Tag Archives: movies

A Movie-Concert-Concert-Movie Sandwich

Well, it has been a pretty busy week and a half now that I have begun checking things off my to do (in Rome) list. Perhaps one of the most important things on that list should be research. So, last Saturday I woke up bright and early and headed out to Villa Borghese to visit Galleria Borghese and its sculpture from the Great Trajanic Frieze. Unfortunately, there was a horrible exhibition on Caravaggio and Bacon. (I know it seems hard to believe, but, yes, it was horrible!) The paintings were hung on faux walls that stood in front of many of the sculptures I wanted to see. *Sigh* Perhaps I will do some research another time.

Birdwatchers at Villa Borghese

After a disappointing visit to the gallery, I took a walk through the villa. It was the first time in a long time that I have been awake before the rest of Rome. It was a crisp, sunny winter morning and I followed a cute couple who spent their Saturday morning bird watching. Later that day I met Jennifer and Lisa in Piazza Barberini and we walked to the church above the Spanish Steps. It’s not a very impressive church, but it has some beautiful frescoes in its cloisters that are only open once a week. So, look for a post about them if I happen to get up off my lazy ass and make it over there at exactly 11:00 on a Tuesday. After some questionably necessary shopping, we went to the movie theater to see Avatar in 3D. Why did I ever pay to see it in two dimensions?!

That evening Damon and I got dressed up to go to the opening of the doorman’s art show at a book store not too far from home. The book store had this wonderful series of cookbooks. Each one held ten recipes focusing on one main ingredient. Damon surprised me with the one on basil a few days later.

On Wednesday Damon dragged me out to a concert in a cute, young neighborhood of Rome called Pigneto. I did a little research before we left and got a list of the best restaurants there. We tried Primo, which apparently has local moms take over the kitchen to make their specialties on certain nights. This wasn’t one of those nights. We finally arrived at the venue to catch the tail end of opening band. It was this cute, pop-punk Italian girl band. I wish I had caught their name. The headliner was the Buzzcocks, or the “Buzzcoks” as our tickets indicated. They were really wonderful in concert. If you don’t know who they are, you might recognize this cover by Nouvelle Vague performed at Bumbershoot:

The following Tuesday I was back in Pigneto and back at Circolo degli Artisti for yet another concert. This time Julie (the Honors Professor) and I had dinner at Necci dal 1924, a restaurant made famous by its frequent patron Pier Paolo Pasolini, an Italian director. This time the food was exceptional and the atmosphere was more my style. I’ll probably head back there soon. The band I saw this time was Joan as Policewoman and she was amazing in concert, much better, in fact, than any of the recorded tracks I’ve heard. Unfortunately, everyone in Rome is sick right now. I had kleenex in my pocket at the show, Julie had to leave for a minute due to a coughing fit and Joan blew her nose between songs. Ahhh, illness. It was fun nonetheless and I hope to spend more time in the Pigneto neighborhood. Perhaps during the day sometime.

Joan as Policewoman at Circolo degli Artisti

Last night was actually quite exciting as well. We screened the movie Nuovomondo (Golden Door) in the conference room and the director, Emanuele Crialese came for an informal discussion session afterwards. Last week we watched his film Respiro, which, to be honest, I did not particularly like. At all. However, Nuovomondo was wonderful! It’s a story Crialese wrote highlighting the journey of a Sicilian family from the old world to the new world. It also falls within the category of magical realism, which really attracts me. As icing on the cake, he was a wonderful guest speaker. He was very honest and humorous and answered all questions thoroughly. Now I get to listen to the entire talk again so that I can prepare the transcript!

A scene from Nuovomondo


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Six months left to live…

As of yesterday, I have exactly six months left to live in Rome. This has really hit me pretty hard. I have so much that I still want to do here. So, how could I not draw on my OCD qualities and make a list?! Here it is (the most boring post you’ll ever read):

Actually, I should start with some of the things I did this week, so that you can see how dedicated I am.

