All good things must come to an end…

The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.
Saint Augustine

A semester abroad…..4 months, 18 weeks, 126 days and a million moments I will never forget.

My Facebook status 4 hours before leaving Florence:
As I spend my last few hours in Florence, I realize how cliche this all is; how students come here step out of their comfort zones, live and fall in love with this city. However, I know one thing and that is that these buildings may or may not last a thousand more years, but the memories and friendships that I’ve made will. Thank you everyone and fly safe. Keep in touch and expect a visit from yours truly. 

I didn’t think this status was that good. But as the likes accumulated and comments came I guess it was pretty good. These last few months have been more than extraordinary. The people I met and the sites I saw will forever be ingrained into my mind. The utter grandeur and amazing people I met will walk with me for a long time if not forever. Going abroad is such a temporary “thing” with such a lifelong impact. It’s kind of crazy. My status in retrospect is perfect in explaining it. Living in a foreign or at least my case, barely foreign place, alone, forces you to step out, forces you to do things you usually don’t. It makes you take initiative. Mom isn’t there to wash your clothes or make your bed or feed you or do groceries or anything. You have you, yourself and the people you meet. I’ve been trying and trying to grasp or put my finger on what it is that could, in one simple thought, describe studying abroad in its entirety and I just can’t.

I think the sites and images in your mind eventually disappear. Everything you saw, smelled and heard. All that fades away, hence why pictures are seen as so essential sometimes even though they never do the scene justice. But what doesn’t fade are the people. The people you meet abroad, whether local or other students, are literally growing as you are. The moments lived with them….will change you. Knowing all these people abroad and all over the US now, opens so many windows. Oh I’m in California, let me see what ______ is up to or hey I’m in Baltimore, I wonder if _______ wants to grab lunch or dinner. Even better, hey I’m going to visit ______ down in Charleston or the Cape for the weekend, ciao! I don’t know what you think but that’s awesome.

I mean, I’ve never been the type to get soft and sappy over things like this because people come and go in your life but this was different. It was so cliche and everyone saw it coming everyone knew it was going to happen. Millions of students that go abroad experience this but it happens anyways. I don’t know, maybe I am overdoing this but, who knows.

All I have to say is I’m more than grateful to have been given the opportunity to study abroad. More than grateful to have met the people I have met, do the things I’ve done and experienced what I’ve experienced. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. And I promise you I’ll be back. AND you best believe I’m planning some type of reunion. Already have a standing agreement with some of the boys that if one of us makes it one day we’ll reunite and buy a place out in Tuscany and open a club in Florence and put all the others out of business. Haha….one day. Nonetheless, I’m almost at a loss for words becuase it hasn’t all happened  or set in yet. Maybe there will be a part II of this post. Anyways, thank you for reading.

Alla prossima.

Ciao

M

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The Role of Italian Grandparents

“Quando niente sta andando bene, chiama la Nonna”
Italian Proverb

When it comes to Italian culture, there is something truly special about the role that grandparents, or Nonni, play. The Nonni are looked to for anything and everything. As the quote translates above, “When nothing is going well, call Nonna,” is the mentality of many kids today in Italian society.   Unlike many cultures, where a grandparent’s involvement in both their child’s and grandchildren’s lives decreases as they age, the presence of Italian grandparents in a family tends to be seemingly limitless.  In fact, in many cases, grandparents provide significant aid to their own children when it comes time to raise the newest generation of the family.  This aid often comes in many forms, whether it be contribution of time and experience, financial support, or a sense of emotional support and love, it seems as though Italian grandparents are constantly working to better their families.

One may wonder how it is that Italian grandparents are capable of being so involved in the lives of their children and grandchildren.  That being said, in most Western cultures, it is uncommon for three generations to live under one roof, however it is considered a cultural norm amongst Italians.  More often than not a grandparent will either live with their son, daughter, or grandchild. This “extended family,” as anyone with parents can imagine, this sense of constant “togetherness” can be seen as both a blessing and a burden. When it comes to the constant influx of help with child rearing, housework, and general familial connection, live in grandparents are certainly a blessing.  That being said, when an adult feels as though they cannot escape their own parents or embrace a sense of independence, the feeling of burden can begin to weigh heavy on the adults shoulders.  Nonetheless, the positives generally outweigh the negatives, especially when it comes to the ways in which the grandchildren benefit.

