Monday, February 23, 2009

From A to Z (Assisi to Zurich)


The beginning of February means our annual class field trip to Assisi. What more can I say? San Damiano, Santa Chiara, Palazzo Vescovado, the Temple of Minerva, the incredible frescoes of Giotto, Cimabue, and Sanmartino, the chapel of the Porziuncula inside the huge Santa Maria degli Angeli and, of course, the transcendant Pizza al Tartufo at I Monaci.
For me the best part was sharing the experience with students seeing it for the very first time.

(Team Francis '09, Left to Right: Senora Traub, Raffaella, Jessica, Ashlee, Phil, Nikki, Noel, Patrick, Linda, Me, Nick, Prof. Hoch, Rino, Mary, Carla, Kristin, Shannon, Angela, Sarah, Mrs. C)

It always make me feel a proprietary sense of pride to be able to answer students questions: what happened here? Why is this important? When is lunch? Aboveis a grand group photograph taken by a gentle nun from Our Lady of Glassboro, NJ.
Grazie Sorella!!


Off we go to Zurich, Switzerland and the Crazy Cow Hotel. I don't know how or why it got that name, but I do know that we began to wonder whether we were a bit crazy to leave the relatively mild weather of central Italy for the bone-chilling cold of northern Switzerland! Of course Zurich is a beautiful little city and sometime home to Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein and Tina Turner
. Besides the cold, the city was unbelievably expensive AND almost all the restaurants were Italian! But the old city was very walkable, beautiful and clean. (I saw a guy actually pick up a scrap of paper from the pavement and put it in the trash. In Italy we see the reverse!) Another wonderful contrast is that English-language films were subtitled rather than dubbed, as they are in Italy. Some as a refuge from the cold and the high prices, we used the time for a pre-Oscar catch-up: Vicky, Christina, Barcelona, Doubt and Revolutionary Road. In Zurich, movie theatres have reserved seats which seemed to suit the local practice of orderliness. But more, they have intermissions! In the middle of the film, no matter what is going on, the movie stops, the lights go on, and a message appears on the screen:

"Why not get some ice cream?"

Ice cream?? Are you kidding? In this frozen city? Hot chocolate maybe.

But even getting hot chocolate was an adventure: I must confess that we visited the local Starbucks in our quest. For one thing, American franchises for all their familiarity and cheesiness are at least smoke-free, and that is a real benefit. Unfortunately, the chocolate was not too hot. Above is a little video featuring the wonderful Mrs. C offering a critique of the hot chocolate at the Zurich Starbucks.

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