This week I waited in line for two hours to see the unimpressive Saints exhibition. It did have Leonardo da Vinci’s St. John the Baptist on loan from the Louvre though. The accompanying video showed the painting under infrared lights, ultraviolet, et cetera, which was cool. And also on display was this disturbing medieval painting of a child literally coughing up demons. Eww.

Leonardo da Vinci, St. John the Baptist, 1513-1516.

On Monday I joined the honors program on their art history field trip to Trajan’s Forum and the Pantheon. On Tuesday I ventured over to the Ara Pacis (free for Art History students! Woo!) and saw their Italian design exhibition. I just loved the schematic drawings of pasta noodles. It’s a shame I can’t find an example online. After the museum, Jennifer, Lisa, Carisa and I went to see Tom Ford’s first movie, A Single Man. It was such a beautiful film. On Wednesday I had the intention of visiting Sant’Ivo, but it was closed for the millionth time. So, I walked over to Santa Maria sopra Minerva and looked at the Filippo Lippi frescoes there. Reminded me of Hallie’s wonderful presentation three years ago!

I also took a walk over to St. Peter’s and the life-sized nativity scene is still up! It’s so ridiculous. It looks like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. There’s even a rowboat included because everyone knows that the wise men came by sea to pay their respects to baby Jesus.

Nativity/Christmas Tree in Piazza San Pietro in MID-JANUARY

Close-up on the boat

Okay, enough of that. Here’s my list:

In Rome:
Galleria Doria Pamphili
Galleria Borghese
San Paolo Fuori le Mure
St. Peter’s Catacombs
SS. Giovanni and Paolo w/ Roman Houses
Castel Sant’Angelo
Monti- Boutiques and Arch of Gallienus
Santa Francesca Romana (Mar. 9)
Santa Maria in Trastevere
SS. Cosmas and Damian
Villa Torlonia
San Pietro in Vincoli
San Lorenzo
Go to the top of Vittorio Emanuele
Casa del Jazz
Palazzo Altemps
La Bocca della Verita’
Santa Costanza

Caravaggio/Bacon-Villa Borghese
Hopper-Museo del Corso
Dada-Palazzo Vittorio

In Italy:
Cinque Terre
Tivoli-Villa d’Este

In Europe:
Visit Jocelyn in Cadiz, Spain
Visit Diana in Vienna

I’m open to suggestions!


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Stress, Food, Stress, Food…

This month has really been a crazy one, full of excitement, full of stress, full of food.

After Dan and Oana left I began cramming for the GRE, which I took on Monday. It went alright. I did surprisingly well on the math part (I’m good at guessing), but not as well as I would have liked to on the verbal portion. I find out my essay score via mail sometime next week. I need to get my act together so that I can apply to grad schools in December.

Other than that, I have had three more visitors in the eternal city. Kessler Dixon (no relation) and his girlfriend Laurel were in town. Unfortunately, I was so busy with the GRE that we were only able to meet up once for beers at Bar Trilussa. We had a great time complaining about/loving art history and all things Star Trek. Really, I don’t know how any conversation at Trilussa would be complete without it. Actually, earlier that week I met up with one of Danny and Hallie’s friends, Adam, at Trilussa and we argued over which Star Trek was superior, TNG or Voyager. Is there really any contest? PATRICK STEWART.

Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. So, my third, or rather fourth visitor was Steve Bunn. He’s a doctoral student at UW and he was in Europe pretending to do research. I took him to one of the best gelato hot spots in Rome, Gelato del Teatro, and we walked along the river before having dinner in Trastevere. Yay for visitors!

However, one of my favorite things from the last month was when the ex-director of the Rome Center, Trina, took the office staff out for lunch at a place called Bleve. It is a beautiful restaurant located at the old Medici family stables with a wine cellar larger than my family home. The Medici stables were built on top of ancient Roman ruins (as is everything in the city). When the restaurant decided to expand/remodel their cellar, the construction team discovered a completely intact tufa wall beneath the restaurant. Trina asked our waiter if we could see it and he took us down into the wine cellar for a private viewing of the beautiful stones. I wish I knew something about wine because there were floor-to-ceiling racks of vintage bottles. So cool!