In the last forty years, dynamics of Italian families and the roles that different individuals play within them, have changed drastically. Many attribute this to the ever-changing gender roles within Italian society.  Up until the second half of the 1900s, Italian women, as well as the majority of women from other cultures, were seen through a purely domestic lens.  Their responsibilities revolved around their children and the importance of maintaining a well-functioning home and marriage.  While these are still highly important aspects of an Italian woman’s life, the past few decades have shown a drastic broadening of options when it comes to the complex role that women play.  The recent evolution of the female gender role in Italian culture has allowed for an increased acceptance of women in the workforce; whereas prior to this, women were forced to choose only one path.  This exciting shift often forces women to split their focus between the importance of motherhood and a successful career. While this is a highly difficult task for any parent, the ability to find a positive balance becomes possible with the help of grandparents and other familial outlets.  Due to the change and advancement in roles in Italian society, the emphasis on grandparents being highly involved in family life has increased dramatically.

With 40% of Italians between the ages of 18 and 28 unemployed, Italy is facing one of the worst economic job climates in its history.  That being said, as the job market continues to deteriorate, having a family with only one source of income is quickly becoming a disappearing luxury in Italy.  There is no doubt that as a result of the economic crisis and the change in the traditional role of women as the faithful housewife, the average Italian family is experiencing a cultural reshaping.  Furthermore, grandparents are quickly becoming the cornerstone of the family.  It is the involvement of grandparents that allows both halves of couples to simultaneous work and raise their children in a comfortable manner. According to a study cited by Cecilia Tomassini and Karen Glaser, “In Italy, as in other Southern European countries, around 40 percent of grandparents provide regular childcare for their grandchildren compared with less than 20 per cent in the Nord European countries” (Tomassini, Glaser). These numbers demonstrate that Italy is not alone in the rising trend that shows an enormous percentage of grandparents regularly providing childcare.  By not having to pay for childcare, Italian families witness intense financial benefits. While these saving are helpful for individual families, grandparent provided child care also factors into the struggling economic situation. A 2009 study conducted by the Milan Chamber of Commerce calculated, “ savings of 50 billion euros, supposedly based on how much it would cost Italian families to find babysitters and/or housekeepers for all Italian children under the age of 14” (Gilbert, Stranitalia). The benefits that families experience with grandparents living in an extended family, only bolsters this growing trend.

Due to these factors, Italian grandparents have had to take on a much more active role in their families. This role sometimes forces the grandparents to take care of their grandchildren more than their actual parents.  In some cases as well, the grandparents are sometimes seen as a haven from the parents due to their more patient and “spoiling’ nature typical Italian grandparents have. Another rising trend to keep in mind is the slowly rising number of divorces in the once catholically fortified Italy. In a 2003 national survey conducted by the Italian Statistical Office found that, “new generations of grandparents are more likely to experience divorce,” indicating that now more than ever, grandparents are faced with the fact that their children are divorcing, with and without children, thus leaving both their children and their grandchildren in their hands (Tomassini, Glaser). This survey was called the “Indagine Multiscopo sulle Famiglie e Soggetti Sociali,” which is explained by Tomassini and Glaser to be a survey of “over 60,000 people with the response rate well above 90%, though is lower for very old people. A section of the questionnaire is devoted to analysis of the structure and the exchanges within family members. Information on presence, proximity, and contact with grandchildren are included” (Tomassini, Glaser). Therefore, with splitting households, grandparents are exponentially becoming more of a refuge for the children experiencing the divorce of their parents. Having a stabile home or another source of parenting becomes more familiar and comforting than that of their parents. As King also reinforced in his article Consequences for ties between Grandparents and Grandchildren, “Grandparents step in children’s family breakdowns. They are often seen as the next level of parenting or nurturing that the child identifies with.” Italian children today are not only raised by their mother and father. Every child either has their mother’s or father’s parents as well that act as parents in their everyday lives. It will be an interesting phenomenon, how these children today will grow up to be due to these circumstances.

