Friday, January 29, 2010

What I Did In Italy:


A few disclaimers to begin with:
*I wrote this mostly as we went along - I didn't start the "project" until about a week after arriving, so many things I remember at the top of my head
*I try to give an honest description of what happens - not everything was always 110% perfect, fantastic; I did have a great experience and enjoyed my break overall, that being said; more written out reflections to come out soon be'ezrat Hashem
*Hashgacha Pratit (divine providence) was big for me on this trip - being in a foreign country operating like a headless chicken, things fell almost perfectly into place and that was beyond me

Now for the good stuff....

What I did in Italy:

Fri 1/15
Did not understand the language
Learned about validating tickets on public transportation
Got lost
Ate pizza
Experienced an Italian Friday night service
Delicious Friday night dinner with Jewish Italians who speak Hebrew and tried very hard not to pass out at the table
Dealt with lots of anxiety and homesickness for Nativ

Sat 1/16
Went to a mix of an Italian-Ashkenazi schul Shabbat morning where people talked all the way through
Found ourselves hosting for Shabbat lunch with a guy who spoke no English or Hebrew but the food was good... And he said it was very close but he was actually on the other side of town
Tried not to be too nervous and not count down the days until coming home
Went to the Chabad rabbi's house for mincha and Shabbat afternoon festivities
Led maariv in the home of an Itallian Chabad rabbi - who would have ever thought?
He gave us 3 euros to take a subway, get back fast... Would have been faster if I hadn't left my hat there and gone back for it!
Got lost
15 minutes before our train left, sprinted back to the youth hostel for a forsaken pair of tallit and tefillin (the guys in the other group would have picked it up and given it to me a week later otherwise)... Not to mention we had a hard time finding the train, we did make it!
Ate pizza!

Sun 1/17
Saw the door of the baptistry by the Duomo that I learned about last year - and emailed Ms. Rosenblit out of excitement
Got my first dose of Madonna and Jesus art at the famed Uffizi gallery
Got lost
Toured the historical synagogue of Florence and had schnitzel at the kosher restaraunt around the corner
Went to Santa Croce church and saw lots of Jesus as well as the tombs of Machievelli, Michaelangelo, Galileo..
Crossed the Ponte Vicheo, over the Arno River, where they have a myriad of jewelry shops
Trekked to the Michaelangelo Gardens, got an outstanding view of Florence, and took a mock picture by one of the two copies of the David statue in Italy
Paid for a bathroom
Waited forever for a bus
Had an apple and chocolate pizza
Got gelato!
Didn't sleep and had anxiety

Mon 1/18
Relieved to see sun
Train to Pisa and saw more church, architecture
Climbed up the leaning tower that brings nostalgia for my child Olive Garden days
Took a picture pushing down the tower
It was just a really chill day! And I managed to relax for a bit! But still called home to vent a bit.
Pasta and wine for dinner
Adam and I strolled the streets to find a nightlife we later learned does not exist

Tuesday 1/19
Woke up a few hours early (literally) and could not fall back asleep!
Love sunny days
Delicious croissant for breakfast
Went to the Accademia and saw a mad cool exhibit on musical instruments from the Medici and Lorraine periods and the history/role of classical music in those periods; gazed at the David for a few minutes; other cool sculptures (and of course some Jesus paintings)
Saw Dante's house
Got lost
Went to the Marcato Nuovo - rubbed the piglet's nose and threw  in a coin (which means I'll return to Florence); bought a shirt with all four destinations of this trip, an Italia scarf, and a black cap; ate a sliced turkey sandwich
Went to the Palazzo Pitti - the palace of Medici and good 'ole Napoleon once he took over - the very beautiful yet oh so confusing Boboli Gardens; saw the royal apartments, which are beautiful
Regressive dinner - gelato then pizza
Figured out the enigma of Florence night life when we passed a bar on the way home that advertised beer pong from 8 to 9:30 - a bit different from Jerusalem!
Met up with Becca B. for wine and dessert at the only place open in the area

Wed 1/20
Once again woke up too early - even Barry Manilow couldn't put me to sleep!
Climbed up the 463-step dome of the Duomo with a beautiful view of Florence waiting at the end - decided to take my inhaler before
Saw some Etruscan & Greek and Egyptian artifacts and tombs at the archaeological museum
Went down to the Story if Science museum and paid 4.50€ intending to see some science, saw that most if the building is under renovation - so the result of paying the ticket was getting to see Debbie, Rachel, Adina, and Ariella!
Goofed off with them and went to lunch; got served treif lasagna but then got a kosher one
Train to Venezia!
Failed at finding the gelato the book recommended but had a nice sit-down dinner
Went to a bar to have a drink and read

Thursday 1/21
Took a vaporetto (water bus) to San Marco and went to the Church - after we realized we knew nothing going on, we went back to baggage to get Adam's book; it was a pretty cool Church; oh, and we saw the treasures, including part of Jesus' crown!
Had hot chocolate and cake at a fancy schmancy cafe in the square - not going to even bother sharing the price of the bill
Got lost while getting lunch
Toured La Fenice opera house
Toured the magnificent Doge's Palace
Picked up a slice of pizza and gelato
Saw some classical music by a group called Interpreti Veneziani - major nostalgia kicked in
Had dessert and a drink at Hard Rock cafe
Made it halfway through the trip!