Moving on to the food part, Sunday night the Art program had a potluck complete with burgers and oreos. Can you tell that they’re getting a little homesick? After dinner they held a contest for the best photo from their recent field trip to Sicily. Here’s the winner submitted by Ashton:

Photo by Ashton

On Monday the Food and Culture program had their final projects due. They had to prepare an artisanal dish completely from scratch. For example, Desiree made chesnut loaves and she went to a chesnut orchard and picked, shelled and ground the chesnuts herself. Coral made olive oil and picked the olives herself as well. Some of my other favorites were lamb, polenta and a huge assortment of desserts. Puff pastries, mmmmm.

It was not the end of my over-eating, however. This whole week I have been going crazy trying to plan a Thanksgiving feast for over 70 people: all the students and faculty from three programs and their guests. It all came together last night. Dinner was both beautiful and delicious with very few mishaps. I brought Roberto, the doorman a plate complete with all your Thanksgiving classics. He then asked what stuffing was and we had an interesting five-minute conversation about that… After stuffing ourselves, the Food program and I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to get us in the holiday spirit. It was a success! Here are a few photos from the night:

Beautiful Dining Room Pre-Dinner

Desiree filling her plate buffet-style

Chaos in the "Dessert Room"

So, I only have one week left in Rome and I have tons of Christmas shopping to do. Happy holidays and see you soon!

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Social Experiments

So, after we got back from Paris we had very little time to prepare for Halloween. My coworkers also told me that it’s not really celebrated here in Italy. However, Leish and I went on our evening passagiata (walk) and saw a ton of Italian kids trick-or-treating. They were running in and out of pubs, bars, restaurants, anything still open at 8:00pm with bags of candy in tow. Yay for Americanization! So, then Leisha and I went home and tried to put together costumes from what we already had lying around. I teased my hair, put on a sweater vest and wore my reading glasses with tape in the middle. Instant nerd. Leish put on a black dress, threw some floss in her hair and drew a web on her face with eyeliner. Instant spider lady. After our glorious costumes we complete, we headed over to Barnum Cafe to meet some of Leisha’s friends. We had other plans, but we ended up spending the whole evening with a group of people we met there. So fun!


Spiderella and nerd on Halloween

I spent the next couple days resting and preparing for Dan and Oana’s arrival. Dan and I went to elementary, middle and high school together. Right now he has an internship in Düsseldorf, Germany and his girlfriend Oana is teaching English in Nice, France. They arrived on Tuesday night and when I picked them up from the train station, we began our mission for dinner which took us to 3+ restaurants. I still don’t know why things were closed that night. We had a lovely dinner in Trastevere. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to sightseeing with them during the week, but we spent the evenings going on walks that probably passed by the Pantheon and involved gelato in some way.

forum 1

Dan and Oana looking at the Forum from the Capitoline

Saturday was the first beautiful, warm, rain-free day of their visit and we went to the Capitoline Museums together, which is the first time I’ve been during my second stay in Rome. I’ve decided that I love that museum. It has two of my favorite sculptures: The Dying Gaul and Commodus as Hercules. The Commodus sculpture was especially fun to see because we drug the mattress into the conference room the night before and watched Gladiator on the big screen. It was perhaps too big. Another great thing about the Capitoline Museums is the wonderful view of the forum.

forum 2

View of the Forum from the Capitoline Museums

After the museums we made the trek to the Spanish Steps where they had constructed a fake Berlin wall in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the wall. I wonder if they knocked it down, too. We didn’t stay long enough to figure it out. Exhaustion.

Berlin in Rome

BERLYN / Spanish Steps

Our evening was a wonderful social experiment. After our huge Chinese dinner, we decided to go out to Anima, a dance club, so that I could demonstrate how persistent Italian guys can be. Dan, Oana and I had some good laughs that night. Unfortunately for them, they had to wake up just a few hours after getting to sleep to catch their flights back to Düsseldorf and Nice respectively.

