Well, I didn’t think it would take long for it to happen, and sure enough I was right, I am in LOVE with Italy. This trip is phenomenal and when you pair the experiences with the people, it is simply the best. We are closing out our third day and the time is of course, flying by. There are about twenty of us sitting out on the terrace in the back of the monastery talking and listening to music as I write this… We are all in our happy place.
We have four days left here in Arezzo and plan on soaking up every bit of it from the food, to the weather and scenery, to the beautiful monastery. The OU Norman campus may have some competition. 😉
So after a looong day at the airport on Monday, we finally arrived at the OU monastery and got settled into our rooms. After a tour and time to rest, we kicked off our time in Italy with YUMMY pizza party on the terrace. Most of us spend every minute we can out here– I am telling you, it is beautiful. Jet lag lured everyone to bed by 9pm and we spent our first night under the Tuscan sun. Okay, I know it is technically the moon, but you know what I mean. 🙂
Tuesday morning, we walked over to the Annex where OU has three additional classrooms for orientation. We were instructed on how to order in a restaurant, given a few basic Italian words and phrases so we can get around, and taught how to buy a train ticket and make plans for our free days. Then, were led on a walking tour of the city of Arezzo and enjoyed our first Italian lunch at the cutest little family owned sandwich shop. An older man and his son were were working behind the counter. The dad did not speak any English so he directed us to his son when he realized we were American students. The son’s English was still very broken and I wasn’t totally sure what I ordered- I just pointed at a few things and hoped it would turn out okay. My sandwich was delicious!! Trust the Italians with the food. 😉 I also grabbed some beautiful and delicious fresh strawberries on the way out and then my group sat out on the curb and ate our sandwiches and strawberries as we watched as an elementary school let out and parents scurried through the crowded streets to pick up their kids. Many of them stopped for an after school treat of gelato- right next door to school- which is basically their Braums! I think there is something about being in a foreign country that feels a bit exotic/like it is vacation for everyone since it technically is for you, and it makes you forget that people actually live here and that the local residents are just going about every day life… It was fun to see!
After lunch, we toured the Basilica of St. Francis- a beautiful old church that is home to a beautiful chapel and artwork. Our tour guide, Sona, did an excellent job of explaining the meaning behind all of the very specific details of the murals.
We then broke off into smaller groups and explored the town before dinner. Dinner here is an “experience” and ours have both lasted close to two hours, although they do not at all feel like they drag on forever. The food is brought out in three courses and we enjoy great conversation while eating. It is a nice change of pace from what has been my normal “grab-and-go on the way to class or a meeting” style of college!
The week is off to a great start and I can’t wait for the days ahead.