Monday we got to tour "the so-called crypt" under the duomo. A little over ten years ago a man was digging under the duomo check the foundation. He struck his hammer on the wrong part and the foundation crumbled. It revealed a previously undiscovered building under the duomo. Sound like Indiana Jones? It was pretty awesome because they still don't know what the building was and why it was hidden. Any guesses?
Tuesday I had an interesting lunch... Janessa and I went to the grocery store to buy lunch between classes. We found a cute little package in the cheese section for just 35 cents. It was called "lieveto." We had never heard of it before, but I decided to try it... All Italian cheeses are good, right? Well turns out it was yeast. Yeah... not the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. I'm not sure how I managed to miss the pictures of bread on the package. Won't make that mistake again!
That night I got to experience the community first hand. The director of our school is a member of the Torre (tower) contrada and he arranged for us to spend the night with the contrada. To explain this night I have to start by explaining a little bit about Siena. Siena is divided up into 17 neighborhoods. Each is called a contrada. Every contrada is assigned a mascot. I happened to live near istrice, the porcupine. Twice a year the contrade all compete in a giant horse race, the palio. Whoever wins is given the right to brag and party for the rest of the year. It is a really cool system because it creates a very tight knit community. We started our contrada night with a lecture at the school and then went to explore the church and the museum. It was SO cool to learn some local history. We ended the night with the weekly contrada dinner. It was really great to see all of the members socializing and to try some different food. The food there was a lot more rustic than what I normally have at home, but it was still really good.
In Torre's Victory Room
Our lunch table.
Trying my best to translate.
Jenessa and I on the farm.
Just chillin' with a bale of hay.
Sunday was one of the best days of my life. In the place of stake conference in Florence our group had a small devotional at our school. We talked about light and revelation. It was SO beautiful. All of the girls were so well prepared. The lesson help me make sense of things in my life that I had never understood before. After church Anne and I went to the fortezza to think and write in our journals. It was so peaceful and just what I needed. When we returned home Paola and Marco invited us to go furniture shopping with them. Anne and I said yes without even knowing what exactly we were getting into. They took us to an Italian designer store where the designer knew them by name. It was awesome!! Everything was so modern and innovative. After the furniture store they surprised us with a visit to San Gimignano. That city was so gorgeous and it was fun to go with Italians who knew all about the history. Also, San Gimignano is home to the best gelato in the world. Literally. They have one awards. Paola treated Anne and I and it was wonderful. I tried rosemary-raspberry and it was absolutely incredible.
In my dream kitchen.
Marco and Paola being adorable.
Yeah, I love gelato!
Could life get any better?