Monday, March 29, 2010



After five hours of a relaxing train ride from Toscana to Southern Italia, we arrived in Napoli! Not going to lie when I first got off the train I was a bit concerned. We had been warned about Napoli...but one of the girls said it right when she declared that it is, indeed, a "lawless land". I used to think Italian drivers were bad - - I was wrong. They are absolutely awful. The streets of Napoli were buzzing with cars that didn't seem to care about speed limits (which, for the record, I don't think they have here), lanes, stop signs, pedestrian cross walks, or the hundreds of stray dogs that are aimlessly wandering. The streets are littered with remembrances of last night's festivities (which is every night for them) and vespas are flying past carrying not only adults, but also their three year old children, smushed between their legs, donning their powerpuff girl helmets and all. I even saw one with a dog standing on the back attached only by a leash that his owner was holding while driving. You look up alley ways and people are unashamedly hanging their delicates out to dry and the overall perfume in the air is "New York Subway". (This scent changes, however, once you start nearing the Mediterranean sea. There you are bombarded with the smell of salt water.) All this craziness, of course, is only because Mount Vesuvius could erupt on them at any moment. The people of Napoli live their lives with, know...just this overdue Volcano threat looming over them...not a big deal. It's not like there is a huge volcano that they can see as they walk down the street or anything; except there is. In short, Naples was definitely one of the highlights of Italy. It is unlike any other place I have been before and although I proudly wore my money pouch (you should be proud, Mom and Dad) and almost died from a Vespa speeding at me down the street, it was a pretty awesome experience.

The school paid for our train tickets and our housing since it was a scheduled field trip. The place we stayed in was out of control. It's called "Palazzo Carafa di Maddaloni" and it is a palace from the 16th century that belonged to Italian nobility. I slept under a high ceiling with Frescoes and a giant chandelier. There was a grand piano next to my bed - fully in tune. It was easily the prettiest place I've ever slept. (


After setting down our things, Gianni and Claudia led us through the streets of Naples. We got pastries at this cafe/bar and then headed down to the sea where there is this huge castle. Unfortunately it was closed, but we spent some time just relaxing by the water.

Then we all went out to eat at this pizza place. Let's just say, no question about it, Naples is home to the BEST pizza in the world. I can say this now with the utmost confidence. In Italy when you order a pizza, they don't give you a slice; you get the whole pizza. At first I thought this was insane - and in a lot of places (even around Arezzo) I can't finish the whole thing. No problem in Naples! I ate the entire pizza...and then finished whoever didn't finish theirs. Overall I'd say I probably ate...a pizza and a half? All by myself? Yeah. What can I say...I'm on a Seefood diet. I SEE food and I eat it. (Copyright: Kadie)

The next morning we had class super early in a space across from the Archaeological Museum. I could go on and on about the magic of this "rehearsal room", but I will allow you to see for yourself.

Unbelievable, right?
The dancers took movement with us and then we had Tarantella dance with them. For Tarantella, Gianni asked two of his friends from Naples who play in a band to come do live music for us. Oh man. They were so good - and dancing in that space with them playing was magical. Gianni also had us do this exercise where we went up to each person in the class and looked into their eyes for 10 seconds. It was really intense....I think I was the first one to start crying, but others followed soon after me. Made me miss my best friends/family from home.
Guess what we had for lunch after class? PIZZA. This time I split one in half with Emily, though. There was no way I could eat more than that - I could still feel the pizza in me from the night before!
Because the archaeological museum was right across the street, we went to that next. It's pretty sweet - filled with a bunch of old statues as well as artifacts from Pompeii. My favorite part was this gallery that they had with all the walls from Pompeii houses. People back then painted Frescoes on their walls based on religion, mythology, their general way of living, etc. They are beautiful - and despite the Vesuvius's obvious impact on the city, the walls (though dusty and fragmented) are beautiful.

The museum from our "classroom" balcony.


A wall from someone's house in Pompeii.

After that we ran into Claudia and Gianni on the street and they invited us to go "take a coffee" with them. Then we got gelato and headed back down to the sea. The first day that we went it was a bit foggy, and today Mount Vesuvius was lit up in the sun and the sea was blue as ever. So pretty.

Kids playing calcio (soccer)

At six o'clock I did one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life. In Naples, during World War II, a bunch of people converted this old underground water system into a bomb shelter. Because of this, today, underneath Naples, there is basically another entire city; complete with a church, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The tour that we got was all in Italian, but the tour guide was great and helped us understand. Turns out, our tour guide's mom was in the catacombs (as they are called) during World War II and she was pregnant WITH HIM at the time. Talk about full circle. Because it was an old water system, some of the passageways were literally just wide enough for me to walk through and sometimes I had to turn sideways. Some people got really claustrophobic and nervous but our tourguide would say, "Andiamo! Indiana Jones! Ba da da DAAAA!" and go running through the tunnels at full speed. (Keep in mind, this guy is in his 60's.)He was hilarious. All over the walls, there is grafitti and all the grafitti is a reflection of their lives; Marilyn Monroe, Hitler, Mussolini, airplanes, tanks,soccer fields. On one wall, there was evidence (date, two names, a little inscription) that two people got married down there. It was amazing. Full of so much history. (

Marilyn Monroe

soccer game.

