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THE 2012 CONFERENCE _ Florence in Italy and Abroad _ from Vespucci to contemporary innovators DISCOVERING THE PERGOLA _ Florence’s historic theater OFF THE BEATEN TRACK _ A contemporary tour of Italy YOU SAY PIZZA, I SAY PITTA_ Exploring global influences on Italian cuisine

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Amerigo Vespucci (ämārēˈgō vāspōtˈchē) [1454–1512] Italian navigator in whose honor America was named, b. Florence.

Those new regions which we found and explored with the fleet... we may rightly call a New World. Amerigo Vespucci

Namesake for the United States of America, world-renowned explorer, employed by the Medici family, forever famous for his adventurous spirit and conceptually ‘earth-shattering’ discoveries, Amerigo Vespucci was an extraordinary figure in world history—and a Florentine. This man was one of new frontiers. Uncharted waters, foreign territories, and new landings for consideration, these were the very essence of Vespucci; his conclusion on the Americas—that the land was in fact separate from Asia—changed the face of the world forever. Vespucci was a highly-skilled navigator. Being a trader, he was intrigued by the task of finding a quicker, more efficient way to sail to Asia. He went on voyages to Central and South America between 1497 and 1504 for the royals of Spain and Portugal. He treaded the lands in many places, including Venezuela and Brazil. Post-explorations in 1502, he was a pioneer of the idea that these places were not, in fact, part of Asia (as Columbus thought) but rather were sections of a “New World.” It is theorized that a published pamphlet, by a German author, suggested that these lands be named in honor of Amerigo. At first, the name of “America” was only meant to apply to South America, but was later adapted to the second continent in the north as well.


More than the tangible impact that Vespucci had on the world— then and now—the deepest mark of his existence arguably lies in his desire. There is an innate desire within all of humanity to explore, to see the unseen; a need for development and maturity, of knowledge, person, and experience. The desire in Amergio Vespucci—the fire fueled by a fascination with the new—is one in tune with that of Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or William Shakespeare, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford. The beauty of the “unknown” is in this truth: there will always be more; the “unknown” is a project that has no end, a working definition, constantly being updated by those who strive to quench the fire that is within us all. Amerigo Vespucci identified the New World. What will you discover?







Florence In Italy And Abroad: From Vespucci To Contemporary Innovators

2 Arts







exploration Student Voice








S-E 3D illustrations by Andrew Johnson


Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Ralph Waldo Emerson

We need the tonic of wildness... At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that


all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.


We can never have enough of nature. Henry David Thoreau

The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to. Alain de Botton


Martin Waldseem端ller, Universalis Cosmographia, 1507 The first world map to show the Americas separate from Asia in honour of the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci.


Instead of bringing back 1600 plants, we might return from our journeys with a collection of small unfĂŞted but life-enhancing thoughts. Alain de Botton As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. Herman Melville We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey. John Hope Franklin

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot



Blending Magazine is a semesterly publication produced by the students and faculty of Florence University of the Arts, the academic member of Palazzi Florence Association for International Education.

Semestrale Semesterly Magazine Reg. Trib. di Firenze n 5844 del 29 luglio 2011 Anno 2- Numero 2 - Autunno 2012 Year II - Issue II - Fall 2012

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Blending Readers, Our Fall magazine theme is inspired as usual by the theme of the annual FUA / SUNY Stony Brook academic conference held in Florence, Italy. This year’s conference was centered on Amerigo Vespucci, as the year 2012 signals

Direttore Responsabile Director MATTEO BROGI Caporedattore Editor-in-Chief GRACE JOH

Coordinamento editoriale Managing Editor FEDERICO CAGNUCCI

the 500th anniversary of his death. And thus we have grappled with the challenge of interpreting the concept of “Exploration” for this semester’s magazine, a challenge that is rendered doubly difficult due to the vastness of the topic and the daunting legacy left behind by the famed explorer. Yet we discovered, thanks to the conference commencement speech pronounced by Eugenio Giani, President of Florence’s City Council, that Vespucci grew up as a young dreamer in a city teeming with Renaissance


Progetto grafico e impaginazione Graphic design and layout Federico Cagnucci

discoveries. That he sat for a Ghirlandaio painting as a youngster That Botticelli had his relative Simonetta in mind when painting Venus. And as an explorer just

