Sunday, September 15, 2013


This is one of the first sights that I saw in Italy. My house is just at the end of the 210 stairs. This amazing country has so much to offer for any visitor. I am living in Perugia, Italia for the Fall of 2013 for study abroad. It is a student town and is the official capital of the Umbria region. It has been an amazing first few weeks. The first week being here, my school, the Umbra Institute had its orientation where all the students took Intensive Italian class for 6 hours a day to learn the basics of Italian. It was strenuous, but beneficial to understand how to order food, use the public transportation, live in an apartment, and many more. I get most of my exercise just walking around in Perugia because it is such a hilly town as you can see by the 210 stairs that I walk up and down every day. 

 The Fountain Maggiore
Of course a little pizza on the first night

In the Center of Perugia

From the Perugian Fort

In orientation we went to a small farm outside of Perugia to see how a farm in Italy works. The Arcadia students went to the farm near Lake Trazzimeno. When we arrived, all I saw was fields of grapes and olive trees. I knew then this would be a grand adventure.  The owners, Flavio, Allesandro, and others taught us how to make wine. This was very interesting. We first ate breakfast, which was bread with Olive Oil and a fruit on it. Afterwards, we went out to the grape vines and picked grapes. Then we went up to the stomping tub and stomped on some grapes. The next process extracted the seeds and skin of the grapes. This is where we used a barrel and cranked the grapes down so it was just juice. Another way to “stomp” the grapes was to use a vice and turn the wheel to get the smashed grapes. We were able to drink the grape juice straight from the barrel, which was delicious. The rest of the process of making wine took place in the fermentation chamber which can take a year. Then we prepared for lunch. We had a 5 course meal with meat, wine, bread, pasta, beans, desert, etc.

 The tub of grapes!

Out comes the juice

 Alessandro, one of the owners working out the grape juice.

The first weekend we also spent some time in Siena. It was rough because we took the bus and the bus was 40 minutes late. So we waited at the bus stop until finally the bus came. Then, we took the bus and got to Siena. It took about 1.5 hours. When we got to Siena there were 7 escalators all the way up to the top of Siena where the tourists sights were. As we were taking the escalators to the top, there were two Italian boys who just ended up sitting down on the escalators on the other side. We had to ask a few Italians where the main center, Palazzo Comunale/Piazza del Campo was, but soon we found it. It was amazing. Made in 1297 by Consiglio dei Nove. The clock tower, Torre del Mangia, is the highest in Italy. It was built in 1344, by Lippo Memmi. It is 102m tall and 400 steps. We ended up not going up in it, but it was still amazing to look at. Inside the Torre del Mangia, was the bronze dog, Capitoline Wolf. Also within the Comunale there was a fountain. Its name is Fonte Gaia (Happy Fountain) and was built in 1346. Then a few of us went to the Cathedral and Baptistery of San Giovanni. The Cathedral stands in the Piazza del Duomo and was started by Giovanni Pisano in 1196 -1215. The interior contains a black and white striped theme with vaults of blue and gold stars. The Duomo Nuovo (New Cathedral) was the finished result. We unfortunately did not go into the Cathedral, but it was still amazing from the outside. We then walked to the Chiesa Di San Domenico. On our way, we went by the Casa di Santa Caterina. It was built in the 13th century and for Santa Caterina which has a portrait of her in the chapel. Apparently Santa Caterina took her vows and performed some miracles in front of the chapel. Then we walked to the Studio Communale which is where Siena plays futbol. After that we quickly went to the Fortezza Medicea. We went to try and find the entrance, but I’m pretty sure we ended up going the wrong way around and did not have time to find the entrance and left after taking pictures with the beautiful fountain in front of it. Then we found a beautiful place to take some photos. They were amazing. 

 The San Domenico and San Giovanni can be seen in this shot.

The next week we started classes. The classes are amazing and I learned so much already in the first week. The culture of Italy is quite a bit different than American culture and you can see that any where you go an see in Perugia. At the end of the week, some of my friends and I decided to take a day trip to Assisi. Assisi is the beautiful sister city of Perugia. We rode the train for 30 minutes and got off at the train station and took the bus up to the very top of Assisi. In 1000 BC Umbrians built Assisi and was ruled under the Romans in 295 BC. St Francis, a soldier of Assisi in 1182, fought against the Perugians until his death in 1224. We started at the top of the mountain at Piazza Matteotti and walked up to the arch of Assisi, then we went down to the Piazzo San Rufio and toured the church at that Piazza. I think it was the San Rufio. Then we walked up to the Rocca Maggiore. It is the most beautiful sight of the Umbrian landscape. We spent quite a long time up there. The Rocca Maggiore is fortress built in the 14th century  to ward off the Perugians. Then we walked down again to the Piazza Santa Chiara where all the tourists were. Santa Chiara is St. Francis’s counterpart and was said to have founded the Order of the Poor Sisters. She is buried in the crypt of the chiesa. Later, we walked up to the Piazza del Comune. There we found a small “museum” where this guy went crazy on us when we didn’t give him money. So I hid, “gave” him 0.01 euro cents. He was creepy so we left. Then we went into a small chiesa that was beautiful inside named, St. Maria Sopra Minerva. It didn’t say much about the church, but it was beautiful.

Gum on a fence

Then we went to the main Basilica di San Francesco. This is where Pope Francis will come to visit in a few weeks. Inside the church we met up with some more Umbra students. There were many frescos inside the beautiful church and it was divided into three parts, the upper church, the lower church, and the crypt. The church is built on Hell Hill (Colle d’inferno) in the 13th century where many people were executed in the gallows, until St. Francis decided to be buried here and renamed it Paradise Hill. There are 28 frescos each corresponding to the New and Old Testament writings with each fresco describing the event above it. The crypt is where St. Francis lies, although I unfortunately was not able to go down there because I did not see it. Anyway, later we left and tried to take the bus back, but we were too late, so we walked 45 minutes down to the train station. It was a horrible walk because there was no sidewalk so the cars were literally 2 feet away. Pazzo!

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