream mixture to neatly cover the biscuits. Layer this with another spread of the coffee-soaked biscuits, this time in a perpendicular pattern from what you laid down at the bottom. It is important to place this biscuit layer in a perpendicular pattern not for taste but for presentation: it keeps the tirimisu from falling apart when served!! Pour over the second layer of biscuits another layer of egg and cheese cream mixture, again generously covering the entire level. At this point you can call it quits or add some chocolate chips or something else for fun and add more layers. We let it chill with our four layers, and placed our fresh Tirimisu in the fridge for a couple hours. Usually you'd want to leave it in the fridge for at least three… heck, even leaving it overnight to eat the next day works well, too! (In fact, you can save the Tirimisu (covered, of course) in the fridge for a couple days and it will keep. Tirimisu also freezes very well for keeping longer.) In any case, after leaving in the fridge for a few hours, take it out and sprinkle the top with your cocoa powder... now it's ready to be devoured with delicate grace at the end of a long and filling Italian meal! :)

While slowly and consciously eating the pasta we made, something occurred to me. It first came to me while I was turning the pasta around, looking at the sauce's colors and the texture seen from the light. I was savoring the bell pepper fragments sprinkled over its orange-reddish hue layered above its egg-yellow pasta. I'm sure you've heard of the phrase "the joy of cooking"? Cooking is promoted for all and should be embraced by all... so why not think of architecture and space the same way? Why not, "the joy of architecture"? "The joy of space and place?" Why isn't architecture appreciation promoted as much as food? It should be!! Architecture, like food, is something experienced, used, and needed by all. Fall in love with architecture's delectable tastes; savor, satisfy and share... just like cooking.

...And on the same note, at the beginning of my program here in Firenze, one of the professors in the welcome reception spoke of "SLOW LOOKING": like Slow Food, look and inquire about what ingredients went into the artwork and architecture!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Roma con classe di Architettura


Io gli amici!

Mi sono divertito in Roma questa fine-settimana nonostante ho nostalgia di casa e stanco. Il scorso notte a viaggio, sono andato dormire in anticipo. Oggi, domenica, sono meglio di prima venerdi sono andato a Roma di primo mattino. Siamo viaggato in treno. (Allora, scivo adesso questo in il treno! Andiamo le case in Firenze da Roma.) In Roma a venerdi siamo andato a il Pantheon, Forum Romanus, il Campodeglio, San Ivo (ma cuiso), e Trastevere per la cena. A sabato siamo andato Tivoli per vedere Villa D'Este (anche siamo mangiato il pranzo a villa D'Este) e Villa Adrianna. Due molto favorito posti a mondo! Villa D'Este, e specialmente Villa Adrianna faccio abitare! Ambiente e molti belli!! Siamo viaggiato a piedi a l'autobus in grande il piove da Villa Adrianna. Il temporale con il tuono e il lampo! Il viaggiare l'autobus molto interrestante. Molti ragazzi con aspetto interrestante!

A domenica, oggi, siamo andato a la chiesta San Carlo alle Quattro Fontaine di Borromini. Sono amore questa chiesta e l'architettura di Borromini. Oggi, sono avuto mesa in San Carlo alle Quattro Fontaine! Anche sono andato il pranzo con solo a la piccola piazzeria adjacente il Pantheon. Sono andato quello la pizzeria scorso estate in 2004. Le Pizzi e economica e molti beni! Anche sono andato mangiare bennissimo gelato a Giolitti's (a vicino Piazza di Monte Citorio.) Sono mangiato il pistaccio, la muca, e il caffe. Scorso estate sono abitato in Piazza di Monte Citorio.

fountain at villa d'este

san carlo alla quattro fontane

Adesso questo e fine scrivo me casa in Firenze con la cena! La cena e Nutella, tofu, un'aqua--ho poco cose da mangiare, ma bene! Scrivo in l'italiano e sfida e divertimento! Grazie per legge questo! Ciao! -Matteo

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Studio Vino… il perfecto!

Lunedi, 12-9-05

On Lunedi I had wine and olive oil tasting class. Really amazing! (I'll write soon about my past fine-settimana and settimana in a little bit). We walked from the Villa Rossa (mio scuola) at 17:00 to a fine wine shop on the via near the Duomo between its northern side and Piazza Santasissima Annunziatta.

