Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cibo Cinese in Italia?!

It's Saturday night! And I'm in-writing a blog :) There is a reason for this of course. Today was an amazing day(and long day) in Siena, Italy! The bus left the Florence train station at 7:50 and arrived in Siena at 9:00. When we first arrived in Siena I had my first experience with European public restrooms. You have to pay! I'm sure everyone reading this blog is thinking, "Geeze Angel, get a life! Didn't you know that?" And the answer to that is no I didn't, but it was sure fun learning. I didn't actually use the bathrooms at that moment(I went to a 'free' one in museum we entered later that day) but I got some entertainment from Mark Stern, a JMU faculty member accompanying us on our trip, who told me a story of walking past an Italian bathroom earlier in his years and hearing a german woman yell out, "These darn filthy Italians! who do they think they are!"(accent and all)..he said even though you pay for the bathrooms, they definitely aren't the cleanest.

Our first stop was at a cafe where some students grabbed a late breakfast then we met up with an old pal of Mama Lo's(my housemother).Her name was Christina and she would be leading our tour through Siena For the morning. We went through different churches, cathedrals, and saw some of the most breathtaking views in the entire world. Siena is a medievel town that has many contradas(small towns within the city) that rival each other throughout the year and especially during the big horse race! They are each named after animals, everything from giraffes to porcupines-and our tour guide, Christina, was born and raised a catepillar! No joke!

We were lucky enough to see something rare while we were there. The Owl Contrada had just won the big horse race and it was the first time since 1979 that their horse and jockey won! Their banners flew throughout their town as a reward. Apparently, when a contrada wins they celebrate non-stop for two months. There was even a wall sized banner of the jockey and his horse crossing the finish line on the border of the Owls and their rival town, just to rub it in their face! The coolest part of these horse races is that they have it in the huge square in the middle of Siena. There are just regular buildings and brick-and unless the tour guide had told us I would never have guessed that was where the races were held. They bring in tons and tons of dirt and fill the huge area around the square with over a foot of dirt for the big event. Mama Lo has been to the event before and she said it was amazing!

After we arrived home from Siena I grabbed a quick gelatto. It was the third gelatto of my study abroad experience and by far my favorite! It was cookies and nutella mixed with cream of milk....uuuuuh! I can't even explain. There is nothing better in this world for only one euro!! While the girls and I were walking out of the gelatto place we saw a girl our age with her friends and apparently she had not eaten her gelatto fast enough because it was running down all sides of her hands and onto her bright yellow jeans. It was crazy. What a waste of gelatto!

Now that our day together was breaking off-some people parted to take naps, some went shopping- I decided to explore a part of Florence I hadn't yet entered. I ended up walking around for about two hours and went all the way to the end of Florence and saw the city's gates. They must have been at least fifty foot high wooden doors. They. were. huge.

On my walk home from the gi-normous gates of the city I spotted an economico(cheap) italian chinese restaurant. A few of the other students, including myself, had vocalized our curiosity about this sort of food so I grabbed a to go menu-in italian- and brought it home. My roommate Jenny skyped some fellow students and invited them on our little chinese-italian adventure and we all decided to go. When reading a chinese menu(in italian) and you see something called 'spaghetti con pollo' that can really freak a person out. It turned out to be pretty good. The soy sauce that came in a dixie cup with suran wrap over the top was salmon colored, thick and tasted like vinegar. It was pretty strange. But when in Florence eating chinese as a curious JMU student would do and eat it! The whole group then came back to our flat and we had a fun dinner with the 2.20 euro bottles of wine we found in a cute shop on the way home. It sure balanced out that soy sauce.

All in all, it was a pretty good day. I am going to post some pictures of Siena on the right side of my blog for everyone to oo and aaaa at...Hope you enjoy!

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