Saturday, June 27, 2009

Il Parco dei Mostri

So I'm finally blogging about our visit to il Parco dei Mostri (Park of the Monsters). Tom Flynn, our Intro to the Art World professor (who is a very highly respected art blogger. Check him out at http://www.tomflynn.co.uk/ ) decided to convince our Criminology professor (the Slovenian guy) to skip the afternoon of class and take a field trip out to Bomarzo to see what he described as a "Mannerist sculpture park." We had no idea how absolutely cool it would be until we got there.

Here's a little bit of history about il Parco dei Mostri. It was realised in 1552 under the name of Villa of the Wonders, also called the Sacred Wood. Prince Pier Francesco "Vicino" Orsini had this monumental complex created out of love for his wife who died and was entombed here. The giant statues depict mythological scenes, particularly ones that represent the union of death and nature. This park was designed by Pirro Ligorio, the famous architect who worked on the construction of the Vatican after Michelangelo's death.



The Struggle between Giants, with Alan next to it for size comparison



The Three Graces...and me!



Lindsey, Harasyn, and Katie as the 3 Graces. They all wanted to do a "Harasyn Pose" haha



The Leaning House...inside the floor is perfectly level with the tilt of the house, so you feel really dizzy and off balance. Orsini did this on purpose to offer a "strong emotion to his friends who entered the house for a nap, but had to leave immediately for the dizziness they felt." (taken directly from the guide book I bought at the park)



Katie and me in the window of the leaning house!



Sleeping Nymph


Some random monster that used to be a fountain (I'm standing in the pool part) eating my head...


The Dragon, which embodies time. It's being attacked by a dog, a lion, and a wolf--symbols of spring, summer, and winter, and also of the present, future, and past.


Riding Aries of the Golden Fleece

Neptune

The Elephant: he has a tower on top, and is catching a legionary. The wisest of the animals, he was said to be able to distinguish between good and evil.



The Ogre! Our favorite! He's a tavern and you go inside and there's a big stone table. It's creepy.



We are doing the Home Alone/Munch's Scream face!



The Etruscan Bench. It says:
"You, who wanders the world,
Anxious to see huge and magnificent marvels,
Come here where you will find hideous faces
Of elephants, lions, bears, ogres and dragons."



The Temple, compared to Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.



Striking a pose on the temple porch. They think it's so funny that I have creative poses for all pictures! Thank you pageants, modeling, and Ali! :-)



Proteous-Glauco: Neptune's son and the fisherman who became a sea god after having eaten a magical herb. On the top of the globe is Orsini's castle to symbolize the power of this branch of the family in the world.


On Wednesday, the group threw a joint birthday party for Katie and me (my birthday was Tuesday, and hers was Thursday) at Alan and Patrick's garden terrace. It was the usual "everyone bring something different" kind of party, to which I brought a large delicious salad I conjured up from random ingredients I found in the fridge. John and Jane provided delicious sausages (or salsiccia! my favorite Italian word!) that we barbecued and were simply to die for! And Alan went out and bought the most delicious gelato cake I have ever had, with pink birthday candles, and everyone sang to Katie and me. John and Jane even bought us presents! It was a wondeful party, though I can safely say I'm definitely already getting sick of pizza!


Katie and me blowing out our birthday candles!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beauty Over Brains?







vs.










Today, for about the 4th or 5th time since I've been in Italy (and probably the 7,489,213th time in my life), I was told I'm actually smarter than I look. I wonder if people think that's a compliment, whether they think it's funny, or whether they just don't think at all when they say it.

Personally, I don't find it flattering when someone tells me in so many words, "Wow! You look like an idiot, so I'm impressed your brain actually functions!"

Thanks guys...I appreciate it. I wonder if I'll have to dye my hair brown and wear a sports bra and Birkenstocks to be taken seriously. It's the Elle Woods syndrome all over again.

Speaking of the topic, I was also voted to have the 2nd best boobs in ARCA, beat out only by a 30ish year old skinny blonde British woman with distractingly massive DDs. The winner was obvious, though some voted in favor of proportion over sheer size.

While being asked about the legitimacy of my anatomy (sorry everyone...no implants here), I couldn't help but think: Gee, it's great to know that everyone is staring at my chest instead of listening to what I'm saying.

But don't get me wrong! Flattery is always appreciated and being a girl involved in pageants and modeling, compliments on my figure never go unheard.

HOWEVER, the point of this entire spiel is...why does everyone take the British girl seriously and not me?! No one tells her they are surprised when she says something intelligent! Is it age? Experience? Quite frankly, I've decided it must be the accent. ;-) There's just something about a British accent that ups the intrinsic value of a comment and makes it sound more intelligent, classy, and just downright excellent to listen to.

My new strategy: become British!

