Crazy Weather

Posted by Madeline on March 1, 2018 in Florence, studying abroad

This week has come and gone so fast, I think partly due to my trip Sunday to Monday morning. A family friend back home put me in touch with some of her friends in Italy. One of her best friends, Ubaldo, lives in a small village called Ripafratta, with only 800 people living there! He invited me for an event Sunday, “Salviamo la Rocca di Ripafratta,” to save a castle on a hill in their town that is deteriorating. A family owns this castle, but does not have the money for the high cost of reparations, so Ubaldo is the vice president of a group attempting to figure out how to save this site from destruction. After taking a tour of the town in freezing rain and wind, including a flour mill, underground water channel and church, we went to a luncheon nearby. A typical three course meal was served; primo, secondo and dolce. A man sitting down the table from me sang a few times randomly throughout the meal. Ubaldo informed me the man wasn’t drunk, he’s just like that! Later, the woman sitting next to me, Elena, requested him to sing for me. So, he looked me in the eyes and belted out some sort of love song, it was entertaining for sure! We headed back to Ubaldo’s house and had tea to warm up along with his neighbor.

Tea at Ubaldo’s house

The cold and snow that Italy has been struck with this week is apparently a wind from Russia that only hits every 5-7 years..lucky me!! The tea helped warm me up and Ubaldo lit a fire. His house was so cozy, bright and open with a mustard yellow living room, an arched doorway and pieces of art all about. We talked for a while, then left for his friend’s birthday party in Pisa. I had fun, but it was a little tough because they mostly spoke Italian, which I didn’t mind, but at that point I was tired out from the day!
The next morning, we woke up early, so I could catch a train back to Florence in time for class. We had coffee and a cookie that he said was nicknamed “ugly, but good,” which was perfectly accurate. We stopped at a cafe on the outskirts of Pisa for a cappucino and cornetto. We both got one filled with chocolate, yum! At the train station, we hugged goodbye, and I thanked him for all his generosity!

I was quite tired the rest of the day. In my Palaces class, we visited the Ospedale degli Innocenti funded by the Arte della Seta Guild and built by Brunelleschi. The Ospedale was the first orphanage built in the world, and it still functions today. They have nurses for babies until they turn 1, then they look for a family to adopt them. The museum held many pieces of art made for the Ospedale, often featuring the Madonna and multiple children around her, or referencing Herod killing many innocents in his attempt to kill Jesus.

It was cool to learn that girls were taught to read and write here, a rarity at that time!
In my Quarters of Florence class we saw the inside of the Duomo. My classmates and I were surprisingly underwhelmed..the outside is so ornate and beautiful, yet the inside was simply white and gray, with only the dome featuring a beautiful mural.

Besides that, I am now waiting to figure out whether my trip to Sicily will work with the snow we’re getting! As I write, it is snowing in Florence, and the government shut down all schools for the day. At home I would be rejoicing, but here, when it snows they don’t know how to handle it! I need a train from Florence to Pisa for my flight out of Pisa I might need a lot of luck today!

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