26 Feb | Perry Lavin | No Comments

Monday, February 26, 2007: Florence, Italy

Many times I have read and heard that it doesn’t dawn on people that they are really in another country until they are in the airplane looking at their new, temporary home, or when they land and get into the airport, or when they are in the taxi going to wherever it is they have to get to when they get to where they are studying.

My realization of actually living in another country for an extended period of time didn’t happen until about a week after I arrived. It was night and raining lightly. I had nothing to do so I decided I would go for a short walk. After getting lost for about two and a half hours I was tired and frustrated. I was angry at myself for getting lost, and at Florence for having streets that are impossible to navigate even with a map. Finally I found myself at a familiar sight, the Cathedral of Santa Croce. This place had confused me earlier in the day because it has a blue Star of David in the middle of two gold crosses. I couldn’t figure out if it is a synagogue or a church and stood in front of it for a long time pondering it’s purpose.

When I found myself standing in front of it for the second time that day it looked beautiful behind the light drizzle. Glitter seemed to be slowly falling all around me and the church was the only solid mass in the world. This is when I realized I was not only some place new but in a place that would change my life.

For a while I was frozen and then it came to me that I could actually get home now. I was wet and ready to be home so I started running down the streets of Florence as fast as I could until I was home.


14 Feb | Perry Lavin | No Comments

Wednesday, February 14, 2007: Florence, Italy

This weekend my roommates and I decided to go to Venice for the opening weekend of Carnevale. We left Saturday morning at 6 AM. The night before I didn’t get much sleep, so I was already a little silly from exhaustion. I was running around the house singing loudly and doing little dances. Then we got on the train and I passed out until Venice.

Venice is an incredible city. It has no roads, only waterways. What you walk on is nothing more than narrow sidewalks that seem like they were designed after the trail of snakes. On both sides of these thin walkways are three or four story buildings. This makes Venice a claustrophobic’s nightmare. This is especially true when it is Carnevale and the streets are packed with people running around in masks.

Along with my roommates and I were three guys and three girls that I had met that morning. The first thing we did when we got off the train station was sat around confused on what to do, where to do it, and how to get anywhere if we knew the answers to the first two questions. So we just started walking looking at a map in the most touristy way possible. Going into this whole European Adventure I decided I would never act like a tourist. I quickly found out that this is impossible since in fact I am a tourist. I am in a perpetual state of constant tourism.

After guessing through streets for only about 15 minutes we came across the most famous mask shop in Venice. This was pretty lucky since I wanted to get a mask. After looking at the prices for about 30 seconds I decided this wasn’t the place for me but everyone seemed to be looking at masks so I stuck around. Then my roommate Mark came up and told me that they were leaving.

We then followed signs to San Marco square. This is the kind of place where you feel closer to God. San Marco Cathedral is a work of beauty that words couldn’t possibly do it justice. A picture is merely a joke to actually being there. There are a million pigeons in the square and if you hold bread they will swarm on you and it’s like wearing a bird suit. You would swear that if they wanted to they could pick you up and fly you to the top of the cathedral.

I found my roommate Mark and we decided to go into the church after we drank a bottle of wine. A good bottle of wine in Italy is about 2 to 6 Euros. These cheap bottles are better than 15 dollar bottles in the U.S.

The inside of the church was a spiritual experience. Also inside the church I had a talk with Mark and we found out that both of us are interested about the souls of man and God. This was a bonding between us and since I have found that almost all of my roommates are interested in talks of Divinity. We have big dinners and they always end up in a deep discussion. Being in the heart of the Renaissance inspires all of us.

After we left the church we went and had lunch at a pretty bad place. This was the first bad meal since arriving in Italy and I had been so taken away with Venice that the meal disappointed me a bit. This experience now serves as a reminder to choose what I do with a little bit of care.

We met up with a couple of the others and went into a small church and a couple of glass shops. Venice has beautiful hand blown glass everywhere. After going to the grocery store, we went back to the San Marco square and found everyone that we had come with. We watched a great musical show, and decided that indeed we are living the good life. Two of my roommates had found a cheap place to buy masks so I went to go buy one. I bought one that is a jester with a smile that appears as though he is planning something mischievous. When I wear him, I am a sly devil – all of a sudden the masks didn’t feel strange because I was part of the whole thing.

Late that night, we found a little place to eat and it more than made up for the first. I had ravioli in brodo (ravioli in chicken broth). It was incredible. Then we got dessert. I got something made of caramel that jiggled something gross and I couldn’t eat it so my friends Alley and Corey ate it. After dinner we decided to get some wine and go back to San Marco to watch the night show. The show was interesting. There were dancers and good music and we danced some.

The show ended and we went walking around the town. In no time at all we found a huge party in the middle of the streets. There was a DJ and drummers (not very good drummers but entertaining none the less), and fire dancers. We danced for a long time and then decided to go find another party. The next one we came to was a huge drum circle. It was fun but the drummers weren’t very good and they wouldn’t let me play, even though I’ve been a drummer for almost 5 years.

I decided I couldn’t take partying or bad drumming anymore so I went to sit on a bridge. The bridge was set off from everything else, the water was deep black, and the place was serene. Also it was far enough away from the drummers so that I couldn’t hear them. The bridge was incredibly relaxing and I laid down thick concrete guard rail and looked up at the sky. Everything was very peaceful. I laid there and laid there and then looked at my clock and it was 4 in the morning and I knew we were about to leave for the train station. This was a great feeling. I love Venice but enough was enough and I was going to be happy to get back home.



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