On Sunday evening I met up with a German photographer named Chris and unfortunately did not practice German. Maybe next time! We went out for beers at a hole-in-the-wall bar and then took a passagiata before dinner. Mmmm saltimbocca.

Last night was Leisha’s birthday, but she is just getting over the illness from hell, so we took it easy. We went out to dinner in Trastevere and I ate my second baby cow of the week. Why does veal have to taste so good?!

Anyway, it’s finally less than a month until I will be back in the US for Christmas break. I’m starting to get very excited and also very broke. See you soon, America!

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Ce n’est pas comme ça.

Disclaimer: Prepare yourself for art dorkiness. I apologize if some of my ramblings don’t make sense to you.

After months of waiting, weeks of worrying and days of preparing myself with movies set in Paris, I finally arrived last Wednesday night! Elyse and her Parisian boyfriend Hugo met us at the bus station and escorted us all the way to Asnieres, the suburb where Elyse lives as an au pair for an adorable family with triplet 5-year-old boys. Since it was a late flight, we had a little wine and cheese, pulled out the futon and called it a night. The next morning Leisha and I met up with Mia at St. Denis. An amazing little church that spring boarded some of the Gothic architectural style’s claims to fame, namely ribbed vaulting. After exploring the church, we walked through the flea market and nearby stores where I purchased my first set of heels that aren’t attached to some kind of event, such as prom. We decided to continue our heavenly theme and headed towards Notre Dame. We met up with Elyse here for some lunch before exploring the depths of the church. It was so beautiful. I hope to go to the top next time I am in Paris.

Notre Dame

Mia and I at Notre Dame

On a tip from Mia’s dad, we headed over to Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, which is where they filmed a scene from Before Sunset. The walls were stacked floor to ceiling with books and the entire store was a labyrinth of literature. My favorite part was the small reading room on the second floor where there were books to be borrowed, not bought. After downing some crepes we walked up to the Pompidou and then to the shopping center…

The next day Leish and I met up with Mia at the Louvre. Wow, a full day at the Louvre for an art historian is like heavenly torture. It is ecstasy seeing things you’ve written about and studied for years. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but imagine only having seen something on a 3×5 flashcard suddenly blown up to 20 feet wide on the wall before you. It’s so surreal. Anyway, we spent hours looking at art. I made some progress on my research and in general filled my heart with happiness.


Mia, Leisha and I at the Louvre

After the Louvre, we mustered up enough energy to walk the Champs Elysees, seeing the Vogue cover sidewalk and doing some shopping before ending up at the Arc de Triomph, which is way larger than necessary, in case you were wondering. That evening when Leisha and I returned to Asnieres, Elyse had prepared a wine, cheese, bread and fruit spread for our dinner. Yum! Later that night Elyse took us to meet another one of her friends who attends the most prestigious school in Paris. There was a bit of a party at the school, so Hugo, Elyse, Leisha and spent the evening meeting Parisians.

I spent the next day getting some well-deserved rest. In the evening we went to Belleville, which is like the international district of Paris. We ate at this Chinese restaurant called Salon de The Wen Zhou, which I read about in a magazine article. Afterwards, Liesha, Mia and I went to see the light show at the Eiffel Tower. Then we met up with Hugo and Elyse again and went to a bar with some of Hugo’s friends.

On Sunday Leisha, Elyse, Hugo and I visited Pere Lachaise, the famous cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried. His grave is actually not very impressive. My favorite gravestone was that of Oscar Wilde. Going against tradition, I did not kiss the grave, because being an art nerd, I know that lipstick is destructive towards stone.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde's kiss-covered gravestone

After Pere Lachaise, Leish and I headed to Sacre Coeur. A scene from Amelie, the one with the carousel, was filmed here. We also went inside the church where booming organ music was playing. I sat and ate roasted chestnuts and we watched some street performers. We ended the evening at KFC (for you, Mom!).

