2011

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this behind the times…literally. While celebrations for the new year of 2012 have already begun around the world (it’s midnight in Sydney right now!), there’s still another ten hours to go before midnight arrives here in Rome (GMT+1). Sitting, waiting, wishing…

But besides time zones though, the timing of everything has been so perfect recently, it’s great! I should also point out the fact that today, ‘l’ultimo dell’anno’ marks my halfway point (give or take) here in Italy on exchange – 26 down, 26 to go!

Reflecting on what’s already past, the whole experience has honestly been so amazing, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything thus far. But I’m also really looking forward to and excited for part II – hurrah!

As a whole though, the year that’s [almost] over has been such a great year – for which I am so thankful to God for. I have the most incredible family and friends, what more could I possibly ask for?! And to anyone who’s reading this along with everyone else who has made 2011 the incredible year it’s been, thank you so much – it means so much to me!

So I’ve tied all the loose ends together; have my list of new year’s resolutions ready-to-go; calendar flipped; bags packed for a week away in the mountains and I’m all set. Now for 12am to actually arrive…tick, tick tick.

From what I can already anticipate though, 2012 is going to be another huge and memorable year with things like becoming legal and finishing high school underway! Until then though…buon anno, happy new year, bring on 2012!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Nemi – cute little town overlooking the sea]

Vacanze Romane [Roman Holiday]

So it’s just occurred to me that I haven’t actually posted anything in Italian besides the occasional blog title, hence:

L’altro ieri ho guardato il film ‘Vacanze Romane’ (1953) interpretato da Gregory Peck e Audrey Hepburn. Mi sono divertita, la trama era tanto carina; però per me la parte migliore era quando stavo vedendo i posti che ho già visitato a Roma come Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi, Castel Sant’Angelo eccetera. Suppongo che le ‘vacanze romane’ siano esattamente ciò che sto avendo al momento! …è basta.

[The other night I watched ‘Roman Holiday’ (1953) starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. I really enjoyed it, the plot was really sweet; but the best part was definitely seeing all the different places I’ve already visited around Rome, like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Castle of Sant’Angelo etc. I suppose a ‘Roman holiday’ is exactly what I’m having at the moment!]

Alright in other news, late last night I watched Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) in the cinema which was pretty good, despite the fact that it was in Italian with no subtitles this time! I must say it was dubbed really, really well; something I didn’t expect given the quality of some other foreign/dubbed films! Surprisingly though, I understood enough of it with the help of slyly looking up the plot beforehand haha…

This morning was so productive – even though it’s nearly the end of the year I somehow managed to find the motivation to get some schoolwork finished! It felt so good…but there’s SO much that needs to be done in such a short space of time! In the late afternoon though, I went dress+shoe shopping for a new year’s eve party!

While I was there, I also decided to buy the book ‘Un giorno’ [One Day] by David Nicholls – in Italian. It should be a good read, and I’m pretty excited to see how much of it I actually understand once I get going!

Buona notte!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Un giorno]

Una giornata bella

Today was surprisingly an extremely pleasant day! I guess it started off in a routinely fashion, but after having skyped one of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet (thanks, by the way) and going to the markets…it just got exponentially better.

So far, I’ve been to a few of the local markets and most of the stuff sold there is all pretty similar. Except for this one stall I saw at the very, very end today. It was SO exciting – and I seriously bought like the entire ‘bancarella’.

Lunch was even better than usual; but hey, I’m in Italy – it doesn’t really get much better than this anyway, and in the afternoon I went out with friends ‘in giro.’ It was a lot of fun, I ate the most AMAZING nutella crêpe in the world and just generally had a really enjoyable time. It’s been a good day!

Ci vediamo dopo!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Mercatino di Genzano]

Buon Natale da Roma!

Christmas Eve: Yesterday I revisited the beautiful city of Rome and saw the most incredible places! Sure, I’d seen photos of places like St. Peter’s Basilica before, but I guess I didn’t quite realise the magnitude and splendour of these landmarks before I experienced them myself. To be honest, they’re absolutely magnificent – one definitely has to go and see Rome for themselves sometime!

So during the course of the day, I went to St. Peter’s Square, saw the Pantheon, walked all 138 of the Spanish Steps, threw my coins into the Trevi Fountain, and just generally embraced the festive Christmas vibe of places like Piazza Navona and the Piazza di Spagna, among others. Rome is one of the most amazing cities of the world in so many different ways!

In other news…Merry Christmas from Italy! I trust everyone had a lovely day regardless of your whereabouts and what time zone you’re currently in – remembering the true meaning of it all!

‘And they shall call him Immanuel – which means ‘God with us.’

xxxxxxx

Serena

PS to my dear family, it definitely felt a bit weird being so far from home today – and I wish we could have celebrated Christmas together instead of being separated over three different continents. At least our combined skype session made up for a large part of it though. I love you and miss you all!

