Friday, July 30, 2010

Scenes from my first month in Italy.



So this is video from my first month in Italy. It is more a montage than anything else. In the future I plan to be more in depth with details about what you are looking at, here is just a nice little video showign you what I have been up to. Enjoy!

Peace,
Mike

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A quick note on the new background.

So you may have noticed a pretty radical change in look, if this makes it harder to view this blog, or makes it unnecessarily slow, let me know via comment and I will try to fix it. I chose this background, however, because if you look in the bottom left hand corner, just below the Vittorio Emanuele monument, you can see the facade of a Church. That, dear readers, is the Gesu. That is where I now live, and where these posts will (mostly) be coming from. So I figured it was as good a reason as any to put it up there. Any comments on the new design are welcome!
In Christ,
Mike

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From the Opera....

video



The First Video I will post up here is a simple one,  most will be far more edited and have far more information, I just don't have the bandwith to upload those from Verona. This is the aria Nessun Dorma from the Verona Opera Festival.  Every year the city of Verona hosts an Opera Festival in its famed Ancient Roman Arena. For the low price of 23 Euros you too can sit on solid granite for three hours where people have sat for thousands of years... 




This Aria is at the beginning of the third act of Puccini's final opera, Turandot. Far and away my favorite Aria, Marco Berti did a great job. This is the Encore, I just sat, listened, experienced, and welled up a little the first time he sang it. The shear beauty of this moment can only conjure gratitude to God. 


In this song, Calaf, the deposed prince of the Tartars is singing about his plan to win the love of Turandot, the princess of China. Turandot to this point has been the original ice princess, Calaf actually calls her as much in the previous act, but this bold young prince has a plan to win her heart. The words (in Italian and English) are below, this is really just the end of the encore though, there was no way I was going to ruin this moment by taping it the first time through. 




Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che fremono d’amore
e di speranza.
Ma il mio mistero e chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun sapra!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo diro
quando la luce splendera!
Ed il mio bacio sciogliera il silenzio
che ti fa mia!
(Il nome suo nessun sapra!…
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)
Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All’alba vincero!
vincero, vincero!
 English Version
None must sleep! None must sleep!
And you, too, Princess,
in your cold room,
gaze at the stars
which tremble with love
and hope!
But my mystery is locked within me,
no-one shall know my name!
No, no, I shall say it as my mouth
meets yours when the dawn is breaking!
And my kiss will break the silence
which makes you mine!
(No-one shall know his name,
and we, alas, shall die!)
Vanish, o night!
Fade, stars!
At dawn I shall win


(It's so much better in Italian...) 

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Random Thoughts From Verona.

A Disclaimer first. This will turn into more of a video blog as soon as I am back in Rome. The internet is simply too slow where I am to upload video in Verona.

Without further ado...
More Random Thoughts From Verona.
(The Winged Lion of Venice, a reference to St. Mark, or a Character from the Chronicles of Narnia? You be the judge....)

1)    I really value a language that puts such a heavy emphasis on the verb “to nap.”
2)    Washcloths could be America’s next great gift to the world, I anxiously await a shipment of them from the states thanks to my Mom.
3)    Venice has it right with all the canals, but the flooding of the streets at High tide has to be a constant reminder that the city is sinking.
4)    I am not sure how well a city can venerate the remains of a saint that were stolen from another city during the crusades (The remains of St. Mark were stolen by Venetians and brought back to Venice)
5)    The Lion with wings all around Venice looks like something out of Narnia.
6)    “How you like me now” by the heavy is a song that everyone should have in their I-Tunes Library, if only for it inherent ability to build self esteem, despite its poor grammar.
7)    The good people of the tourist industry will do everything they can to rip you off. For example, it was 104 degrees (40 Celsius) in the Dogge’s Palace in Venice on Sunday, we emerged looking for water in Piazza San Marco, and found a 2 liter bottle for 4 euro, which we though was a bargain until we saw it on sale for 50 Euro cents in the supermarket down the street.
8)    Once you know Italian, going to the Opera is like going to a broadway show, only the lyrics and music are better. The Turandot in the Arena di Verona makes Les Miserables (my favorite broadway show) look campy.
9)    That being said, it is easy to write poetry and lyrics in a langue where almost every word ends in a vowel.
10) Romeo and Juliet really loses its zip in Italian.
11) Itunes movie rentals are an important part of any expat’s sanity diet.
12)  A sanity diet are those little things that you do to feel a little bit more at home during a transition.
13) Everyone here seems to assume that: I play basketball well, I can throw a baseball well, I know George Bush/Barack Obama, and that all I really want is a cheeseburger simply because I am American.  Only one of these is really true, guess which one.
14) I responded to an email in Italian for the first time to an Italian Jesuit today. It was probably a hot mess, but I am still proud of myself.
I am glad that I got out of town before the Sox started to tank. 