Monday morning was my dress-like-a-professional-and-pretend-you-know-what-you’re-doing day. In other words, I headed to the Louvre with the intention of visiting the research center. When I reached the offices, the receptionist did not speak English and I do not speak French. After a few minutes of confusion, he called my Louvre contact, but she didn’t answer. I waited for an hour and a half, but she never showed. So, I decided to visit the galleries again to catch all the things I missed. Yes, one day in the Louvre is not enough. I also learned that two days are not enough. I still haven’t seen the Egyptian collection, which is about a quarter of the museum! There’s always next time I guess. After lunch I met up with Leisha and she took me on a surprise trip to the park where Before Sunset was filmed. We walked through the park and then caught a bus back to the Notre Dame neighborhood for dinner. We had a three-course meal in a rustic-lodge themed restaurant that began with French onion soup and ended with creme brulee. I still think Momma Skeers makes the best creme brulee!

Fun Eiffel Photo

Elyse and I goofing off at the Eiffel Tower

On Tuesday, it was finally time. Elyse and I headed to the Eiffel Tower. It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. Dare I say, the perfect day to visit the Eiffel Tower. We had fun goofing around with our cameras and making jokes about other visitors and the city below. Leisha met up with us afterwards and we visited the bridge from the opening scene of Last Tango in Paris. We ended our half day in Paris with a crepe and then said our goodbyes as we headed toward the airport. It was a wonderful week away from Rome, but I was also very grateful to be back in my beautiful city.

Eiffel Tower

At the Eiffel Tower


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Turning Acquaintances into Friends

For those of you who have been dying for an update (Mom, Hallie, Liv?), I sincerely apologize! I don’t know why it has taken so long.

This update requires a little history. Rewind four years: I was inspired by an MXPX song (can’t believe I just admitted that!) and joined my friend Jon on a day trip to his hometown of Bremerton, Washington. It was there that Jon first introduced me to his friend Meghan Rowley. Afterwards, Meghan and I hung out a few times and went to a few concerts together, but unfortunately she went to Western and we didn’t keep in touch. Fast forward four years: I find out via facebook stalking that Meghan is backpacking around Europe and invite her to stay with me in Rome. This is the story of our whirlwind weekend of rekindling our acquaintanceship and feeding the fire of friendship.

meg bec

Travel Buddies: Meghan and Becca by Trajan's Forum

Meghan and her travel buddy Becca arrived on a Friday night and I met them (with a few complications) at the train station. They were very exhausted from their day of travel and after our night walk/passagiata through the neighborhood (Campo, Pantheon, gelato, Piazza Navona), we all called it an early night. On Saturday, we woke up early and made the trek out to St. Peter’s, where they were setting up for a canonizing event the following day. Apparently, the first Hawaiian ever was canonized that Sunday. (Leisha attended the festivities.) We also walked by Castel Sant’ Angelo before heading back to the market in Campo de’ Fiori for some snacks. A little siesta was in order and then the girls did a little solo sightseeing until we met up for dinner with Leisha and Mia at one of our favorite restaurants, Bar Trilussa.


One piece from Fausto delle Chiaie's sidewalk exhibition

On Sunday, we did a little shopping before sightseeing. We visited the Trevi fountain, the forum and the Colosseum. In the evening we took a walk up to Piazza del Popolo and ran into the infamous Roman street artist, Fausto delle Chiaie. He had set up a small “exhibition” of works just outside the Ara Pacis. It was so cool to see Rome’s less-ancient, less-pretentious art scene. We took a detour via the Spanish steps before our glorious five-course Chinese dinner. Yum! After dinner we dragged our mattresses into the conference room and watched the wedding episode of The Office on the big screen. Pam + Jim 4ever.

big screen

Big Screen Fun

I had to work on Monday, but Becca and Meghan tried real Italian coffee and visited the monuments from our night walk in the daytime, such as the Pantheon. Monday was the first really cold day in Rome. I’m talking coat, scarf, gloves kind of 55 degree weather. 🙂 While it was pouring down rain, we stayed inside. Leisha and I taught the girls how to play Briscola, an Italian card game. We also whipped out the Phase Ten cards and I lost miserably. When the rain died down, we headed out to Bar Trilussa again, only this time we ordered a 4.5 liter giraffa of beer and it went to our heads. The walk home was quite fun and Meghan and Becca were a little tipsy when they caught their midnight train to southern Italy.