The Nonni of today’s Italy have taken a gigantic role in today’s Italian family. Without many of the grandparents of today, many families would not be able to survive the economic climate. In addition, the empowerment of women and the progress women’s rights have experienced in the last 40 years would also be at risk if it were not for the willing grandparents in Italian society. Without someone to take care of the kids, whether it is while going to work or during divorce, the Italian woman would be seriously disadvantaged without the convenience of someone to take care of their children. Without i Nonni, it would also be extremely difficult for single mothers and mothers in general to pursue careers. In the Italian culture there truly is something different about grandparents. The roles of Italian grandparents go far beyond the expected. From essentially raising their grandchildren, to being the last minute babysitter to even providing financial help. Italian grandparents live for their grandchildren, have been the glue of Italian families for the last 40 years and very well may become more and more needed as time continues.

Works Cited

King, V. (2003) The legacy of a grandparent’s divorce: Consequences for ties         between Grandparents and Grandchildren, Journal of Marriage and Family,       65, 170-183. Print.

DC Reitzes, EJ Mutran (2004) Grandparenthood: Factors influencing frequency of            grandparent–grandchildren contact and grandparent role satisfaction,       Journals of Gerontology. Print.

Glaser, Karen, Dr. “Grandparenting in Europe Project.” Grandparents Plus.            Krystal, 28 June 2012. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.      <http://www.grandparentsplus.org.uk/grandparenting-in-europe-project&gt;.

 

Gilbert, Sari. “Grandparents Supposedly Saving Italian Families      Millions.” Stranitalia. Petar.org, 20 Aug. 2009. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.    <http://www.stranitalia.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=vi            ew&id=237&Itemid=1>.

“Report – Italian Families – FCE Preparation.” Lang-8. Lang-8.com, 9 Apr. 2012.   Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

<http://lang-8.com/371812/journals/1412789&gt;.
Tomassini, Cecilia, and Karen Glaser. “Unmarried Grandparents Providing Child   Care in Italy and England: A Life – Course Approach.” EPC 2012.         Princeton.edu, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

<http://epc2012.princeton.edu/papers/120948&gt;.

The Life and Legacy of Lucky Luciano

He downsized, he restructured and he used Standard & Poor’s as much as Smith & Wesson to change forever the face of organized crime
Time Magazine

 Born and deceased in Italy, Salvatore Lucania is considered the innovator of organized crime in America. Once immigrated to America he reinvented himself, more commonly then known as Charles “Lucky” Luciano. Then, he reinvented the mafia. Along with his childhood friend Meyer Lansky, they’d come to change to face and future of the Mafia in America. Luciano’s rise to power however was not an easy one. Granted with gifts of ambition and intelligence, Luciano worked his way to the top. Between his knack for business and ruthlessness he forever changed his face and the face of organized crime. Growing up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side he became one of the first bosses of the American mafia that grew up in the States. However like all good things, Luciano’s dominance also came to an end after a series of unfortunate events that led to his arrest and eventually his death in 1962.

When Luciano was 10 years old he immigrated to New York City. At 14, Lucky dropped out of school and got a job delivering hats throughout all five boroughs earning $7 per week. School just was not for little Sal Lucania. But it was down on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that Luciano first met his friend and later lifetime associate, Meyer Lansky, a young Jewish boy also living in Manhattan. This during the time was unusual. Mixing of races back then was frowned upon and not accepted by many Italians. This small example is only a taste of Luciano’s perspective for the greater picture. He wasn’t old school; he didn’t care about how the old bosses ran things. Luciano was after one thing and one thing only, money. Luciano never saw color or race as a problem and knew that business was business. His philosophy was simple, “There’s no such thing as good money or bad money.There’s just money” (SearchQuotes). Allegedly, after winning $244 in a game of dice, Luciano quit his hat delivery job and turned to the streets for money. It was this street sense that separated Luciano from the rest.