To hold a wine glass, always hold its stem never the cup. The reason to not hold or touch the cup is two-fold: for one, touching the cup leaves fingerprints and this isn't pretty looking, and secondly, your fingers heat the wine if touching the cup. Heating the wine with your hand is usually unwanted but can sometimes be positive if your wine is too cold. And speaking of temperature: white wines go in the fridge, while reds should be kept at room temperature.

Roll the wines in the glass in front of something white so you can see the color best. Roll it in the glass to the light. Smell the wine. Look for different smells. In the first wine we had it smelled like pears and apples along with grapes. There are pears and apples grown in the region where these grapes are from, but the wine is pure grapes. One of the reds had a very woody and smokey smell and taste--the grapes for this wine were fermented in a particular region's oak barrels. The reason why cheese goes well with wine is because cheese has a lot of fat and wine contains alcohol. The fat coats the inside of the mouth and the alcohol washes it down. We had cheese with our white wine, and salami (Chianti salami and another variety) and raw bacon with our two red wines. Chianti is the region between Firenze and Siena. Chianti Classico is actually the name of the northern part of this region.

The term Chianti Classico refers to a specific recipe for wine, the region, and, of course, a feeling! The best wine holds the special light purple banner label with the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) on it. True Chianti Classico has the black label of the black rooster. Why is there a black rooster on Chianti Classico wine? Florence and Siena have a fierce rivalry and in order to settle the dispute of where the boundary between the province of Florence and the province of Siena was going to be after the reunification of Italy, the decision was made to have a horseback rider from Florence and Siena ride from each city and where they met the boundary would be. To make sure each rider started at the same time, the riders would leave when a rooster cried at the break of dawn in each city. Of course, as I was told, Florentines are clever and smart, and they decided to starve their black rooster for three days prior to the race. And what happened? The rooster didn't cry at dawn, it cried four hours before dawn! And this is why, we are told, that the boundary between the provinces of Florence and Siena is closer to Siena than to Florence!

How does wine get its different colors? Does red wine come from light or dark grapes? Red only comes from dark grapes, but white wine can come from both dark and light grapes; reason being that the color in the wine actually comes from the colored skin of the grape. Ever peeled back the skin of a grape? What is underneath is light, mostly colorless grape flesh. By stripping away flesh from the grapes, varieties of wine colors can be achieved, including white from dark grapes.

I also learned a little about olive oil production. Olives, when picked off the trees are spicy and mostly unpalatable. To create the olives one buys that are soft and juicy, the olives are set in brine. Extra Virgin olive oil comes from olives that have been pressed just once--highest quality with the thickest consistency. Virgin olive oil has been pressed twice. And third press olive oil is even lesser quality. The reason people would even consider to press the olives more than once (when it lowers the quality) is that by doing so it can double the production. Fresh pressed olive oil contains all the stems and pits and skins; these then come out through filtration.

I highly recommend you come out to Firenze and Tuscana and taste some wines! I'm hoping to go wine tasting around Tuscana and Chianti! You can join me if you're in the area!

Anche, Lunedi notte I met up with my friend Tony Laidig from Santa Cruz (whom I also met up with on Sabato notte) and we went out to dinner. Mangiamo bene!! After quite a bit of wandering in an attempt to find a restaurant recommended to me, we finally found it and wow was it worth the curious, winding turns between Piazza della Signoria e Piazza Santa Croce!! We went to All'Aqua Alla 2 (grazie, Frank!) We shared Assaggio primi (sampler of five awe-inspiring, amazing pastas), e assaggio insalate (sampler of three incredible, mouth watering dream salads), e Florentine steak with orange on foccacia... oh my God, so amazing. While I'm a vegitariano in Stati Uniti, I told myself I could break rules while abroad... a very good idea... the steak was so tender and the orange and soaked to perfection, soft foccacia was a perfect meal! :) Bene!!

All'Aqua Alla 2's interior was also extremely beautiful; a nice aesthetic of clean and sharp with a touch of eclectic fun made from many plates hung on the walls, each with a different drawing or piece of writing scribbled onto it. While waiting in line the owner gave everyone a shot glass of wine to enjoy. And once we were finished, Tony and were kindly given a shot glass of Limonata to drink.

While we were finishing our meal a trio of special polizia sat down at a table near to us. The owner of the restaurant then offered to pay for their meal; and they accepted. The owner seemed like a wonderful man who works extremely hard to maintain his excellent restaurant.... a restaurant to inspire the senses and imagination… a restaurant for a future of food and relationships!