After Meghan and Becca left, Leisha and I spent the next week trying to get pumped for our upcoming trip to Paris. We watched one movie every day that takes place in Paris (or just France in some cases). Here’s the list: Night on Earth, Paris, je t’aime, Before Sunset, Ratatouille, Two Days in Paris, Beauty and the Beast, Last Tango in Paris, Frantic and Amelie. I think it worked! We leave tomorrow for Paris and we’ll be staying with Elyse, a friend from high school. She is a nanny in a suburb called Asnieres, which is only 15 minutes from Paris.

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A Series of Friend-Making Events

This week Leisha met up with Mia in Milan for the Homeless World Cup and left me alone in Rome again. Only this time I chose not to sit on my bum! This is the story of me not sitting on my bum:

Friend-Making Event #1

On Tuesday I met up with a bunch of couchsurfers in Villa Borghese. I guess a few years ago someone decided to replicate Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in the Villa’s gardens and now you can see his comedies and tragedies all summer long as if you were in London. Roberta, who studies Theater, organized the event and there were three Italians and a Russian girl there. I thought, “Hey, it will be a great way for me to practice Italian.” Aside from speaking with the couchsurfers, I was wrong. Shakespearean Italian is not the kind of Italian that I am capable of understanding. Luckily for me, I am very familiar with the play. I read The Taming of the Shrew in high school and, really, who hasn’t seen 10 Things I Hate About You? Also, just to be sure, I read the cliff notes before hopping on the bus to the Villa. So, I was able to follow along for the most part. Afterwards, Roberta gave me a lift home on her motorino. It was my first romantic, night-time Vespa ride. She turned into a bit of a tour guide on the drive, telling me about all the sights. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I already knew quite a bit about the city. When we said goodbye I almost walked away with her helmet. Oops. I hope to see her again soon!

Friend Making Event #2

Wednesday night was the first night of a course at the American University of Rome that I hope to audit. The course is on Art Crime (theft, vandalism, forgery, etc.) taught by Noah Charney. Please click on the link to his website. He’s absolutely amazing. He is the first academic art crime expert EVER to exist and he is currently working on two TV shows. One is a documentary series that he will host and the other is a CSI-type show with a character based on him. The show will be about Noah helping the authorities solve crimes against art. He also created a non-profit organization that helps churches protect their works of art… for free. Anyway, enough sausaging about Noah. Just check out his website. Back to the friend-making. So, during the class I sat next to an American girl named Sam. She is an art major from some school I have never heard of and she just arrived in Rome last week. We exchanged emails and may be meeting up in the future! Score! Two friends in less than 24 hours!

Friend-Making Event #3

After the class, I met up with the LSJ students who were having a goodbye party for one of their professors. Professor Walsh is leaving Rome early because his wife was just appointed to Obama’s council for something something. Yeah, you know, because that happens everyday. Anyway, it was a wonderful party and I ended up getting gelato with a few students afterwards. Apparently I made a joke that made me seem more human (less intern?) to the students. SUCCESS! If you can consider this Friend-Making Event #3, then the next one will graciously take the place of event #4.

Friend-Making Thing #4

This one is questionably considered an event. I guess all of Rain’s roommates were participating in other events that did not sound appealing to him. (The LSJ group is ridden with drama. Don’t get me started.) So, we decided to watch one of his favorite movies, Stardust. It is now quite possibly one of my favorites as well. While Rain slept through most of the movie, I was glued, wide-eyed, to the screen. It has a cheesy, but oh-so-good factor that is simply off the charts. Just check out the trailer and see for yourself.

Potential Friend-Making Event #5

Leisha and Mia returned to Rome on Friday. Mia is one of Leisha’s friends from the design program and she is here working for Cornelia. I can’t even begin to describe this woman, so I won’t try. Anyway, I foresee friendship in my and Mia’s collective future. Only time will tell!


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