Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rome and Points South

The semester is officially over. It was bittersweet to say good-bye to the kids. I know they are having a wonderful time traveling around together but it was a good semester.

After they had all left, I headed south to meet Tammie and Vivian in Rome. We spend two busy days there seeing all the things Vivian had missed on her one whirlwind day trip there in the summer of 2000. We managed to make it through will all our wits and wallets. On one city bus the man standing right behind us had his wallet stolen out of his camera case while we were all there. I think that he just put it in the camera case and the thief saw him do it.

I did discover that I had been the victim of a theft while I was in Rome but it did not happen in Rome. Starting about four days before, I could not get my ATM/VISA card to work in any of the machines. They kept saying that my bank wanted them to confiscate my card but it gave the card back anyway. I called Reag and asked her to run by the bank (since she used to work there) and see what was seems that I was victim to the card fraud that has been going around Searcy. I am not sure how they got my information since I haven't used that card in Searcy since September but someone was using it in MEXICO. They used it at a Burger King, Walmart and an ATM. The bank shut it down before it could be used anymore. The bank also has replaced all the money they stole...thank you, Simmons! But I know in the long run we will all pay for the stolen money through additional fees an such. That just makes me mad.

Now, back to the trip. After Rome we took an overnight train to Taormina in Sicily (Tammie, write this down so you can remember where we were!) and spend the day in that beautiful town. We went back to Messina and had to spend the night there because all the trains back north were full. That is a town were EVERBODY goes down to the main piazza on Saturday night and walks around or drives around. Next morning we took a ferry to Reggio di Calibria and strolled around there until time for our train to Naples. At the train station in Reggio di Calibria Vivian and I were waiting for Tammie to finish some necessary business when all these police started pouring into the station. We first thought it had to do with the fire was billowing smoke out of an office building but then a police officer came up and asked why we were out by the train tracks. When we showed him our ticket he said in a very serious voice that it was "dangerous" for us to stand there and he moved us back into a little hallway. We told him that our friend was still in a room down the outside of the building but he didn't quite understand. In about a minute a group of either soccer players or fans came trouping through the train station and the police made them walk between two lines of poilice officers until they got on the train. Right then, Tammie came walking out of the restroom and walked right behind the police line and never knew anything was out of the ordinary. We had to laugh.

We spent the night in Naples and first thing the next morning went to Sorrento. I love Sorrento. We found a great hotel near the station and roamed all through the town. The next day we took the ferry over to Capri. The views were wonderful but many of the shops have closed for the season. We decided not to take the bus or a taxi up to Anacapri because Vivian is so prone to motion sickness. I was afraid that she would be up there and not able to get down!

After two nights in Sorrento we headed back to Rome for them to catch an early morning flight home. I came back to Firenze to get ready for the next round of company. Julie and Mark from Munich will be here tomorrow with another couple they know from church. I am trying to think of all the things they need to see in the couple of days that they will be here. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Nekkid Statues

The banquet is over. The students did a great job with the decorations and the gift giving. They gave me a group picture that they all signed on the matting. It is wonderful and I got a ceramic plate from that man who hand paints ceramics next to Mario's Cafe. It is of the villa and it is beautiful. I think I will hang it right under the painting that Robbie gave me last time of the villa.

The entertainment was fun. Logan and I sang the following lyrics to the tune of Jingle Bells (moleskins are the small blank books that the students have to fill with their notes from the museums and galleries we visit and the whisperer is what we call the wireless listening devices we use to hear the tour guides).

Dashing through the streets

Another sight to see

Come on hurry up

Our guide we have to meet

Moleskins in our hands

A whisperer in our ear

And I can’t find my pen right now

So I’ll just have to stare.

Fall 06

Fall 06

HUFfers now are we

O what fun it is to see

The nekkid staturary EEE

Fall 06

Fall 06

HUFfers now are we

David, Venus, Hercules

Are nekkid as can be!

Leonardo everywhere

Michelangelo wants to share

His gift of art with us

We’ve tried and tried to hear

Just what he wants to say

Bout beauty and the plan

But all it seems to say sometimes is

It’s a nakkid man!

