Wednesday, July 23, 2008

il castello di Celano ed Alba Fucens

All last week they were talking up our day to be spent in a castle in a town an hour away, Celano. As it turned out, our classes were held in a building NEXT to the castle in an outpost of the University of L'Aquila. I did take plenty of pictures but I will add them later. Classes were shortened so we could tour the castle. This town at one point, was the headquarters of the kingdom of L'Aquila. The castle was built 800 years ago on the highest point of the city overlooking the 3rd largest lake in Italy. However Lake Fucano had no outsource so it was stagnant and a source of disease. 150 years ago, they had a plan to drain it-apparently one of the world's greatest engineering feat of that century. The lake bed now is a huge farming area. On the lake bottom, they found thousands of very old artifacts-some four thousand years old so of course, we had to visit the musuem containing them.

We then went to a Roman ruin Alba Fucans that was founded 2500 years ago that was 30 miles away. It was pretty cool and included an old Roman amplitheater with perfect acoustics. Also the town still had its communal marble toilets. Everyone would sit together and do their business. In April, Shanna, Naomi and I had visited Salem with its 350 year old cemetaries and thought that was old but it is brand new compared to anything here. On one of the bus rides, I sat with the 20 year old prince. Apparently his family owns the castle here in Gagliano, which we still haven't had permission to visit. It turns out in high school, he was a foreign exchange student at Greenhills living with some wealthy student in Ann Arbor. Small world. We came back very late to find no internet for the American students but the Italian students still have it.

My new routine in the morning is to run down to Castellovecchio on the main road which takes me 27 minutes, then find a path crossing the fields to get back up in a shorter distance. The girasole, sunflowers, are now in full bloom and they seem to be the main crop in the immediate area. I still haven't taken a good picture of them to share. But they are quite pretty plus I go by a small field of wild poppies. I feel like Dorothy. Today Dave the Italian sheepdog, did not go with me. I will include his picture. There are lots of stray dogs here though Dave has a collar, no one has claimed him. His hip seems to be getting better. He had been hit by a rare car not long before we got here. The locals keep bowls of leftovers out for the dogs. Even Jack, an avowed dog hater, saved a hotdog for Dave.The most pathetic dog I call Dreadlock dog. He has long beige dreadlocks and is filled with fleas. He has scratched himself raw in spots. He is wary of humans. Lots of feral cats too. And the monastery has bats. I took a picture of old hanging out in the hallway outide of class that I will include. One came into the girls' room a few nights freaking them out.
Italian class seems to go very slowly as my classmates are really having trouble with the grammar even though some of them grew up speaking Italian. So I think I got the highest grade on the test last week. I honestly think Naomi caught on faster than they did, only in Spanish, but the grammar rules are very similar. We have a midterm in cinema class that I will not do so well on as these technical terms mean little to me. Movie night tonight, Primo Amore, in which a woman starves herself to please her boyfriend. It is presumably hard to watch.
Once a week, the clothing truck comes to Gagliano. Nancy and I actually bought some stuff today. Tutti sono quindieci!!! We keep missing the fruit truck. It's her birthday today so we've been finding ways to make her feel special. I've bought some Sangiovese for €1.3 for later. I also noticed that Guiseppe, the Bar owner and husband of our cook Antonietta, has Ratafia, the good cherry liquor. I tried to find some in Celano but could only find limoncello and some walnut liquor that's supposed to be good.
After our morning class and before lunch, Dana, Nancy and I go to the Bar for cappuccino. I run up the many stairs outside the monastery during morning break to buy juice, usually peach, at the bakery as we get no juice for breakfast. We do get 'plum cake' which has no plums and looks like a Twinkie. It allegedly tastes better. Our film teacher, Elena, picked us fresh figs from a tree in town, a new food for me. Just have had preserved figs or fig newtons.
So Italians are into slow everything, slow food, slow pace of life, etc. Hours seem to be just spent sitting by the locals. It is a different life.

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