In Florence I took the students on a tour of the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza (the Galileo Museum.) I love leading this tour. I went on it as a student and I have lead the tour three times now as an RA. It is such a nice break from all the art they have been seeing. Just the day before we took them to the Ufizi** and as one student said the Ufizi is the most physically brutal museum he has ever been in. He said the art just beats you repeatedly until you come out a destroyed human being. I don't know if I totally agree with him but the Ufizi is intense so a science museum is a nice change of pace. The students are genuinely excited and spend hours looking at all of Galileo's machines and other incredible pieces from the Scientific Revolution. It just puts me in such a good mood to see them acting like little kids, coming to find me and show me some cool thing they found etc.
** Just as a side note. If you have not checked out Google Art Project you need to. It is the coolest thing ever. The Ufizi is featured there along with some other really fantastic museums.
This Northern Italy trip I think Venice was my favorite stop. The weather was perfect. I even got a little "bronzata" as the bus driver pointed out. I gave a walking tour of the city, a tour of the fish and vegetable market (and yes, I did get my students to eat horse and they liked it!), and I went on a tour of the Fenice Opera House. On one of our free afternoons we had lunch at a place called "Al Merca." In Venice it is very popular to have these little store front places that sell wine and panini to go. You place your order and stand around out front eating. We found this place last fall and it is simply the best. It is located in a charming little campo (square) along the Grand Canal right by the fish market. The wine is cheap and the panini are delicious! We spent hours just lounging, taking in the sun, talking, people watching, drinking, eating...GLORIOUS!
The only downer in Venice was that I did not get a gondola ride. Ryan has repeatedly refused to take me. He says it is a waste of money and he does not see the point. I have resigned myself to this unromantic fate but it is still sad. This trip, while walking around Venice feeling quite sorry for myself, Ryan suggested that we take a traghetto (gondola taxi) across the canal. Since there are so few bridges across the Grand Canal you can get ferried across by a gondola for about fifty cents. I agreed thinking this was his way of making up for not taking me on a real gondola ride. As we were halfway across the canal, Ryan looked to his left, saw the Rialto Bridge and said, "What?! The Rialto is right there?! What are we taking this for then?" I was crushed. Apparently he did not suggest the traghetto in an attempt to be quasi romantic, he just didn't realize there was a bridge close by. He could not figure out why I was so upset with him afterwards. I must say he is not the romantic I had hoped for, he is much too practical.
On the way back to Rome we stopped in the town of Arezzo. We wanted the students to have the chance to explore a real, small Tuscan hill town. I mention Arezzo only because of BWW. At one point she thought the bus was leaving without her (in reality the bus was empty and the bus driver was just parking it) and she went running after it, yelling and shouting, while the rest of us watched. It was hysterical. She tends to go into a high stress mode on trips and is constantly worrying about every little thing. Mostly it is very frustrating but some times it can be very entertaining.
I forgot to mention that Ryan and Fr. Derek were heroes. They put out a fire in Venice. The fire brigade arrived shortly after and this is a picture of them explaining to the firemen what happened.
The cathedral in Orvietto.
Lunch in Venice at Al Merca with Fr. Derek, Silvia, & Sergio.
Ryan walking through the tiny streets of Venice.
Our traghetto ride across the Grand Canal.
This is a picture Ryan took of UD's private vaporetto as it came towards the dock.