mercoledì, giugno 20, 2007

TODAY I HAD A GREAT local Italian experience. During the afternoon I was wandering around some of the older streets in Old Cagli and discovered this small store sandwiched between a macelleria and an apartment building. The sign on the wall was made of porcelain tiles and was intricately painted with a light blue and pinkish flower design, with the local artisan’s name going down the tiles. I decided to go in and explore.

The store was filled with porcelain pieces painted in the traditional Italian style, with plates on every wall—clocks, vases, urns, and all types of things. The most exciting thing about the store was that it doubled as the artist’s studio. She had a desk off in the left back corner where she sat painting her next creation. She had tons of small black clay bowls filled with different color pigments. On the side of the desk was what looked like a tea tray that had small unpainted and unpolished pieces. In the middle of the desk, there was a raised platform with a light perched on top of it to help the artist to see what she was painting.

She sat with her black apron and slowly dipped her dainty paintbrush in the colors and applied them in small, intricate patterns on the small plate she was painting. Before each application of paint, she would re-wet her brush in a mason jar filled with a murky brown colored water.

It was a great experience to be able to actually watch a small portion of how the beautiful pieces were made. I’ve been places in Italy before and have seen similar pieces, but I had never seen anybody make them before. Actually being able to experience that made the pieces and the experience much more authentic for me.
-Kathryn Gregory

The Beach

I WAS EXPECTING Italy to be warm and sunny throughout my stay here, but it’s been consistently cool and rainy. When I noticed that the weather seemed to be clearing up, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to the beach, so instead of going with the group to Venice on Monday, I decided to get a group of girls together to go to Fano.

The bus we had to take to Fano was way different than the public buses in New York. This bus was much more like a coach bus than a public bus in the US. It had large, cushioned seats upholstered with itchy fabric with nauseating neon patterns. Every seat, with its own moveable armrest, reclined. Each seat also had its own air conditioning vent with personal controls. I was pleased by the comfortable travel accommodations.

When we finally got to the beach, the sand was covered with rows upon rows of orange and yellow umbrellas. As we walked closer to the water, we realized that there wasn’t actually any sand. Instead of sand there were smooth rocks. Since the rocks looked so smooth I assumed they wouldn’t hurt my feet so when we got off the boardwalk I immediately took my flip-flops off. And immediately put them back on. The rocks were indeed smooth, but they were so many different shapes and sizes that the surface wasn’t flat at all.

After I tanned long enough to sweat I decided to swim in the clear but chilly water. It took me a while to get used to but once I finally went under it was extremely refreshing. I swam out to deeper water and noticed that the ground was no longer rocks, but something that looked like sand. I was afraid to go under and touch the “sand” because it could have been quick sand and I didn’t want to drown, so I safely hovered above the ground.

When I got out of the water I put on my ipod and lay down on my stomach. I was shocked and mildly amused when two little boys, about seven years old, poured water on me from a juice box. Katrina and I played with them a little bit but they got too into it so we made them stop. We didn’t want our electronics to be inundated with water.

Hopefully I will finish my web site in time to go back to the rocky beach next week.
-Alex Cirillo

lunedì, giugno 18, 2007

A View Worth the Climb

SWEATING AND PANTING, Father Bruno and I reach the top of the mountain’s ridge. “There they are. Look right over there,” Father Bruno tells me. I frantically look around, but it takes me a minute to see them, because their coloring so closely matches the rocky area where they are located.

“I see them!” I shout, which causes the mother goat to stand. Her baby remains seated, but looks in my direction as if to say, “You’d better watch it. My mom will kick your butt.” I decide moving closer might not be in my best interest.

I’m standing on the top of a mountain and the beauty in all directions is something that I cannot adequately describe. I mean, I always try to be a descriptive writer, but I just don’t think there is any combination of words that I can give you that works, so I’m not going to try. You’re just going to have to make the climb yourself. I swear, you won’t regret doing it. However, I suppose I should give you a few suggestions.

First, wear long pants. I didn’t, so heed my advice. Unless you don’t mind scratched legs. Mine look pretty rough, but it is not like they hurt or anything. It is just that the cute, short skirt I was going to wear tonight is no longer an option. The flower pattern of the skirt does not go well with striped legs.

Second, don’t bring a camera. I know, I wish I had mine, but you need both hands to get here. Yep, you have to do some climbing, because the ridge is rocky and steep. Oh, by the way, don’t grab the bushes and attempt to pull yourself up. The bushes are thorny. That’s how your legs get so scratched. Plus, the thorns prick your fingers and that hurts. In addition, we all need our fingertips in top shape to type our stories.

Third, bring a tissue. You might find yourself shedding a tear. It is so amazing up here that it is an emotional experience. It makes the trip to Cagli worth every penny. You forget the less than ideal classroom setting; the snail’s pace internet connection; the limited equipment; and the seemingly impossible deadlines. None of these struggles matter up here. The only thing that counts is your ability to see and feel this moment in life.

