Friday, November 18, 2011

In La Cucina di Mirabella

Pear, Walnut, and Gorgonzola Pizza 

Last night the three of us made our first, homemade pizza in our oven!!!! We've been dying to try this recipe we found in a cookbook that was on a shelf in our apartment when we moved in.

I walked down to the central market yesterday and picked up some fresh, naturally dried pears (100 g for 1 euro--not bad!). The rest of the cheeses (mozzarella, gorgonzola, and parmesan) as well as the rosemary, dough, and onion we picked up at Esselunga.

Where it all went down : :


The tops of the pieces of pear got a little burnt, but it was absolutely DIVINE nonetheless. Served with a little whitewine, molte, molte bene.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ooo...Italian Leather

So I knowwwww I still have to post about Barcelona, Venice, Greece, and Istanbul, but I HAD to post this tonight.....

I just got a new Italian Leather Jacket!!! Ahhhhhhhh! So excited! Over 50% off original price. That's what happens when you have the patience to wait out tourist season. I haven't really bought any souvenirs for myself, but this? This is one souvenir that I couldn't pass up.

Barbara got one this weekend too, and today, we were both mistaken for Italian locals. SWEET! :D

Sunday, October 23, 2011

project 3 : : visual ecologies : reframing the city

This is the project we presented on Wednesday. An analysis of our site through the medium of film. Our site is located at the exit of the Uffizi and the back of the Palazzo Vecchio. We were interested in how the site exists as a collection of "backsides" (the lack of frontality makes it very hard to give the site an identity). And we were also interested in analyzing the textures and rhythms of facades and thresholds within the site, which being extremely disjointed, further complicates the search for an identity.

Our analysis revolves around one main question : : Where is the "postcard moment" ???

Subjectively, we answer this question-- there isn't one. However, by using stop motion in a comparative analysis of our site to three commonly agreed upon "postcard moments" in Florence, we hope to arrive at the same answer objectively.

project 2 : : container + contained

(I decided to split up our 3 projects so far into different posts, that way it's not just one long one)
: : Project 2 : : container - contained
This next project proposed the theme of the contemporary exhibition space within the historic city. Essentially, in our same groups we were asked to analyze a chosen architectural object that contains itself objects. My partner and I were given the Prada store in Tokyo. Here's what it looks like : :

: : Here are some pages of our analysis : :

Architecture Update : : project 1 : city as museum

New post WOOT WOOT.

Unfortunately, this will not yet be about Barcelona. I promise I'll get to it soon! THIS POST is meant to show all my wonderful fans why the betsy I haven't had time to post pictures and upload my blog. So you all know I've been studying in Florence, and usually when students travel/study abroad, they take classes that are relatively easy or completely unrelated to their major. Welp, our architecture programmed followed us here so we're pretty much doing the same thing that we do back in Syracuse. But in Florence.

My bedtime is usually between 2:00-3:00 in the morning (I thought it'd be better over here but not thus far). Annnd I've pulled maybe 3 all-nighters in the past few weeks....

So far we've done 3 projects, the third of which (our mid-term) was due and presented today!

: : Project 1 : : urban analysis: city as museum
This first project was a 1 week charette where we were asked to analyze Florence as a city that contains many museums but also a city that, in many ways, performs as a museum in itself. Fascinating, no? Museums are not only used to help us understand historical terms but can be used as a tool to help us imagine ideas of and relationships between things that do not yet exist in material or social ways.

**WARNING** I will be writing this post in "architecture" linguo so I'm sorry if you haven't a clue what I'm saying

Anyways, my group decided to look at the city of Florence through the lens of it's market culture. Markets inundate the city and it's fascinating how not only do they take up space but they create new space within the urban fabric. Basically we looked at Florentine markets and how they operate as a) space makers, and b) space fillers. We then put together a presentation that was given to Madrid's CEU architecture students and faculty when we visited Spain a few weeks ago.

: : Here are some pages from our presentation : :

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The strength of my heart

I'm loooong overdue for a new post. To all my readers out there, I apologize for being the worst blogger in the world. Good news- I can only get better! :p It's just been so hard with all the traveling on weekends and late night/all-nighters (yes, all-nighters) during the weekdays.

I want to share a little on my recent experiences with the Lord. It's definitely been a struggle here spiritually, away from the church, away from my companions and family. When I say "struggle" I don't mean a rebelliousness or anything against the Lord, it's just been really hard to carve out time to spend with Him. 

I have traveled so much in this short month that I've been here, and every single day there is something new that moves me and awes me. I get so excited about every new thing that we see or discover, and it's been so eye-opening and, to a large extent, quite fulfilling....

