Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Different Perspective

Today Matt took us on a walk to a monastery on one of the hills opposite Orvieto. We climbed and climbed and each new pit stop revealed more of the fantastic cliff retreat that is our home. At the top, we walked through the monks' gardens and olive orchards (do you call them orchards?). Matt and Sharona's kids (Silas - 5, Ronan - 3 and Kiara - 11 mos) were a joy. They have tons of energy and are starting to warm up to all their potential babysitters! (We have a ton of pictures, but the uploading here is next to impossible. There is free WiFi nearby, so on the day off tomorrow, we'll catch up on all the updating.)

Penn and I needed some refreshment after the sunny hike so we indulged in our first "Coke Light" since we've been here along with a Kebap Panini from a little shop. My Italian needs some work...but we made it through and I'm pretty sure we paid the right amount...

We are going to Rome on Saturday! Did we already mention that? Matt is bringing us on what he is calling an "ambitious Rome trip." It sounds like he's going to be packing a lot into the day, but we couldn't be more excited. I'm sure there will be lots to tell after that day.

The Ash Wednesday service in the duomo was incredible. I understood none of it, but to be inside Orvieto's famous cathedral and to get ashes ground into my hair by an Italian priest was once in a lifetime. Penn was exhausted from his day, so he stayed home for reading and a nap. We're quickly getting used to the Italian tradition of shutting everything down from 1-4 for "pranzo"(lunch) and "pelo" (nap). How these people make any money I have no idea.

Well, for now, off to my own nap before dinner! Ciao.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pizza and Tours

We had our first Italian Pizza a couple of nights ago! It was wonderful. Lots of different kinds and just kept coming out of the kitchen onto our plates.

Today we got a morning tour of the city from the History professors. We went around to the various churches and important spots in terms of the progression of this city since the middle ages.

Then, in the afternoon we got another tour of the city from the Italian professor, who is a local 20-something wonderful girl named Laura. She showed us all the important cappuccino places, the free internet cafes and the cheap clothing stores.

A good day. Gotta run! Ash Wednesday Service tonight!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Quickly...Our Skype username is:


If you're ever around your computers from 11am - 12:30pm EST, we'll be here waiting! Please add us to your contacts and also let us know your various usernames so that we can Skype you.

Penn started classes today...Italian History (taught by Tal & Agnes Howard) and Italian Language (taught by Laura, our Italian RA).
Grace started a book, a puzzle and her first of many nun-observations.
We both re-started our Gelato addictions. Pistachio Gelato is perfect.

Photos take forever to upload, so we will look into comparing the upload times for flickr/facebook/blogger.

(Just Skyped with Aaron!!!! Now it's officially an addiction on par with Gelato.)

Love you all.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Torture Toss-Up

There are millions of things to say, but little time to say them. So, here's a quick story:

Both the air and the water at the monastery are heated by very expensive oil. The way it works, the oil can only devote itself to one or the other at a time. So, when our rooms finally reach a bearable warmth level, the water has to be cold. As a method of saving money and getting around this weird situation, the whole system is on a timer so that the heaters only come on for pertinent periods of the day and only in specific areas. We have to time our showers for when the heaters are not on. That means, when you're finally cozy in the air, a warm shower to top it off just isn't an option; and when you finally get a semi-warm shower, you're stepping out into frigid air. Believe me, we're as confused as you are. Nonetheless, we're learning to appreciate monastic life, shivering and all (and by shivering I mean shaking so much that you can barely squirt the shampoo into your hand without flicking it all over the shower walls)! Though, when you finally finish, dress and head out for the day, attending Mass at a church built in 1004 pushes shivering right out of the mind...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

We made it!

Arrived at DaVinci Airport. No explaining necessary at customs — they didn't ask a single question about anything. We met Matt Doll, the director of the program, as well as one of the art professors. We then got on a bus for an hour and forty-five minutes, which brought us to Orvieto. We then had to haul our luggage up a few cobble-stone streets to the monastery.

There are active nuns (though we haven't seen any) and yes, there is a monastery cat. Our room has the most amazing view of the surrounding hilly landscape as well as the rest of the town below.

We unpacked and organized everything, went to orientation meetings and then proceeded to a "light" lunch at Locando del Lupo (the contracted restaurant for our stay). Great bread, pasta and a stuffed turkey dish. After lunch we took a brief walk around town, familiarizing ourselves with all the landmarks. We got to see the duomo, which is in the middle of a large piazza.

There appear to be many places to get lost in, including numerous small shops, gelaterias and cafes.

We can't wait to explore it all . . .

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Here's the address of the monastery we'll be in:

Monastery San Paolo
Via Postierla, 20
05018 Orvieto (TR)

Send us brown paper packages tied up with string.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

First Post

We're not in Italy yet.