Fall 06

Fall 06

HUFfers now are we

O what fun it is to see

The nekkid staturary EEE

Fall 06

Fall 06

HUFfers now are we

David, Venus, Hercules

Are nekkid as can be!

Obviously there are a couple of inside jokes, but we do see lots of nakkid statues. My nephew, his wife and their seven year old daughter are coming to Florence in mid December. They have been watching lots of travel videos to prepare for the trip. On one video they saw the David statue. The seven year old said, "Mom, he's not very modest." The mom was preparing to discuss the nakedness of the statue when the daughter went on to complete her thought, "He doesn't have a shirt on!" If all she noticed about that statue is that he doesn't have a shirt on, then we maybe can make it all around the piazzas here without having to discuss the total nakedness of them!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I have spent the entire afternoon and early evening hours cooking! It is true! I have been helping Mona, Tracy, Leslie, Leda and Paola sox the desserts and the cornbread for Thanksgiving dinner. We are having Thanksgiving a week early since we will all leave for different corners of Europe next Wednesday. I can't believe that we only have 7 days left of the semester. I suppose they are going to want me to actually grade those tests they have been taking.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Promised Pictures

Olive harvest

Forum in Rome

The wreck outside my bedroom window in Rome.

Villa decorations

Student Website

this is the student project website. It is a little hard to navigate through but the pictures are great

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The Metro and Panties

First let me say that I am using this new tool on my browser that lets me drag and drop photos but I have no idea how to control the placement of the they may be randomly placed in this post! Yesterday I got to go to the Metro yesterday with Mona. That is a wonderful warehouse shopping place like Sam's. Tammie, you would just love it! We bought everthing for our Thanksgiving meal. I mean everything from cute aprons for us to wear to dried figs and dates to huge hunks of cheese. We were there for two hours!! There are aisles and aisles of fun stuff to look at and buy.

We are having Thanksgiving on Thursday of this week because we will all be gone next Thursday. Next Thursday Tammie and Vivian and I will be having our pasta and NOT washing the dishes! I am so excited about them coming.

This morning we all woke up to new decorations in the villa. It seems that the males living here have not been "thinking about thier panties before midnight" and the plastic tub that holds the underwear was overflowing. Some little fairies in the night tied all the boxers and briefs in the laundry room together with cute ribbon and strung them up all over the place. It was funny but I know they will be looking to get even.

so, the new drag and drop photo thing does not work...sorry
I also have no idea to what scale the photos are going to appear. If they are blurry I will re do them later today.

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The trip was Rome was absolutely great. When I was here before, we did the entire Rome experience in three days and now we do it in four. That means that this time we did not have to run through the city in order to see all the major sites. And we did see all the major sites!

One of the things that I love most about Rome is that you can be walking down a street and window shopping for great contemporary stuff and then you see a ruin. Or you turn the corner and see the Colluseum. Our hotel was a block from the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed!

Tracy took some of us to new attraction called the Time Elevator. It is just like a ride at Universal Studios or DisneyWorld but it is about the history of Rome. You get strapped into a seat that jerks and turns you alittle and feel like your are space traveling and flying over both ancient and modern Rome. Great fun.

The food was good! We went to this wonderful coffee place that is known for its special coffee blends. All my friends will be surprised to hear that I have been attempting to drink coffee. I LOVE the cappuccino and the cafe is growing on me.

One of the craziest things that happened in Rome was the traffic wreck that occured on Saturday night right outside my bedroom window. Tracy and I were sharing a room and we were exhausted so we went to bed at about 10:30 pm. At two minutes to midnight (I checked the clock!) we both woke up to a very, very loud sound of metal hitting metal. I had heard a police siren in my dream and sure enough a police car with lights and siren had been hit by a crazy Rome driver. They hit so hard that one was knocked into a bicycle on the side of the street. Within seconds there were 12 other police cars there on the scene. They immediately started dealing with the traffice because it is a busy main street in Rome. The traffic was wild. It took about 5 minutes for the ambulances to get through the traffic. The policeman was taken away on a backboard but he was moving his arms and legs so I think he will be ok. The people in the other car were sitting on the curb so I think they are ok also, but what drama in the middle of my sleep!

There were a couple of trips to the Hard Rock Cafe...I know, it screams "I Am a Tourist" but the food is good and I really needed a hamburger and onion rings.