Look carefully: Airplane on the left. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini up top and a guitar on the right.

After this I went back to the bed and breakfast and showered. A group of us went out for dinner for my birthday (we decided to celebrate the night before). I skipped pizza this time and got Italian sausage and a salad. In honor of my birthday we got wine, and afterwards met up wih the rest of the group including Gianni and Claudia at a bar. I didn't pay for a drink the entire night :) YAY BIRTHDAY! 21. Hard to believe. It was a great night though - filled with lots of dancing - and the girls gave me a countdown starting at 10 seconds to midnight which was really cute. They made it a great night.

The next morning (MY 21st BIRTHDAY!! HOORAY!) we THOUGHT we were waking up at 8:30 but in reality we woke up at 9:30. You guys all had daylight savings time a while ago - - we JUST had it in Italy yesterday. Because of this, and a few other miscommunications, me and the girls in my room were late going to Pompeii and everybody had already left! I was so bummed. Luckily we checked out as soon as we could, grabbed a taxi, took the train to Pompeii, and got to walk around inside the city for a little bit. It was kind of a bummer - we paid 11 Euro to get in and then could only stay for 45 minutes because we had to be back in Napoli to catch a train to Arezzo. Some day I will go back and see more because what I saw was absolutely spectacular. The only bad thing about it was the immense amount of tourists, but the day was gorgeous and the city itself was so crazy to be walking through - especially on my birthday.

cute kids.

I slept, read, and wrote on the five hour train back to Arezzo and upon arriving into town, I grabbed a falafel wrap at the Turkish restaurant and walked home. Overall it was a really good day, but it didn't really feel like my birthday just because I wasn't with my friends/family at home. People here made it really special but it still wasn't the same. I got pretty nostalgic as the night went on, but after talking to people from home via skype I felt much better.

This morning we didn't have class until late so I slept in and then had voice class followed by Commedia in the afternoon. In Commedia we had to do another solo improvisation using our character. It's crazy how far all of us have come in the short amount of time we have had with him. Only one and a half more classes left and we are done because we have different workshops the last few weeks. CRAZY. I ended up finding a lot of things within my improv to play with and by the third/fourth time I did it I felt a huge amount of clarity. I'm starting to get the hang of it..

At dinner tonight they had a huge cake with a candle in it for my birthday. YUM.

So there you have it. I managed to survive my 21st birthday in the lawless land of Naples.

In closing:
Eat. Pray. Love. the book is being made into a film.
This book is a huge reason for why I am here.
Thanks Elizabeth Gilbert.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I will break your both legs

ciao amici

The title = yet another Michele quote. That man and his english...

Tuesday and Wednesday were two more days filled wth Commedia. Whereas we did solo improvs on Monday, Tuesday we improvised in two's and then Wednesday we did group stuff. We actually ended up building this 20-25 minute play based off of all the improvising that we have been doing. Pretty amazing. If you follow the given structure and play by the rules, the structure frees you up into an exploratory zone where seriously your only option is to play - and in playing you have a million options. So many of my mental blocks are being stripped away - things I thought I knew I definitely did not.
We went back to learning more of the classic masks which was nice, because we had strayed away from that for a while. The main thing we worked on this week, though, was mask-shots which are basically little check-in's with the audience. It's very specific and stylized so it's hard, but is very clear the more you practice it.
I can already feel the training I am getting in Commedia seeping into my acting. It is such an enormous help. I feel like every actor needs to study Commedia.

Tuesday night we had "collabaret". It was yet another cabaret but this time we had to collaborate with someone who wasn't in the same track as us. For example, theatre students had to work with dancers or MFA students. Kadie, Emily(dancer) and I decided Monday night at about 10:30 pm that we were going to learn the entire Beyonce Single Ladies dance. It took us three hours...but believe it or not we did it. The. Whole. Thing. How ridiculous is that? ha. So the next day we dressed up, black leotards and all. Hilarious - but it actually turned out really well. It felt good to dance again! I miss it so much..

The weather outside today was like summer. I went running in shorts and a tank top - and I was still sweating...that's how nice it is! Absolutely gorgeous. If this is what March is like in Tuscany, I cannot wait for April.

We finished class this week today because tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday we are taking a field trip to NAPOLI; home to lots of things, but most importantly it is the birthplace of PIZZA, you guys. Apparently all the food there is the best food in all of Italy and it's also the cheapest food in all of Italy. I love how that works out. We leave tomorrow morning and arrive in Napoli tomorrow afternoon. Two teachers are going with us, Claudia (movement teacher) and Gianni (the man who teaches Tarantella to the dancers - - I mentioned him in a previous post) Naples is very two sided: on the one hand you have the nicest people in all of Italy, but also it is one of the most dangerous cities in Italy. 1) Theft 2) Mafia. Luckily, though, we will have the two teachers with us and they are young and super fun so it will be a good time. We are staying in this really old house that they rented out for us, so it's just the dancers, the actors, Claudia, and Gianni in the whole house. AHH!! I'm so excited. Because we don't have class Friday morning, we have class Saturday morning (apparently in a really gorgeous space...they've made this whole trip sound very dreamy!) The dancers will be with us for movement and we get to take Tarantella with them again which I am looking forward to. The weather in Naples is supposed to be in the 60's/70's all weekend so we are going to the ocean (!!) and also Pompeii which...oh my god...I cannot wait to see.