Fotografi docenti FUA FUA Faculty Photographers Jacopo Santini David Andre Weiss

starting out he was recruited by the Medici family to

Illustratori Student Illustrators Arin Ensor Andrew Johnson Dillon Hesse Meiwen Wang

to day life, steadily maturing into the extraordinary

Redazione | Copy Editors Ashtyn Mathews Renee Puno Johnny Snelgrove Rebecca Valpy

Vespucci being a teller of tall tales, naturally making him

Ringraziamenti | Special Thanks To Lucia Giardino Thomas Brownlees

naturally changed, and the Blending Staff of faculty

explore for business. In an important era, Vespucci was living his day

explorer he would become. To gain another Vepsucci perspective, we also sat down with Riccardo Ventrella from the historic Pergola theater and chatted about

a loved target of the theater world. In today’s world, exploratory methods have

members and students have decided to explore contemporary variations of exploration, including interior/contemplative as well as technological

Editore | Publisher Florence Campus per INGORDA Editore Via Alfonso La Marmora, 39 50121 Firenze Redazione | Editors’ Office Corso Tintori, 21 50121 Firenze Tel. 055-0332745

approaches. Explorations can also be singular or collective, as many of our articles evince, and we are proud to offer a kaleidoscope of journeys spanning from the arts to the environment.

Stampa | Printer Grafiche Gelli s.r.l., Calenzano (FI) Il numero è stato chiuso in redazione nel mese di novembre 2012. This issue was completed in November 2012. Copyright 2012 by Florence Campus, Firenze All rights reserved.


Sincerely, Grace Joh and Federico Cagnucci Chief Editor and Managing Editor of Blending




R e n e e

P u n o

In echoing Amerigo Vespucci’s monumental voyage, this issue of Blending dwells on the topic of exploration and discovery. The magazine dwells upon an all-encompassing, unifying theme of exploration and what that means for the modern man today. Exploration, as broad a word as it is, may be interpreted and deconstructed to reflect all sorts of timely issues. One way of translating exploration in a contemporary setting is to apply it to the digital age, the dawn of the internet and all that comes hand in hand with this relatively new media phenomenon. Indeed the internet has revolutionized, even redefined, the way we explore. One can journey to the other side of the world, to space and beyond, to the past, and to the future with just one click. With tools like Google and Wikipedia, discovery is made effortless and ultra-accessible. Type a phrase, a word even, and you are instantly bombarded with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of possible sources of information, be they text, photos, or videos. No other generation has had this much information at their ready disposal. This new medium has also created a sizeable shift in the idea of social exploration. Sites like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Skype have paved the way for lightning fast intercommunication that seems to know no physical bounds. As much as this new medium has elevated the idea of exploration, it has also created hindrances that ironically, kill modern man’s

need and desire for it. For example, the internet, chock-full of information, preempts travel. Instead of making an actual physical journey to a certain place, one can see photos, read about it, and already feel that they’ve been there. The need for discovery, for learning, for actual and true experiences, is quenched, all in a matter of minutes. The same applies for the social sphere. Actual conversations are replaced by one or two witty lines written down on Facebook timelines. Meet-ups are no longer needed when Skype video chats are a viable option. One need not venture out of the four walls of their bedroom to feel that they have accomplished, successfully at that, some type of genuine interpersonal exploration. With this new technological tool, it is evidenced that too much focus is placed on the outcome, on the destination, and not the journey. Curiosity is quenched with the click of a button: wonder is realized, fear wanes away, the journey is forgotten. There is little or no mystery left in the world; no idea of the truly and completely exotic exists. There seems to be little left in the process of exploration, in fact there seems to be a decline in the need for it. As everything is instantaneously served on a golden platter, there is no longer a need for a drawn-out route, no need for a journey to speak of... Or is there?

One can journey to the other side of the world, to space and beyond, to the past and to the future with just one click.

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F r a n c e s c a B o c c i Conference Organizer

“Innovate, explore”, concepts that are very common in contemporary society: in honor of the 500th anniversary of Amerigo Vespucci, the city of Florence is ready to “explore” new concepts and new “worlds.” Hence the subject of this year's conference, “Florence In Italy and Abroad: From Vespucci to Contemporary Innovators,” which reflects the continuous need for innovation and research in all fields, not just those that are expected. This year’s edition featured four simultaneous panels. Each day was opened with a plenary session, in order to create an atmosphere that stimulated the exchange of ideas. The conference centered on the running theme of discovery with a focus on discoveries made by men in certain periods throughout history. The impact of these discoveries on contemporary society was assessed through the form of innovation.