I hope you come here. Father Bruno will bring you, and I’ll come again too if you don’t mind. I’d like to see your face as you look at the city of Cagli from the top of the mountain; as you see the goats resting on a narrow ledge; and as you look at the side of the mountain with the multi-colored flowers. I promise the view is definitely worth the climb.
-Cindy Dew

"In Topless"

I WENT TO THE BEACH this weekend in Fano with my roommates, or landlords, their baby, and the babysitter. The beach was stunning and the water was beautiful and clean.

I noticed that the Italians are very comfortable with their bodies. Ninety percent of the men were wearing Speedos. Ninety-nine percent of the women were wearing bikinis.

Later that day, when I went for a swim, when I came back to the group, the babysitter was topless. I was shocked and immediately felt awkward. It just seemed inappropriate… she was the 45-year-old babysitter—she shouldn’t be topless in front of the family she babysits for. I realized that nudity is more acceptable in Italy.
-Lauren Pappas


I BECAME VERY SICK TODAY and yesterday. I had not eaten seafood in large quantities here before and I stopped by the fried seafood stand at the market and proceeded to stuff my face with calamari and shrimp. Shortly after that I came down with a fever and sharp stomach pains.

Apparently according to Laura, you can get prescription drugs here without any kind of a prescription. I haven’t investigated this but I can see how this could be true. It makes me think about how healthcare here is free. This boggles my mind. Life would be so much easier for everyone if this was true in the States. People who needed treatment but couldn’t afford it could now get healthy. I think that there are a lot of things that European countries do that the U.S. does not that would make the U.S. such a better place. Italy as a whole just has such a different way of life. Coming from a country like the U.S., it makes you see that there are different ways to live out there past your own way of life.
-Catherine Leung

The Bigger Picture

TWELVE MORE DAYS before we go home and this experience is over. Not that I’ve been counting down the time or anything, just been reflecting on time spent, lessons learned, and new voids filled in my heart. After hearing and witnessing many horror stories concerning homesickness, cultural mismatches, and project overload, I find myself focusing on the bigger picture—this experience as a whole.

Opportunities such as this one come once in a lifetime for some and are golden gifts to those who make note of the special things trips like this can offer. Not only has this project helped me with my skills in communication and journalism, it has introduced me to people with everlasting impressions, taught me how to better work with others, be quiet when needed, speak when the time is right, and better understand Chanel and the path she wants to take.

This experience has been beneficial in other ways that I hadn’t imagined and I’ll be bringing home a lot more than what I came with… I try not only to receive knowledge from lessons, but also wisdom from life! Class is in session!
-Chanel Grundy

Free Drinks

MY THIRD WEEK IN THE GRAND CITY of Cagli, Italy has seen a great deal of “bonding” with the locals[…]. Twice now, I have been offered multiple free glasses of beer and wine from one particular ocal who I now know as Roberto. Roberto, in his broken English and heavy accent, tells me the reason why he buys myself and others so many drinks is that “USA and Italy are like this” (he says that of course while putting his two index fingers alongside each other).

The generosity of the locals… can also be seen at the “wine bar”, where Seven, [the bartender] and I are on a first-name basis. Twice now I have been offered free shots by Seven at points in the night where I very much wished I was back home and in bed. The first time, a shot of absinthe was taken between myself, Seven, and the rest of the guys in the program. Knowing the illegalty of absinthe in the United States, I was hesitant at first about enjoying such a pleasure. My hesitation was thwarted however when Seven threw his arms around us and said, “You are my friends now, we all drink!”

The second occasion happened just a few days ago[…]. We were all tired and planned on having only a “few” drinks before retiring home to our beds. Seven was playing some sort of dice game with one of the locals, which piqued my interest. My interest was not ignored, as Seven soon after came over with a shot for me to take. I asked to see the bottle so I would know what I was ingesting. Seven maintained that I could after the shot. I did so, to find that I had drank a 95% alcohol shot with a drop of strawberry.

The point of recounting my drunken tales is to prove a point about the locals here in Cagli. The best part about living in a city such as Cagli is the fact that everyone knows each other, and even if they don’t, they are open and welcoming enough to make an effort to know you. Never in the United States would you run into a random guy outside of a bar who would not only buy you a couple of glasses of free wine, but take the time to get to know you as well. If that did happen in the States, I would imagine certain perhaps immoral actions would be expected on the part of the receiver of the free drinks. I myself would want nothing to do with that.
-Reid Johnson


SO I WENT to Douglas’s house yesterday because I had to interview his wife[…]. [Something I noticed] while at their house is that their televisions do not even compare to the TVs in America. In their home and in other houses I have been in here, I notice that they just have one little television in the entire house. This TV is basically the size of a TV that Americans have just in one room of their house. It’s funny to see that their only TV is the standard size of America’s “kitchen-type” TV.

Although this may not be the case in all Italian households, it seems about right that they do not watch TV nearly as much as Americans do. I find it rather humorous to think about how we have huge flat-screen TVs that basically fill up the entire wall in each room of the house—it just shows how Americans can sit in front of the TV all day and how important electronics like that are of so much more importance back home than they are here. Just another example of how lifestyles are different. Since I am not much of a TV-watcher, I think I could get used to the Italian way of not really watching or even owning a TV in my house… something I think many Americans would struggle with. Kind of sad to think about.
--Kathryn Lacey


WHEN IT IS GROSS AND MUGGY OUT, my first instinct is to throw on a t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants as the day’s outfit. The gray and dreary weather on Wednesday and the fact that it was 7am gave me no choice but to put on my most comfortable clothes and head to class. The Wednesday market was in full swing an hour later, after Italian, and I browsed through the stands with a couple of friends until it was time for the next class.