The weather was good until Sunday when the rain started. I can say with blessed assuredness that I had so much more fun in Rome with the pleasant 60 to 70 degree temps than I did in the summer of 2000. That was week of the Polish pilgrimage to the Vatican during the summer of Jubilee. 60,000 Polish travelers in the 90 to 100 degree heat can be quite smelly. Plus, I was sweating and you know how I hate to sweat. This visit did NOT include sweat. For that I am very, very thankful!

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Leaving for Rome

Tomorrow at 6:45 am I am leaving for Rome. I am going to scout out all the places that Tammie and Vivian will want to see when they arrive! If you have ever been with Robbie on his super marathon run through Rome then you can sympathize with me. He can move fast through those streets and you'd better keep up. The evenings will be free time and I know that I will enjoy the yummy places to eat and on Friday night we will be at the Hard Rock Cafe because they give free refills on Diet Coke.

I had an interesting phone call this morning from my husband in Searcy. It was at 10:40 am Italian time which means it was 3:40 am Searcy time. It seems that he tried to reset the alarm clock after the daylight savings time change and couldn't get the alarm set to a normal time and he did not know how to stop the alarm! I think he needs me! It is so nice to be needed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Olive Harvest and Book Signing

We harvested olives today. It was great fun. We divided into teams and had a competition to see which teach could harvest the most. I was not officially on a team but I did help the one who had the fewest members. After we put parachutes on the ground to catch the olives we took long plastic rakes and combed the tree limbs. We worked hard with a muffin and hot chocolate break at about 11 am. We finished all the trees before noon! Only one other fall group has done that much! We had one student who shall not be named who climbed a ladder for the first time. Imagine that! Picking olives for the first time and climbing a ladder for the first time.
I will put up some pictures tomorrow.

Robbie had been invited to a book reading and signing by the US Consul General and since Mona was busy with company, I got to go with him. We went to one of NYU's villas and the authors showed slides of some of the photos in their book. It is about the 1966 flood and the recovery process and since this the 40th anniversary of the flood there was a special number of the people who had helped with the cleanup. They call the "Mud Angles." Several of the Mud Angels also spoke about their experiences. On man said that one of the first businesses to recover was a restaurant and since the Italians love their food that it was reopened only two days after the flood. Robbie's dad was one of the Mud Angels who helped at the National Library behind the Santa Croce. I sat next to one of the authors. We had a small reception in the foyer of one of the classrooms for NYU in Florence under the Murano glass chandelier (and those twins Couchette and Chandlette were no where in sight!).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fall Weather and The Prince

Today was a very good day. First of all the weather is incredible. Just like the perfect Homecoming weather with cloudless blue sky and crisp, clean fall air. This morning Jeff (who is visiting here until tomorrow) showed us all the photos of HULA, HUG, and HIZ (Harding in Zambia). Dan, I think that our master’s program can certainly work with the program in Zambia and send four students there once a year and also send four a year to England. They have a place in Zambia that takes in babies whose mothers have dies before the baby is able to eat solid food. Sometimes they bury a baby that age with the mother because there is not enough money to buy formula for the infant. Haven Inn (or maybe it was Haven Place, I can’t exactly remember) takes these babies until they can eat solid food and then they return to their families. Our students could certainly be there helping and doing language development activities with the babies. There is also a grade school where English is the language so our students could help out there. It is going to be a great thing!

For lunch today we put all the students on a bus and went to Machiavelli’s house and tavern where he used to eat when he was exiled from Florence. It was also during that time he wrote “The Prince.” His villa was incredible with a most wonderful terrace that you can actually see the duomo and bell tower in downtown Florence. Lunch was all salad and grilled meat. Oh my goodness! Ribs, chicken, pork roast, and the best Italian sausage I have ever eaten.

After lunch we went to Robbie and Mona’s condo out in the Tuscan hills. There we had dessert and celebrated three birthdays! It was so much fun….and I FORGOT TO TAKE MY CAMERA!!! I guess that means that I will have to take Gene, Reagan, Murr, Tim, Stephanie, and Ellie back there. I can be a martyr and suffer through another meal for them and the photos.

word for today's five sentences: bolzano

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween and Free Travel

I am sorry to say that I will not use the word couchette in this entry.

