Clara in Italy: Settling in??

This is probably one of the fastest-paced programs I’ve ever been in, in that every day feels packed and it is in fact almost a month shorter than a typical semester. So here we are cramming a semester of work into about 80 days! Woo! That does make it really hard to keep up with everything that I’m supposed to be doing, I have to admit.

We’re here in Cortona, a hill town in Tuscany, and the view is super killer.


Admittedly, walking up and down the hill multiple times a day is also kind of killer… Oh well, I suppose it might balance out the gigantic Italian meals that we keep eating. Not gonna lie, all I want is a simple, one-course meal with rice and Chinese food. D: Not that everything isn’t delicious or anything, but dang. I feel quite squishy and sleepy every night when we hike back up to our dorm immediately after dinner. It’s honestly one of the weirdest parts of being here. I could definitely stand to have dinner last a little less time. Three hours is very long and exhausting.

Pretty much every Saturday, we head off to a different city in Italy to talk about art history, which is very cool. (Also exhausting.) In the last two weeks, we’ve already been to Siena, Assisi, and Perugia, and seen some really pretty amazing stuff. Especially this 13th century graffiti on the walls of the Palazzo Publico! What!!


If you look closely on the upper red strip in the first picture, there’s a “1464” scratched into the stone. Above it to the left on the white, there’s a “1482”. There’s stuff in Greek in there! And also some stuff from the 19th century–at least one little inscription from 1848. I’m always here for traces of humanity and imperfections. Masterpieces are all well and good, but I’m more interested in scratches on the wall and personalized inscriptions in books. And unfinished paintings, because understanding process is so valuable, you know?

And reliquaries of course! Well, those are a special interest to me too I suppose, since I think bones are super cool. There was a lovely one that had a partial skeleton arranged nicely with a flower crown and a lot of jewels. Bury me like this. Feed my flesh to the plants or whatever, but make me into a nice mantelpiece with flowers.


… that’s kind of weird, isn’t it. But I think he looks pretty good for being dead all these years.

Speaking of bones, I’ve already amassed a nice little collection of natural history stuff since we got here! A lovely starling skeleton, some juvenile pigeon bones, a whole bowl of empty snail shells, and some very interesting insects, including a full grasshopper shed and a cicada shed. Oh, and two snake sheds that were inside a hole in the wall! Plus a convulvulus moth and a fiery hunter beetle. The faculty resource room has some really amazing insects as well, with some seriously giant beetles. Cool as heck!!

At least look at my starling skull. I think it’s quite beautiful.


Classes are going well, but a  little stressfully. I’ve almost filled a whole sketchbook since I got here, and the number of photos I’ve taken is sort of staggering. But hey, I’ve got a flickr now and I think I’m getting a little bit better at taking pictures. Sort of. It’s a little up in the air. Follow me or something. I’m doing my best.

To finish, here’s a picture of darling Squiggle, our newest stray University cat with a bent tail and the guy bringing harmony to the cats.


Seriously, he’s the cutest and the best.

Stay determined!

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