Back from a week in Italy with my family (lil sis who's in Florence studying abroad, Mom, Dad, aunt) and I suppose I could write up a long, drawn-out entry about everything we did...but I'm too lazy and it's more fun typing up little random tidbits.
1. Urban Italy feels very different from LA, but it also feels very similar to cities in general. I suppose there's always the "too many cars, too many pedestrians, too little space" vibe in cities no matter where you go.
2. Wheeee jaywalking. Nobody gives a crap if you just up and walk in the middle of the street. In fact, that's what you're supposed to do, since everyone else is doing it.
3. I want a smartCar, even though it'll probably be pulverized on LA freeways. They are the cutest things ever. In fact, I didn't see a single big passenger vehicle in Italy. If it wasn't a smartCar, it was a Fiat, BMW, or Mercedes sedan. Dad checked one afternoon and all the cars that we saw were stick shift. (I'm going to learn! Eventually..)
4. I'm glad I didn't bring a camera, since it would have been the most redundant thing on the face of the planet. Aunt took 700 photos, Dad took a good amount, and lil sis has been there since January (and will be there until June) so I figure I'll have enough photos of Italy.
5. I did bring a sketchbook, even though I didn't draw all that much since we were always on the move. I need to figure out what kind of media to use when, cause working with drawing pencils on textured paper doesn't exactly work all that well for anything except sculpture.
6. Bringing a sketchbook instead of a camera worked out well for seeing the David, since you weren't allowed to take photos of it anyway. I went to the Galleria dell'Academia a few hours before my flight home, since if I had been to Florence and NOT seen the David, I would be the most pathetic art student ever.
7. Speaking of the David, Michelangelo was an antisocial, miserable, grumpy old man, but he had a wicked sense of humor (as well as having a particular love for rendering naked men). I've become such a fan.
8. Lil sis wasn't kidding when she said the lines for the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums) were going to be long. We got there right as it opened at 10AM, and I started jogging to the end of the line so I could keep a spot for the rest of the fam. I turned a corner, kept on running, turned another corner, kept on running, turned yet ANOTHER corner, thought, "Holy CRAP this is a lot of people" and kept on running. I think we ended up halfway around the city wall. But we made it in after two hours, which wasn't all too bad considering how obscenely long that line was. And we got in! Lil sis claimed that a friend went to Rome/Vatican three times and was never able to go to the museum since they have such strange hours. The day we went, it closed at 3:30PM. (May I also add, lots of hate toward lil sis and her class who get to go into the museum privately after closing hours because they have connections at Stanford. *shakes fist*)
9. The Sistine Chapel ceiling is absolutely breathtaking. Michelengelo definitely has one up on Leonardo "I tried to be creative with The Last Supper and it's been falling off the wall ever since I painted it" da Vinci for this piece. The colors are amazing thanks to the restoration. You'd have no idea it was nearly 500 (holy crap) years old. It's truly something else seeing this in person and realizing how much larger than life it is.
10. We only went to 5 or 6 churches/cathedrals/Christian places of worship, and they're already blurring together. But for the uninitiated, the Duomo (Florence) = big space, San Marcos (Venice) = gold walls and ceiling, St. Peter's Basilica (Vatican) = white marble with gold, Pantheon (Rome) = big hole in the roof. There was also another one I recall that had a dark blue ceiling with gold stars, but I don't remember the name, sigh.
11. Lil sis thought the hole in the Pantheon was a glass window. First I said that it was waaay too clean to be glass (pigeons are everywhere in the cities), and then I found my trump card when I pointed out that in the roped-off section, the middle of the floor contained several large puddles. (It had been raining a few hours earlier.) Lil sis asked a guard about that, and yes, it really is a hole in the ceiling (sugarfiend FTW! ), and that the marble "soaks the rainwater up." She was dubious about the latter statement but....whatever.
12. My favorite churches/cathedrals/Christian places of worship were the St. Peter's Basilica and the Pantheon. Neither are crazily ostentatious in terms of color scheme, and it felt more soothing than in-your-face. Not to mention that they've kept up beautifully through the centuries. The Pantheon's dome is the original dome, and that thing's more than 1500 years old.
13. Nonetheless, it seemed that every church/cathedral/Christian place of worship had high vaulted ceilings and beautifully painted walls and ceilings. I'm not religious at all, but it must be downright awesome to have services in an old Italian church.
14. Lil sis was right. Italian men are oh-so-hot.
15. Lil sis was right. It is insanely easy to get lost in Venice. The streets are all short, and there are bridges over canals everywhere that look the same. And it was raining. At least it wasn't hot - Venice supposedly smells when it's hot.
16. I hate flying. That could put a damper on my life's dream to travel the world. Well, I guess it's ok unless I experience a bumpy descent. Ugh I hate those...
17. Italian food = SO YUMMY. Their gnocchi is better than anything I will ever make, LOL.