Monday, January 08, 2007

Rediscovering Italy

Returning back to Ferrara, I was infused with a fresh breath of determination. Here I was in not a strange new experience, but a place I have called and still call home. The nervous and tentative first steps trying to find my apartment had been replaced an almost second-nature buzzing step to via Garibaldi 27. So I dragged my suitcases down Medieval avenues ready to say my final hoorah to Ferrara.

I had been home for the holidays, two weeks of rest, food, family, and plenty of sleep. It had all caused me to reflect on the experience of being abroad. My mother and I tried to distill my best photos into a body of work for a possible exposition but I wonder what was the fascination with Italy, why had I become so visually aware in the Mediterranean boot under seemingly always-blue skies?

Being away for two weeks showed me exactly why. Things are not familiar, the architecture is always new, the details always strange and inviting, my eyes are put into overload by the vivacity of the colours, blue skies, bronzed skins, colourful fabrics. The everyday is anything but everyday. My eyes were peeled once again as the bus wound through the streets of Bologna from the airport to the train station, coloured stucco, arcaded avenues and a mix of so much history. Europe may not have seemed like to far a ways to go for a study abroad experience but Italy is not the same at all to North American culture. It is a feast for the senses.

Saturday, for example, was epiphany, a holiday I have never bothered to notice before in my life. The story is that epiphany is bascially a feast celebrating the revelation of Christ to the world which happens at the same time as the arrival of the Three Wise Men. The legend goes that the wisemen had a little navigating troubles, stopped by a house to ask directions but some housewife with a broom answered the door and said she didn't know and didn't want to tag along for the whoel Jesus thing. But upon closing the door she had second thoughts and wanted to see the Jesus child, but, not knowing the direction or who this Christ child was, decided in order to be safe to just give gifts to all the children along the way. Somehow this woman, la Befana, became a witch (the whole broom thing I guess). But it's a bit strange, it's basically Christmas but replace jolly old Saint Nick with the Wicked Witch of the West. So as I walked down via Garibaldi dragging my suitcases, I wondered what the hell was going on, seeing witches every where and thinking that Ferrara must really have the calendar wrong in 2007 having reverted back to Halloween. Not only witches but Sarah and her boyfriend spotted a procession of animals down via dell’Indipendenza complete with Roman soldiers on horseback, donkeys and beautifully groomed camels. All the while I was back in Ferrara, trying to study while the bells went crazy in the town square.

I am attacking my studying, realizing I need to distill my ideas to be prepared for oral exams. I’ve also realized that there isn’t that much studying to do, I have to balance it out with cooking, yoga and leisure reading. But it should be a high paced week. I feel my English being contaminated with Italian, trying to speak to Sarah’s boyfriend and finding the correct word only in my third language. Good thing I am only here for 2 more weeks, or else I may lose my English all together ;). Thus starts to final stretch of the Italian experience.

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