With this idea in mind, the students themselves participated in an active way (for the second consecutive year) in order to continue the chain of innovation. In fact, students from both Stony Brook University and the FUA student body were the protagonists of the Student Panel. The pupils, with the assistance of their professors, gave speeches to present and discuss their ideas, innovations, and (re) discoveries in relation to a city like Florence. As suggested by Prof. Mario Mignone of Stony Brook University, students from the Stony Brook panel reflected on what it means to be the generation returning to Italy today: what they are bringing with them from the new world and what has changed in the old world of Vespucci.

The conference included a plenary session by the President of the Municipal Council, Dr. Eugenio Giani, while Prof. Mignone, Dean W. Arens and Prof. B. Hsiao, Vice President for Research, all from Stony Brook University, spoke during Saturday's session. Representatives from other institutions, such as Prof. N. Brownlees, Professor of English Language at the Faculty of Arts of Florence, participated as moderators for two panels on Friday, November 9. The conference also included a space for creativity and art this year, thanks to the art show “Landing @ F_AIR” held on Thursday, November 8 at F_AIR, and the Photography exhibit “The Concept of Travel and its Evolution,” held on Saturday, November 10 at DIVA.


photos by David Weiss



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Alessandra Ragionieri _ Amerigo Vespucci

Susan Tuberville _ Within Reach


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S-E Antonella Mercati _ Amerigo Vespucci


Due West





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Inaugurated in May 2011 by Gabriella Ganugi, founder and president of Florence University of the Arts, and curated by Lucia Giardino, F_AIR is the first artist in residence program aimed at listening to the slightest of clues, perceives a route, traces it, and follows it... but the landing is out of his control; the future that awaits him is uncertain, full of wonders as possible of loss. For each of the artists in the exhibition, the concept of exploration takes on different meanings and connotations. But if you were to trace a common element, consider the interest in the unpredictable nature of the outcome, and a disinterest in the outcome itself. Christiana Caro stresses that exploration is defined “by its opposite, the inactivity of not moving, not seeing, not-looking.” The artist in residence of the third millennium exists “between two opposite poles: the time to be itself an excellent witness and a wizard without his sight.” Nicolas Muller, however, sees himself more in a position to watch “a guy, who looks at things, is concerned with anecdotes, stories and details.” Kali Nikolou, interested in the possibilities as to the impossibility of so-called art, writes, “I so or present something and wait to see what it does [...] it’s the unexpected that drives me to do it,” and again, “what we need is to go to beyond the mere description of the expectations of exploration. Things happen or not. Everything else is speculation.” Lukáš Machalický believes “the perception of different cultures” to be essential, the contact and understanding of the global world to “[as writes Lucia Giardino] the geographical mutability conducted the same in the entire world.” For Maria Raponi, exploration—in a purely artistic sense—means more than accomplishing work in a new environment. It means “rethinking” the practices, stimulated by new obstacles such as the vital contact with new communities and new partners.

for young artists in the historic center of Florence.



This particular program is characterized not only by giving young artists the opportunity to interact with Florence, a city of absolute fascination yet extremely impervious due to the density of its history, but by immersing the artist in the academics of the school. The results of a year and a half of activity at F_AIR are now visible in the running exhibition, “New Shores: F_AIR Landings.” The opening of this exhibition also represents the inauguration the “Florence in Italy and Abroad: from Vespucci to contemporary innovators” conference, a yearly conference done in collaboration with SUNY Stony Brook University and FUA’s sQuola Center for Contemporary Italian Studies. Artists Christiana Caro, Lukáš Machalický, Nicolas Müller, Kali Nikolou, Maria Raponi, and FUA students Faith Barton and Kevin Ivester present works that are necessarily heterogeneous in terms of material, media and intentions but that encourage us to reflect and rethink notions of society, ethics, politics, economics, morality and territory. If the artist performs a physical journey with all that it implies within a residency program, the underlying assumptions of a following exhibition is that the plausible artists be explorers of a new millennium; the purpose would be in checking the contribution of their exploration that is based on intuition, visions, and knowledge—in a society highly fragmented and specialized. Only those who have no fear of the unknown, or those who decide to challenge this fear can be labeled as a true explorer. The explorer,



