Friday, November 30, 2012

Roman Sights: The Trevi Fountain

Although some of my greatest memories from my time in Italy were wandering around the streets of Rome, visiting the tourist attractions was still exciting!

On our first day of class at Italiaidea, we went on a walking tour of the city.  Our tour guide took us past famous churches, buildings, and piazzas down various vias and stradas. It was all breathtaking, and I was still in shock that I was actually in Rome. I blindly photographed every building to be sure I remembered my first foray into la citta eterna.

The photo from our walking tour of Rome!

Unfortunately, my first tour of Rome was not on the back of a red vespa, a la Lizzie McGuire. However, my first time at the Trevi Fountain was still a magical experience!

Our tour guide was trying to show us the congested areas filled with visitors from around the world. These were not the areas he suggested exploring for a long time, as everything is more expensive in the area due to massive amounts of tourists.  All of a sudden, I heard running water. Our tour guide informed us that we would soon walk past the Trevi Fountain, and mentioned that it is common to hear the water long before seeing it.

Last night in Rome. 

There were TONS of people. Even though it was crowded, it was beautiful. The majestic white Baroque statues were exactly what I was expecting.  I contained my excitement and squealing by trying to take the most perfect picture. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to sit at the fountain's ledge and toss a coin in my first time visiting, but we made many, many trips past the Trevi during the five week study abroad program. I threw not one, but TWO coins in!

Interesting Fact: The Trevi Fountain yields at least 400 euros a day, and the money is donated to various local charities.

For me, the Trevi Fountain is more than a tourist attraction. Legend says that those who toss a coin into the fountain backwards are destined to return to Rome. As air travel becomes increasingly expensive and life gets insanely busy, it gives me hope that I will be able to regularly return to Italy someday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Italy in the News: Venice is Flooding

I always love reading about Italy in the news. It makes me feel connected to the country and brings back memories from my time there. Recently, parts of Italy have experienced major flooding, from Tuscany all the way to Venice.

As Venice is a city made up of tiny islands, canals take the place of streets and everything is built on water.  When standing in the church in Piazza San Marco, I was able to feel the water moving under the floor! However, heavy rains bring floods. According to the Huffington Post, three quarters of the city is currently flooded. Normal defense methods, such as lifted boards on which residents and visitors walk, are not enough this time. Water is everywhere.

A photo of one of the canals during my trip to Venice in July 2011.

According to the BBC video on Huffington Post, Venetians are normally used to flooding in the fall, but this is the worst recorded flood in six years. Photos on the online news outlet show that even businesses are flooded - rain boots for sale are floating in a shoe store! However, some of my favorite photos are those of people floating in cafe chairs or taking a swim in the piazza.  It truly shows the Italian ideology of la dolce vita. 

Although it seems as though some are enjoying the increase of water in Venice, hopefully it goes down soon.  Too much flood water will do long term damage homes and businesses, greatly affecting countless people. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Musica Italiana

Italian music was constantly present when I was growing up.  My Nonna took care of me while my parents worked, and her way of teaching me Italian was through singing traditional Italian songs. It was after dinner ritual that my Nonna, parents, aunt and I would sing "Un Mazzolin Di Fiori," a traditonal Alpini, or Italian Mountain Solider song about flowers. Singing songs such as this allowed me to learn how to correctly pronounce words at young age, even though I did not know the exact translation.  I was lucky enough to find a YouTube video of the same song, titled "Quel Mazzolin Di Fiori."

As I grew older, it no longer was "cool" to sing "Un Mazzolin Di Fiori" at the dinner table.  However, as I grew up and started taking an interest in pop culture, The Lizzie McGuire Movie came out and modern remixes of old Italian songs were included in the soundtrack. Dean Martin hits "Volare," and "On an Evening in Roma" are two.  The song that truly got me into learning about "Italian Pop" was American singer Vitamin C's cover of Volare for Lizzie McGuire. 

When I started taking Italian in high school, I yearned to discover more Italian music. After searching high and low for current hits, my mother and I found a compilation album from the Sanremo music festival, the Italian leg of Univision.  "Che bella gente" by Simone Christicchi, and "Svegliarsi la mattina" by Zero Assoluto became top played songs in my iPod.  For Christmas, one of my cousins gave me an Eros Ramazzotti greatest hits album. "Cuore Agitati" is now one of my favorite songs. 

Searching "Italian Pop Music" on iTunes also helped me discovered some gems of Italian pop songs. "Happy hour" by Ligabue and "Bella Vera" by 883 are catchy upbeat songs from the late '90s/early 2000's that I still enjoy today.  Even remixes of classic Italian hits, such as "Ti Amo," make me happy.

My Italian friends introduced me to more up to date Italian music during my study abroad trip. Although American hits are usually played in cafe's and bars, some Italian artists are just as popular. Listening to songs by Fabri Fibra, specifically "Le donne," "In Italia," and "Vip in Trip" take me back to Rome and Bari. 

Italian music still brings my family together. Recording artist Patrizio Buanne is a favorite amongst every generation of women in my family, from my Nonna to my little cousins. His original music and covers of classic Italian and Italian American hits make you feel as if you are sipping espresso in a piazza. 

Italian music is diverse, romantic, and catchy. It will always have a special place in my heart!