While still in his teens Lucky started his own crew. Unlike other groups of kids during that time, Lucky didn’t deal with the small petty crimes to make money. Lucky and his crew offered other gangs Italian, Irish and Jewish protection for ten cents per week. It was from this crew that his friendship with Lansky grew and where both became well known in Manhattan’s neighborhoods. It wasn’t long until Lucky became a key player in New York’s crime syndicate at the head of the Genovese crime family.

During the United States’ Prohibition Era, the American Mafia thrived to its peak in the 1920s. Bootlegging operations ran from Chicago to New York, New York to Philadelphia, down to Tampa Bay, Florida and everywhere in between. Various sources say that in 1925, at age 28, Luciano was making around $1.2 to $12 million dollars per year from his illegal activities that ranged from bootlegging, racketeering, gambling, waterfronts, unions, food marts, restaurants, bakeries, textiles, loan sharking, extortion, narcotics, fraud and prostitution (Time Magazine). Their operations slithered their way into every aspect of society, politics, legitimate businesses and law enforcement. During his time, Luciano was one of six major bootleggers, between Meyer Lansky, Louis Buchalter, Jacob Shapiro, Long Zwillman and Bugsy Siegel, they ran the alcohol trade all along the East Coast (Biography.com). In 1929, Luciano finally got his nickname after surviving a violent stabbing, leaving him with the characteristic droopy right eye. Who ordered Luciano’s stabbing was rumored to have been his former boss Joe Masseria. However a year later, Luciano, with rival boss Salvatore Maranzano’s blessing would have his revenge when he killed and replaced Masseria in April of 1931. By June of 1931, at age 34, Luciano was sitting at the same table as infamous mobsters such as Joe Profaci, Vincent Mangano, Tom Gagliano and Joe Bonanno. With the world in Luciano’s young hand, Maranzano quickly saw Luciano as a threat after the death of Masseria and wanted Luciano dead. However, little did Maranzano know that Meyer Lansky’s loyalty to Lucky was greater than his loyalty to him. The Luciano-Lansky duo led to the death of Salvatore Maranzano a month later in September of 1931. Both assassinations taking place methodically and thoroughly. After Luciano took out Masseria and Maranzano, he was now the boss of all bosses. His new position, the head of the Genovese crime family, now allowed him to make the changes that forever immortalized him in the history of the American Mafia.

Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime in America for structuring the five New York City crime families along with other families all across the United States. By creating a hierarchical council and chain of command, he revolutionized not only the Mafia in New York City but also that of all the United States. With a unified council or panel of leaders from every family, the Mafia was now efficient and organized. Luciano saw that war was bad for business and after seeing the effects of the mafia wars, Luciano sought peace. This council, which was named the Commission, was a conglomerate of families that comprised the American mafia. After enjoying years at New York’s luxury hotels, the famous “Waldorf Astoria in Waldorf Towers, custom tailored suits and chauffeurs;” Lucky’s luck was running out (History.com).

The special prosecutors name was Thomas E. Dewey. In 1935 he was ordered to look into New York’s organized crime activities. Following his investigations, Dewey found Bronx mobster Dutch Schultz involved in many illegal activities and was planning to convict Schultz. However, when Schultz came to find out that the detective was on his tail, he planned to murder Dewey to prevent his investigation from continuing, but there was a problem. Realizing that this murder would cause a major crackdown in the mafia’s activity, the Commission ordered Schultz to stand down. When Schultz decided to disregard the Commission’s decision, the Commission murdered Schultz in a New Jersey tavern. With his suspect dead, Schultz’s murder only led Dewey straight to the Commission and ultimately Charlie Luciano. With Dewey nipping at anything he could get on Luciano, in 1936, he caught his break. Luciano’s luck ran out when he and some of his men were brought to trial and convicted of prostitution and extortion. The trial started in June and by May of 1936 Luciano was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison.