Since I last had a free moment we have had a Halloween party at the villa and gone on our second free travel for the semester. The Halloween party was so much fun. My costume friends (MLD and SCP) came up with great suggestions for my costume but I ended up being a rapper. Long story but it was funny and the kids were amazed that I know a few phrases that a gangsta might use.

The kids are so creative and one even came as an African street vendor in Florence. He was hilarious and kept trying to sell everyone watches and belts! The Haunted Grounds was so much fun and the tacos were great!

So, the next day we went to Porciano. Martha was a wonderful hostess, as she always is and the kids enjoyed hanging out in a castle.

Barbara and I took a Thursday afternoon train to Verona and spent the night there. It was fun to stroll downtown with all the local folks and see the beautiful buildings that look like Juliet is going to come out on the balcony.

[Jeff Hopper has arrived here in Scandicci bringing copies of the Bison for this semester. No one told me that the three Moore ladies were featured in one of the issues!!!]

So, back to the trip…We left Verona on a day train to Munich. The trip through the Italian and Austrian alps was incredible. I think that I have been on that exact route in 2000 but at night. I don’t think that I will ever sleep through Europe again because the scenery that you miss is so dramatic. We saw so many castles on the hilltops.

Mark and Julie Ellis met us at the train station and took us to their really cool apartment in downtown Munich. As soon as we had put down our luggage Mark, the tour guide, led us out of the house and down to the street where he had rented bicycles for Barbara and me. Those of you who know me well, know that I have not been on a bicycle in 30 years! And besides that…I am no so coordinated. So we set off on a bike tour of Munich. We had not gone 30 feet when I started laughing and immediately fell off the bicycle and bounced my head off the curb! Julie and Barbara were already planning how they would get the body back to the states but having dense bones is a blessing and I got to my feet and back on the bike. We continued around the city for a while seeing all the cool places like the spot in the river where people actually surf on the rushing river, and a part of the English Garden, and the new government center.

We did stop for supper at a great place in downtown Munich. The sausages were great and I had a new beverage…part Coke and part Orange Fanta. I was amazingly good. We set out for home on the bicycles again and I was going pretty good until some lady opened her car door right in my path!!! I tried to swerve but lost my balance again! The poor lady was sooo apologetic because in Munich if a rider is on the bike path no one can get in their way. I had a couple of bruises and a huge case of lost dignity but I did manage to make it out of bed the next day!

On Sunday, we worshiped with the church that the Ellis’ attend in Munich. John Mark Hicks was there for a special workshop and he preached. It was really good. After a lunch at the KFC, we headed out for the Linderhof castle. That crazy Ludwig sure knew how to spend some money!

He didn’t want anyone to see him eat so he created this contraption that would lower his dining table down into the kitchen so that the servants wouldn’t see him eat but they could still put all the food on the table and then raise it up to where he was seated.

Monday Julie drove us out to the Neuschwanstein castle. It really does look like you enter an amusement park. We also drove into the town of Fussen to shop around there. I turned the day into a “Bakery Day” and we did manage to taste several yummy treats.

Tuesday we took the one of the best walking tours I have ever been on. We took the Hitler’s Munich tour. The guide was from Ireland but we saw all the major locations were the Third Reich came into existence and where they ruled until the government moved to Berlin. I was amazed at the number of coincidences and the amount of plain dumb luck that fell into place as the Nazi party rose to power. I highly recommend this tour for those going to Munich! After the tour we had a kind of a picnic in the gardens downtown with sausages that MLD recommends, cheese, pretzels, and artichoke hearts. There was a kind of a pep rally for the soccer teams playing that night and the fans were marching through the streets beating drums and blowing whistles. It was crazy fun!

Wednesday was a train trip back to Florence with lunch in the dining car. It was almost like being on the Orient Express! We saw snow when we stopped for a few minutes in Brenner’s Pass and then found out that Munich was hit with a major snowstorm Wednesday night.

The cooler weather if officially here and I couldn’t be happier! The sad news is that we only have three more weeks of time for the semester. The happy news is that when the semester ends more of my friends begin to arrive. Tammie and Vivian then when they leave Julie is bringing a friend to visit and when they leave Gene and Reagan come!!!