People generally tend to stare when I am walking past, I guess since, in a small town, the Americans really stick out. But people were staring so hard and long and it was so obvious that I had done something wrong! I would walk past and people would actually turn their heads to look at me.

It wasn’t until I realized that they were looking down on me (literally) that I realized they were staring at my sweatpants. I guess Italian girls (or boys, or men, or women even) don’t typically go out in such casual attire. I guess I understand that, but it was just interesting to me since the standard outfit of choice at any given American college campus consists of a t-shirt and sweatpants. People that get dressed up for early class are crazy (to me at least). I wonder what the Italian girls would think about that?
-Lea Faminiano

The Speedo

MY SECOND DAY AT THE WATERFALL was awesome. […] Most of the younger guys, I was happy to see, wore board short bathing suits, not like a majority of the men at Fano, who I noticed wore Speedos. Still, there were a few in Speedos, which the Italians thought was totally normal.

Since there is only a small area of rock that is flat enough to lie out on and tan, we were a little crowded. One of the guys in a Speedo was lying on his stomach, and one of his friends lied down on his back perpendicular, using the first guy’s rear end, covered only by a Speedo, as his pillow! I was shocked to see that Italians, especially men, are so very comfortable with their bodies!
-Mary C Schell


LOOKING OUT ONTO THE MOUNTAINS, I can’t help but wonder whether depression is even physically possible in Italy. Driving through beautifully green fields with exquisitely colored flowers laced throughout the edges of green and brown forests, breathing in the freshest, purest country air—how could anyone be unhappy in a place like this?

I wonder if they are so used to it that it doesn’t faze them anymore. The way I walked swiftly and nonchalantly past the Empire State Building every morning on my way to work, yet people come from all the way across the world just to see it. Do they pay as little attention to clear flowing rivers as I did to the twin towers? And would they miss them as much when they’re gone?

America is full of thick, smoggy air, dirty streets, dried up, dying plants (if any), flat, boring countrysides, and either tall, ugly buildings or small, broken-down townhouses.

So, looking out onto the mountains, I wonder, would America still be America if it looked like Italy? And would Italy still be Italy if it looked like America? Somehow, I seriously don’t think so.
-Rebecca Albert

giovedì, giugno 14, 2007


ENTERING LOCAL STORES and diners in America, one may see a sign that lets the potential customers know- no shirt, no shoes, no service! When here in Cagli, I’m starting to wonder if anyone (store owners) have thought about customers having allergies to animals.

Just the other day, myself and my roommates decided to get a bite to eat. We had been serviced and were finishing a conversation when a man walks in with a huge pitbull. In the U.S., this would never happen—unless, of course, the operator of the store owned a dog (a “store dog”) and customers were naturally aware the dog existed.

We were not only frightened-- we were a little confused. We began to look around with bizarre expressions and started asking each other questions, since we aren’t as good as we’d like to be in speaking the Italian language.

“Cultural mismatch!” was what I yelled, “You’d never see that in the United States!”.

One thing that I have noticed, however, about the pets are that they are just that and are well taken care of and loved. So someone with allergies should worry, but being frightened is totally unnecessary because most of the animals (dogs and cats) are just like the people here: warm, happy, slow-paced walkers, and familiar with this small town… Cagli.
-Chanel Grundy

Quite off the Beaten Path

AS I BEGAN TO REALIZE that my friend wasn’t going to make it to Cagli until almost an entire day after he landed in Rome, it really began to sink in: we are in a very isolated location.

“The Eurorail is amazing, fast, convenient!” I heard before I left. “You will travel so much!” they told me. Well, I’m pretty sure if they told that to [my friend], he’d be ready to argue a different point. Even under the expert guidance of Father Bruno, our trip to nearby Florence took between five and six hours each way.

The bottom line: Cagli is like a small Vermont hill town: beautiful, serene, safe, and quite off the beaten path. For me, these places are wonderful to visit, and not so nice to live in.
There are plenty of perks to residing in a small town. In Cagli, my dollar, or shall I say euro, goes far. Yesterday I got a huge cone of two flavors of gelato, whipped cream, and a cookie for the low, low price of 1.50. Nightly my friends spend only two or three euros on big mixed drinks—drinks that would be about eleven dollars back in Philly. At Caffe d’Italia and Caffe Commercio, we pay minimally for food and libation, sit in a lovely outdoor terrace, and then neither pay a seating fee, which is typical in larger Italian cities, nor are we encouraged to tip, which is absolutely expected anywhere in America.

