I feel as though my lack of updates has put me in a real hole since now I have to play catch up on all the events since my last post. Wish me luck.
For this week's classes (which go Monday-Thursday) each student was broken up into classes according to his/her previous experience with learning Italian. In accordance with my lack of speaking skills I was placed in the 101 (or beginner) class. Starting every morning at 9am each class would meet to discuss basic vocab and grammar structure before breaking for 15min at 10:30 only to come back and continue until noon. After a few hours for lunch, a siesta, or stroll around town (or all three), the class would meet once more for what the school dubbed "Survival Italian." Now while the name may imply something a bit more extreme (I thought it would be an Italian version of Man v. Wild) it was simply just a class where we learned how to do basic things like ask for directions, order lunch at a cafe, and go to the grocery store. It even included a few field trips where we could practice our newly learned Italian "survival" skills with the locals. One of the field trips was an excursion to the "American style" supermarket in the newer part of town--a few stops away on the mini-metro. To be completely honest, I found this to be a rather depressing trip given it replaced my perception of all Italians buying their groceries at a local "mom and pop" corner store with that of the "bulk mega-shopping center" that we find here in the U.S. The only real highlight of the trip was finding this....
With our week of intensive Italian over I decided to switch into the more intensive 110 course which meets for an extra 2hrs every week (as compared to 101 which meets only 4hrs per week). I figure I'm here, so I might as well give it the college try.
Since we don't have class on Friday I decided to ride over to the village of Assisi--about 24km south east of Perugia. In fact the two towns are so close that if you were to walk down to the south end of Corso Vannucci (the main street in Perugia) and look east you would be able to see, perched beneath the largest mountain, a condensed collection of white marble buildings--this is the town of Assisi. Made famous by St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, the environment and one of two patrons of Italy, this place is a pretty popular landmark for the Umbria region. Unfortunately, Assisi has a reputation as being kind of a tourist trap, however since I technically am a tourist I guess it's OK that I go.
Starting out the day I had the plan of riding to Assisi, riding up and down the streets, taking in the various sights and perhaps stopping at a cafe for an espresso and lunch. Waking up, I ate a breakfast of yogurt and fruit--something which I've grown quite fond of since yogurt in Europe is extremely good--and a mug of espresso (yes, I said mug). From there I got dressed and was about to walk out the door when I decided to check the weather since our professor informed us that Perugia tends to have sporadic rains at this time of year.To my dismay I found that there was a 60% chance of rain ALL AFTERNOON! (Thanks weather.com....).
Rain or shine however, I planned on getting to Assisi.
As I left Perugia I meandered north out of the city on some back roads and through numerous little Italian villages. Some of these towns were so small in fact that you could literally stand at the sign indicating you were entering the village, look down the street, and see the sign indicating you were leaving. However, regardless of size all the towns had one thing in common, they all utilized every inch of space for either grapes, or olives.
As I got back on the main road to Assisi I could see in the distance a large collection of mean looking clouds off in the distance. Rain...
My ride back to Perugia turned out to be a lot less glamorous than my ride out....mainly because I got lost on this really industrial road with cement trucks, bulldozers, etc. Fortunately, before I got lost I was able to snap some photos of some pretty cool churches.
While on my way out I even planned on stopping at a cafe to get some lunch but this sign deterred me from going...