[St Peter’s Basilica from St. Peter’s Square]

[All’interno – Basilica di San Pietro]

[Fontana di Trevi]

[Piazza di Spagna]

Vacanze

During the past few days, I guess nothing overly exciting or new has happened – but here I am blogging to keep you all updated anyway!

First to the weather: the temperature currently sits at about 2˚C in the daytime, however it definitely sinks to negative territories at night. To be quite honest, it’s freezing! Since my arrival though, I seem to be cherishing that extra minute of sleep every morning. Fortunately school is only a two-minute walk away and the teachers always arrive late!

On the way to school though, it’s slightly uphill and there are parts where it gets really, really slippery because there’s ice all over the ground. Alright, I haven’t stacked it as of yet, but definitely expect that in a post sometime soon!

In other news, tomorrow is the start of ‘le vacanze di Natale’ which also equates to the fact that I’m now officially on holidays! As per usual, we had a massive party at school to celebrate the end of the year – and I must say although it has certain downsides, one of the great things about staying in the same classroom throughout the day is that in this case, the party just stretched out as one, long, continuous event!

So while I’m really enjoying everything about school, I’m also really glad about the forthcoming break as I really need it. Having been immersed in such an environment where listening, understanding and speaking Italian is something I constantly have to do requires at least double (if not more) the amount of concentration. And hence, it’s fair to say that I’m exhausted!

Having said this, it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve really enjoyed every experience so far! Even though Italian is still really difficult I think I’m improving ever so slightly each day…well, hopefully at least!

xxxxxxx

Serena

Firenze: the birthplace of the Renaissance

Since the last time I updated this blog, many exciting things and experiences have happened. Besides the changes in weather, I’ve been to a theatrical performance (all dialogue in Italian by the way), met the two other Australian exchange kids in the area, done a presentation on Australia – in which we may or may not have told everyone that we eat echidna, and after doing so, finish it off by using its spikes as a thrifty substitute for toothpicks haha – had a massive dinner party with unconscionable amounts of food, and finally been to Florence (with the exchange kids from Victoria!)

Again, like Rome – Florence is such a beautiful city! It was a completely new vibe with different monuments like the Ponte Vecchio over the scenic water views of the Arno River and Piazza della Signoria, but in general everywhere I go in Italy has been so amazing!

First off we explored the markets, and I finally had my first nutella crêpe in Italy! It was a bit weird though, even before we’d started speaking we’d been immediately spotted as foreigners in one of the market shops. When asked how they knew, we were told that besides obvious language hindrances and racial dissimilarities, it was our outward appearance that gave it away in terms of gestures, fashion, clothes and even the way we walk…what?! Well evidently this whole cultural immersion and integration thing only really works on a basic level haha!

We spent the most part of the day walking around and seeing the extraordinary city, but towards the end we had our highly anticipated hot chocolates in an apparently famous café on the Ponte Vecchio. Given it cost a dear 5,50 euros, it would only have made sense for it to be buonissima. Unfortunately it was anything but! It turned out to be a really bitter, dark chocolate fondue under the guise of ‘hot chocolate’, which was honestly way too intense to drink by itself. If it had come with about fifty strawberries, it would have been ideal – and that is the extent to how strong it actually was! Even though I only had a little bit, I felt a little lightheaded afterwards – and I can’t believe I’m saying this but – too much chocolate…

The three-hour roadtrip there and back was also an extremely fun part of the day. Sure, we did spent a lot of the time discussing the complexities of Italian grammar and phrases with the questions ‘come si dice..?’ and ‘che cosa significa..?’ repeated numerous times, but it was so lovely to have such enjoyable conversations about anything and everything with such a nice group of friends both Australian and Italian!

Today was a really exciting day and I definitely had a great time in Florence! Once we got back to Rome at around 11pm, it started snowing outside which was so amazing in itself! I’m absolutely loving Italy!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[Florence]

[Florentine markets]

[Piazza della Signoria]

[River Arno]

[Oh, and here’s one of me…finally!]

As white as snow

Well, first of all I must say the fleeting combination of snow, sleet, lightning, thunderstorm, rain and brevity of sunshine yesterday should have made its own exciting post. But as I write this, the fact that it’s legitimately snowing right now with everything outside covered in a fresh blanket of white snow makes yesterday seem like nothing comparatively!

By the looks of it, it’ll continue throughout the night so it’ll be interesting to see the dramatic changes in scenery tomorrow morning! And as I look out the window, it’s so surreal – snow falling rapidly from the sky against the dark outline of trees in the haze of the night sky.

So I guess the long awaited Italian winter has finally arrived, perhaps a little earlier than anticipated, but nonetheless I’m so excited!

It’s been a long day, I actually went to Florence today and have much backlog to write about – but seeing as school is most likely cancelled (because it’s snowing!) I’ll update this space tomorrow!

Buona notte!

xxxxxxx

Serena

[View from my balcony the next morning]