No, that is not a misspelling of the word "Chinese." Today, I took my first class in Italy: Liturgical Art and Architecture in Rome. We visited two chiese, or churches. The first was San Silvestro in Capite (which denotes that the head of the saint is preserved within the building, though there's no way of knowing if it's the actual one), and the second was Santi Apostoli. San Silvestro was a small church right beside the post office and political buildings, which, I noted, were comically empty; my colleagues chalked it up to vacation, but I don't buy it! Santi Apostoli was a short walk away and was much larger. It's a baroque-style chiesa that, like almost every other building in Rome, has been in existence since the beginning of time (that phrase triggered a reference in my head... anyone want to fill in the blanks?). I've posted some photos in my Flickr stream that can be accessed on the side of this page.
Before today, though, I met my host mother. Her name is Paola Pippia, and she is a single Italian woman who lives in the center of Rome. She traded her son for us. I'm just going to leave that there; do with it what you will. After showing us to our room (again, reference the Flickr stream), she cooked us a lovely dinner of pasta e salsa pomodoro, pollo, prosciutto, pane, e insalate. One thing I've noticed about Italian cooking: it is very simple. They don't douse their pasta in sauce, but it's more flavorful than anything you'd get in any Little Italy. Tonight, she made uno zuppa con ceci e pepperoni (which is a spice/vegetable, not disc-shaped meat), an assortment of cold meats, pane, e pomodori secchi, which were my favorite things ever so far. Pomodori secchi are sun-dried tomatoes marinated in their own oils with capers and garlic. They are absolutely delicious.
While eating, Paola does her best to squeeze some Italian out of me and corrects Jess' Italian across the table. I'm still having trouble thinking in Italian, but I think there's been some improvement since last night, considering the only word I said last night was "Si."
Oh, but I'm not finished with today. I also had to take a placement test for my Italian language and culture classes. The instructor was very nice and helpful, but I didn't do nearly as well on the oral portion as I can do. Got flustered; started talking about a movie about bombs and murder. Considering I'm not up to speed on that terminology, it didn't go so well. The written portion was much easier, though.
In between my exam and my first class, a few of the other girls and I ventured around the corner to a local bar, where I ordered un panino con zucchini e furto, and then to a gelateria. I keep forgetting to take pictures of my food, but this gelato was amazing - a combination of caramel and Nutella flavors on a cone.
The moral of the story is this: I love gelato. Mi piace il gelato. AMO IL GELATO.
TTPO - Ta ta per ora!