But...what I'm realizing is how misleading that fulfillment can be. Traveling has brought me so much joy and I already feel so changed. I feel so blessed to have been provided this experience, and I feel so covered by the Lord and by prayers from back home. I think what the Lord has been bringing me through is that, as wonderful an experience as He wants me to have here in Europe, all the joys and excitements and gratifications I experience here (as healthy as they all may be) can still distract me from the REAL enjoyment, the REAL satisfaction, the REAL life supply: my Lord Jesus Christ. 

I've had days where experience upon experience has been so satisfying, and I feel like it will never get old standing under the towering Duomo, or sitting atop Piazza Michelangelo looking out over the city of Florence with the mountains softly fading into the distance, or walking along the Ponte Vecchio, observing all the little jewelry boxes of little gold shops opening up their gates to reveal the hidden treasures beyond their thresholds... But at the end of the day, the satisfaction starts to wean a little, and the surge of fulfillment and vitality that I had felt throughout the day begins to fade. Upon recognizing that growing emptiness within,  I repent, realizing that not once had turned to the Lord for my supply that day.

Well, this past week and a half, I've been trying something "new": morning revival. (Or a morning devotional).  Growing up in the church life that I did, I always knew it was something I should do, that it'd make a difference in my day and my spiritual life. was never quite implemented into daily life, as hard as I'd try---just not a morning person.

Anyways, I've been making a point to have morning revival (usually while I eat breakfast), and I've been spending a lot of time in the Psalms. This will probably sound horrible, but I've never been a huge fan of the Psalms. I always thought they were beautifully written and poetic, but in terms of a "supply", I always thought they were "too emotional" for me. And especially in times when I'm super emotional, I don't want to feed the flames even more. I tend to gravitate more towards Paul's epistles, especially those of high truths. Well anyway... for whatever reason, I've been in the Psalms, and let's just say they've been exactly what I've needed. The Lord has definitely been working on my heart in this aspect. So here are some verses that I read this morning that fit exactly what I've been feeling.

Psalm 73:21-26, 28
   21 When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.

23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cinque Terre

Just got back from Cinque Terre....Let's just say one of the best weekends yet.
Spectacular place. Spectacular food. Spectacular people. I couldn't have asked for a better trip.

Here's the group who went from left to right:
Me, Barbara, Jeff (grad student), Elvira (grad), Irini (grad), Hilary, Sally, and Mike.

We had SO much fun!!! We took a train early Friday morning to La Spezia, which was about a 3-hour ride. We all mostly passed out (from pulling an all-nighter the day before on a studio charette deadline). We bought our trail passes and hopped on a train to Riomaggiore (where we'd be staying in our hostel). We checked in and were taken up (and up and up) to our hostel which was at the top of an apartment cluster in the cliffs. Awesome view and the hostel room was really cute.

Crazy amounts of stairs going up
(this is just the last 3rd maybe)
Photo credit: Barbara Burke
View out of our hostel!
Photo Credit: Barbara Burke
We were only going to be in Cinque Terre for two days, so we planned our first day for the incredible hike along the coast from town to town until we reached the fifth and final one. AMAZING. It took us all day, but we made it without anyone getting hurt or fainting from heat exhaustion or falling off a cliff in the water below! We also did some gelato-hopping rewarding ourselves with incredible homemade gelato after completing particularly difficult parts of the trek. 

The VIEWS along the hike were PHENOMENAL. I couldn't believe I was actually seeing these in real life. Here are some shots during our hike. The towns were beautiful and so colorful! I loved it!

Me! with Riomaggiore in the background :)
View from Town #2, Manarola down the coastal line
View of Corniglia after passing through
View of Corniglia (Town #3)
Beach at town #4 - Vernazza
We made it to the fifth town, Monteroso, around 7, right as the sun was setting over the mountains in the distance. We found a place to eat with incredible homemade pasta and pesto (apparently pesto and foccacia bread originated in Cinque Terre), and than hopped on the train back to Riomaggiore. As soon as we entered our hostel room, Barbara and I fell into our beds and PASSED OUT. Let me tell you I had the best sleep yet since being in Europe, not to mention the longest (11 hours!!!).

Sunset from Monteroso. Note the trees lining the tips of the mountains in a single-file line.

Day Two consisted of BEACH. Oh, it was wonderful! After hiking our legs off the day before, it was the perfect solution to lie out on a beach all day, taking periodic dips into the blue, crystalline Mediterranean. Around 2 the rest of the group went snorkeling while Barbara and I remained at the beach. Snorkeling was a little too pricey, and it gave Barbara and I some rare time with just each other (so far we've done everything in groups from 3-10ish people and rarely have time with just the two of us).  Also, it was probably 85 degrees out, perfectly sunny, and OCTOBER 1st. When have I ever laid out on a beach in October?

