It’s interesting seeing the ways in which living with a Florentine family has impacted my view of Italy. From dinner conversations, I have unconsciously began to pick up some of Donatella and Enzo’s prejudices about the other parts of Italy. The stereotype of the south (which I don’t believe, but am just sharing) is that is dirty, full of crime, and full of disease. We watched a comedy about that in my Italian class. They also have a lot of prejudice against Pisa. When Owen and I told them we were going there for a class trip Enzo said, “You really don’t have to go there.” And when we told him we would only be spending a couple hours in the morning he said, “That’s more than enough” which is in stark contrast to what he told us about Rome – that you could spend a full week there and not see everything that there is to see.
Our trip began, middled and ended in the rain. I would’ve been more upset if not for Owen’s umbrella, which is fast becoming my favorite thing in Italy. He bought it for 4 euros (maybe less, he’s pretty proud of his haggling on this particular item so he might protest that he got it for 3.50 instead) and it’s in worse shape than my dumpster jeans. In actuality, I think he gets more wet using it than he would without one because the ends flap down like the sides of a bonnet and splash water everywhere like the ends of a free hanging tarp.
From the leaning tower of Pisa, we took a bus to Carrara, which was introduced to us by the guide as the place which defied all Italian stereotypes of having “good food, friendly people and altogether nice things”. Despite his lukewarm introduction, the trip was actually pretty cool – not because of the town, which people pretty much only care about because it’s Italy’s (and maybe the worlds?) biggest exporter of marble. All of the great Renaissance sculptors came up to the quarries to select their marble, including Michelangelo.
We split into smaller groups and got into Land Rovers, with guides that drove us up the mountain and down into the quarry. It was a crazy ride. We were slammed from side to side over the bumps, with the bumper of the car sometimes dipping over the edge of the cliff as we went around turns, so that the driver had to back up just to keep moving forward. The ground was slick with mud and it was pouring down rain, giving the impression that we were driving into the clouds.
Soaking wet and covered in mud, our group bonded more than we had in any classroom setting, huddling together under the few umbrellas our group had (no, not Owen’s) in a futile attempt to stay dry.
After another hour and a half drive home and the walk to our house, Owen and I couldn’t handle going out for dinner, so we bought Nutella and had that for dinner in our rooms. I think Enzo secretly likes us more because we don’t go out. It makes it seem like we’re ‘on his team’ instead of Donatella’s. Also, it sounds like all of their other students went out a lot – Donatella said they went clubbing 4 or 5 times a week, which only sounded terrible for me and Owen, who will probably go to a club once in our whole time abroad.