North or South, Which will it be?
On Wednesday we got up super dooper ooper early in the morning to leave for TORINO. We were spending the rest of the week up north as a program to be able to compare and contrast two cities education styles. Wednesday we left our apartment before 6 am so we could be at Termini to catch a 7 am train. It took 4 and a half hours, but we finally made it to Torino. Once at the hotel we had some free time so I of course went exploring. I got a bit lost, but I got to see Valentino Park, the river, Piazza Victorio, the castle and some other great sights. I also found the Luxembourg Book Store which is a British bookstore (so they had lots of English books), but it was owned by some Jewish Folk. I even saw a sign instead that said “Israel is Real.” Sometimes it’s nice to truly feel at home in a different country, even if it’s only for a couple of seconds. After my free time, we had a tour of the area we were staying in by one of Stephanie’s friends. His name is Khalid and he is a part of the Young Muslim group from the University. He gave us a tour of San Salvario (the neighborhood) along with all of the religious points in the area. San Salvario is the area that immigrants live in when they first come to Torino, so it is incredibly diverse. It also houses several churches, a synagogue and many informal mosques. We saw the Valdese Church, The Synagogue and the Mosque that Khalid goes to. We got really lucky because we were able to go into the synagogue and the church. This is rare because the synagogue only opens to the public once a year due to security reasons. It was so cool to see the inside of the building since it actually houses three synagogues. Khalid originally thought we weren’t going to be able to go inside the church, but we did. It was really beautiful. The mosque was super informal and just in a building that the city gave to the Muslim Community. The community is currently working on having the city let them build a recognizable mosque. Afterwards we went to aperitivo with Khalid and a bunch of his friends from the Young Muslim group. It was really awesome to be able to talk to second generation students, which is who we’ve been talking about in class.
Thursday, we went to a preschool and a high school. The preschool in the morning was so awe-inspiring (seriously). The preschool works hard to be an intercultural school, which has 50% immigrants and 50% native Italians. First we got to watch some of the younger kids work with a woman from a contemporary art museum they would be visiting soon. She was teaching them through painting about an exhibit they would be seeing. Afterwards we got to see a surprise from some of the older kids. They all gave each of us an Italian or American flag they had made. Afterwards, they sang some English songs. I knew one of the songs from Girl Scout camp, it almost brought me to tears as so many memories came flooding back. Then we got to see a recital put on by the three year olds. They were so flipping adorable. On our way out of the preschool I met a special education teacher who is SEVENTY YEARS OLD – HOW AWESOME IS THAT??? I want to be her when I grow up. Our high school experience was quite different. We went to visit one of the English classes at the high school. They spoke to us about all of the different intercultural programs the school offered to the students. It was really fantastic to see how hard the school was working to really educate and inform all of their students. We even befriended some of the high schooler’s, which was really nice. After the high school we had some free time and then had the option to go to the Egyptian Museum. I have always had a fascination with everything Egyptian so I of course went. It is the biggest Egyptian Museum outside of Cairo and it was really cool. I got to see so many different artifacts, mummies and a tomb. There also was an entire room of incredibly large statues. Later, we ate dinner at this amazing pizzeria. Some of the best pizza I’ve had outside of Rome. I also had the best seat in the house because I got to watch them make all of our pizzas. I found it so interesting and I was so engrossed to the point that the guys making pizza noticed. They even gave me some fresh mozzarella to eat, it was so delish.
Friday we visited another preschool in the morning. It was really great to be able to compare and contrast the two preschools. This preschool contained 80% immigrants and 20% native Italians. They really strived to keep the home culture while introducing the Italian culture as well. After preschool we were free to do anything we wanted. I ended up back at the another preschool with Stephanie so that she could translate while I interviewed the special education teacher I had met the day before. It was so great to talk to her. She asked me questions about special education and schooling in America, while I asked about Italy. Afterwards I ended up spending the rest of the day with some of the girls from my program, exploring the town and getting dinner.
On Saturday I woke up at the crack of dawn so I could go to the city of Love – Verona. I was so excited to go, I knew from the beginning that this was where I was going to visit on our free weekend up north. I got into the city around 9:30 am and headed into town. Of course, being the budget traveler, I walked from the train station into town but it was already becoming so gorgeous outside, so it was well worth it. I spent the morning walking around and seeing many of the sites before grabbing lunch at one of the restaurants in the piazza with the Verona Arena. After lunch I went to check into my B&B so I could do more exploring. Once that was done, I went to Giuletta’s house, saw her balcony and took lots of pictures. I also went up the tower in the piazza right near there where you get a bird’s eye view of the entire city. I was so smitten, the city is just narrow road after narrow road of gorgeous houses. That night I got dinner with some of the girls from my trip who decided to come to Verona as well. I had gnocchi and sea bass for dinner!
On Sunday I woke up incredibly early as well so that I could head to Milano to see the Duomo. I ended up having the perfect amount of time in Milano. I got to see the Duomo, go up to the top to see the terraces and then get a quick lunch on my way back to the train station. Even though I didn’t really appreciate Milano much, I’m glad I went. The Duomo is so different than all the others in Italy and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Plus I love gothic architecture. Then I went back to Torino before heading home to Roma with the rest of my group. I had a great trip up north, but I was so happy to be back. I missed Roma so much, except for when I was in Verona. The other northern cities just weren’t “homely” enough for me. But that’s me, everyone’s different.