Better late than never I suppose

Many sorry’s for writing last week’s post so late, I’ve been so busy with schoolwork and trips I haven’t had the time to dedicate my energy to this blog as I would’ve liked. So now I’m going to write about the week of February 4th to the 11th – since this is so much I would like to share with you all. Last last Wednesday I decided I would make my own tomato sauce from scratch, seeing as it couldn’t possibly be that hard right? Well it wasn’t so much as hard as it was time-consuming. To make tomato sauce, you have to buy five lbs of tomatoes, then boil them, then immediately transfer them over to the ice water once the skin begins to spilt. The first time I tried to make it was 2 hours before class, because I didn’t know I would need 3 hours for the sauce to simmer in total. I went through the hysteria of boiling, peeling, then seeding my tomatoes (which I didn’t even have enough of these). I decided to keep on making the sauce, so I added in the chopped onion (I hate chopping onions), minced garlic, chopped basil leaves, oregano, thyme, pepper and salt. By the way, the recipe I found was a version of an Italian woman’s grandmother’s recipe in case anyone is curious. The entire concoction smelled heavenly, but had a very odd orange coloring to it due to the sub par tomatoes I was using. With about thirty minutes before my class started, and my stomach still empty, I had to ditch the already burned sauce. During my Art Gallery Management class, I keep smelling myself because I reeked of strong Italian food. I felt so badly for the girl sitting next to me.  Hopefully, she couldn’t smell it and I was just paranoid, but I highly doubt that. Not being able to make the tomato sauce correctly was driving me crazy, so once I got out of class I bought more tomatoes and another onion and went straight to the kitchen to cook. After about four hours of peeling, dicing, mincing, boiling, and simmering, the sauce was complete. Although it wasn’t perfect, it was pretty delicious. At that point, the tomato sauce wasn’t even about eating it, it was about cooking something more complicated on my own. It was very satisfying – especially on top of some store bought ravioli. However, next time I will definitely plan the right amount of time before I start a new recipe. Learning to cook on my own I know is just another part of my independence here in Rome.

my first try
my first try
a little more pretty!
a little more pretty!

On Thursday the 5th, I had my second painting class, and I had to start choosing my theme for my portfolio – which I avoided thinking too in depth about until then. During class I explored my professor’s landscape and color books, but I was still struggling to decide. She wanted to me just to start painting something to get my ideas flowing. I worked on a simple landscape, which helped me decide on doing Landscapes of the Past for my theme (she has a list of themes we choose from). Without much past experience in rendering landscapes, I know that this theme will help me to improve my technique and style of painting. On Friday the 6th, my housemate Katie and I went on a three hour tour to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and then St. Peter’s Basilica. It was beyond incredible!!! Our tour guide was interesting, but it was great that we had headsets and she had a microphone, so we could wander around and listen to her speak, while looking at whatever we want. Learning about and seeing the history of the vatican was amazing, but walking through the tapestry hall and map hall was when I got very excited. Being so close to such a powerful time in art history never fails to overwhelm me.

the Maps hall
the Maps hall
the Tapestry hall
the Tapestry hall

Next, we were guided into the Raphael rooms – talk about overwhelming. The power of great artwork is instantaneous, and I immediately felt it as I walked in. Seeing School of Athens and many other beautiful murals by the master Raphael was such an  amazing feeling. Since I have been studying Raphael for so long, getting to see his some of his most remarkable pieces feels like such a momentous time in my life. However, next I was able to see the famous Sistine Chapel. I definitely teared up here. After I have been told that it is always extremely packed, it really didn’t seem that bad when Katie and I went. It wasn’t like a game of sardines, more like a crowded shopping mall. Getting the privilege to see this and all these other world famous artworks in person makes me so thankful I have the opportunity to study in Rome. To conclude our tour, we went inside Peter’s Basilica, one of the world’s largest churches. From Michelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s designs (not to forget the dead popes – very haunting) I encourage you all to make a visit here someday.

I deeply enjoyed visiting the Vatican City, but my exhaustion from learning more and more facts on our tour, with the rain as we walked around outside, then getting lost on the way home, instills in me further how vast this city is and how one could spend forever exploring it and never see everything (although technically the Vatican is it’s own state).

On Saturday the 7th, my two housemates and I went out to dinner with our local Italian friends. In his small fiat, I felt as though I was on a roller coaster and he weaved in and out of lanes, going very fast, and making sharp turns. Although they’re younger than us by a year, they seem much older. How mature they are makes you forget. We went to a restaurant where one of the guys’ dad has known the owner for a long time. Having these type of connections to in Italy is a recurrent theme. Italians seem to have family friends forever, and keep them going forever as well. The food was delicious, with a large starter course. However, I thought I had ordered, apparently I did not. The language barrier in Rome can get a little confusing at times. I had fortunately filled up on prosciutto and mozzarella from the appetizer.  Of course we wanted gelati post-dinner, and our friend drove (still scary) us to a place called La Romana. The difference in this place in comparison to the places I tried before was astounding. First of all, they have flowing faucets like in a sink that dispenses either white or milk chocolate to fill up your cone. The types here were rich, flavorful and written all in Italian.  Once again I need to learn more Italian conjugations and vocabulary in order to improve my reading, writing and communicating. I’m dying to go back and try more authentic Roman gelato. My friend said (in little bit broken English) also to avoid places called “La gelateria” because “it’s like making a dress and calling it dress.”

On the next day (Sunday 2-8-15), my roomies and I went to the McDonald’s for very late lunch. The McDonald’s in Italia is different from America’s however. The pizza rolls, spinach puffs and stracciatella McFlurry’s make for a more interesting menu. However, after reading an article for my Italian class, I discovered the protest Italians had against franchising the golden arches in Italia. The concept of “slow food” is practiced throughout the country, not by all, but by many. Taking the time to prep, sit down and enjoy a meal can undeniably  improve one’s mental and physical health. Many of these Italian customs and principles are hard to disagree with because many of them are rooted in respect and consideration.

This week was very rough considering I began feeling pretty sick. I started having a terribly sore throat and noticed symptoms of pink eye. It was extremely frustrating because this next weekend I was supposed to travel to Venice. My housemates had pink eye and were sick in the past, but it was irritating that I got sick now. It seems like we could have gotten better at cleaning the apartment. We also have limited absences so I still had to attend class. Being sick abroad really reallllllly stinks. When I was sick, I just wanted to go home – you just want to be back in your own bed.

Next post I will tell you about how my health improved and my trip to Venice.

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