Too School for Cool

It’s easy to forget why I’m here sometimes–to study. Sure, I see the sights, eat the foods, travel to nearby cities and countrysides, but the “abroad” part of this experience hasn’t been the only influential part. In fact, my classes have taught me the most and have played the biggest role in allowing me to become immersed in Florentine culture.

My first three weeks here I was enrolled in Watercolor and Tempera Gouache Techniques with Professor Nicoletta Solomon. I have had fantastic teachers in my past but none can match the passion and clarity through which Nicoletta taught. Born in northern Italy, she introduced to us her background and how her relationship with art came to be. She says that without art there is no emotion. It isn’t something to see, it is something to feel and that experiences begin with art. This was the basis of her teaching style and our classes revolved around experiencing the techniques-not just learning about them. We built on everything we learned as the course progressed and she taught us to develop a style that was our own and was respected for its originality. Through this experience I learned that I love whimsical and colorful pieces because it challenges my obsession with perfection. Below are links to some of my favorites.

Eye Study

Alvin Mark Tan Duomo Copy

Oscar Koller Copy

Paul Cézanne Copy

Original Koi

Now that I’ve reached the halfway point of my time in Florence, I’ve begun a new class called Food and Wine Pairing with Professor Massimo. Massimo has a certain zest for life and told us today that he has never had a happy date with a woman who didn’t share the same love for food and wine as he. His exact words were, “for me, is very boring.”

We spend our two and a half hours learning the regions specific wines come from and analyzing what differentiates the types. Today we tasted a Chianti Classico and a Chianti Colli Senesi and paired it with prosciutto, salami, and mortadella. The Classico, which is a more spicy and full red wine, seemed to overpower most of the sweetness in the mortadella and the saltiness in the prosciutto and mortadella. Massimo suggested pairing a sparkling wine with the mortadella to complement its sweetness. The Senesi, on the other hand, is a more medium red and paired very well with the salty salami because it was lighter and cleansed your palette after every bite. I truly will never look at deli meats the same when I go back home. From now on I will be asking for wine with lunch–Massimo’s orders.

Overall, my classes have made me feel like I’m at home here. When I run to Salvini for art supplies, I feel like a local (even though finding the right paints is difficult when you don’t speak italian). When I am ordering wine and can tell the quality by looking at the reflection in the top of the glass I feel like a sophisticated Italian. Even walking past the Duomo on my way to class every day and knowing my way around the city has made me feel independent in a place that was once so foreign. I’ve come to miss my apartment on Corso Tintori while I’m away on weekend trips. During our excursions I sometimes wish I were back in Florence just because it’s familiar and I know my way around. These are feelings I don’t believe I would have if I weren’t here to study. My classes are giving me an invaluable sense of feeling like I belong here-something I couldn’t get on a “cool,” week-long vacation. My classes are making me too school for cool.

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