I say all of these things in good humor (with a very real slight frustration) at my acceptance that I will always be underestimated and forced to prove myself. C'est la vie.

In other news, look for an upcoming blog with EXCELLENT and hilarious pictures from our trip to the Monster Park! Intrigued? You should be. :-)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Living on my own :-)

Since my Italian family is on vacation, I've been fending for myself. It has been an interesting experience! I hadn't realized how completely spoiled I was until I had to try and figure out how to make the stove work, or how to navigate a grocery store with my lack of Italian skills. The first dya was rough, but after a long walk to the Coop (supermarket) and a huge bag of fruits, veggies, and snacks, and learning that the starter in the oven is broken and I have to physically light it with a lighter, things are getting better! It's actually fun. I even made some lunch today...real lunch! I sauteed some zucchini and onion in olive oil, just like my mom does at home. It actually tasted exactly the same! Go me! I'm also becoming a pro at Italian laundry...which involves the lovely outdoors as opposed to a drier.

I think my hives are clearing up a bit, which is great! Today is my BIRTHDAY and I think some of us are going out to pizza in the evening. Then tomorrow Alan and Patrick are having a little celebration on their terrace because Katie's brithday is Thursday. Other than that, I'm doing a lot of RELAXING too hopefully get rid of this illness/allergic reaction.

As far as class goes, we had a big bitching session (excuse my terminology) where some of the students presented Noah Charney, the ARCA director, with problems they were having with the program. But out of it, we got one of the 2 massive papers for one class taken off our list of things to complete! yay! Now I only have one 2500 word art history paper, one 5 page criminology paper, and a presentation on Friday for Introduction to the Art World, which is definitely my favorite class so far.

I also had a one-on-one meeting wth Noah. He's such a great guy! He is doing everything he can to make this a positive experience and get people involved with the field of art crime. He helped me pick out a thesis topic, and is helping guide my career path. It turns out that the road to becoming an art detective for the FBI is going to be a longer road than I anticipated...I'll have to go through FBI training and be in the FBI for two years before I can MAYBE transfer into the art squad. And you can't join the FBI until you are 24 years old, I believe. So that leaves me with a few years to get some work experience. I hope you all in the Bay Area are ready for my epic return this fall :-)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pictures of the Palazzo Farratini


The ground floor



Here you see the slanty stairs for the horses to get up, and the kitchen on the right



More service rooms, and the family crest in between!



Outdoor party space!



One of the many kitchens



Look at all the yummy food!



Count Farratini! And the walls were done in the 1700s and have never been restored



You can see the damage from the fireplace on this wall



The Cardinal's bedroom that John and Jane are staying in!




It's a closet!


No, wait, it's a bathroom!


Original ancestral portraits...the Cardinal is in the middle!


Friday, June 19, 2009

Italian Illness and Palazzo Farratini

I spent the majority of yesterday with flu-like vomiting and I am now covered in some kind of hives or something...and I have no idea why or how. I refuse to see a doctor here because they are completely out of it. One girl who went for her bug bites (that were so numerous, she originally thought she had shingles) was booked for Swine Flu, and another girl who we think has bed bugs was told that her bites were a rash from contact with her clothing...which was obviously not the case. Therefore I am self medicating with the slew of drugs I brought from home and resting plenty. It sucks because I've had to miss class and we just started a new subject: Introduction to the Art World with Tom Flynn who is a British journalist that used to work for an auction house and it is AMAZING! He is so interesting and lively and the subjects are fascinating. We are learning all about different aspects of the art world and how they came to be about and how they interact, like collections and museums and auction houses and that sort of thing. Therefore, I'm quite upset I spent yesterday afternoon yacking into a bucket instead of in class...

On Wednesday night we had a party, this time thrown by John and Jane, a married couple in the program (well, John is. Jane is just tagging along). John is a former CIA agent and they are staying in the Palazzo Farratini, an Italian palace built in 1517 that is run by Count Farratini who is a direct descendant from Cardinal Farratini who was the chancellor of St. Peters! Pretty awesome! The Palazzo was built by the same architect who worked on the Vatican and still has original floors, ceilings, and artwork including portraits and frescoes. Some things were added in the 1700s but for the most part, it's this crazy old awesome palace where they have a lot of weddings and the Count was gracious enough to let us have a party there, including a tour of the first 2 floors (out of 5, and a basement). Because other people are currently staying there as well (it had to be opened to the public as a bed and breakfast to receive restoration funding from the government) that was as far as our tour reached.

Jane and her visiting friends Heidi, her husband, and their ADORABLE 16 year old daughter Alena (spell check?) spent all day making the most outrageously delicious hors d'oeuvres (some of which I got the recipes to, including these stuffed baby tomatoes I almost died for, they were so amazing) and we had a full spread, tons of wine, and great music. After a while, Alena pulled out her ipod and all the women got together and had a dance party in the yard. I took many pictures, so I will definitely put them up when I get a few moments.