Photo Credit: Barbara Burke
For lunch, we had some foccacia bread with pesto sauce and an ice cold Italian beer for lunch. AMAZING. 

Afterwards we met up with the group as they finished their snorkeling and finished the afternoon with a tasty seafood dinner. As we waiting for the train, we headed down to the Marina and sat on marble rocks digesting with a breathtaking view of the town of Riomaggiore and the coast.

None of us were ready to leave.

But alas, we had to return back to good ol' Firenze. We have some incredible adventures in store for us in these coming weeks (i.e. Como & Mantova, Barcelona, Venice and than Fall break in Greece and Istabul).

Time for bed now. Buonanotte! Ciao ciao!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Power in the Blood

I apologize to all who have been looking at my blog and turning away disappointed because I haven't updated it in two weeks!!! I promise I'm going to update on all my wonderful adventures and get you all caught up asap.

I just got back from a 4 day trip to Madrid, Spain. It was quite an incredible experience! I'll get into more detail later, but one of my favorite parts of the trip was walking through the Prado Museum of Art and seeing all the famous Velazquez, Goya (my favorite), and Picasso paintings. One thing that really touched me was how many paintings in that museum were of Jesus Christ being sacrificed on the cross. I used to disregard a lot of those paintings, just because I felt there was so much religiosity and money motivating them. But this time, standing two feet in front of Velazquez's "Christ on the Cross", I was so moved almost to the point of tears. My heart filled with so much thanks and praise that as He hung on that cross, He was thinking of me. And immediately I started praying for my friends here to believe that this painting indeed was real, and that Christ DID die for them, and that He hung on that cross until everything was finished. Whether or not Velazquez was a true believer, the Lord really spoke to me through that painting which was definitely an experience I've never had before. So fresh, so profound. 

I was working in the studio this afternoon and this song came on my itunes, and I wanted to share it with this experience that I had. I love Fernando Ortega, and he does this song so well. 
"Christ on the Cross" painted by Diego Velazquez

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


It's been about a week and a half now since I've been in Florence and I'm still trying to come down to reality... But it's beginning to feel like home :)

I've been having problems with my computer, and it took a while to get our internet keys working at our apartment. So it's been impossible to do any blogging whatsoever. But no worries! I've been faithful to my journal and decided I might as well type up some of the entries. Lets just say EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. of these past 10 or so days has been filled with adventure. I have soooo many stories to tell it's overwhelming! But I'll do my best to share all the moments just the way I experienced them. I've also been updating my family with a lot, too, so some of my "catch-up" posts might be excerpts from those emails.

First things first. The trans-Atlantic journey. 

Last Monday was the first time I had ever flown over an ocean, let alone across the borders of the United States. BIG DEAL. My parents dropped me off around 10am at Cleveland Hopkins...that was a lot harder than I thought. I think all of us were fighting tears. They watched me go through security, and once at the end, I waved goodbye one last time before turning a corner and realizing that was the last time I would see them for almost four months.

Suddenly I felt so lonely, and a little scared/nervous having to fly to JFK by myself (never having flown alone before). I found the gate and sat down, finally letting the tears flow after such an emotional goodbye to my parents.

All went smoothly getting to JFK and finding the rest of our travel group. JFK is seriously the biggest airport EVER. There are EIGHT terminal buildings, all separate from each other, and if it wasn't for this super nice man who showed me how to get on the train between the terminals, I would've been utterly lost. I felt SO covered by prayer. There's no way everything could've gone so perfectly smooth except that I was in the Lord's hands.

Once I found my groupflight escort, things went perfectly fine, a certain extent.

The Italian workers decided to go on strike the day we were meant to arrive in Florence. Basically, they screwed up our entire flight itinerary, and I ended up traveling for almost 2 days straight! We flew from:
JFK in NYC to Munich, Germany
Waited out our layover for 8 hours.
Flew from Munich to Nice, France over the Alps.
Waited in Nice for 2 hours.
Piled onto a bus and drove 6 hours south to Florence.

We finally arrived at El Hotel Mediterraneo around 2:30am, and had to get up super early for orientation that same morning. BOY was I exhausted.

Here's an excerpt from the email I sent my family once I arrived. You'll get a better picture how those 2 travel-days went. I'll update with day #2 of "Hannah in Florence" as soon as I can!

"When I last talked with you, everything had gone exceptionally and sovereignly smootly getting me to JFK sweet and sound. I ran into two of my architecture friends, Andrew and Pat. Other than that, all the other students on our flights I didn't know. The trans-atlantic flight was quite nice. All our flight attendants were beautiful French women, so I felt very cared for and safe. I struggled with some motion sickness on that flight (I didn't actually get sick though I felt like it at one point), but I think the main reason was because I had nothing in my stomach since breakfast. When I was in JFK I thought the food court was accessed AFTER security, but obviously I found out the dumb way. I grabbed a thing of trail mix and chex mix, but not having eaten anything since breakfast (it was around 4:00), my body was definitely feeling it. They did serve a meal on the plane, but I couldn't handle it. I think I was at the point of food depravation that I had not appetite at all.