Since this was the first time eating out after the wine tasting class I had earlier that day, I took every moment to enjoy the wine, to swirl the glass, to smell the Chianti, to taste its sensual dark cherry-red touch, and to slowly eat with its refreshing zest down the sides and back of my palette. When walking back home from the restaurant with Tony, I remarked that I felt perfect after that meal. I wasn’t full as if bloated or that I couldn’t eat anymore. I was full in a naturally satisfied sense. Satisfied in the sense that I just felt excellent, and was where I wanted to be. Mangiare in Italia e tutto bene!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sustainable Communication for building a New, New Orleans

I just read the TIME Magazine report on Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. I've been in Firenze, Italia for the past two weeks and have been doing things like learning Italian, exploring Firenze, pondering the beauty of life, visiting places like Assisi, Pisa, Lucca, eating amazing foods, and in some ways being very disconnected from the US. I was planning to write tonight about my past week, about the things I did and learned about, the lectures I went to, and the experiences I had. But, I've changed my mind (don't worry I'll write it in here soon). Instead I have a request to whomever reads this: Learn about sustainability.

"Sustainability" is a complex catchphrase that is really about taking an active, empathetic interest in the serious issues composing and affecting your community and environment. If you are practicing "sustainability" you are collaborating to help and create a positive world, you are listening to different views and bringing people together, you are building relationships and inclusive community, you are taking a long view and planning for the future.

But if you are instead focused on your own needs as if in a bubble, you're basically letting the world go to shit and not helping anybody, not even yourself (because you need your community, even if you think you don't). I usually don't slap down such harsh words, but it's time to step outside and meet your neighbors and be concerned about their issues. So, like a parent telling a teenager to focus on his or her studies instead of the glamor magazines and MTV: it's now time to be interested in reality, not how you look in the mirror.

With Hurricane Katrina having basically destroyed New Orleans, our Federal Administration picking its nose with greed and self interest, and effects of poor communication and human resource infrastructure spewing, now is another opportunity to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, as is too often and predicable, a crisis situation is the calling for our American response. But since today is today and not a few months ago (or preferably years ago), it's time to get out of bed and start living.

Let's make New Orleans sustainable. This means a healthy, thriving city. Let's rebuild it with response and care to its environmental context, it's cultural heritage, serious social problems, and economic needs. Maybe we can even build coalitions across youth and adults that can turn into enriching friendships for decades to come. Let's get sustainability to New Orleans before President Bush's reconstruction plan gets there.

But how do we do this, or for that matter how might any situation be approached to manifest "sustainable" future visions? Reading the TIME report, it sounds like things have already fallen apart, people have turned to anarchy and quarrel, and suffering abounds... How the heck do we communicate sustainably for a sustainable future? ...Maybe these suggestions can help constructively organize people...

Here is my advice about how to go about it...
(as figured out through my involvement in the UCSC 2005 LRDP process)


APPROACH: In working in any situation, one's approach can set the tone; keep it always positive, constructive, collaborative, and cooperative language. And be honest.

GETTING ATTENTION AND SUPPORT: Repetition and consistency is key for communication and appreciation. Have a message for the future that is passionate and inclusive every day. You can't try to please somebody one day and then say something else to another person the next.

LISTENING: If you ever want to accomplish something where the community involved feels included and appreciated (don't we all wish for this?), listen hard and long to everyone. Wow, listening is probably the most critical. Always listen as a non-biased facilitator, it will get the most support from the broadest range of folks.

CONVERSATIONS: In order to gain support from diverse groups that probably disagree about how the future should look, it is important to promote conversations that are inviting to all.

DIFFERENT VIEWS: And what do you do once you've opened up the conversation? Bring different folks together, of course! Put diverse and seemingly contrasting opinions into dialogue. Accomplishing progress does not happen by taking sides. And remember, the irony of our differences is that we share them--conversations and listening helps people to find common ground and see interrelationships with one another!

COLLABORATION: Despite what most high school history textbooks say, history wasn't created by single powerful men or women... it was created collaboratively by many people. Work as a group, consult one another on problems, share ideas, put thought into what you say before you say it; speak up and encourage speaking up in public, and most importantly look for interrelationships to broaden collaboration.

RESPECT TIME: Rome wasn't built in a day. Have patience and be able to respond in a responsible manner as demanded. Calma, Calma! Think of the future as not just tomorrow but an infinite expanse of opportunities: take the long view.

