I knew it would happen sooner or later. I’d get a headache from studying all this Italian. Today was the day. Since it’s Monday, classes tend to change, and new people can start.
I have the same teacher, but we’re in a different room. Since all the women in my class left, the men (the French guy, the Korean guy, and the British guy) and I were joined with another class. Two of the girls I recognized from last Tuesday’s dinner. There were eleven of us all together. But then during the morning break, we got two brand new people who had just arrived and taken the test this morning. So now there are thirteen of us in class.
I don’t know if it’s hearing Italian spoken in all these different accents or if the class is just getting too tough for me, but I felt a headache come on in class. The discussion part of class is just really, really hard for me. I started thinking about how Elizabeth Gilbert said it took her until almost the end of her four months in Italy to feel like Italian had opened up for her. Before I left for Italy, I asked a friend how long he lived in France before he felt comfortable with it. Again, it was about four months.
So the sad truth is that after two weeks, I still won’t be able to do much more than buy bus tickets, order food, and ask where the bathroom is. But that’s not terribly surprising. Isn’t there that basic “rule” that you have to do something for at least 10,000 hours before you become an expert? I’m a long, long way off from being an expert in Italian.
After class, I talked with one of the new girls. She’s very young and from Russia. She asked me right away if I spoke English. Si, yes. Then she asked in English if I knew a good place for lunch.
So a little while later, we were eating at a small restaurant, and here’s the crazy thing: We’re in the same level Italian, but I was the only one of the two of us to even try Italian with the waiter! Of course, with me all she wanted to do was speak in English because she said she didn’t have a very good English teacher back in Russia. It certainly is interesting hearing about people’s experiences in their home countries.
After lunch, I came home for a bit to work on homework and to take an ibuprofen for my headache. Then I took a short nap. By the time I was ready to head out again, Marcella was just coming home.
I took the Metro to the Barberini stop and visited the Museum of the Capuchin monks. This is where thousands of dead monks’ bones have been used to decorate a series of small chapels with elaborate designs. You’re not allowed to take pictures inside (and they really are quite strict about their rules here), so I have none to show you except the outside. You can find pictures online, however, if you’re interested in the macabre. Personally, it was a lot less creepy than I expected.
After that, I walked to Santa Maria della Vittoria. It’s a smaller church, but well known for a statue of St. Teresa of Avila designed by Bernini.
The statue depicts the moment St. Teresa had a vision of an angel piercing her heart and filling her with ecstatic joy. It was quite controversial at the time because some people thought it looked like St. Teresa as having a little too good of a time.
Unfortunately, the statue is placed up kind of high, so you’re looking at it from below.
I had an hour left to get back to school for our evening activity, so I walked over to San Crispino, the gelato place Elizabeth Gilbert mentions it Eat, Pray, Love. No disrespect to the people at San Crispino, but this was an awfully small portion for 3,50 Euros!
Also, the gelato was covered up, so you couldn’t see what anything looked like. The flavors I had (honey and vanilla with bourbon) were fine, but not worth the extra price. I suspect they get a lot of business just based on Gilbert’s book. So far, I prefer Giolitti and Old Bridge for gelato.
Tonight at school we had their “tandem night.” Everyone put on a name tag with the languages they speak. Then we headed over to the area around Castel Sant’Angelo where there is a park-like setting and tents are set up to sell food. (Think neighborhood street fest if you’re from Chicago.) People bought beer and/or wine, and some of us also got some food (pizza, fries). Then those who were interested played at the free outdoor foosball and ping pong tables. I talked with my Polish friend Ela and a university professor from Belgium. Again, I can’t get over how incredibly international this school is. I met two sisters from Romania this evening and a young woman from Holland.
As we were sitting there enjoying our drinks and the beautiful evening (seriously, I’ve lucked out on weather; it’s been way cooler than you’d expect Rome to be in late July), I realized that we were basically in the same spot I stood in with some of my pilgrimage pals for the Canonization Mass. How funny that I was back in the same place but for something totally different!