Well, folks, I made it. I’m here in Perugia, and I don’t think I could have chosen a more beautiful spot to spend the next four months. Every time I look out my kitchen window, the breathtaking view astonishes me. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe I’m here.
Today is my fourth day in Perugia, though it seems as if it has been weeks. Intensive Italian classes commenced yesterday, but our other classes don’t begin until next week. The Umbra Institute staff has kept us busy with outings and meetings, and I spend much of my free time exploring the city.
Perugia is a place frozen in time — a place where you can find multiple small grocery stores, clothing stores, pharmacies (farmacias), bakeries (paticcerias), chocolate shops (cioccolaterias), and gelato shops (gelaterias) in one small part of the city — not to mention the many, many restaurants in the area. The streets are made of cobblestone, and all of the buildings are centuries old. The gorgeous fountain in the city center, Fontana Maggiore, was built in the 13th century, and it is still functioning, when it’s not as cold as it is now.
The cold has been one of this Mississippian’s largest obstacles to conquer. Italy has rigid heating restrictions, and the heat is only really on for six hours of the day. For the past several nights, I’ve slept in flannel pjs, an extra shirt, and sleep socks, with three extra blankets piled on top of my comforter.
Other obstacles I’ve stumbled across were easier to predict: recovering from jet lag, overcoming homesickness, establishing a routine, finding a friend group. These are things I’m still handling, and I will probably continue to deal with them (sans the jet lag) for a little while longer.
I think that’s normal, though. And so far, I’ve had too many good experiences here in Perugia to think twice about my decision to come here. My first night here, some friends and I split a bottle of wine and got to know each other better. I went to dinner with some other girls last night, and today, another friend and I grabbed delicious pastries at a 150-year-old pasticceria. I’ve found (what I think will be) my running route, and I’m making a list of restaurants and shops to visit during my stay. I am confident that each day will be better than the last.
Above all feelings, I am grateful. I am grateful for the people I have already met here — their excitement and energy feeds mine. I am grateful for warm clothing, because without it, I think I would have returned to the US by now. I am grateful for the giant jar of Jif peanut butter that I brought along with me on this journey. I had to choose between keeping shampoo or the peanut butter in my overweight suitcase, and I know I made the right decision. Finally, I am grateful for my mom and my friends and family for being so supportive and encouraging of me during this exciting semester. Your love means more than you know.
I’m unsure how many recipes I will post on this blog over the course of this semester. I brought my camera with me, but Italians eat a late dinner (restaurants don’t open for dinner until 7:30 — sometimes later!), and I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to shoot recipes. But I’m keeping a journal during my time here, and I’ll update you all with the highlights from time to time. It will be good for my mother’s sanity, and for mine, too.
I’ll leave you with this: Today I took my first ride on the Minimetro, a European advancement that I think the US could pick up on. Here’s a view:
Fina alla prossima volta — until next time!
(^Yes, I did have to look that up. It’s only day 2 of Italian class. Ciao!)