THE QUESTION OF "HOW": Change in the world is never a question of "good" or "bad", it is always a question of "how". When dealing with any controversial or important subject, such as development or the future of a place, there is always the proposal of some kind of change to the status-quo. Usually people prefer things to stay the way they have been, mostly because there is a fear that the unknown will be detract from the "quality of life" that has over time made one comfortable.

Instead of fearing change and jumping to a conclusion of "good" or "bad", think about what opportunities "change" can provide. In fact, all systems--natural or man-made--change, it's just the way world is. Sometimes folks may not want a city to change, but think of a forest: the forest's natural ecosystem is constantly changing and evolving to the dynamic conditions of nature’s complexity. The question the future is a question of how something will change, because it is already changing as we speak.

And remember, since the future can be anything we work together to create, don’t be afraid to be innovative in your visions… bring them to the conversation!

THE RELATIONSHIP: As I've been learning in Italia, a customer-business relationship is not either just a friendship or a business deal; in fact, it doesn't matter... What does matter is that you're developing a relationship with another person! It all comes down to the relationships; that's it!

YOUR ATTITUDE: Be your self, and don't forget to smile and be optimistic!

Monday, September 05, 2005

fyi: If you know students at Tulane University...

Syracuse University is offering to host Tulane University students this semester at no cost because of Hurricane Katrina. If you know any students at Tulane, or know people that do, please share this info with them:

"SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor has decided to offer Tulane University students an opportunity to study on the SU campus or at the Dipa overseas centers, including Florence, as these students cannot return to their home campus for the fall semester. As a good-will gesture the University is underwriting the tuition costs.

"If you have friends from Tulane, please make sure to pass on this message. For further information, please see the SU website at: http://sunews.syr.edu/8300510.asp "

Settimana uno in Firenze

22:45; 9/4/05

Va bene? Sono bene! I'm here, sitting in mio appartmento camera da letto, typing, going over notes and thinking; I've had quite a giorno... it's notte di domenica, septembre quattro. I've been in Firenze for uno settimana and I love it here, heck, I could move here! Firenze e molto bello! I've been enjoying wandering around the city, exploring, watching things and life, talking with people, considering what it means to be an Italian or be in Italy or anywhere in the world, and have been doing much walking, almost stumbling, as I attempt to breathe in everything I see, hear, and feel as it moves about me. A good friend of mine once told me, "a theater has one stage, but a city has a million" ...so true of Firenze. Centro di citte e splendido! Every piazza has a purpose, a momento. And Firenze is amazingly huge; so much bigger than what I was expecting having only previously looked at maps and guide books. None the less, it is a very accessible city and easy to get around. My apartment is very close to the centro di citte on Via Degli Artiste (and the same block as the Villa Rossa, the Syracuse University center). Allora, I'll be honest with you, I desperately want to share questo momento!

After flying in and being placed in a molte bella hotel for due notte, we had orientation for the next few days at the Villa Rossa. I met other students (meshed better with some and not so much with others) listened to welcome talks, spoke to really cool professors, and signed up for classes. There are about tre cento studente and it's mostly ragazze. Classes begin questo lunedi. I'm taking beginning Italiano, Cinema Italiano, e the pre-architecture program. I'm very excited!!!

Oggi io left the appartmento a little late from having been up till about due last notte. Oggie io wanted to see some sights, churches and just wander. While walking down uno via I suddenly saw a Hasidic Jew and without thinking asked him where the synagogue was (I had read about it and was intending to go). Jacob turned out to be a really nice man from New York and we walked over to the synagogue together. Turns out that questo oggi, septembre quattro, all across the E.U. it is a holiday celebrating European Jewish culture and food!! There was a festival going on! I went inside the gate to the synagogue and after spending time inside the temple (truly amazing, the complex repeating painted interior design is a pinkish-maroon; a very important place), I bought a commemorative bicchiere e biglietto per cibo. The cibo was excellente and I tasted kosher wines. The cibo was nothing like I ever had before... soft bread, pasta, hard boiled egg, pate, and a lot of well cooked ground beef. I felt bad throwing most of my beef out, but I couldn't eat it even though I tried. (I've decided to stretch my eating spectrum while abroad and not stick to my American quasi-vegitarian diet). It is very interesting having attended this festival, as I am half-Jewish... it is part of me, yet so is Greece, and in some interesting ways also Italy, and elsewhere. Being here, I am believing more and more every momento that anyone can become any culture and anybody. As one can become an American, one can become an Italian. (Remember that a foreign country is a foreign country because one's self is the foreigner.)

