30 December 2012

orvieto part one

[june 23rd-24th]

And so I got up the next morning and just kept living my life, because kidney infections are to me what bronchitis is to Sweet Brown.
It was incredibly frustrating, though, to be so exhausted. I couldn't find a taxi driver to take me to the train station, because it would only have been a few minutes by car. Naturally, this meant I could be found standing in the street, screaming obscenities at taxis.
My good luck charm Shelly and me on our train
But of course I eventually arrived in Orvieto. It's an amazing town on the top of a cliff made of tufa, a type of volcanic stone. Tufa is a relatively soft stone, so there's a network of caves running underneath Orvieto. It's also the site of one of Italy's most spectacular cathedrals. Just tons of history.

I met other three tutors--Emma from England, Amanda from Wales, and Ed from Georgia. They'd all been working together for a bit at other camps, but were incredibly fun and welcoming. That first night, Ed and I were without host families for a little bit, so we each got our own room at a hotel in town, and got to wash up for an informal tour and outdoor party.
The dream team.
Later that night, I met my host family. They lived in an old, probably medieval, apartment home in a building which had once been an orphanage, complete with its own chapel-turned-living room. The stone walls were over a foot thick in some places. Unfortunately, this meant that the wifi signal emanating from the living room didn't reach my bedroom ten feet away. A small price to pay, however, to be living in such a beautiful and historical apartment overlooking the main street of the town, Corso Cavour.

On Sunday, my host family took me to their grandparents' home, which was a short walk through town. As always, rumors of my vegetarian ways had preceded me, and the grandmother had a special lasagna prepared for me. First of all, this was the first time I can remember eating lasagna at all in Italy, and secondly, it was made with red sauce and PEAS. And it wasn't bad. Kinda reminded me of when I was a kid and my grandmother would throw frozen peas into our mac n cheese to get us to eat our vegetables.

With Anna in front of the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo
After that, I walked around town a bit more with Anna, my little sister for the week. I learned that not only was my temporary home right off the main street of town, but less than a minute's walk the other way from one of Orvieto's most important attractions, Il Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, or the Palace of the Captain of the People. The Captain of the People was kind of like an emergency mayor who would take charge in the event of an invasion, I believe. He would work together with the bishop of Orvieto, and sometimes the pope, who had a residence there for a while. Oh, did I not mention that? Tons of history in Orvieto. Now, the old building is used like a convention center or town hall.

That night, my host family went to a friend's house for a World Cup watch party. I stayed in, but my host mother prepared me a feast. You can't even see everything she made me, because I left some of the tupperwares and platters covered for the photo below.

ALL OF THIS FOOD WAS MEANT FOR ONE PERSON. The Italians I meet continue to believe that I need much, much more food than they do, even when I am roughly the same size they are. There's grilled eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, plums, apricots, a banana, salad, bread, more grilled things that I can't remember, a ball of mozzarella cheese, and a packet of cream cheese. Obviously I ate all the cream cheese, some of the eggplant and zucchini, and nothing else.

(Okay, maybe I ate a peach and some of the mozzarella. And dipped it all in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. And then had to use some bread to soak up the leftover oil and vinegar mix.)

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