23 July 2009


We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control, no dark sarcasm in the classroom. . . Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone!

It was sad, but my time in Naples eventually had to come to a close, and the Fantastic Four (Kelsey, Kristen, Josephine, and myself) were split up. To tell you the truth, I was probably sadder to leave our cottage, which we named something like the Villa St. Taverna (among other things), than I was to leave Josephine after 6 weeks with her (just kidding just kidding!!!).
So we left Napoli the way we'd arrived: by train on a dreary day. Although we would all be going to different camps (except for Josephine and Kelsey), we would be going as far as Milan together. I personally had more than 7 hours of travel in store for me (thank goodness for season one of Gossip Girl).
The train to Milan was about 30 minutes late. . . which was ironic, because I had almost exactly 30 minutes to catch my second train. This gave me no time to say goodbye to any of the other girls- I just jumped off the train and tried to run with my luggage. It's rather more difficult than I'd anticipated, so I was pretty much just doing this awkward waddling thing. Long story short, I caught my train, even though the travel information I'd been given had included info on the next train to catch if I missed the first. Unfortunately, I don't think my camp director had been given info on the first train, because she sent someone to pick me up at the station an hour after I arrived. Oh well, that's Italy for you.
So now I'm in Prevalle, with two tutors I've never worked with. I ended up with a red/blue class, mostly 11-year-olds, which I really like. They're a lot less stressful than my last group, and so far we get along really well. The show for this week looks like it's going to be called 'Tarzan Goes to English Camp'- I took a page out of Josephine's book there with the English tie-in because her shows were all called things like 'Under the English Sea,' 'English in Space,' and 'English Farm.' It's Thursday already, so I should probably get going on a script.
We got our info on our next camp yesterday. It looks like one of the other tutors and I will be headed up the mountain 10 minutes to a town called Serle or something? Not sure. I'm excited about the lack of travel stress this weekend.
My time in Italy is slowly coming to a close, in case you hadn't realized it. If there's anything that anyone wants from here (or all of Europe, really), you need to let me know asap! Miss you all!

16 July 2009

"Anybody want a peanut?"

Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream, I am a traveller of both time and space, to be where I have been. . .

We arrived in Naples on Saturday afternoon, and were promptly greeted by our host Umberto and cloudy skies (ominous? you decide). I have no idea how we packed everything into his tiny car, but we did, and fit all five of us in as well (in case I haven't mentioned it, I'm here with the three female tutors from my last camp- our boys went home last weekend). If the car ride itself weren't enough to thoroughly terrify us all, the things we saw on the way there certainly were.
Long story short, Naples is a massive ghetto. And our tiny guest house/villa/Snow White's cottage is located in the ghetto of this ghetto. I've been fortunate enough to have spent virtually my entire life in really safe neighborhoods, so I don't have much to compare our area of Naples to, but if I had to compare it to something familiar to me, I might say west KC. I mean, on our bus home we drive through a humongous water treatment facility and some stockyards (that's your West Bottoms right there) we have to drive over a sketch bridge (12th Street, anyone?), and the nicest way to describe the neighborhoods is 'vibrant.'
Don't get me wrong- I love the West Side. That's why I would have to say that Naples is far worse than it. I mean, the city is almost constantly in a state of garbage crisis due to Mafia control (I'm not sure quite how that works out but I'm pretty sure it's because of the Mafia), it's overrun with pigeons and street vendors selling counterfeit goods, and there's more graffiti than you can shake a stick at. On the bus ride home yesterday I noticed that some of the businesses have not only brick walls set up to deter thieves, and not only barbed wire at the top of said walls, but shards of glass stuck into daubs of concrete at the base of the barbed wire as well. That's old school.
There is one shining star in this black hole of a neighborhood, however, and that is the pizza place next to our bus stop. The proprietor, Vittorio, is an amico of Umberto, and he gives us a discount on our pizza. . . plus it is very good, so it's actually super worth it. Josephine and Kelsey have each been eating a box each night and leaving the boxes up above our cabinets. Now they wonder why the villa is infested with flies.
Sunday we wandered. Monday we took the train up to Herculaneum (awesome!) and Sorrento. Tuesday we travelled four hours to Amalfi (I found so much sea glass that I pretty much decided that I need to incorporate it into my senior exhibit. Wednesday we saw Pompeii (soooo hot) and Sorrento again. Today we took the overpriced ferry out to Capri. Basically, my upper body is super tan/burnt- for me, at least. Tomorrow we're going to take it easy, and I'll probably lay out to get a little more tan on my stomach. It has been ridiculously hot each and every day, though, and probably will be tomorrow as well. Seriously, multiple Neapolitans have remarked on how much I glisten in the heat. I wish I knew how to say in Italian, "I can't help it, I'm Swedish."
I'll keep you updated. Pics asap so you can know I'm alive.
Much love!
PS: I hear gunshots right now.


