Classes Are a Cultural Experience

First of all, everyone says that going abroad is a joke, and that classes are easy, but I beg to differ. I have so much work and so much reading! School is taken very seriously!

Second of all, I want to tell everyone that while yes, I am taking cultural classes that may be perceived as “easy” or a “joke”, like my food a wine class, I have to say that these are the types of classes that really teach you about the culture of Italy first hand. I wouldn’t have this type of experience anywhere else. And of course I am not learning about mathematical equations, or scientific formulas, but I am learning about life!!!!! What a great lesson!!!!

This morning I ventured out to the photo store so that I could buy a new camera case and memory card. Ugh. Such an unwanted expense, but I had to do it. After the camera store I came back home to do some reading for one of my classes and then met Sari on the corner to walk to our Art History II: High Renaissance to the Present class at Piazza Strozzi.

Today we had a field trip to the Laurentian Library. The library is right by my apartment, right by the leather market. It holds over 11,000 manuscripts and thousands of books. The library was built for the Medici family, which held a lot of power in the olden days of Florence. The library contains manuscripts and books of the Medici family. The library is particularly special because it was architecturally planned and built by Michelangelo.

The library is placed in a monastery that is connected to a church. The monastery has a courtyard with an orange tree in the center of it. When you go to the library, there is a vestibule that you enter before you go into the actual library. It is stunning. It is all gray stone and has incredible architecture. It is symmetrical, graphic, yet elegant. The vestibule gives off this intimidating and grand feeling.

Once in the vestibule, you have to walk up this elaborate staircase to get into the reading room. The reading room is fantastic. It looks like the aisle of a church. An incredibly long aisle is lined with pew-like benches that used to hold all types of manuscripts organized by subject. The ceiling of the reading room is all made out of intricately carved wood and the floor is terra cotta tile decorated with white tile illustrations. The windows are stain glass with “grotesque” designs.

Grotesque is a style which originated in Greece. It is a style which is an elaborate designed symmetrical pattern. Our teacher referred to the design of Hermes scarves as grotesque.

After visiting the library, we went back to our classroom (which is a 10 flight of stairs hike). In class we learned about Michelangelo and his famous works including The Sistine Chapel and David.

My next class was Italian Food and Culture: Pairing Food and Wine. So like I mentioned earlier, this class is an amazing experience. Like yeah, why do I need to know about wine? But it’s actually great because it’s so cultural. I have learned that Italians take their food and wine SO seriously here. Wine isn’t consumed here for the sake of drinking an alcoholic beverage like it is in America, it is a drink that is used to compliment food, and food is just an enormous part of every day life here. My teacher told us that she has only been drunk twice in her life, but has a glass of wine almost every night because it’s part of the experience of eating.

Today in class we learned how to properly taste wine. We went over how to use our three senses, sight, smell, and taste, to evaluate wine. After going over the basics of wine tasting, we broke into three separate groups and made pasta carbonara, chicken cacciatore, and a pine nut cake. I was in the pasta group. So delicious. It was fun cooking in the classroom kitchen, and a super bonus is that there is a dish guy, so we don’t even have to wash the dishes!

Our teacher chose two wines to pair with the pasta dish (white wine) and the chicken dish (red wine). I personally liked the pasta dish more and the white wine more, but that’s me.

When we were done with class, I went back home and read about CBS News and prepped for a Skype interview that I had tonight for CBS News. The interview was running late, so Lane, Sari, and I decided to go to the outdoor chocolate fair that is here for the week.

This chocolate fair is so dangerous. Thank god it’s so expensive, because we could have done some serious damage here. We tried to find testers of everything, but there are some stingy chocolatiers out there! Chocolate = amazing = dangerous = yum.

We came back home and I had my interview. I hope it went well!

Our teacher explaining the monastery and library

Our teacher explaining the monastery and library

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The Michelangelo vestibule before the reading room

The Michelangelo vestibule before the reading room

The stairs are fab

The stairs are fab

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Wooden ceiling

Wooden ceiling

Stained glass grotesque windows

Stained glass grotesque windows

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I signed the guest book at the library

I signed the guest book at the library

Pairing food and wine class. Meal 1

Pairing food and wine class. Meal 1

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One thought on “Classes Are a Cultural Experience

  1. just a question…i thought Grottesco comes from roman paintings discovered by chance in the XIV/XV century inside the Nero’s Domus Aurea in rome.

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