Tag Archives: todi

The Only Reason I Get Out of Bed in the Morning (I Have To)

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Ah, my arch nemesis. Mornings.

It’s 8:30am, and I’m half asleep on a bus rolling through the Italian countryside. Despite not having slept much the night before (thanks, jet-lag), my brain is screaming at me: “Open your eyes! There are beautiful mountains and sunrises and views to see! You’re going to miss it and regret it forever!”

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Okay, maybe my brain was onto something. Those mountains were stunning.

To which my eyes reply “No.” and stay shut until 10am, when we finally arrive in the beautiful medieval village of Todi and my friend shakes me awake.

The trip to Todi was the grand finale to Temple Rome’s orientation week- a day trip up to Umbria to explore Todi, followed by Titignano. It was not to be missed. Yet at 6:30am, when my alarm went off, I considered doing just that for a concerning length of time.

Look, I like to travel, but I also like to sleep. A lot. And I know- deep, deep down- that if I didn’t have something explicitly planned every day, I would do exactly that. All day. I know, I know, I’m in Rome! There’s so much to do!

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The view from the top of the “Wedding Cake” in Piazza Venezia, featuring the Colosseum and the Foro di Cesare. So much to see!

Well, that’s where the absolute genius invention of the “class excursion” comes into play. It’s exactly what it says on the tin: an excursion to somewhere that is not the room class is usually held in, that is part of the class. They can be large weekend trips, like the trip my roommate will be taking to Berlin for her art history course, or small, hour-long trips to nearby museums and monuments. And the best part of all: they’re pre-planned. So all I have to do is get myself to the designated meeting point (with my cell phone this time), and everything is good to go. It’s all the fun, sightseeing-and-picture-taking parts of travelling, without the tedious scheduling, booking, and paying parts.

So far, my favorite class for excursions has been my Rome Sketchbook class. We’ve visited local churches, the Colosseum, and the gorgeous town of Tuscania. And we get to just sit, absorb the beauty of it all, and draw.

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The view from the park in Tuscania

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My (attempted) drawing of said landscape from class

It’s one thing I do like about my classes (aside from the fact that only one is very early). They’re really integrating our surroundings to the lessons. For Sketchbook, we get to apply the techniques we’re learning to drawings of Rome- perspective in churches, contour on statues and paintings. It’s a really immersive way to learn about Roman art, as you have to pay attention to every detail if you’re drawing it.

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Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli- home of Michaelangelo’s Moses, pictured here. Also note, the reclined figure at the top- that’s a pope, in a very Etruscan pose. The Etruscans believed in eating in that position, and their meals could take hours.

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Another drawing from class, this time a close up of two of the statues from this wall- specifically our reclining pope friend up top there

In my theatre class, we aren’t just learning about Italian theatre, we’re going to plays- I’ve already seen one, and I haven’t been here three weeks! It was an amazing performance of Filumena Marturano at Teatro Quirino (right next to the Trevi Fountain, which was still packed even at 11:30 at night. Oh, Rome…)

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A quick little selfie of yours truly in the Teatro Quirino sign, after seeing Filumena Marturano. The play uses dialect from Naples, making it even harder to follow

I think it’s a really fantastic way to learn, by getting out and into my new home for the next four months. It also gives me really interesting perspectives I wouldn’t have gotten from audio tours or brochures. Being able to have class on location (I’m getting flashbacks to warm days in high school, where at least one student always asked “Can we have class outside today?”) also makes up for that fact that, well, I actually have to go to class while I’m here. This isn’t a vacation, it’s school as well.

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This is what an excursion looks like- we’re not just hanging out and taking pictures, it’s work too!

But most importantly, I like that it forces me to get out there. One of the things I wanted to accomplish while in Rome is to become more adventurous. I am a textbook introvert, and nothing sounds better to me than a quiet night in. I want to explore, but sometimes I need a little push. Or a big push. Or someone to say “We’re going out!” and to drag me out of my room and into the world. So these excursions are both making sure I’m doing something here, but also showing me really unique parts of Italy I wouldn’t have even thought to see if I had been left to my own devices- like Todi.

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The village of Todi in Umbria- all of the streets look like this. I couldn’t believe some people actually live here, it seems so picturesque

Our day in Umbria ended with the largest meal I have ever had in my life. It was several courses, and hours, long, filled with food I had never tried (I’m looking at you, wild boar ragu) and people I hadn’t met yet. It was a great evening, and I was glad I hadn’t let my cranky, tired self stay in bed that morning.

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So super cranky to be out of bed, being forced to see nice things and eat good food. So terrible.

Now, it’s a matter of continuing to go out. This coming week consists of two museum trips, and a weekend away from Rome, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well so far. But we’ll see…. Until next week! Ciao!

Totally in Love with Todi

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     The moment I landed on Italian soil, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Traveling to Italy has been a dream for me since I was a little boy and that dream has finally become a reality. This first week in Italy has been full of pure joy, uncomfortable situations, absolute awe, culture shock, and beauty. Our orientation week was packed full of events including a tiramisu extravaganza, a visit from the US Embassy in Rome, a scavenger hunt and walking tour around the city, and of course free time to explore. However, my favorite part of orientation week was visiting the gorgeous town of Todi.