As much as I love Naples, with its sweet aroma produced by the accumulation of rubbish (thank you, Mafia), and the charming glances from the natives (and the accompanying rude mutterings in Italian), I was very much relieved last night to learn that on Saturday, I will be travelling seven hours by train to Prevalle, up in the knee of Italy. I don't know much about it, but I do know that there will be two other tutors, and I have not been informed of the identity of either of them.
As always, more later. Now: Capri.

14 July 2009

In addtion. . .

PS: I just heard a gunshot. And not like the 'Oh hey, there's a varmint in my front yard, go get my gun' kind of way, but more in the 'B****, this is Detroit, we will straight up bust a cap in yo' a**' way.
Welcome to Naples.

Continuation of Rome+Trevi+Napoli

Oh so I forgot the best part of the end of the Rome story. You know how I said my host mom told me to find my own way home? Well, Liam said he couldn't, because his whole host family was going to a festival in a nearby town that was supposed to be really awesome. (Josephine ended up driving me home.) Well, guess who Liam saw at the festival? That's right. My entire host family. Without me.
Anyway, I need to fill you in on what happened during week two in Trevi. Well, the most evil of all the evil children was asked to stay home on Monday, and when he returned on Tuesday, he was moved to a different class. It actually helped quite a bit, but the two boys left in my class were still pretty awful. It turned out that the girls in the class were all really, really awesome though. Three of the girls were more or less geniuses, two of the girls were so sweet and helpful, and the other was a little crazy, but really funny.
On Monday or Tuesday we started planning for our show. I'd decided that I wanted to do another Michael Jackson tribute, and no one could deter me from that plan. It was called 'The King of Pop: A Tribute,' and it starred Riccardo as MJ. I held tryouts and everything. I would do a dance move, and then have them replicate it one by one. We also did vocal tryouts, with me yelling 'Ow!' and seeing who could imitate it best. In the end, there were several girls who were better than Riccardo, but I wanted it to be a guy, even though Giulia actually looked quite a bit like Michael Jackson in his later years, and it couldn't be Lorenzo, because the poor boy had absolutely no coordination.
Here's the plot: MJ is out on a date with his girl and asks her to be his girlfriend. Then a couple of gangstas (Giulia and Sharon) come up to them and rob them. MJ's gf asks 'What just happened?!' and he says 'You've been hit by a smooth criminal' aaaaaaaaaand cue music!
Giulia, Sharon, and Riccardo then proceed to do this sweet little dance featuring MJ moves, a little something I learned from America's Best Dance Crew, and a ten second breakdancing solo from Riccardo (no, he can't breakdance to save his life, and when he did the worm he looked like a dying orca, but that's what made it hilarious). At the end, the girls laid down on the floor and each of them grabbed one of Riccardo's ankles so that he could do the famous lean from the Smooth Criminal video.
After that, MJ's gf insists that he hunt down the robbers and get her purse back. Just at that moment, the robbers conveniently return, ready for a showdown. Cue 'Beat It,' and a dance-fight inspired by West Side Story and Zoolander.
Then MJ's gf is all like 'Michael, you are my perfect man. You have no flaws.' The moment is ruined, however, by the appearance of Billie Jean, who informs Michael that they have a son together. MJ's all like, 'The kid is NOT my son,' but then when he sees the picture that Billie Jean holds up, he says, 'His eyes. . . they are like mine!' and they do a tango together, finished off by a brief and comically horrendous moonwalk.
Obviously, this turn of events displeases MJ's gf, and she tells him, 'There's something weird about you. . .' just as a teen wolf and a couple of zombies show up. They say things like 'Holla at a playa' and 'Word, g-money' (yep, we taught the kids urban slang). When Michael's gf gets even more suspicious, one of the zombies says, 'He's not like other guys. . . he's different,' Thriller plays, and that's basically the grand finale. (Yep, I recycled the dance I used at the Modena camp).
Anyway, our days were spent rehearsing heavily for the final show on Friday. In the end, the dances went really well, but we weren't able to run lines as much as we needed to, and the kids giggled through the whole thing. Everyone still loved it, though.
What else happened. . . we went out with our camp director and host families on Sunday to an island, and then we hit up Assisi. It was so lovely. If my internet connection were stronger I would totally post video and pics. . . you know I want to.
We went to the pool one day. . . best quote from that day- Liam: "Liz, the lifeguard just punched one of our kids in the chest." (Should give you an idea of how awful these kids were.)
One of the nights we visited Perugia, and on another night, I finally got to see that festival that everyone had been going to all week. It was basically a county fair with a roller skating show, I kid you not. They had farm equipment out on display (I find that highly comforting in a totally unsarcastic way) and a big flat area where children skated to Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, the Mickey Mouse Club theme, and then heavy metal (not joking). A heavy metal band literally took the stage and started playing while three girls were skating around to the music. Then the skaters left and the band kept playing. They even played Iron Man, and we all fake-moshed to it.
I saw a billion species of bugs in my room. There were the long, gangly wall spiders that generally just hung out in the corners of the wall, the tiny black ones with fur, the creepy brown ones, and the other black ones. Oh and then there was the massive garden spider that got inside. Then there were the centipedes, which are like massive mutated versions of the ones I was previously familiar with. I also saw a few beetles and quite a few flies. Not to complain, just informing you. It was nice to have all that space to myself, though, and be able to play music at night and shower when I wanted to and watch dvd's after camp.
On Friday, some of the really sweet girls in my class gave me a gift that they'd bought me- a mini backpack with rhinestones and Winnie the Pooh on it. It's the sort of thing an Italian girl their age would wear, which is why I love it. I feel as though I've now been initiated into their club. I was so, so touched by that.
Remember how I said that my kids would steal anything not nailed down? Well, on Friday, after the show, my tutor shirt was not nailed down (one of the younger girls had been wearing it because she was playing me in her class's show). Basically, I haven't seen the shirt since, and I'm pretty sure I know which of the kids took it, but there's nothing I can do about it now. I will just have to keep wearing the same shirt every day for the rest of the summer and hope I don't go to a camp in a Catholic school, because then the nuns will apparently make me cover my shoulders and my one remaining shirt is a tank top (or a singlet, depending on which part of the world you're from.
Anyway, on Tuesday or Wednesday one of the directors of the entire program called to ask us how we were holding up and where we would prefer to go for a weeklong break. He gave us the option of Rome or Naples, and I had no preference. There's a lot I still need to see in Rome, but then again, I'd seen none of Naples.
So now I am in Naples. More on that later. However, I will give you a rough rundown: Herculaneum and Sorrento yesterday, Amalfi today, Pompeii and Sorrento tomorrow, Capri Thursday, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. My back got burned today out on the beach, and I'm totally pumped. Anyway. Good night!

