Sunday, February 6, 2011

Parma e prima

It's only been a little over a week since I last wrote, and already I don't know where to begin.

Last weekend the group stayed in town and checked out some musei (museums) in Bologna instead of taking another gita (day trip) to a nearby town in Emila-Romagna.  One of these was il Museo del Palazzo Poggi, one of the musei universitari (university museums) which (sort of) focused on the relationship between science and art throughout history and could have been more aptly named "the museum of things rich old white men have collected since the 1500s."  The first room contained a wide variety of stuffed animals (for anthropological purposes).  Ranging from snakes to puffer fish to crocodiles, none were very cuddly.  The highlight of the museum was the display concerning the history of anatomy and anatomical instruction.  Among the paintings of distinguished professors past lurked wax models of deformed fetuses and a glass uterus with which medical students could simulate births.

A life-size model of (non-deformed) fetal twins.

Anne Geddes, anyone?

 There was an artist assigned to the Facoltà di Medicina e
Chirurgia (Department of Medicine and Surgery) at the
 University of Bologna who was tasked with creating all
of the wax anatomic models.

Bodyworlds, anyone?

The prize of the collection was the Venerina (little Venus), a life-size wax anatomical model with removable organs fashioned in the shape of a reclining nude (complete with a wig made from real human hair and a three string pearl necklace).  She was beautiful but, shall we say, slightly off-putting.

La Venerina.

Between the Palazzo Poggi and the hall of skulls that I walk through to get to class every morning, I've certainly seen my fair share of insides in Bologna.

Fortunately, the majority of my time here is still devoted to interacting with live bodies.  This past week Matteo and his friends came over to my apartment for dinner.  I provided the dolce (dessert), a cheesecake made from my Italian roommate's recipe, and then six Italians swept in and took over my kitchen to provide the rest: spaghetti with a sauce made from fresh cherry tomatoes.  Before, during, and after dinner and dolce the eight of us enjoyed several bottles of wine and a lot of laughter.  It was an evening delizioso e divertente (delicious and entertaining)!

The night before that, however, was more mysterious that entertaining.  Several of us in the Brown group ended up with 5 tickets to see "Il flauto magico" (The Magic Flute) at the opera house in Bologna.  Little did we know, it was actually "Il PICCOLO flauto magico" (The LITTLE Magic Flute), which turned out to be the children's version including only the arias in German and sections of Italian dialogue in between.  These were presumably meant to clarify what was happening, but the plot remained entirely mysterious to all of us, especially since the costumes and staging said less "Mozart" and more "Tron."  Yes, Tron as in the Disney movie about a boy trapped inside a video game.  The general consensus of the group after viewing the hour-long spettacolo (show) was that this was an example of experimental theatre that didn't quite work (or, as Simon put it, blasphemy).  It was certainly quite an experience.

To return to the previous theme of cibo (food), and more particularly the theme of cibo delizioso (delicious food), part of the group had a cooking lesson on Friday with an Italian chef, during which we made three pasta dishes from scratch (as in beginning with nothing but eggs and flour): tortelloni e ravioli con burro e salvia (tortellini and ravioli with butter and sage), tagliatelli con ragù (tagliatelli with meat sauce), e orecchiette alla vegetariana (orecchiette with a sauce made from tomatoes and a whole lot of roasted vegetables).  

Lubin learning to use the pasta machine.

La cena (dinner) at various stages of preparedness.

 Not only was cooking together a lot of fun, as always, but this time the result was extra-delicious.  Some people in the group said it was the best meal they had ever eaten and I think we all ended up with Thanksgiving-style stomachaches afterwards.  Worth it!

This Saturday (also known as yesterday), the group took la nostra ultima gita insieme (our last trip together) to Parma, a town in Emilia-Romagna known for its cheese (parmigiano, better known in the US as parmesan).  In the morning we explored the city with the help of a fabulous guide (with an even more fabulous outfit).

La nostra guida.

Members from the Partito Democratico handing
out flyers calling for Berlusconi's resignation.

The sign reads: "Resignation.  Berlusconi
humiliates the country."

The opera house in Parma.

The reconstructed remains of a theatre bombed during WWII.

After walking around the city and enjoying a delicious multi-course lunch, some of us decided to go exploring in the park.  People-watching, duck-feeding, and snowball-fighting ensued.

Strolling through the park, Abbey Road style.

Rob attempting to feed the ducks with a dead leaf.

The patch of snow that provided ammunition for
the snowball fight.

Action shot.

As we were walking through the park speaking English, a little boy heard us and said to himself, "Ma che dicono?" ("But what are they saying?").  Adorable.  Less adorable was the guy who approached us on the train and proceeded to sit in the aisle next to Marie, getting in the way of everyone trying to walk through the train car.  He still didn't move even after she rejected his offer of marriage ("Sei di California?  Mi sposi?" / "You're from California?  Marry me?").  He only (grudgingly) left when the train reached his stop, which was fortunately not Bologna.

After that, we made it back to Bologna without further incident.  Now it's time to get down for some serious studying for my history exam tomorrow.  Oral and in italian!  What fun!

A presto!


  1. Mi piace molto il tuo blog e le foto da questa fine settimana. Leggere i graffiti e i segni aiuta il mio italiano contemporaneo. (E la prima foto in Facebook presenta una pittura divertente e un po confusa . . . E ricorda: "Don't make shooting!") Ma sopratutto, mi piace che ti divertiti molto! Ti voglio bene! Papà

  2. Oooohhh. Potremmo fare queste paste insieme a Saint Louis? Le voglio molto.

    p.s. keep a look out on your mail box. you may be receiving notizie di peru...possibly far far in the future. mi manchi molto

    mo mo