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The exhibition aims to highlight the role of these creative artists as mentors. For this reason, included in the exhibition are the works of two students. Faith Barton, one of the interpreters of the ribelli (rebels) in the videos of Kali Nikolou, presents his self-portrait: his face wrapped in the American flag and eye-catching rimmed glasses. On the other hand, Kevin Ivester proposes a work that explores the concept of waste (food in particular) in western countries. The video, A Set of Silverware, produced in the class of Machalický has enjoyed the opportunity of being screened at the Center for Contemporary Culture Strozzina, demonstrating the fertility of an artist in residence, educationally speaking. The curators of the exhibition—Lucia Giardino and I—hope that it will stimulate the audience to question the meaning of art making in the third millennium, and urge us to new and personal explorations.

New Shores: F_AIR Landings Curated by Lucia Giardino and Tiziana Landra Nov. 8th - Nov. 16th, 2012 F_AIR – Florence Artist in Residence via San Gallo 45/red 50129 Florence 055 0332950 -






Nicolas Muller L’endroit du dÊcors cardboard mockup and drawing 2010_2012


oil on canvas 2012


Maria Raponi FUA Library Reading Room photograph digital c-print lightbox mounted, 2011


New Shores: FAIR Landings installation view, 2012


Only those who have no fear

Faith Barton Untitled (Rebel)

of the unknown, or those who decide to challenge this fear can be labeled as a true explorer.

Christiana Caro Salt and Pepper photograph digital c-print, 2011

photos by Nicolas Muller


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In August I moved to Florence, Italy to spend a semester abroad. It was and is my intention to study art, but I also wanted to discover the importance of the artist. After all, when I tell people my major is Studio Art, they often respond with something like, “Well, what are you going to do with that?” I realized that too often artists are stereotyped as those inspired but unwilling people who do not wish to apply themselves to a useful career. However, as much as society pokes fun at artists, it never ceases to appreciate their craft. It hangs their paintings on the wall, listens to their music, and perpetuates their message. Moreover, society should revere the artist, because the longer one considers the artist’s place in society, the easier it is to realize that artists provide the curious energy that cause the production and coalescence of human ideas. When I first drafted this piece, I spent some time reflecting on a strange realization that I had that morning. I realized that after living in my current apartment for two and a half months I had failed to notice two pictures of sunflowers hanging on the wall opposite of my bed. I found this remarkable because those flowers exist in my visual field for a substantial amount of time each day. They are there when I stand in my room, change, grab my backpack, relax, do homework, and so on, and I failed not only to appreciate their aesthetic value, but to notice their existence. Such a realization prompted me to recall a scene from Black Sheep in which Chris Farley and David Spade acciden-

tally inhale laughing gas and hilariously begin to contemplate the orthoepical nature of the word “road.” Like these two comedians, I failed to completely understand a common component of my daily life. While this is hardly an epiphany, it led to a more philosophical endeavor into human cognitive exploration. What do we notice? Why do we notice it? But, perhaps more importantly: What are we missing? What haven’t we noticed? What objects, relations, structures, and discoveries have our minds skipped over in an attempt to preserve our sanity? Allow my wall’s sunflowers to serve as a metaphor for these ideas. How many pictures of sunflowers go unnoticed? How could it be possible to expect such a degree of inspection toward daily life? Imagine a mind that attempted to store every piece of information it came across. Like a hard drive on a computer, eventually it must run out of space. The mind has to prioritize information by levels of importance; it cannot know everything. That would be a strong argument, if we still had to wrestle with limited storage space. But, we dont. The invention of language, books, the printing press, and, more recently, the technological revolution, has made the problem of information storage obsolete. Each year, processing speed and data storage capacity increases exponentially and the symbiotic relationship that is the human being and the computer improves significantly. At this point, it seems we cannot run out of storage. So, any idea we have, any realization we come to, only needs to be converted into language and saved. As a result, we have the capacity to create and store every realization that human beings ever come to. It does not seem impossible that eventually we will know and have recorded all of the knowledge that our type of intelligence is able to discover. So what exactly is role of the artist? Artists are the curious. They explore a world of undiscovered conceptuality and convert it into language. The language is the artist’s choice; it is whatever medium they believe is most effective at communicating their ideas. Whether it is sculpture, painting, drawing, or writing, it is the language of the artist. Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo showed us the first theory and evi-