13 July 2009

Roman Holiday

I know it's been a week and a half, but there are people out there who would like to know about my trip to Rome, so I'm going to talk about it.

Yes. So. I spent the Fourth of July in Rome with three of the other tutors working the Trevi camp. We left Trevi at about 6 am that morning, with my host mom dropping me off and telling me that if I wanted to make it home from the train station that night, I would have to ask one of the other tutors to get their host family to drive me there. So that was nice.

We talked the entire two hours to Rome. When we arrived, we hopped on the Metro and rode that to the stop nearest to the Vatican. A few minutes were spent loitering around the Piazza San Pietro, until we decided to head on into the Vatican. I just want to backtrack here for a moment and mention that, during our planning time for Rome, I told everyone that I thought we would need to cover not only our shoulders, but our knees as well to enter the Vatican. I got laughed at. "Uh, Liz, this isn't a Buddhist country. I'm Catholic, and we don't do that anymore," was what they told me.

Guess who had to buy pashminas to wrap around their waists to get past the security guards at the Vatican? That's right. All of us. Including Liam, our redheaded Aussie friend.

It was pretty cool inside, though. All the hours I've spent trying to stay awake in Art History classes has paid off here in Italy, and I definitely show off a little bit. "Oh hey, it's Michelangelo's Pieta, no big deal," I would say, and then I would digress into a dialogue on the contrast between Michelangelo's more classical-looking sculpture (like David, or the Pieta) and Donatello's late sculptures. . . I'm not going to pretend I wasn't annoying. Art is kind of a big deal to me. . . that might be why I decided to major in it.

After that, we climbed to the top of the cupola of St. Peter's (552 steps!), and then we walked a kilometer or so to the entrance of the Vatican Museum, which took us eventually to the Sistine Chapel. The ceiling there is the big thing to see, in case you didn't know. It's pretty amazing. Somehow I missed Raphael's School of Athens, so I'm probably going to have to go back to see it.