During the 1930s, while the mafia ran the streets of New York, the United States had also entered World War II and was storming the beaches of Normandy. With the next Allied advancement heading for southern Europe, Sicily was to be their first stop. Seeing an opportunity in the situation, Luciano offered help with his contacts in the New York waterfronts as well as over in Sicily in exchange for a conditional release from prison. Time Magazine also cites this exchange with Meyer Lansky taking a key role in Luciano’s release in reference to his involvement in the Allied Operation Husky:

Stymied intelligence agents turned to the underworld for help. Lansky, known in the ’30s for breaking heads at pro-Nazi meetings, acted as liaison and was allowed to visit Luciano. Lucky put the word out to cooperate, and formerly mute dockworkers,          fishermen and hoodlums became the eyes and ears of naval intelligence. Soon eight German spies, who had landed by U-boat, were arrested, and explosives, maps and blueprints for sabotage were seized (Time Magazine).

So in exchange for important information and local cooperation, Luciano was released with parole and banned from US soil. Briefly after his deportation, Luciano couldn’t stay away. He traveled to Cuba months after his deportation to Sicily to rendezvous with old associates. There Lansky and Siegel met him and helped him continue running his operations. Unfortunately for Lucky, after the war in 1947 the United States government pressured Cuba into sending Luciano back to Italy. With the ability to keep a better eye over him, he was forced to stay in Naples by the US government. His time in Naples ultimately led to his demise on January 26, 1962 due to a heart attack. Even though Charlie “Lucky” Luciano’s last days were spent in Italy, his body was allowed to be returned to St. John’s Cemetery in Queens, New York where his parents buried him in their family vault (Time Magazine). However here, he was laid to rest under his birth name; Salvatore Lucania.

Charlie “Lucky” Luciano was not a model citizen. He made the best of his situation with the cards he was dealt and used his talents to the best of his abilities but simply in the wrong world. Luciano’s legacy will forever continue and forever be known as the architect of the American Mafia. He will be remembered not only for his ingenuity and cunning but also his ruthlessness and understanding for a greater perspective.

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Bibliography

Buchanan, Edna. “LUCKY LUCIANO: Criminal Mastermind.” TIME.com. TIME Magazine, 07             Dec. 1998. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.    <http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,989779,00.html&gt;.

“Charles “Lucky” Luciano.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.             <http://www.history.com/topics/lucky-luciano&gt;.

DAILY MAIL REPORTER. “The Moment ‘Lucky’ Luciano’s Luck Ran Out: Black-and-white    Pictures of Notorious Mob Leader and the High Class Prostitutes Who Led to His 1936          Arrest.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd, 28 May 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.            <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151027/Black-white-pictures-mob-leader-   Charles-Lucky-Luciano-high-class-prostitutes-led-1936-arrest.html>.

“Lucky Luciano Biography.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.             <http://www.biography.com/people/lucky-luciano-9388350?page=2&gt;.

“Lucky Luciano Quotes.” Lucky Luciano Quotes. SearchQuotes, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.             <http://www.searchquotes.com/search/Lucky_Luciano/1/&gt;.

Il Derby

Il Derby is a big day. It is the rivalry soccer match that happens twice a year between Roma and Lazio. A rivalry that has been going on for years, it has been the fight over the capital. Lazio has precedence in terms of history, but AS Roma is named  after the city. So who is the proprietor? This match is the judge every year. As someone who more often than not has watched it, along with other rivalry games from behind the TV screen, this will be my first time seeing the glory or tragedy in person.

After a spontaneous phone call from my Uncle Angelo Friday, I’ll be hopping on a train at 0300 and shipping down to Rome for the night and tomorrow afternoon. From that point, I’ll let you know how it goes and finish this. FORZA ROMA.