On the downside, coming in at number one this week, is the lack of modern technology. I haven’t taken a hot shower in two weeks, I’m constantly fearful that I am going to burn myself if I try to light my gas stove, and as a result find myself eating fruit and cereal often. And although I finally figured out how to manually ash my clothes, they have been sitting on a drying rack for the past two days, damp and unwearable. I miss my dryer, my microwave, my electric oven, my hot water heater… and more. But there is a lot to enjoy and be thankful for here in Cagli, so that is what I plan to do.
-Mary Schell


TODAY WAS PACKED with many events. The first couple were kinda weird. While walking to class I noticed a black woman at a local grocer. She dropped what she was doing and embraced me. She spoke little English but what I did understand from the conversation was that she lived here and that she never noticed me before. She asked how long and why I was here. She seemed kind of disappointed to hear that I was leaving in two weeks. Because I was already late for class, I cut the conversation short and ran to class.

As I was walking home from class to my apartment, I noticed a black man. When he noticed me and my roommate, he came running – literally! Slightly out of breath we exchanged where we were from. He could tell we were Americans and immediately told us we would visit since he has a green card. I found that to be funny, but he was dead serious. He told us he was from Africa and studying dentistry in Florence. He was in Cagli just trying to sell some African artwork.

[…]I had so many questions to ask him about the profession he aspired to work in, but the noises in my stomach made me cut the conversation short. […] We took his number and said our goodbyes.

What made these two scenes culturally mismatched was that seeing a person with the same skin color is so rare around here that they all embrace each other lovingly. Back in the States, seeing other blacks is so normal that we don’t embrace each other when we see one another.
-Melanie Edwards

Real Life

SOME OF THE STUDENTS who are taking part in the Cagli program seemed a little uneasy when they first arrived in Cagli, noting the size and population of the town. I found it funny when returning on the bus [from Florence] on Monday how many people were relieved to “get back to Cagli” so that they could take a break from the stress and noise that is Florence. I find it funny, because until coming to Cagli, most of us were used to and even embraced a chaotic schedule, involving college, working, and a heavy social life. I may be stretching here, but I feel like a good number of the students involved in the program have already begun to embrace the slower life that one finds in Cagli. People were so ready to get back from constant noise and motion that smiles literally crept across their faces as we turned the corner and caught our first sight of Cagli. I joked with my friend that night that this, Cagli, isn’t “real” life. I said that, of course, while sitting on my terrace overlooking Old Cagli, backdropped by an amazing sunset. Well, it may not be “real” life, but now, while we are here and can enjoy it, I must say it’s pretty damn good.
-Reid Johnson

A Big Generalization

I'M GOING TO GO AHEAD and make a big generalization, then I’ll attempt to justify it, but it’ll still be a ridiculous claim. I think that overall, Italians appreciate and enjoy life more than Americans do. It just seems to me that every thing is a little more relaxed here. Everyone runs on “Italian time”, which means it’s okay to be up to a half an hour late. Even businesses seem to open and close pretty inconsistantly. L’Angolo pizza shop has a hand-written sign in their window promising that they will reopen each day after pausa at 4:30pm. However, I have been there at 4:30 several times and rarely does that seem to be the case. They sometimes open their doors at 4:45 or sometimes even later. Work is not their main concern here. Whereas, in America, all anyone seems to be focused on is making money.

Actually, nothing here seems to ever be rushed. The only time Italians ever seem to be in a hurry is when they’re driving. This makes absolutely no sense to me. It seems to contradict everything else I’ve observed about their culture. I guess maybe they just like driving fast. I probably would drive fast just for fun too if I knew there weren’t any police around that cared about giving out speeding tickets.

But anyway, that’s my observation. Italians are generally more laid back and happy. Their main concern is enjoying life rather than rushing through it to get ahead. […] So maybe that’s a really broad assumption to make, but that’s what I’ve been observing about the culture here pretty consistently as of late… is this displaying a tendency to evaluate?
-Katie Koepfinger

A Visit to the Hospital

DURING THE COURSE OF MY EXAM, the doctor ordered some x-rays of my back to be done. So Giovanni and I headed down the corridor to the proper room. When it came time to step into the room, the technician indicated I would need to take my shirt off, so I obliged. However, after examining my underwire bra and seeing the metal snaps on my shirt, the technician indicated that I could wear neither. It became readily apparent to me after a few seconds that he fully expected me to take off everything from the waist up. With no hospital gown in sight, I wasn’t about to stand around topless in front of two men. I would never even do that in front of my female friends!

The technician clearly got my point, let the room, and returned with a clean, packaged white gown. I knew they had to have them- it just seemed odd to me that it wasn’t just offered first. Doctors just don’t expect you to wander around half naked!

Other than that, I was amazed that I walked out of the hospital with no charge and the medicine that was prescribed only cost five euros. In the United States it would have taken me weeks to see a doctor or the emergency room bill would have come to over $1,000. It makes me wonder about the level of heath care in the U.S.. It is touted as having the best health care system, but does it really? If citizens are slaves to insurance premiums and overwhelming medical bills, is that really an improved quality of life?
-Tami Dixon
IT SEEMS AS THOUGH Americans are all about extremes. The worst thing that’s ever happened—at least twice a day, the nicest person they’ve ever met—every other introduction, the slowest computer they’ve ever experienced—every time the clock face comes on the mouse on the screen. So, naturally, Americans constantly create stereotypes as soon as they meet someone or go somewhere and correct them as they go along. “Italians are so friendly!”—that is, until one of them doesn’t stop in their car to let you cross the street… then they’re vicious, impatient assholes.