A n d y

dence of Heliocentrism and Darwin proposed evolution over creationism. These men were artists. They observed reality and they discovered that too often the human being thinks of himself as the center of or separate from the external world, when reflection will reveal that he is actually just a small part of the whole. They searched for the relationship between observation and reality, just as a great painter examines the relationship between objects in a still life, in order to accurately represent them. This is the new exploration: to understand the human being’s place in the order of reality, to fi nd what he was not born knowing. The best artists are those who can communicate their idea without any confusion or mistakenness because they chose an effective medium. Our species is destined to realize the extent of our collective consciousness. We only need to explore the world around us. We need artists to realize that there are pictures of sunflowers on our walls and we need to study the language those artists use to remember that they are there. To accomplish this task we already have the perfect system - it is the artist who is the hero of the human race. This new exploration of cognition and the reality we perceive, lies in the hands of the artist. Because while it may be the scientist who eventually poses the hypothesis, creates the theory, or provides the proof of reality, it is always the artist, or the artist inside of him, who asks the question and provides the drive toward explanation. Whether their medium is paint, clay, ink, or garbage found on the street, they are the explorers and the publishers who will cause our curiosity to evolve into our understanding.

However, as much as society pokes fun at artists, it never ceases to appreciate their craft.

Photo source:


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IL PONTE R a g i o n i e r i

Exploration on old and new maps. Human pathways, associated with migratory flows and past colonization. The work of Alessandra Ragionieri speaks of a great exodus and the need to go elsewhere, it speaks of origins and roots in the land using old and new maps. Described by Lucia Giardino: “...the artist is the daughter of the present time, unstable and undefi ned. In his work, the shapes of the faceless men do not aggregate into circles to outline an area but wander in single fi le or move to a flowing rhythm, silent, as if they were birds.” The journey, ingrained in man ever since Cain explored and wandered, is a constant theme in the art of Alessandra Ragionieri. It’s a trip without a concrete fi nal destination, it does not lead to self-discovery. Nor are we in front of the sweet wreckage of romantic derivation - whether it be mercy that gives uncertainly to the steps of being, the other makes you free - confused routes, languages and thoughts, while providing the ability to invent novelty.

A l e s s a n d r a


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The journey, ingrained in man ever since Cain explored

and wandered, is a constant theme in the art of

Alessandra Ragionieri.

Due East





The following two projects created by Virginia Lopez consider the concept of the error and alternative globes in her interpretations of exploration.

Errare Humanum est (academic adage) Devoto Oli dictionary: “errare - 1. to move towards no particular direction or destination. 2. to make a mistake in what one believes or affirms.� The work looks as exploration conceived as the verb to err as a movement towards the known guided by the curiosity that allows the possibility of the error that becomes an instrument of knowledge.


Embalajes#1 | Ephemeros as a globe The photographs show the various packaging of my artwork prior to shipping them. It is subjected to different movements to improve its visibility, it explores new physical spaces (as it is moved around), as well as mental perception through the diverse forms of perceiving the artwork. At the same time the content is exploratory, as it creates a sort of mapping within the shipping box. A personal globe, enclosed in a container with instructions (writings, arrows, signs) that guide towards discovery.



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V i r g i n i a

L o p e z




J o h

a n d

T h o m a s

B r o w n l e e s

photo by Jacopo Santini

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Blending is pleased to offer a double interview of the director of the Pergola theater and a FUA intern who spent most of the Fall Semester backstage at Florence’s historic theater as a stage intern. Il Teatro della Pergola has been offering performances for over 350 years and is an emblem of Florentine culture, performing arts, and the city’s evolution.

R icc a r d o Ve n t r e ll a Pe rgo l a D ire c to r f o r Inn o v at i o n a n d Val o r i z at i o n

1. How did your involvement in the world of performing arts begin? My university studies were in tune with my future career. I graduated with a degree in the history of cinema from DAMS (music and performing arts) at the University of Bologna. As I began to work on research projects I also started to be involved in sports communication. I also commenced my involvement in cultural organization by working on the programming of a cineclub in Florence. As I phased out of my sports-related work, I had the opportunity to substitute a team member of the Pergola theater who was going away on maternity leave. Initially I had planned on sticking around for a year and here I am after 11 years. I've directed the marketing operations, the theater, and now the future developments of the theater. 2. What's a typical day like for you at the Pergola? I usually begin at 9am, and my workdays can vary depending on office responsibilities and off-site appointments. My day ends around 7 to 7:30pm when there are no performances, obviously when the theater is active our hours extend well beyond this timeframe.