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Roma 2 | Lazio 0

“Roma e nostra. Alla prossima belli andate a casa

“Abbiamo rimesso la chiesa al centro del vilaggio.”
Rudi Garcia

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What a game. First time to a Derby (Roma vs Lazio rivalry game, check link below) lived up to its infamy. The build up was crazy. The history behind today’s game was insane. Roma had been on a cold streak these last few years in terms of the rivalry and the squads strength in general, but not today. With a wisp of magic in the air, I knew today was going to be a good day. It was one of those games where you just couldn’t see your team loosing, like you didn’t have a doubt in your heart. Maybe it was my greenhorn mentality kicking in since it was my first time out for this game. I’ve been to Bruins playoff games, Patriots playoff games and Red Sox playoff games but between it being my actual hometown team and the fact that the stadium is filled with the most passionate fans you’ll most likely meet, puts this game above the rest. The only comparable game was Game 5 against the Canucks a couple years ago when the Garden was simply electric. Today was just utter spectator-ship to the extreme. I couldn’t video some of the intense fans because it was all fast and in crossing but it was crazy. Crazier than any other of the games I’ve been to. When people say they bleed black and gold etc, they’re referring to these guys. Legit bleeding red and yellow for their team.

The night before I went to Pizzeria Remo a Testaccio with people whom I all consider family. Great pizza, even greater company, and the best wait staff. Because you know what the best part was? Our waitor, was a Lazio Ultra. Meaning he was banned from the stadium for 8 years after igniting a Carabinieri truck on fire and can’t go back until 2015. You pickin up what I’m puttin down? Crazy right, but the guy was the best waitor I’ve ever seen in my life. Treated us like family even though we were Roma fans. It’s guys like him that exemplify the fans around here. Put them in a square mile of that team during a game….all bets are off, put him in his element, he’s the best friend you never met. He was the best, his only defect was that he was just a fan of the wrong team. Oh and he loved how I could open the liter beer bottles with my iPhone, he said “Only in America,” while subtly grabbing another bottle putting it on the table and cracking it open with his wedding ring….”Only in Italy.”  However, best part of the night was when my _________ leaned over to me and said “Aho, la parte piu bella e che vedi, noi magnamo, e i Laziali c’e servono“, translation, “Hey, you see, the best part is were the ones eating and the Lazio fans serving us.” I almost died laughing, even though I realized it was this type of back and forth that makes this rivalry what it is on game days. This field for 90 minutes turns into a Colosseum, the Olympic stadium a battlefield and soccer, a means for an eternal military campaign.

Closing notes on the game as I wrap this up. State side fans need to come up with some chants man. Fans over here out sing out chant and out noise Americans by a billion decibels. Its insane how many songs and chants (Cori) they have, especially for Lazio. Imagine 60-80 thousand fans screaming and singing together in unison, its breathtaking. Lastly, between the flares, banners, flags the size of billboards, and colored smoke grenades it was very impressive. The smoke grenades create this like lingering fog of war over the field. I can’t imagine being on that field playing or scoring a goal or playing through 33 Derbies like Francesco Totti has (age 38), while still outrunning more than 90% of the guys out there. Unbelievable and I can’t thank my Uncle enough for bringing me. Grazie mille.

World Soccer Rivalries Link: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1730264-why-roma-lazio-is-one-of-world-footballs-fiercest-rivalries

Thanks all folks. – Alla prossima.

B&A,

M

Ciao Bella

Giorno 24

Well this is long overdue, but better late than never I suppose. I’ve been very sluggish in getting this ball rolling. I haven’t been in the writing mood where I just need to document this shit stuff. Its almost like taking pictures. Sometimes the camera just can’t fully capture what your eyes can and all you can do is surrender yourself to the moment and take it in.

Well in a unnecessary metaphor, that is how my time here in Florence has been. There has been so much that has already happened and so much going on, even getting the time to write is a commodity. I’ve probably walked more than I ever have in my life, spent the most money I ever have in my life and started one of the most interesting times of my life.

My first trip was to Cinque Terre and Pisa. As my family has always told me, if you go to Pisa, go to the tower, take a look around, and leave. It’s no Rome trust me. And the crazy thing is, after all the architects had accomplished back then you’d think they would’ve mastered the level and or checking out the land before building over huge deposits of water, hence why everything at the tower is out of plumb. Then on the other hand they could’ve just been drunk and not cared so then again if that was the case, well played gentlemen you inadvertently created one of the most well known monuments in Italy. Cinque Terre was as expected, a smaller, less populated and a uniquely beautiful version of the Amalfi Coast. Cinque Terre was the epitome of a small Italian coastal town smack up on unbelievable cliffs that reminded me of the images in Jurassic Park of the Galápagos Islands.