Expect pictures on Sunday :)

tanti baci! xx

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Make that spark grow up into a fire"

Man. Ever since I got back from Norway I have been BUSY. I apologize for writing so sporadically. Hopefully I can get back on track soon...

I made the decision that this weekend I was going to take two different day trips to different cities. I slept in on Saturday and then Courtney and I walked into the Arezzo market and got sandwiches. From there, I went to the train station where I ran into Sam. We decided to take a train to Cortona. Cortona is a little mountain top town in Tuscany about 20 minutes from Arezzo, famous because it's where they filmed the movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun". This was not my motivation for going there, as I have never seen that movie, but I had heard that it was a beautiful city so off we went. Well, we took the train about 10 minutes too far and ended up in Terentola. After walking along the highway for a while, coming across lots of strangely decorated houses (gnomes and all), meeting lots of mean guard dogs, and realizing that we definitely were not in Cortona, we decided to take the bus to get there.

Well, we definitely didn't take the bus far enough. We got into this city that seemed like Cortona, but it was Camucia. The bus dropped us off at the bottom of a mountain; the top of the mountain is where Cortona was, so Sam and I walked, and walked, and walked. Luckily, as we were walking, the sun was setting so the view was gorgeous, and we stumbled across a lot of things that we wouldn't have found had we taken the easy route. Hitchhiking was very tempting but we resisted the temptation and trekked up the mountain.

This dude was chilling on this big wall - and I don't know how he got there exactly?

We met one guard dog who wasn't doing his job correctly. He was a little too nice. Thank goodness for him though - the german shepards and rotweilers were beginning to be too much.

A legit hobbit hole on the side of the road. This little door opened and led to some place under a massive field on the side of the road. I swear there were hobbits living down there...

The city of Cortona from the walk up.

While walking, we ran into a church with the most beautiful cemetery I've ever seen.

After lots of windy roads up the mountain, we finally made it to a break where we could get a view of the area we had been climbing.

and then yet another one later on...

The most magical part about this spot right here was that as we were looking out, we could hear voices singing hymns, and they weren't from the church that is on the far right (that one was closed) but another one, farther off in the distance. It was crazy. The voices were faint - you could barely hear them as they echoed through the hills but they were there. So beautiful.

By the time we actually made it into the city, there was only a brief time to walk around and then it was dinner time. We splurged a bit on dinner at this restaurant called Trattoria Toscana. I had a porkchop and sausages along with salad, wine, and then for desert we had this chocolate/pear cake. So delicious. After dinner we took a train back to Arezzo and I called it a night.
Cortona was beautiful and although it was a trek to get there (partly my own fault with all the traveling errors Sam and I made), but I highly recommend it to anybody who is looking for a true Italian experience. The town itself was so quiet at night, there were barely any tourists, and the people were all so friendly. I would love to go back if I have a free weekend, but time here is getting rather short!

Sunday I really wanted to go to Siena, however the bus station was closed and in order to get to Siena from Arezzo you first have to take a train to Florence and then to Siena, so it's sort of a long and expensive trip. It ended up not being worth the money because we would only have had a couple hours to spend there. Instead, Brittani, Michelle, and I went to Assisi (the religious capital of Umbria) where St. Francis of Assisi was born. The biggest site there is the Basilicia di San Francesco - known for being home to the tomb of St. Francis and also for it's absolutley breathtaking Frescoes. They really are something to see; they cover the entire interior of the church (minus a few parts where they are starting to crumble away) but I'm actually amazed at how well preserved they are. Aside from that, the city is filled with the MOST souvenir shops I have ever seen in my life - jam packed with Franciscan Friar shot glasses and nuns playing poker. There really isn't much to do, but it was yet another beautiful mountain-top town only an hour and a half from Arezzo (don't worry, I took the train the right amount AND the bus the right amount). Overall, these two picturesque cities provided me with a very relaxing weekend. I was really happy with how it turned out. :)

Basilicia di San Francesco.

Pax = Peace.

Michelle and I walking into yet another church in Assisi.

Somebody's front door.

An old couple. I Love this picture.

Today (Monday) I had Commedia class all day. There has been a lot of drama happening in the class, partly because one of the girls has been sick for a long time. She wasn't coming to rehearsals that we were needing to have, and even if she was there she wasn't giving 100%. She kept missing classes in school too, so one of the teachers put her on bedrest but this means that she is unable to do the project - therefore that huge group collaboration that we were working on? Not entirely happening anymore. It's okay though -Michele is taking us in a new direction in class and I actually think it will be more beneficial for us in the long run. We are all working on different characters; we took ideas from the classic masked characters and are branching off into our own. My "kid" character is based a bit on Zanni, but actually most of the influence comes from Charlie Chaplin slapstick so I'm watching "The Kid". Hooray for old films.

A domani
Baci xx