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     Todi is a tiny Medieval hill town in Umbria, Italy. We visited this past Saturday and had the opportunity to look inside the incredible cathedrals, wander the cobblestone streets, take in the astounding hill top view, and of course, grab a cappuccino. It is important to note that you should never order a cappuccino after lunch. Order a cappuccino at 8pm and Italians will look at you like you are crazy. Also, you should know that if you order a latte, you won’t get what you expect. Order a latte, and you will just end up with a cup of steamed milk. If you want what we consider a latte in the United States, then order a caffe latte. After some trial and error, I have finally learned how to properly order coffee in Italy.

So finally after enjoying my cappuccino in Todi and seeing the sights, we took a short bus ride to Titignano, where I discovered an even more beautiful view. We arrived at our destination in Titignano, a gorgeous castle where we would soon enjoy the meal of a lifetime. As we ate our antipasti, I was in complete awe of the view from the hilltop. It was beautifully green as far as the eye could see with a winding river coursing through the various mountains. No picture does it justice. Finally, we were ready to go inside and begin the rest of our meal.

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     As I sat down, I knew I would have to pace myself for the many courses we were about to be served. We started off with tasty cheese and meats before moving on to pasta. Next was a scrumptious rice with my personal favorite vegetable, asparagus. Then we had our main course of meats including deer, lamb, and chicken. Each one was delicious and we also had incredible wines to enjoy with our meal because it isn’t a real Italian dinner without wine! I learned to start with white wine and then move on to red. Never go from red to white or switch back and forth. After the main course, came dessert which included tiramisu and biscotti. I will admit that this tiramisu was much better than the tiramisu I made during our tiramisu extravaganza at orientation. Paired with dessert was a dessert wine which was very sweet, but perfect to dip your biscotti in. I was completely stuffed, but all of the food and wine was so amazing that it was totally worth it. If you can’t tell, I’m very passionate about food and wine so this was a perfect way to spend one of my first days in Italy. Our meal was also topped off with an enormous cake celebrating Temple University Rome’s 50th anniversary and a shot of espresso. I think I’m slowly becoming a coffee addict.

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     After our meal, I walked outside again to find that the sun was setting over the mountain tops. This unbelievable view after probably the best meal of my life took my breath away. I stared out over the horizon and took it all in as I thought to myself what an incredible semester lies ahead in Italy.

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Sunday Fun Day and Good Food

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We are here!! at 8 in the morning....

We are here!! at 8 in the morning….

Window view of Todi

Window view of Todi

Some students hiked it up the hill to Todi while others took the lift

Some students hiked it up the hill to Todi while others took the lift

Students in Todi

Students in Todi

After a long bus ride and exploring Todi, we sat down for a much needed cappuccino break.

After a long bus ride and exploring Todi, we sat down for a much needed cappuccino break.

The 'after shot' of group photo. Students were exciting to start eating!

The ‘after shot’ of group photo. Students were exciting to start eating!

It was a bit windy in Titignano, as students looked out at the gorgeous view.

It was a bit windy in Titignano, as students looked out at the gorgeous view.

Little appetizers for hungry students. The pizza trays never even made it to the table.

Little appetizers for hungry students. The pizza trays never even made it to the table.

The banquet hall wasn't big enough for all the students to sit..

The banquet hall wasn’t big enough for all the students to sit..

The new dean was surprised with a huge cake to celebrate her 1st semester at Temple Rome

The new dean was surprised with a huge cake to celebrate her 1st semester at Temple Rome

Ciao da Roma!

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I have just begun my 6-week adventure studying and living abroad in Rome, Italy for the summer! In the few days I have spent here, I can already tell that Rome and Italy are incredible places. Seeing this is my first post, allow me to begin by introducing myself. My name is Laura Detter and I am a rising junior at Temple University studying international business and political science. Upon entering college, I knew that I would definitely study abroad somewhere at some point in my collegiate career, and here I am in Rome!

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Before I took off from Philadelphia my experience with the Italian culture was limited to information from the internet, books, friends and my study of Latin in high school. I honestly was not sure what to expect when I touched down in the Eternal City and became completely immersed in the Italian culture. Was I going to be able to survive knowing very little Italian? Was the city going to be as amazing and magical as everyone talked it up to be? Was I only going to eat carbohydrates for the next 6 weeks? While the answers to these questions may take a little longer to formulate (I’ve only been here for five days!), I can already tell that my time in Rome will be more than I expected.

As a part of our three-day orientation to the program, we visited Todi, a small hilltop town 2-hours north of Rome in Central Italy.

We stepped of the bus at 10a.m., hiked up a few hills and finally made it to this medieval town in the morning fog.

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The town was still quiet, except for a market in the center square that was selling everything from flowers and herbs to clay owls and lemon plants.

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We were provided with a map, but like most eager travelers we figured we would just explore (and that was the best decision!) We walked through Todi’s narrow, stone streets and alley ways and stumbled across this beautiful lookout on one side of the town!

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The view of the Italian hills and homes dispersed over the landscape was incredible! I could have just sat on this ledge for hours.

It was humbling to sit here and realize that for thousands of years people have lived and traveled to this town. When the United States citizens think of history it only dates back to 1776 and the birth of our nation, but to think that this town was home to people in the 7th Century BC is unbelievable.

We had the opportunity to spend only 2 hours in Todi before we moved on to our 14-course, ALL hand-made Italian meal, typically served at a traditional Italian wedding banquet. The food was mouth-watering.

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Along with our meals, the hosts served four different types of wine for different phases of the meal. First, white wine was served with the antipastos (like appetizers) and then red wine was served with the main courses. Finally, we had desert wine to dunk our almond cookies in and champagne to make a toast for an amazing next six weeks.

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Here’s to the “dolce vida.”