Tonight we have a meeting with Noah Charney, the ARCA director, to address the numerous issues that have arisen since we've been here. Then, tomorrow before class at 9, we have a meeting with Madi Gandolfo, our dean, to continue discussing issues. Antonio and Isa will be heading out for a vacation at the sea this weekend, and I plan to do some laundry and figure out how to cook in their absense! It should all be very interesting. More blogs soon!! And keep on the lookout for exciting new pictures!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Giant Ankle

I'm allergic to 90% of the planet...including Italian mosquitoes! At the villa I got bitten three times, all of which have reacted differently with my wacky immune system.

One is a regular bite and just itches a bit.

One on my toe became a HUGE blister over night and popped, and decided to goo relentlessly all day. I used about 8 bandaids.

The third decided to swell up to the size of a baseball cut in half and glued to my ankle.

I look ridiculous! Isa wanted me to go to the hospital, but one of the other students got bites from bed bugs and thought it might be shingles, so she went to the hospital but they wouldn't let her leave because they said she had Swine Flu! So we aren't going there...

Here's an awesome gross picture of my huge ankle though.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I forgot to mention...

On Sunday I woke up to Isa knocking on my door and saying something to the effects of, "HaraSEEN, HaraSEEN (that's how they all say my name here. It's cute) come outside! Something something in Italian, flowers on street!"

So I run outside in my pjs with my glasses on and my wild hair from our Roman excursions the night before and there it is, right in the street, one of those big rows of flower murals on the ground! Everyone was outside making pictures on the street of flowers! We got some stuff from Isa's garden to help the little boy across the street, and within maybe 15 minutes a parade came down the street with banners and music and singing and praying and crosses and priests, etc etc, just like they do in Latin American countries! They destroyed all the flowers, but that's all part of this religious tradition. Somehow, none of us figured out what on earth the occassion was, but it was a lot of fun! Here are some pictures:






On Sunday I woke up to Isa knocking on my door and saying something to the effects of, "HaraSEEN, HaraSEEN (that's how they all say my name here. It's cute) come outside! Something something in Italian, flowers on street!"

So I run outside in my pjs with my glasses on and my wild hair from our Roman excursions the night before and there it is, right in the street, one of those big rows of flower murals on the ground! Everyone was outside making pictures on the street of flowers! We got some stuff from Isa's garden to help the little boy across the street, and within maybe 15 minutes a parade came down the street with banners and music and singing and praying and crosses and priests, etc etc, just like they do in Latin American countries! They destroyed all the flowers, but that's all part of this religious tradition. Somehow, none of us figured out what on earth the occassion was, but it was a lot of fun! Here are some pictures:

Festa at the Villa

On Sunday the dean of our program, Madi, decided to throw us a party at her villa in the countryside. That is just the Italian way of life: socializing, eating, and lying around all day in the sun. I could definitely get used to this!!

Her villa is way out in the middle of nowhere and she makes her own olive oil and I believe wine (either that or it was the neighbor's wine...not too clear on that point). I guess she rents this property out for a week at a time and it can comfortably sleep at least 10 people I think, probably more, and is equipped with everything you could ever want on vacation including an outdoor swimming pool, hammocks, ping pong, internet and tv, and access to activities like exploring caves/canyons or horseback riding! Plus it has the most AMAZING view with spectacular sunsets.

At about noon we all headed out to this villa and everyone brought some food, much like the party the first week we were here at Alan and Patrick's terrace. The afternoon consisted of feasting nonstop, swimming, sunbathing, reading in the shade, napping in hammocks, and listening to live jazz music as Antonio got his band to come out and play! It's amazing how they chain smoke WHILE they are playing. Antonio even holds his cigarette between his fingers while he plays his sax and when he has a few beats rest he picks it right back up. How do his lungs handle it?? Apparently it's a villa tradition to watch the sun set in silence and drink this jenky homemade wine, so we also participated in that and I got some incredible pictures! All in all it was a totally perfect day, and if anyone is considering a vacation in Italy, it's seriously the nicest place ever and I believe it's roughly 600 euros a week for the whole shabang...think about it ;-)


Madi's Villa


View of the pool from the villa

Always eating

Relaxing!

snacks by the pool

Antonio's band jamming



Some sunset pictures I took

I also finally took a picture of my Italian sister Amelia! Isn't she cute?

Today we started a new subject-Criminology-with a Slovenian teacher who's last name is Jager! Todd should like that... It's very interesting but sort of hard to follow what he's saying. He also lets us out of class early, which is wonderful :-) So far I have learned that criminology is like the study and application of different theories of crime, not so much the solving or actual crime solving. More to come when I actually start to learn something!