Quaint towns, hot baths, and allergies

For some reason, I was under the delusion that I would have my life together while in Italy this summer, but time management is just as difficult (or maybe even more so) here as it is in the States. I already established that I would blog after our group returns from somewhere, whether a day trip or an overnight adventure somewhere. Well, after the most recent visit to San Gimignano, Siena, and a day at the San Giovanni thermal baths, I spent a day or two popping Benadryl and sleeping off a photoallergic reaction to sunscreen. Seriously, how does that even happen? Anyway, I’m only a little bit itchy and blotchy from that minor setback, and I apologize for keeping you all anxiously waiting for my update. I hope to be more timely from here on out. In sticking with the theme of time management, I have to harp on myself for just a minute. I considered taking the kinesiology class for a while as an easy way to stay active while consuming absurd amounts of gelato on a regular basis. Two things: I am glad that I was talked out of taking kines because I dislike 7 in the morning just as much here as I do at home, and rather enjoy sleeping as much as possible every day. Secondly, I love gelato, I do, but I do not like eating it every single day, much less multiple times a day. I rather treat it as a delicacy, indulging my tastebuds when the sun is blazing down on top of me and I need some sugar energy in anticipation of scribbling furiously in my moleskine for an onsite class. Just like at home, there are some days that I plan my day around when I will get to take a nap. Just like at home, I rely on my planner to keep some sense of structure to my life and hold chaos at bay. None of these are bad things at all–I just point these few details out and chuckle at my pretentious expectations of the lifestyle I would lead in Italy this summer. Truth is, I’m the same Jantzen, slightly modified to an Italian-paced summer.

Now that I’ve tactfully explained that I’m lazy here just like I am at home, I’ll move on to the adventures of the past week or so. I believe I last left off with my love for cooking school. Unfortunately, my only interactions with the kitchen since that wonderful evening include cleaning the dishes, but someone’s got to do it, and I cautiously admit to not actually minding it that much (plus I’m getting paid to do it so I can’t complain even if I wanted to). So quick overview of what we’ve done and seen in the month of June thus far. One afternoon, we climbed the Duomo and saw pretty things. I gave a presentation in italian class and absolutely butchered the language, my formal apologies to all Italians everywhere. Peaches and cherries accompany every meal that I eat. I finally don’t feel completely lost every time I go into Florence–if I can get to one of several main squares, I know my way to tram and back to the infamous hill to the villa. And I think that probably wraps up a short summary of days spent at the villa. Lots of napping, lots of yapping, lots of homework, and a solid effort to stay in touch with everyone back home!

Now on to the meat of this post (not literally)–our trip to San Gimignano, Siena, and the thermal baths. San Gimignano was a quaint little town rich in history…this also happens to describe almost every town in Italy, so I’ll try to be a little more specific. San Gimignano is known for its towers. Once hosting 72 towers within its walls, only a few now remain, but they mark the sky with their stoutly presence and I can’t help but dream up stories about the inhabitants of those towers back in their prime. Another interesting historical facet of San Gimignano is that its Piazza del Duomo is home to the judicial, political, and religious centers–it’s peculiar for all 3 to reside in one square, and that’s my nerd side being more fascinated than most with the history of the town. I spent a fair amount of time shopping in my time in San Gimignano. The streets are filled with adorable little souvenir shops, lots of leather shops, and stores with beautiful royal blue and yellow ceramics. I could easily go back and take in the sights and sounds of San Gimignano for a couple more days. Half a day had to suffice, as we boarded the bus and moved on to the city of Siena. Again, quaint little city rich in history, but it never gets old because each city has something a little bit different to offer its visitors. Siena is home to the Palio horse race. Standing in its giant center square, I can’t imagine it full of people with all the hustle and bustle that coincides with the ultimate minute and a half race. The main church of Siena was interesting as it held the styles of 3 different artistic time periods and is home to works from some of the greatest sculptors in history. Siena served as a very important city in terms of trading and traveling and perhaps the influx of pilgrims are the reason that so many stylistic periods are reflected in the art and architecture of the city. From Siena, we went to Certosa di Pontignano and spent the evening at this monastery. We had a picnic in the garden and enjoyed a pretty sunset and group devotional before collapsing into our beds because wow, that was a really long, very full day. Still yet, we had an early start on Saturday morning as we set off for the San Giovanni Terme. I wasn’t sure what I was headed into–hot baths on a 90 degree day had me a little worried, but San Giovanni Terme was a dream. It was essentially a day spent at a poolside resort. I wore sunscreen (the repercussions of that move were unfortunate, but at least I didn’t burn), spent time in each of the different temperature sulfur pools, and lots of time lounging beside the pool reading a book. It was a perfect day of relaxation after the preceding whirlwind day. We returned to the villa that evening at which point, I come full circle in my story. Twas a wonderful few days, and I post this now as I prepare for departure to Rome on Thursday. Speaking of which, I should probably study for my test tomorrow on Rome and wrap up the other studious things that come with taking 16 hours of classes amidst a summer in Italy! Ciao for now!

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One thought on “Quaint towns, hot baths, and allergies

  1. Jantzen in Italian! Interesting how so many things are the same no matter where in the world you find yourself: sunscreen, naps, sunshine, foliage. But each place offers its own specific flavor of history, architecture and beauty (or the lack thereof)! Marvelous experience.

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