I, on the other hand, being the model citizen that I am, have attempted to stray from the rude American’s natural instinct to judge a people as a whole based upon a single incident. In light of this brave attempt, I have become a sponge to the puddle of Italian culture, absorbing by observation every aspect I witness and rejecting any thought or judgment that seeps through my pores.

Thus far, I have been able to infiltrate the cultural barriers that generally cause the nose to crinkle and the mouth to turn down when Italians say: “the Americans”. I can sit in the wine bar with Seven, Domi, Francesco, and their Italian friends and watch them interact, like Jane Goodall in the forest of culture.

When Reid walks in the room I observe a sudden change in the atmosphere—in their attitudes—like a foreign species which the chimps must be careful around, not sure if they can trust the spider-monkey. Yes, we are all monkeys, but calling a chimpanzee and baboon is just as bad as calling an Italian an American.
-Rebecca Albert

A Run off the Beaten Path

…into the hills of Cagli

I was a little sore and tired from my run the day before. The Italian air is different and the terrain challenges a runner’s legs to test new levels of endurance and strength. The all-American iPod helps here—tremendously and gratefully.

I ran many pathways. Some led to fields filled with red poppies floating in a meadow; some led to quaint homes richly colored with gold, green, and terra cotta; some took me to chicken patches while others led me to vistas my eyes has never seen. I have officially redefined the term ‘eye candy’. […]

Can I bring Cagli back to Greensboro?
--Debbie Schallock

Festa della Repubblica

[IT WAS] FESTA DELLA REPUBBLICA. I was expecting a big parade with bands, banners, and babies, but all we got was one band, many balloons, and every public official (plus their city vehicles) in their uniforms with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The mayor gave a speech, kids released their balloons, and the band marched around the piazza… once.

Not that I didn’t have a great time, though. I love to see the people of Cagli and how much they love and respect their city. […] One more observation that I made[…]: every parent let their children run about the piazza with no worrying. In America, no parent would let their child out of sight at a big event like that.
-Claire Davis


WHEN I WAS IN FLORENCE, I was walking home from a bar with Catherine. We walked past a group of boys riding bikes and drinking beers. Catherine was so concerned for their safety so she told them it was dangerous. Their response was “I want to like your kiwi, and eat your fruit!”. We had no response so we just walked away hysterically laughing.
-Stephanie Meros


DURING THIS PAST WEEKEND, we went to Florence. I was expecting it to be similar to Cagli, but was shocked with how incredibly different life is there. Florence is so utterly Americanized. It is horrible. After being in Cagli, Florence lost some of her sparkle. People in Florence consist of mostly tourists and a few Italian natives.

Don’t get me wrong. Florence is beautiful, but it is lacking the raw, unadulterated traditional beauty that characterizes Cagli and towns like it. I guess this is true of any large city. One can expect that it would be greatly touristed. This saddens me because I think that the most important part of traveling and exploring is experiencing the occasion as a whole. It’s the small things about a place that make it so memorable. I just came to realize this. I am typically the kind of person who enjoys large cities and places with a lot of hustle and bustle. Florence had all this, but for some reason I really missed Cagli.
--Catherine Leung


ON WEDNESDAY MORNING I woke up bright and early at 6am to get ready to go truffle hunting for my news story. Douglas picked Tami, Kristen, Dave and I up at the Esso station and we piled into his blue Volkswagen Passat station wagon to go meet his friend, Francesco Rotondo, to go truffle hunting.

We met Francesco at a gas station in Acqualagna and headed out to the truffle fields. Francesco’s dog, Sheila, bounded out of the car the second we pulled off the road. She happily greeted all of us as we were introduced to Francesco. He explained that we would be walking about 1km from the cars up to the truffle fields. I started asking questions and Douglas spoke while all the while I was trying to take in the scenery. To get to the truffle fields we hiked up a small path that is used by the wild boar who live up on the mountain and eat the truffles. On either side of the road trees, bushes, and yellow broom fell over the path creating an almost serene nature picture.

Once the path cleared, more of the landscape could be seen. The truffle fields overlook a huge region of the Marche. We were high above the valley, which looked like a dull-colored patchwork quilt in the early morning mist. The colors were natural and simple and showed the simplicity and slow pace of life of the region we were in.

We veered off the path to walk through huge sunflower fields that would be in high bloom in August. It was ridiculous trying to take in all of the scenery and colors while trying to follow Francesco’s Italian and Doug’s translation. Francesco talked about how Sheila would find the truffles and the best places to look for them. Sheila happily ran around with her nose to the ground, seeing if she could find the next hidden truffle. Francesco slowly watched Sheila and encouraged her to find the truffles. Sheila responded excitedly and very positively to Francesco’s encouraging words of “find”, “seek”, “where is it”, and so on.

Sheila sniffed near the branches of a small oak tree growing on the side of the hill. The hill looked barren, with no grass, as truffles tend to kill all of the grass in the area near where they grow.