After eating and taking photos at the synagogue, I wandered around to the Duomo (magnificent in scale and in jade color; it's exterior proportions make me feel its body is of folded Firenze paper) and then went to the Medici chapel and tomb by Michelangelo--astounding. I sat in there for about tre ora sketching. Michelangelo's sculptures are amazing. The face of the virgin mary is the epitome of purity; so soft and comforting, I looked into her eyes as if my mother looked back. Tre ora is not nearly enough time to be there; one could spend a life time--or rather, eternity--resting and watching within the capella of the Medici tombs.

Ieri mattina (sabato) io walked to Mercato Centrale and gathered enough guts to buy cibo (It was very, very intimidating at first)! Quite an experience!! I am very happy that I did this and I plan to go back to the market for mio fresco cibo. I'd like to try other mercato as well (bella uno di piazza santissima annunziata) , and hopefully not depend on the supermercato piccolo that is literally across the street from uno porta di mio appartmento edificio! Inside of Mercato Centrale--grande edificio--primo piano e mostly carne e pasta, e secondo piano e mostly frutta e vegetables. Tutto bello! I bought first spinach, then tomatoes and carrots and cucumber and olives and oregano on the secondo piano. It was challenging but well worth it. Only one seller responded to my Italiano demande in Inglese--tutti italiano! I went back down to primo piano and found the other items I was searching for: fresh gnocci pasta (it wasn't called gnocci, by the way) and fresh pesto sauce! Ieri notte io made dinner and it was eccellente e molto bello! My roommates and guest enjoyed it, too... I very much want to learn how to cook many Italian meals. (I also made insalata, but as everyone was full last night, I ate that as tonight's dinner.)

Before returning back to mio appartmento to create that wonderful meal (I did receive some cooking tips from my roommates... I'm very much a novice), I spent the day at first with friends and then by myself wandering in the sera. I have to be honest with you, it appears there are a lot of ditsy kids in the program. Fortunately I've found a wonderful group of bella ragazze who are very nice, fun, and very intelligent; they appreciate Firenze and the complexities of life--for this I feel lucky. (Others, I've noticed, prefer to quickly transport themselves back to the USA by way of alcohol and Americano behavior.)

I spent yesterday's evening (bella sera!) sitting in piazza della signoria, a wonderfully exquisite space, sketching and contemplating. Piazza della signoria is where Galleria Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio are, where the outdoor sculpture garden awaits, and where the copy of Michelangelo's massive David stands. It is vast and multidimensional; corners erect but not cut, offset and displaced; its space bending. Firenze e curva.

One other thing-- yesterday it rained. And not only did it rain on Sabato, but there was thunder and lighting... and a lot of it. Truly amazing to walk around the city in the damp heat, raindrops and lightning, thunderous cracks bellowing from the snaps of light that cover tutti in citte!!

The lightning struck down from the clouds in-between the two towers in the north-east of my view while in piazza della signoria. I sat below the sculpture of three twisted, contorted bodies (part of the piazza's sculpture garden), and watched the clouds shapeshift. A bella juxtaposition of the towers, the lightning, and the light striking down behind the crowned giant statue whose head--layered against the buildings in the background--touches the sky. They move; undoubtedly it is the passing of white and grey rain clouds to soft blue. The light is caught painted inside the cloud-mass' crevices where the cloudiness buckles and slowly bends again and again, and again and stretches. Piazza della signoria is a whole space, open and soft. It is hugely public yet private in a way that transforms the presence of all--so many people unique and not known, touching together across the openness, blending to a comfortable stride--as if the space and the space's presence holds our hands together with a great comforting smile. I really enjoy looking at the open windows... the interiors are dark, absolutely black. Before I headed back to make the gnocci, the sun set. The edges of the layered storm clouds lit up in pink alpine-glow. This I watched from the bank of the arno (green tinted in the milky soft light).

I will write soon. Last night was also amazing for another reason: my friends and I went to a bar where there were only Italians (near piazza della liberta; don't bother with the American tourist bars near the centro). We practiced Italian with each other (yeah, I was too shy to start a conversation with Italians... practicing together was fun, though) and had a blast!! I came home exhausted and really happy. I had a huge smile on my face. My friends here are great. Being here I appreciate my friends back home so much more. Amazing that you're all such wonderful, honest, real people. You know who you are. Ciao!!