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My second trip was to San Marino, Riccione and the Misano World Circuit, now known as MWC Marco Simoncelli, named after the amazing young rider that died recently. I went to see the MotoGP on Sunday and to see my dude Valentino “il Dottore” Rossi 9x World Champion ride again. Although he didn’t race like he did last time I saw him in Indianapolis, it was awesome being there on home turf. I don’t know what it is about it but hearing the bikes and watching them fly around the circuit is just awesome. Loved every minute and made me want to ride so bad.

That definitely is a huge craving I’ve had since I got here. I’ve wanted to ride anything on two wheels, even a bicycle and its so frustrating.

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So, now to everyday matters, old business. Life in Florence is interesting. I’ve never seen such a diverse population in my life, between tourists, immigrants living here now and street vendors, it’s ridiculous. I’d say even more diverse than New York City. There are literally like 15 different languages being spoken in Florence at any given time. The ambulances are so goddamn annoying, there are condom dispensers built into buildings like vending machines, I’m convinced the street vendors are being forced to sell the same annoying useless shit because nobody in their right mind would be selling the same shit the guy next to him is, like where’s the competitive advantage chief? I want to know who the hell is the supplier of all this nonsense because they’re making a killing, like where do you get roses every morning? I don’t see a big warehouse full of roses anywhere around here. And there are small closet like stores with random stuff from floss to your latest edition of Playboy, toilet paper, or fine Italian cheese or wine; I’ve now labeled these as 7/11s because I have yet to find one without an Indian employee. They formally have no name, simply “Cold drinks, beer, whiskey, aqua, pasta, wine, cigarettes” is always somewhere on their windows. So, 7/11 it is. There’s your shutout Singh.

I was lucky with my roommates, we are all different. And not to sound corny but I like that because you always need a dude with a third nut or something that’s gonna be the wild card and do we have some wild cards. With the apartment, not so lucky, great location, however too far from the rest of civilization, I call our apartment the IKEA apartment because it is the most bush league Mickey Mouse household I’ve ever had the pleasure of living in. Pot has a hole in it, faucet just falls off, fans don’t work, get replaced and last a week, broken again, shower has a door but instead someone decided a metal quarter inch cable with a shower curtain is much more chic, none of the appliances in the kitchen work and for some reason we have more security on the inside of the house when we’re home than when we leave because there are approximately 5-7 different dead bolts or chains, whatever.

Nightlife is pretty sweet. We’ve made some great friends and met some wild people that ill always remember. And a lot of people that one day I’d love to treat the same way they’ve treated us. It’s interesting how all the places split up the week, there’s never one solid place you can usually go and it’ll be good. You always have to know where the flow is.

School is school, always will be. Reading writing etc. classes are all good and interesting. I’m starting to notice some of the classes are overlapping now and it’s interesting to see how you can bring something from one class to connect to the other and seem outlandishly smart. Unfortunately I have a couple classes that are filled with airheads that either talk but never say anything or nobody answers the teachers questions and create the worst, most painful pauses when nobody raises their hand and I’m always that guy because nobody wants to put themselves out there. Like c’mon who cares if you’re wrong, you seem like more of a douche sitting there looking at the teacher like you just shit your pants or awkwardly avoiding eye contact like you just saw your ex. I feel like I developed that mentality thanks to BC High, literally never gave a shit about what people would think by answering the question and avoiding the painful silence of stupidity.

Nonetheless, anywho, comunque, hopefully ill be traveling a lot more soon. I have intentions of going to Munich for Oktoberfest, Croatia, London, Prague, Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, and hopefully Copenhagen along with a couple domestic visits to family and friends. If anyone wants to come or meet up let me now, I’ll shoot you my tentative calendar. I know it’s ambitions but how many more times may I have the opportunity to do it? I don’t know maybe ill have ten more chances but I’m sure as hell going to make sure I don’t regret it.

Thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far. Tip my hat to you, thank you, grazie.

Ill be posting again soon.

Cheers & Ciao Bella.
M