Sheila’s small black frame started to excitedly move as her tail wagged back and forth. The front part of her torso leaned forward as she started to dig the earth away, putting her nose first so she could still detect the scent. Francesco took his small digging spade and helped move some of the larger rocks out of Sheila’s way as she kept up the frantic search for the truffle. Suddenly she stopped digging and turned away. I stood there wondering if her actions were all a charade until Francesco started to congratulate the dog and give her a treat from his left pocket. I then noticed that Francesco had a small, black, pumice-looking stone in his right hand, which he slowly rubbed dirt off of. He passed the truffle to me and let me smell the distinctive yet pungent smell of the small truffle. I smiled as he presented it to me as a gift.
--Kathryn Gregory

mercoledì, giugno 13, 2007

The Waterfall

KATRINA AND I WERE FINALLY ABLE to find one of the waterfalls yesterday, despite the inadequate directions we had. After scurrying down a winding street with no sidewalk, dodging cars for fifteen minutes, thinking that we were going the wrong way, we came across a path leading to the water. I was immediately disappointed by the sign forbidding visitors to swim since it was finally a nice, hot day, but we continued down the narrow path, swatting bugs away from out faces. I definitely recommend wearing sneakers to traverse the steep path down to the river.

When we finally got to the flat rock that we could lie down on, I felt that the walk was completely worth it. The waterfall area was so calming and peaceful. I was pleased that the only sounds to be heard were the waterfall and the chirping birds. Even though Cagli isn’t a bustling metropolitan city, it was still relaxing to not hear cars whizzing by and motorino horns honking for a few hours.

I was surprised that this secluded area only had one beer bottle and a few cigarette butts strewn about. If there were beautiful places like this in America that were not closed after dark they would be inundated with beer cans and bottles. When we scaled the rocks and dipped our feet into the ice cold water, I was glad that I could see straight to the bottom of the unpolluted river that was swarming with fish. I hope it stops raining so we can frequent the waterfall more often.
--Alex Cirillo


THE FIRST FEW DAYS I WAS IN CAGLI, I thought that there was at least some pattern to the traffic. I thought I was good if I stayed to the side of the road and watched out for cars. Today on the piazza, I came to a different conclusion. I was working on my video project taping some of the cafes. There were many students around and lots of cars, those moving and those parked around the fountain. I realized early on that the moving cars proceeded in a circle around the fountain, and if I stayed near the cars inside the white box surrounding the fountain and framed by lampposts I would be fine.

Today I was getting video from the center parking section overlooking Caffe d’Italia with my arm balanced on the lamppost and I nearly got run over several times. I’m all for watching where you step, but today it really seemed like unless I was actually in the cafes I was at risk of being run over!

My motto now, on the side streets—just watch out for cars. But on the piazza, be sitting at a table or take your own life into your hands.
--Anne Wessel

mercoledì, giugno 06, 2007


“I’m starving. I thought this was a restaurant, but he did not give us a menu.” I comment to Debbie and Tammy. It is my first night in Cagli. I glance at my watch. It is about 10:30 and I’ve been traveling since 5:00 a.m.

“I don’t know how to ask for a menu.” Debbie replies, so we approach the bar and attempt communication. After a few moments of hand gesturing along with a mix of English, Spanish, and Italian phrasing—we order a couple of glasses of wine. The wine is great, but it does little to satisfy my growing appetite. I find it impossible to concentrate or contribute to the conversation between Debbie and Tammy.

“Oh my god! They have a pizza.” I blurt out probably more loudly than necessary. I openly stare at the pizza just placed on the bar. The pizza the bartenders begin to eat. My stomach screams in protest to the possibility that it might not be fed this evening and forces me to stand. I approach the female bartender and begin a repeat of speaking in a mix of Spanish and English while gesturing toward the pizza.

The woman nods and smiles and I assume that I have just placed an order for a pizza. Then the woman proceeds to get a small plate and approach her own pizza and remove a few slices.

“No. No. No….I don’t want to take your pizza!” I attempt to explain that was not asking for a piece of her pizza. However, she looks completely confused. Debbie comes over to assist. Finally, I just shake my head and say no thank you, smile and return to my table. Furious, my stomach makes a few punches against my spine. Oh well, it is going to be a hungry first night in Cagli.

Suddenly a plate with four small slices of pizza is placed on our table. I look up and the woman just smiles and quickly walks away. Speaking to her back, I mumble thank you and begin to devour the pizza. Clearly, the bartenders were sharing their dinner with me. I, unlike my stomach, felt guilty. “What if they felt obligated to give me some of their pizza?” I think. I don’t want their first impression of the new batch of American students to be that we are inconsiderate or rude. I decide to try and pay for my pizza.

Debbie and I approach the bar and the bartender gives us a tab that contains only our wine orders, so I try to ask about paying for the pizza. He shakes his head no, but I give him two extra euros. He smiles and I again bumble through some form of thank you from saving me from starvation communication.