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Random Thoughts from Verona.


     1)    Dental floss cost me € 4.50, that is like $5.60. The same amount costs much less in the states.

2)    Not everything costs more, and it all depends on where you get it, going to the outskirts of town makes things much much cheaper.
3)    Nuns are pretty awesome and we don’t treat them nearly well enough, the sisters here are pretty spectacular.
4)    Verona is extremely beautiful, now that I know how to get in an out of the town center.
5)    When one is going into the town center, one should remember to put batteries into one’s camera.
6)    Its hard to believe I have been here a week, it seems much shorter.
7)    No matter how beastly hot it is, I can find Gatorade nowhere.
8)    I was sitting in class today learning how to say we are afraid of something, when asked what they were afraid of, my classmates said “Tigers” and “Lions” one even said “An Elephant stampede” Then I realized that they were all from Africa and India and had, in fact, encountered these things.
9)    I love Pasta, but wow people, just wow.
10) I played basketball today with a bunch of people from Africa and India. I was picked first because I am American. In about three minutes the team captain realized his mistake.
11) Juliet’s balcony is easily seen from the street, unless you are taking pictures I can’t imagine why you would pay to get into the courtyard. That said, how Romeo could have gotten himself in there past the gate and over the three story walls is beyond me. (and yes I know its just a scene from a play, and that that house likely has nothing to do with it.)
12) I like that Verona is both cooler and quieter than Rome, I also love the air conditioning in my room. I have it set at 20 Celsius, though the cleaning lady keeps turning it back up to 24 (which is like 75, and is reasonable enough)
13)  I ate dinner with some guys who were speaking a Slavic language last night (rather than the Italian that we are all supposed to be speaking) I asked an Oblate of Mary Immaculate that I was sitting with f they were Russian, he told me they were, I asked them where they were from in Russia (In Italian of course) they all stared me down and told me they were from Poland…. Oops..
14) I am beginning to really like it here. 



A Few new ones...


-       I realized that my family is essentially from the West Virginia of Italy while watching TV tonight. I will be much more careful about making redneck jokes in the future. (there you have it John Brown, Kevin Dyer, Carrie McGrath, Megan James, and anyone else I would consider to be from “the South outside of New Orleans”)
-       I still want to go down to Calabria to see where my great grandparents were born, and I am still proud of my heritage, particularly if it is as bad as northern Italians say it is my grand father and mother are proof that there really is an American dream.
-       Went to a pizzeria in the piazza of a little Italian village with a nun from Burma, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate from Texas, a white father from Nigeria, and a seminarian from Cameroon who recounted his tale of staving off a lion.
-       I was shocked by how similar an Itaian supermarket is to an American one, found Powerade, it didn’t taste the same.
-       Can’t find Old Spice in Italy, they do have Gillette though. Something nice about switching to a brand with it’s “World Shaving Headquarters’ in South Boston.
-       6 words. Turandot in an ancient Roman Arena. Nessun Dorma… Nessun Dorma.
           -      I plan to go read Romeo and Juliet at a sidewalk cafĂ© outside of Juliet’s house, what are you doing with your Saturday afternoon?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A new look for an old blog.

For the past three years I have been teaching High School in Boston, MA, and this blog has been dormant. Now, however, I have moved to Rome and there may be need for a creative outlet again, so back to the Blog.

It is going to be different this time though, while I may still be posting some reflections, a bigger part of this blog will be dedicated to pictures and videos of my time here. I am going to try to focus on those things that the casual tourist might not see in Rome, and of course when interesting things happen over the course of my time in Rome, I may do some guerilla journalism as well to give you a sense of what the event was like on the ground. The first video will sum up the past three years, and the next will be a post from Verona, where I am studying Italian.

Ciao!

Mike