This afternoon, Ben took Emily and I to a beautiful town called San Galgano, about a 45 minute drive from Siena. San Galgano is mostly famous for the "spada nella roccia," - the sword in the stone, which now has a church built over it, and another early 13th century church which is mostly run down, but still has really pretty architecture inside.
It's hard to believe that our two months here has come and gone. As excited as I am to come home, Siena will always hold a special place in my heart. I thought the sunset was the perfect ending to our wonderful stay in Tuscany.
I'll definitely miss cypress trees.
I'm still trying to figure out if this is where Disney got their idea....
When our group came to Siena, our numbers more than doubled the branch... and there's only about 30 of us total. It has been such a wonderful experience to get to know the members of the branch and learn from their example, testimony, and commitment to the gospel.
Unfortunately I don't have a picture with the members, but this is our entire BYU group with the Branch Missionaries.
Probably one of the coolest things that we've been able to do for our Branch is help them with their genealogy work. Their genealogy center here has hundreds of thousands of names that need to be entered into the church data system. After spending our Tuesday and Friday nights at the Church, our group entered in about 50,000 names.
The branch made a poster for all of us to sign for the bulletin board. You probably can't read it, but it says that we completed 48.000 names from 9,000 different families- from the years 1562-1732. Even though there's still a lot more names to do, we were all more than happy to be able to do our part.
To the Everett Family:
Our BYU Professor, Peter, his wife Leah, and their three kids have been our second families on this trip. I'm sure it can't be easy to handle 24 students... especially when they're all girls. But we've had so much fun getting to know them and learning from Peter's endless pool of knowledge- not just about art, but about anything in general.
And last, but not least, our host family:
They were more than we could have asked for I will miss: -having Ben as out personal chef and culinary teacher -finding my room surprisingly clean everyday after coming home from school... even when I forgot to make my bed -two full-time comedians at the dinner table -excursions to unknown places in Tuscany -and of course, chestnuts...they will forever remind me of my Italian family
I'm almost positive that our school is the only place where our professors not only cook us a gourmet, 4-course lunch, but serve it to us too! Our farewell lunch consisted of: spinach and carrot sformato, trofie with mushrooms, turkey with a sweet apple sauce and apple tart. Oh yeah, and unlimited bottles of fizzy water... my favorite. We'll all miss it. Who wouldn't, right?
Don't get me wrong, I really do like Calamari... occasionally. But I think I've eaten enough calamari in the last three months to last me a lifetime. Our second seafood night was complete with not only calamari... but also clams, crab, octopus, mussels and tuna. It probably wasn't my favorite night of cooking, but I guess now I can say I'm "cultured" since I at least tasted it...
Last day of cooking at school- Our Italian teacher Enzo, translates, and Nando on the right is the head chef.
mmm... tentacles. I definitely didn't taste those.
Had to take this to document two things: 1-Italians only use fresh ingredients 2-Anything similar to FDA rules are nonexistent.. obviously. haha!
Yesterday marked that last day of class here in Siena. Here's our group with our Humanities teacher, Alessandro-with the dark hair- and our Italian teacher, Enzo-with no hair. Our teachers have provided us with countless memories that we'll probably laugh about for years to come. After tomorrow, I'll officially be done with school for the semester. Wish me luck on finals!
This weekend we decided to see the side of Siena that we hadn't really been to yet. After living here for two months, I was amazed to see so many things that I never knew existed! We started at the Medici Fortress, which makes up a big part of the city wall. The walls are probably about 30 ft high, but on top of the fortress is a really scenic park with great views of Siena.
The Courtyard of the fortress
The Campo tower on the far left, San Domenico, and the Duomo on the right.
Birthplace of St. Catherine- who is famous for convincing the Pope to come back to Rome from Avignon, France after the division of the catholic church.
Part of the cemetery in Siena. Italianscelebrate memorial day on November 1st, so the entire place was decorated with flowers.
These next pictures aren't from Siena, but we spent the day in San Gimignano on Friday. Since it's one of my favorite places in Tuscany, I thought I would post a couple pictures.
Emily, Jo and I had been planning our trip to Milan for over a month. We were so excited that we were able to get reservations to see Da Vinci's Last Supper AND opera tickets for the weekend that we were going to be there. Despite a few minor mishaps and pouring rain, we had an amazing weekend.
The Duomo in Milan is absolutely amazing. The facade is probably one of the most ornate in Europe. The interior really cool too and there was even an organ playing! We also got to climb the roof of the cathedral and see the city from above.
However, the highlight of our trip was definitely the Opera at La Scala opera house. We had tickets to see "The Merry Widow," which is actually a German opera, but there were English subtitles. The scenery and the costumes were incredible.But probably my favorite part of the Opera was the fact that we had our OWN opera box! If you're ever in Milan, I recommend getting tickets to an opera. Definitely the experience of a lifetime!
The Last Supper was also really awesome to see in person. But, unfortunately, we couldn't take any pictures. We only got to look at the fresco for about 15 or 20 minutes, but our tour guides gave us so much information about it that we probably would have never known otherwise. Since the fresco is so deteriorated, there is actually only about 30 percent of the original fresco, the rest has been restored with water color.
On Saturday before we headed back to Siena, we took a train to Lake Como, to the little town of Varenna. The lake is in the Alps and is on the border between Italy and Switzerland. We saw our first snow of the season in the mountaintops, but the temperature was really nice in Varenna. Two interesting facts about Lake Como: George Cloony has a house there, and it's also where one of the new Star Wars films was filmed. Anyway, we only had a few hours in Varenna, so we spent some time exploring the town, found a sweet pier to relax on, and then had some great panini's before getting on the train back to Milan.