3. How can theater be a departure point for exploration? How does the Pergola view Amerigo Vespucci given that this year marks the 500th anniversary of his death? The theater itself did not directly explore the Vespucci theme, though I have personally introduced it to the Estate Fiorentina summer event cycle. However, we at the theater have always been intrigued by Vespucci and interested in his character as he is a strong factor in valorizing the history of Florence, especially in the city center recognized by UNESCO. Vespucci is a very theatrical figure, he was an extraordinary storyteller who recounted tales of his travels and of his own importance, like all other tellers of tall tales who are of interest to theater. We Florentines, despite the fact that ours is not a maritime city, have a long tradition of exploration and navigation. This is a largely unknown fact, yet Florence's flourishing commerce pushed many of its citizens to embark on journeys.

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4. What can you tell us about the theater and the international community? The Pergola does indeed have a small form of contact with international environments. For example we hosted the F.E.S.T.A. (Florence English Speaking Theatrical Artists) company at the Bargello museum. Our true vocation is to promote Italian theater but we do feel that there is the possibility of a space in Florence where performances can be conducted entirely in English. Our theater, on the other hand, can be considered a important meeting point and museum space for foreigners. We have already activated several itineraries to explore the city from unusual and unique perspectives and are working on offering them in English. 5. What advice can you offer to students seeking to work in performing arts? Florence is a city that offers many occasions for students to learn artistically and technically. Here at the Pergola, we offer a close contact with the materiality and physicality of theater production. It's rare to experience this these days, and a stage designer must also be familiar with stage mechanics. Working for a historic stage with modern equipment is also an important experience. 6. Feedback on hosting Rachel at the theater in the last 9 weeks for her internship? The theater has always been a place of welcome and hospitality. There's always a people-driven sense of group work. For our technicians it is always a positive encounter when new individuals join our team, this creates a stimulating and positive attitude. The values that are transmitted from these exchanges, in the context of manual work, generates positive elements for everyone and above all the possibility of leaving a lasting something to someone else.

Vespucci is a very theatrical figure, he was an extraordinary storyteller who recounted tales of his travels and of his own importance...

photos by Jacopo Santini



R ac h e l Fe ldm a n Inte r n

1. Tell us about your background. I'm from Washington, MO. Webster University, Scene Design major in a theater conservatory program. One semester left!

than my home country. I've been exposed to historical items that have progressed over time and this helps me to contextualize what I was already exposed to back home.

2. Describe your internship position and your typical duties. Stage intern at Pergola. It is a touring house and when new shows come in we help them with set up and rigging, masking, stage effects. Maintain theater and its offices.

4. Has interning in a unique part of Florentine culture, a city symbol, changed or deepened your relationship to the city? This experience makes me feel a lot more connected to here, the people I work for are from the city with their families, and I feel like I was connected to a community that would definitely welcome me back were I to come back someday.

3. How has this experience broadened your perspectives in the world of performing arts? The experience has broadened my perspective. The basics of woodworking that we read about in our textbooks in the US is something that has been great for me to see. Seeing these traditions put into practice shows me how we can implement the techniques in the technology-focused environments back home, they could be ways to be more effective and costefficient. I'm learning a lot of the history of theater, this theater is older


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5. How has the interaction with your colleagues been and how has it professionally shaped you? I was definitely more involved that I thought would be, when considering what an internship means and how it is commonly actually practiced. I followed Francesco, head of the stage crew, who got me involved in many ways that I wouldn't have expected to have the chance to do.