The best part of the flight was I happened to sit across the aisle from a young woman (25 yrs) heading back to Israel. Her name was Ruth, and she was completely deaf! We ended up writing notes back and forth for a couple of hours. I can tell you more about our conversations, but I think it was something from the Lord. She told me she was visitng her older brother in NYC for 1 month who is also deaf (genetic trait), and now she was heading back home. So that was hard on her. Also her flights got all messed up/cancelled, and she begged one of the men at the counter to help her get a new flight set up, and he happened to find that one seat on the plane next to me. She told me her day had been absolutely awful until being able to talk to me, so that was really encouraing to me :) She's going to find me on facebook and I'd really like to keep in touch with her. We had some pretty awesome conversations via passing notes.

I was able to sleep for only an hour or so, and then we landed in Munich. Flying into Germany right after the sun had come up over the horizon was absolutely breathtaking. There were little clusters of houses surrounded by hills upon hills of perfectly plotted farm lands of all different shades of greens and browns. The early morning sun contrasted the land with the most perfect shadows I had ever seen, and the angle of the light made the soft covering of mist sparkle. It was truly amazing. I wasn't able to take a picture or anything because I didn't have the window seat, but the image will forever be with me :)

So once in Munich, I think our layover was about 8 hours. I grabbed a sandwich and forced myself to eat something a little substantial. It helped me feel a bit better. My head was really hurting between not eating and not sleeping. So Pat, Andrew and I found our gate and sprawled out across the chairs and managed to get some broken sleep here and there. It was really cool because the airport there had these awesome espresso machines where you could make baby cups of espresso/coffee/lattes for FREE! I had a few, but with not much in my stomach, I didn't want to overdue it.

We flew from Munich to Nice, France and arrived around 5:15. There was supposed to be a bus there for us, but no one could find it anywhere. Apparently the women escorts coming on the buses had found out THAT morning they needed to come get us. We waited maybe 45 minutes or so til they finally arrived. However, they informed us there was another flight of 60 or so students coming in around 6:30, so we ended up waiting evern longer in the airport (some more of my architecture guy-friends were on that flight). We didn't actually leave Nice until 7:00pm, and the bus ride was at least 5 hours. I ended up getting a seat to myself on the bus which was really nice because I had so many little bags and my camera. Because we ended up leaving Nice so late, there was only a short period of daylight. We literally drove along the coast of France and then down along the northeastern coast of Italy. It was really beautiful, but once the sun went down and I couldn't take many pictures (the windows were reflecting a lot too :/) I fell asleep. It was so much easier to sleep on the bus! We stopped around 9:00pm at a rest stop to order Paninis. I felt SO BAD for the Italian women working that little panini shop. So many of us barely stoke any Italian, and I think they were overwhelmed with 80 students suddenly asking for paninis. That helped me feel better considering I had barely eaten much at all the past few days. I DID make sure I was drinking a lot of water. The bus ride ended up taking way longer than it should have. I'm not sure why....if it was traffic or they had to go a different way. I was able to sleep most of the time.

Once we all got to the hotel, we unloaded our luggage and figured out rooms. Because all my friends had been guys, I had no one to easily choose a room with, so I decided I'd wait until everyone chose rooms and than tell them I'd be a filler (to fill up a quad or triple or whatever). It turned out that all the rooms were full, so they gave me a quad all to myself tonight! I thought I'd be all alone, but it just so happened that my friend Amber had to stay in my room tonight because of confusion or a double booking. It's okay though, I was feeling homesick and lonely, so it was nice to have a friend with me..."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Florence Bound


I'm officially leaving the COUNTRY for the FIRST TIME in less than a week....5 days to be exact. I'm new to this whole blogging thing, but I felt like it was a really smart way to keep the most people updated at once on my wonderfully romantic Italian adventures.

There is still so much packing to do...I'm attempting a trial-run on Thursday which I'm not really looking forward to. But Mother and Father insist.

**sigh** I can barely wrap my mind around the fact that next Tuesday I will be arriving in Florence for an entire semester. It's just as surreal now as it was at the beginning of the summer. I have no idea what's in store for me, but I trust it will be amazing and that it will shape me more and more into the woman of God I'm meant to be.

I should head to bed as these next few days are craaammmmed with craziness.

Ciao mia bella amici
(Goodbye my beautiful friends)