“That was so nice of them.” I comment as we exit the bar. Debbie and Tammy agree. They leave to go to the bus stop to meet our roommate, so I slowly walk back to the apartment I’ll be calling my home for the next month. I observe all the people sitting and talking around the fountain area. There is such a sense of community. I feel a slight pang of envy. “What does it feel like to be a member of this quaint little village?” I suppose that is what I’ll be attempting to discover over the next few weeks…
--Cindy Dew
THIS IS THE STORY of four guys picked to live in a villa, work together and have their work documented on the web to find out what happens when people stop being lazy and start getting serious. This is the Real World Cagli.

Bonding, friendships, sincerity, manners, culture. These are just some of the qualities that Cagli has brought out of me so far. I constantly find myself extremely content just sitting and relaxing, where at home, it’s just not the same. Walking around you feel this sense of security and closeness that you can only find in a small town like Cagli. Although sleep is rare during an experience such as this one, seeing the artistic town while walking across the bridge between Old and New Cagli instills in me a sense of beauty and elegance that acts as a motivator for my day.

-Brett Kahn

martedì, giugno 05, 2007

BEFORE TRAVELING TO ITALY, I had many preconceived ideas about the country and its people. My grandfather, who had recently been in Rome on a business trip, warned me extensively of the gypsies and pickpockets. So naturally, upon arriving at the airport, I was slightly paranoid, clutching my bag tightly as I went through customs and stuffing money in as many random places on my body as possible. I kept checking to make sure my passport and credit cards were safely hiding in my purse within my purse anti-theft system I had so intelligently rigged up.

However, what I actually experienced that first day and continue to experience here every day is quite the opposite of what I expected. No one was even attempted to rob me. Instead, I have found that people here are exceptionally kind and courteous, much more so than anyone I’ve ever encountered in the United States. When Mary and I went to Naples our first few days, we actually had a boy carry all of our luggage for us on and off the trains, help us buy our tickets, and find our way around.

My experience in Cagli has been similar. […]
-Katie Koepfinger
IN OUR INTERCULTURAL COURSE today, John said the Japanese have a saying: The nail that sticks out gets hit. I found this to be an interesting statement to consider as we participate in this program.

Back in the U.S., I would intentionally choose to be the nail sticking out. I’ve done things differently in life. I’m still single, recently bought my first home, started grad school a year ago, and continue to travel pretty regularly. I desire the “sticking out” lifestyle.

Yet, from my graduate studies, I know how important it is to at least attempt to blend in when visiting another society. Understanding and practicing cultural rules are imperative. We should actually strive to not be the nail sticking out, which is challenging.

After the first week here, I would say this American group is sticking out. We’ve invaded a small town where perhaps some know we come, but the majority do not. I wandered off on my own last night and almost all mothers and children just watched me. As our group moved through the piazza, the locals gaze and stare in wonderment. Our sheer number last night at the pizza party had to be overwhelming for the locals trying to enjoy dinner. The room being filled with different (and probably louder—at least collectively) voices is not a common occurrence.

From the perspective of being a guest resident for one month, this wonderful place of Cagli is a nail sticking out as well. As I walk to school each morning or run on an errand at lunch, I remind myself to take in everything. This is a unique experience with a variety of cultural nails sticking out and I don’t want to miss even one.
--Debbie Schallock
(University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
THE OTHER DAY I went to a little fruit market. I had forgotten that the owner is supposed to pick out your fruit for you. I proceeded to pick two apples and two oranges on my own. Finally, I was going to have some fresh fruit! Unfortunately, what I had picked was not what I was expecting. Next time I will make sure to have them pick my fruit. It is so funny to me—in America, if there were a produce “picker” at each grocery store, people would be completely confused and upset that they were unable to feel their fruit/veggies before purchasing them.
--Claire Davis
HAS IT ONLY BEEN A FEW DAYS since I arrived? Well, it sure doesn’t feel like it. When we arrived I was more than excited about Cagli. The ideal Italian town, Cagli was something I had never seen. I was used to the Florence and Rome-esque tourist traps where cheap trinkets litter the streets, followed closely by English-speaking vendors.

Instead, Cagli provided authentic Italian culture and a very new experience. These last few days have provided plenty of surprising and sometimes awkward moments. I think the first may have been the first night at Caffe del Corso. Upon entering, music and shouts from those already inside erupted and filled the streets of Cagli. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a welcome.
-Ian Roeber
TODAY I TRIED TO FIND THE GYM. I thought it was going to be a short walk but it turned into an hour and a half adventure. I asked Nicole where the gym was and she told me to walk across the bridge to New Cagli, turn left, and just keep walking. She said it would be impossible to miss, but it turned out to be impossible not to miss. I think we walked down every street. We decided to ask women in the tennis shoe store where it was and they sent us down a driveway to a garage. While we were down there some sweaty men emerged from the forest and asked us if we were looking for the soccer. We said no and became very confused. It was getting close to dinner and we were having no luck so we just gave up.