What was after that. . . let's see, there was some wandering, the Spanish steps (represent!), a Pinocchio store, et cetera, et cetera. Oh! And then there was the Pantheon, which I requested. I really went wild there, explaining all the ways that the builders of the Pantheon kept the massive ceiling from falling in (coffered ceiling, giant oculus, and hollow stuff in the lightweight concrete used to build it). We also took quite a few pictures.

Next up was a journey to the Colisseum. That was really, really cool. It was probably the highlight of the entire journey, because Liam and I engaged in a gladiator fight. And it was captured on film. Enjoy.

I had fully intended to spend that last couple of hours before our train in a karaoke bar, singing God Bless the USA, Redneck Woman, and a Whitney Houston-esque version of the national anthem, but alas, it was not to be. Instead, we bought some beer and lambrusco, and imbibed on the train. Despite the lack of explosives and karaoke, it was a pretty great day.

12 July 2009


I'm in Naples for the week on a break, but that's all I've got time to say for now because it's 1 am and I'm exhausted. There's a lot to tell about the last two weeks though!

01 July 2009


'Some people look down on me, but I don't give a rip/ I stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip'
Thought I'd throw that in there because it pretty well describes my host mom here in Trevi. When she picked me up from the camp director's office (I'm not lying when I say it was at a dj academy) she seemed a little standoffish, but nice. She drove me to the family home, and I'm staying in a little guestroom off the garage, so it's not connected to the rest of the house. It's pretty nice, but there's no internet in there, and I've killed 4 bugs (plus I've got my eye on a couple of spiders up on the ceiling).
My host sisters are super nice, but they fight like, well, my sisters and me. Dalila's the oldest (18 I think?), then there's Alba (13), and little Asia (7).
Saturday night, we went out to a medieval festival thing in Bevagna (ren fests here are way more legit, I think, because the renaissance actually happened here) because my host dad is a chef and he was cooking there.
Sunday I met with the five other tutors and our director at the dj academy to plan the camp. I learned that I was assigned to a group of 11-16 year olds. Wonderful. We stuck around, learning how to use the turntables, until our host parents showed up.
Did I mention I'm living on a farm?! I look out my window, and I see a chicken coop, a few rows of vegetables, a couple fields of sunflowers (represent!), some hay bales, and, you know, A MOUNTAIN RANGE. If you're not jealous of me, you simply haven't been paying attention.
So Sunday we just sat around outside, tanning our shoulders and whatnot. The setup of this place sort of reminds me of a lot of homes where I come from. You've got a little garage, big gravel driveway, some farm equipment sitting around in the yard, the neighbor's tractor is there, and there's a Bobcat across the street to do some heavy lifting.
They've also got a lot of random stuff just sitting around outside. There are dismembered Barbies, a baby doll with eyes that open and close, a whole bunch of soccer balls- that kind of thing. It's mildly creepy. Basically, what I've decided is that if this were the States, I'd be living with rednecks (thus the song choice at the top). But because it's Italy, and everything's automatically classier, they've got a guesthouse, and satellite, and whatnot. I mean, the mom has had a beer with pretty much every non-breakfast meal I've eaten with her. Wait, that's not weird? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, she's pregnant again. Overall, though, I like the family. We just have some difficulty communicating (Josephine calls the parents antisocial), and I don't agree with all of their lifestyle choices.
The students have been hellions thus far. When I heard we'd be out in the country, I was expecting Modigliana again. Instead, I got Dangerous Minds. These kids will steal anything not nailed down, and I know they swear at me in Italian. To say that working with them has been a challenge would qualify as an understatement. I know I can do it though- I just have to keep them interested and somehow convince them that what they're doing isn't work.
I went running before school the other day all the way up into the mountains. I actually ended up missing my turn back, and nearly had to ask for directions before successfully backtracking. Probably going to try that again tomorrow (minus the getting lost part).
Katsy, I know your birthday is coming up. I have a video to post that I think you'll laugh at, and I have things to send home, but I seriously doubt they'll make it on time. Just know that I love you and I'm thinking about you.
I love and miss all of you. Hopefully I'll get to post pictures soon. I've got some really brilliant ones, and some great videos.
Oh and I'll probably be in Rome on the 4th! Rome=almost too classy for Independence Day, so I'm going to try and bring the classiness down a few notches by finding a karaoke bar to sing bad country songs and possibly streaking (totally joking, Mom). Anyway. . .