Fri 1/22
Went to Chabad for Shacharit
Jewish museum and tour of the ghetto (and learned the difference between getto with the soft g and ghetto with the hard g)
Ate pizza at the cafe there
Toured the Peggy Guggenheim Collection - modern art is beautiful and interesting, and it's not Jesus art! Had some tea there
Scrambled to get ready for Shabbat Kodesh
Lit candles and davened at Chabad
Dinner at Gam Gam restaraunt - lots of Nativers as well as too happy Chabadniks drunk off life and singing folk Jewish songs non stop; great food, minus burning my tongue from chicken soup
Went home, read, and shluuf

Sat 1/23
Schul at Levatine Synagogue at 9 am - decided that the whole davening out loud thing is fairly tolerable, just the Torah reading is long... But it was a nice davening
Kiddush! Nuff said?
Lunch at Gam Gam - not as good as Fri Night, but challah makes up for it; sat with the girls; decided I find Chabad mashiach stuff as annoying as Jesus paintings
The girls came back to our hostel for Shabbat menucha and told us of Frum lady desiring to convert them to Mashiachkeit
Met up with the other boys and took a long walk to and from San Marco square - I had missed them
Rushed pizza and gelato to get to opera
After long vaporetto we basically couldn't find the opera
We made it to the opera and had an entertaining evening... So ready to crash when we got back

Sun 1/24
Emergency stop at an Internet cafe
Got some gooood but hard chocolate
Went out to Murano to see glass -saw the museum but disappointed to find out that glass blowing demonstrations don't happen Sunday afternoons
Bought Lainie "Hello Kitty"
Took a gondole ride up the canal with the cool dude
Went to the ghetto for Adam to get good chocolate that he could eat :)
Train to Rome - Adam talked it up with people across from him for Rome info; worked on this list, read a bit
Went out to dinner near the hostel - accordian dude serenaded the restaraunt and I got lasagna... which turned out to be meat :(
Realized I'm almost broke!

Mon 1/25
Cloudy and rainy day :(
Walked out to the colloseeum, actually called the Flavian Ampatheater, and ended up catching a tour there
Stayed in the colloseeum a bit longer to see more, thereby missing the rest if the tour that went to the Palatine and the Roman Forum
Tried our best to understand everything going on in the Palatine and Roman Forum in the midst of the rain, chilled with them
Played B.S. with people at the hostel
Free pasta dinner at the hostel
Played Kings at the hostel... I got the last king

Tues 1/26
Had a nice few peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast... no joke, I've rarely had a sit down breakfast here
Bought a 3 day metro card for 11€
Got drenched
Went to the Vatican and saw the tombs of the popes, got drenched, saw St. Peter's Basillica, climbed up the dome (and got drenched)
Had a filling lunch in Vatican City
Got drenched
Went to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel - bought a tour, which was totally worth the money, and the guide reminded us 10 times that we were lucky to be here in the low season
Ate dinner at an Irish pub with great pizza but ordered a horrible drink... this was after a few arguments about where to go
Took a very convaluted walk to see the colloseeum but it was beautiful lit up

Weds 1/27
Got frustrated when we left late
Got frustrated when we GOT LOST
Took a bus to the Pantheon - Adam almost didn't make it on
Walked to the Trevi Fountain, took pictures, saw the Dutch people from the hostel
Strolled to the ghetto - did the museum and synagogue tour
Ate a good chicken sandwich there
Walked out to Capitoline Hill - last museum of Italy!!!
Chillaxed in the Hostel - chased a few buses on the way
Went out for more fleishig (more expensive) back in the ghetto
Adam and I went to see the Spanish Steps and a night round of Trevi Fountain

Thursday 1/28
Ben was the first one ready for the first time!
It was sunny...
Found our way to the zoo - cute animals, gotta live the Japanese monkeys!
Went back to Termini to catch an open bus tour...
It started raining! But we still went all around Rome
Bought a couple of books in the Termini store
Had my last gelato
Went to the airport
Saw some guy we had Shabbat lunch with a couple of weeks ago
Had my last pizza
So long Italy!

Friday 1/29
Landed in Tel Aviv at 2:30 a.m.
Got my baggage quick; passport control fastest I've ever seen
Got on a sherut at 3:10 a.m. though it didn't leave until 4
Got home at 5 - did not go to sleep - threw in laundry, did Shacharit at 7 a.m.

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