After dinner we tried again. We walked up and down the streets again asking people for the gym. We would make running gestures and they would think we wanted soccer so we pretended to lift weights and then they understood. Two women told us it was on one street and they would take us to that street. We walked down the street and found nothing. We came upon a group of old ladies and we asked them. They thought we wanted soccer at first too but then they caught on. They told us the gym was underneath the laundromat across from the bank. When we got there it was surprising how small the gym was. It does not seem like Italians exercise.
-Stephanie Meros
BRAINSTORMING FOR STORY IDEAS is a task that is usually fun and creative. In journalism, writers are often assigned stories, so being given the opportunity to choose a story and let your mind run free is rewarding. Because I find it more exciting to write a story about some place I know very little about, I embraced the challenge right away. But wait! I know nothing about Cagli besides the little we have experienced and studied. Anxiety begins to build, panic slowly arrives, and this brain of mine overflows with ideas mixed with the unknown, mixed with “what am I going to write about”. I refrain from looking flustered in class, and, as soon as the 15-minute break started, threw my head in my lap. When I lifted my head I began to think, and think, and think some more! For some reason the only word that continuously echoed was Cagli.

Cagli. It’s a place hidden from most tourists, but it filled with rich history and good people. A place where “old meets new”. There’s a story! Old Cagli and New Cagli. What separates the two, brings them closer, what hidden history do the two towns have, and what keeps the people wanting more? I’m sure I’ll find something even I didn’t expect to uncover.
-Chanel Grundy
(Bennett College)
TONIGHT, AS I WAS WRITING THIS, we were sitting at one of the cafes on the piazza when I decided to go in and order a hot chocolate. I was thinking, or rather assuming that it would be just like a normal liquid beverage. I’ve been to France three times and since they have hot chocolate, it made me think Italy of all place would too. Boy, was I wrong. The man who took the order was very confused and didn’t know what I was talking about, but held up a hot chocolate packet. Later he brought me the “hot chocolate”, which was thick, just like chocolate pudding in a cup with utensils on the side. I tried to eat it and didn’t complain, but it was not what I was expecting! Luckily Father Bruno came in later and took it from me to ask for hot milk and he fixed the situation. The man told me that in Italy, chocolate is a hard solid.
-Sarah Sullivan
(St Louis University)
I CANNOT BELIEVE that I came to Cagli less than a week ago. I feel like I have been here for at least a month: already the streets are familiar and I am comfortable finding my way around the city. Although I feel that the small size of the city has helped me to feel at home so quickly, there is a special quality of Cagli that is responsible for my great level of comfort. At home, in my town of Wilmette, Illinois, there is no piazza or main gathering place. Some of the elderly people can be found in a small café every morning and teenagers are always at Chuckwagon, the pizza place on Ridge Road. There is no one place where the young and old congregate. In Cagli, the piazza is the center of town. At night, people stroll around the square licking gelato, their arms linked while they chat with their friends. I feel so welcomed and accepted into their world, how could I not love it here?
-Julia Gaspary
Up above, 2007! Down below, 2006!

sabato, giugno 24, 2006

SILENCE IS TRULY DIFFICULT for me to master. People often joke about “awkward silence” in conversations, because very few people are actually comfortable with silence. I’ve wondered for quite some time why it is people have a difficult time just being silent. And is it all people, or is it part of our American culture?
      Quite frankly I’ve never really worried too much about it—having been told I was born with the “gift of the gab”—talking a lot is just part of who I am.
      But today I finally saw just how rewarding silence can be. After a tour of Gubbio, I was totally content. The medieval town is full of history and masterfully crafted art. As we trekked through the steep Gubbio streets and through the woods, I fell in love with the town. Finally, after several hours of uphill walking, we came to a manicured garden and mountaintop caffe’. From there, we looked out over the entire town of Gubbio, and perhaps even beyond. The Italian landscape stretched out before me, and I had to catch my breath as I took it all in. I happily ate my creamsicle pop and snapped pictures with friends so I could somehow capture the view for years to come.
      I felt as if not a single moment of this trip had been lost on me. And I was both happy and proud of my successful day.
      As always, my feeling of self-fulfillment was quickly interrupted. As we walked back through Gubbio, we stopped at the statue of Sant’Ubaldo.
      The story goes, if you put your finger through the ring on the front of the statue and make a wish, and then are able to walk all the way down the main strip in silence, your wish will come true.
      Well, being the superstitious person I am, I couldn’t give up the chance to make a wish. So I walked right up to the statue and looped my pointer finger tightly around that metal hole. I stared up at the white marble saint who stared down at me and concentrated on my wish.
      As I slowly turned and headed down the street, I couldn’t help but feel awkward at first. People crowded the streets, laughing and shouting, while I walked beside my friend in a silence I was deafeningly aware of.
      But the further I walk, the easier it gets. I notice shops I had not before. I watch as a group of young girls stare in a window at an expensive dress. An older couple walks slowly and discreetly down the side of the road. I decide to imagine they’ve been together since they were young, and after all these years they are still happy together.
      I don’t even notice at first that I have reached the end of the street. It’s the concrete wall where the road comes to a ‘t’ intersection staring into my face that eventually makes me stop. A part of me wishes I had further to walk.
      I am shocked to find the silence enjoyable. I don’t really think the point of the walk is to make a wish, but to take in everything around. Even when you think you’re taking everything in about a time or a place, it’s easy to let details slip away. I finally realize that the point of silence (and probably reflective journaling) is to take time to reflect on and capture what is happening all around you. Our lives are made of individual moments, and if you aren’t careful, some of the most important ones may slip away unnoticed.
--Allison James