How you say, this little bird? that makes the flowers? And says bzzzzz, bzzzzz?

:(Pat's mad photojournalism skills.)

We have finished our little tour of Italy and are back in Tortona now, approximately 850 stairs later. It was a great four days, lots of fun and saw some amazing sights. We spent the last two nights in Florence, which is an amazing city. All the churches and history were really something to take in. If nothing else, we put in a lot of miles of aimless wandering.

(The tower and dome are in the center of the photo)

We climbed to the top of the tower next to the Duomo Santa Maria, 415 steps. The view was great, all the clay roofs and foothills with the Alps in the distance. Really a great experience. That would have been enough to hold us on the great view/ lots of stairs front, but we got more this morning. I woke up this morning and said I was down to do anything that didn't require too much walking, so we decided we just go see the Duomo ( means church in Italian?) and call it good. We were trying to go into the main chapel to take a look around, and ended up in the wrong line. Another 400+ steps to the top of the dome, the view was still great the second time. On the way to the top, the stairs curve around beneath the ceiling on the inside to show an amazing view of the painting on the ceiling (fresco?). All in all, Florence was a great city. My favorite in Italy so far.
(view of the dome from the tower)

We took a day trip to Siena, which is this little medieval town in the hills. It was amazing, really one of the coolest places I've ever been. It was all walled in, with this big open piazza at the foot of a castle. The sun was warm, and there were tons of people just sprawled out on the bricks just kickin it. We followed their cue. It was strange to imagine that people have been just laying in that spot doing nothing like we were looking at the castle at their feet for like hundreds of years. And that with all our ipods and gadgets and whatnot, it's still the same deal.

(square in Siena)

(duomo in Siena)

We have been talking a bit about how much everything is just more or less the same between here and home. Lots of little- but very noticeable- differences, but basically still the same game. The question is, is Africa just going to be like bam. wow. different? Because their society doesn't come from the same western European origins, it will be just a whole new thing? (I guess given imperialism and all, it sort of does in a lot of ways) We kinda don't think so, people are people right? Who's knows. As they say: in communist Russia, road forks you. If you dig the pop culture reference.

I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot a lot a lot more people crammed in to the living spaces, and obviously more poverty, but cities are cities. I'm really interested to see what life is like in the villages, where people aren't in the same life of everyone else of "wake up- go to work- come home- go to sleep- wake up". Where people hunt and gather instead of balance spreadsheets and swing hammers. One thing you can be sure of is that we're going to be good little anthropologists and get to the bottom of this for sure though.

We made some new friends at our hostel. We argued with a socialist about the evils of money; I'm pretty sure he put a juju on me for spreading the evils of capitalismo to ze poor Africans.

(Socialism: Less fun in real life)

We also met some Japanese guys and taught them to play Go Fish and dominoes. We spent the evening drinking, cursing, playing cards, and just generally confirming stereotypes about Americans. I learned to count to six in Japanese, I'm pretty sure they learned five of the six most offensive things that can be said in the English language. All in all, an informative evening of lessons for both sides.

Now we're in Tortona for another week or so of intensive light-ish-on-fire lessons. Then Afrique. At some point in these next days, a module of our training is to go into a commerical kitchen (we got homies, don'tworryaboutit) and learn to cook authentic Italian food from the cooks without sharing a common language. It's a hard life.

BTW, as far as pictures go you should wait for Pat to post if you want to anything of particular quality. My photojournalism skills are like my regularjounalism skills: juvenile, unclear, and C+ at best.


  1. Tell Pill to get off his coulo and take the reins on the next post. I was diggin the gypsy references. Sounds like you guys are livin the life right now in italia - keep it up.

  2. ahhh looks amazing! miss italy like whoa. glad that you guys are off to a good start! and thanks for the blog - provides endless class entertainment.


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