I've had time to think. Whether on the train or during downtime at work, my mind's been going nonstop, more frantically than before. I've pretty much given up TV and while the future of that abstinence is uncertain, lately, I've been reading a lot, writing a lot, drawing a bit, and thinking a ton about Italia.
I've been chipping away at The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome during my commute and lunch breaks. I've always been a fan of Bernini, but I've come to appreciate Borromini more, even though he was apparently quite a chore. So far, it's been a very even-handed and interesting look into the lives of two very different, but very talented men- both involved in the some of the most amazing projects of the era.
Reading about some of Bernini's works especially, I thought to myself "what? I didn't see that- I have to go back!" I don't remember seeing Truth Unveiled By Time, though it was in Galleria Borghese, which we visited. And while I'm kicking myself for that, David was by far the numero uno piece piece of art I ever wanted to see. Visiting it was something of a religious experience. I left Helen's side to see Dave, before she mangled my perfect idea of him with her subjective spiel... "whatever." The only other person in the room was Ryan- we nodded at each other in silent understanding. Being in the presence of something so much larger than yourself, figuratively speaking. The Colosseum yells over you with its might... Bernini silences you.
Second to that piece is Bernini's sculpture of Constantine, which I saw... from a distance. A pretty great distance. About 200 feet. Thanks, Vatican. And I had no idea that Bernini designed the fountain at the base of The Spanish Steps... the very same fountain Helen practically dove into for a drink. No cup required. Practically half of the public art in Rome was sculpted, designed, or overseen by Bernini. Apparently, he was quite busy. (No TV.)
I got my first paycheck this past Friday, marking the first step towards Italia. The Amalgamation is about seven months away- once it hits 6, I'll flip. Anyway, I'm looking to take off maybe 10 days of work for it. One of the days is accounted for (yeah Boston and Patriot's Day!), so maybe I'll stretch it a little longer. If this past week has been any sort of accurate depiction of the rest of the year, they should be able to get along fine without me. Work study students are the best resource ever.
I traveled a lot with Rachel while in Europe (we hit Milan, Ireland, Tuscan countryside, Cinque Terre, and Switzerland), and we know that we can live and travel together, so it made sense that we team up for the Amalgamation. (Question: why does the creepy Funny Farm mascot wear a vest? Is he McLovin?) Rach is excited for it, writing in her most recent e-mail, "When I think about the wedding, I want to shout 'gheluueewoooooh!' from the top my apartment!" Since there are so many possible countries/cities to travel to, I figured we should both write separate lists of cities we're dying to visit- then, we see where we overlap. If we don't, then we could visit both of our top choices. She just sent me her informal choices: Prague, Sweden and/or Denmark. I've thought about Prague, but Barcelona is sticking in my mind like delicious sticks to gelato. Eryn has said that it's one of her favorite cities, and Samantha Brown (my second favorite travel show host (behind Ian of "Globe Trekker")), has said that it's her favorite city in the world. (I just googled her and she now has a new "Passport to Latin America..." nice!)
At the moment, I'm leaning towards Barcelona, Berlin, someplace in Greece, Amsterdam or Corsica. I'll probably have to limit myself to Florence and one or two other cities, so as to not become insane, broke, and exhausted. In any case, this trip is going to be expensive, but I hope to plan it as efficiently, reasonably, and comfortably as possible. While Sweden is tempting, I wouldn't mind going someplace that wasn't freezing. I'm guessing that late April is pretty mild in most of Europe, but I don't want to have to bring a big coat. I'm in a very Mediterranean mood. Who knows? There's still seven months, right? And FYI, I'm open to suggestions.
Monza, the Italian Grand Prix (Ferrari's home race) was today. Unfortunately, Ferrari only placed third. But it reminded me that it three years ago when I contemplated skipping SACI orientation to go to Milano for the race. Yes- it was almost exactly three years ago that I arrived in Florence- jet lagged, completely dehydrated, and stuck with a sketchy guy roommate and a migraine. That was probably the worst day of my life. And yet, there was nowhere to go but up.
Oh, Italia. You are a life lesson wrapped in sass and spaghetti.