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“I'm wishing he could see that music lives. Forever. That it's stronger than death. Stronger than time. And that its strength holds you together when nothing else can.” Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution The experience of live music is not a foreign concept. Masses gather, instruments are played, and songs sung, and for an entire set list all is right in the world. While the music industry has spent the last decade in steep decline, the live music sector — large festivals, in particular — has thrived. But this idea of a musical palooza that currently stands, the massive light shows and killer line-ups, the all-access passes, and crowd-surfing for booze might be foreign for those generations before us. Musical festivals were surprisingly almost as common in the ancient world as they are in the modern. Enter: Festival of the Vine Flower, 10th century BC, Greece. Though these celebrations were more focused on glorifying actual deities rather than venerating rock gods, they often upheld the standard three prong requirement for modern-day “music fest” qualification: spirited fans, spirited jams, and just plain spirits. (Unfortunately, no, we are not the generation responsible for drunken dancing.) The evolution of this celebration continued into the late 1870s, Bayreuth in Germany being the first, and only, festival to exist on generosities of a monarch. Unfortunately for this business model, the success depended mainly on clien-

tele… and didn’t exactly fit into the Nazi regime. Which brings us to the 1930s—a place of no kings and queens, rather, in the hands of a dictatorship. Much to the surprise of the rest of the world, 1969 saw brighter days. The “three days of peace and love” came to a head in Bethel, NY with the happening of Woodstock. This festival attracted more than 500,000 people and was stacked with artists of the upmost regard and rock-ability. This marked one of the first musicspecific venue events to include and capitalize on social issues. Anti-war and pro-melodic therapy, Jon Mitchell says, of the attendees, “… [Woodstock] was a spark of beauty… they saw that they were part of a greater organism.” This movement is said to be one of the more pivotal moments in American history; a cultural phenomenon that presented mass gatherings of musical intent in a new light, with a newer, stronger influence. Thank you, Jimi Hendrix. Speaking of Hendrix, the first Glastonbury took place in 1970 in Britain, featuring free milk and high prices. The 1970s saw relatively low numbers for live music hoorahs. But never fear! The dawn of a new millennium held much higher numbers for live music attendance. From posh Cornbury

festival by Lord and Lady Rothwick to the hippie homeland of Womad, there slowly became a festivity for all tastes and most pockets. These festivals began to capitalize on the live music as a lure, and then additionally featured elements that created a multi-dimensional experience—films, comedy, fashion, and cabaret as side dishes. I’m not sure what the Athenians would think of California’s Coachella or Nashville’s Bonnaroo. But one thing is for sure: the music, the rage, and the mystical frenzy created by instruments so close you might touch the strings, will never fade away. These events have tampered with the minor elements of experience, exploring visual stimulation techniques—such as the light shows and optical overload at Belgium’s Tomorrowland Festival—and collaboration with different charities or causes; creating a broad display of artistic expression, with art shows and poetry readings, allowing the merge of music and film and technology festivals into one. But the sole mind behind these live concerts for the masses—from ancient Athens to modern Coachella, CA—will live on forever: days of music… thousands of people… celebrating on common ground… and the rest is history.

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B y

H a y l e y


J o h n s o n

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While abroad this fall in Florence, I have been and I, I am not only discovering a beautiful culgiven the opportunity to study under great art- ture and absorbing a zest for life, but more imporists. Many of them are the dead masters of the tantly, I am also discovering myself. Through the past; others are my direct masters at Florence process of evaluating myself as a person, I have University of the Arts; among these is the prac- gained a better understanding of how many difticing French artist Nicolas Muller, resident at ferent attributes make up an individual. As huF_AIR and my present professor of Foundation man beings we are not definable by one word nor Sculpture. are we defined by words alone. We are in a state With him, and in the environment in which I of continual development. Each new environpresently find myself in, I have gained new out- ment that we encounter yields for us countless looks and have learned new techniques for creat- opportunities to experience growth and knowling art. I have become more aware of who I am, edge, compassion and empathy. This dynamic where I am headed, and I am better equipped to process colors our individual character and cremake these discoveries explicit in the project en- ates a deeper self. titled Me, Myself, and I which I am preparing for As I examined the idea of an indefinable self(in the Strozzina Center for Contemporary Culture, my project visualized by three- dimensional clutunder the guidance of professor Muller. The se- ters of broken mirrors, which reflects infinite porlected works will be presented at the prestigious tions of the self) I realized how much my journey venue by the end of November. abroad has added a new dimension to who I am Before creating the project, I first had to evaluate and how I perceive myself to be. I have gained myself as a person. In doing so, I came to realize patience, passion, and enjoy just “being” rather how different the process of creating art is when than always “doing.” we remove ourselves from our usual surround- Living among an unfamiliar culture I am forced ings. Although my home university has offered to adapt. I absorb new concepts and consider obme a wonderful opportunity to learn and explore stacles a form of education that the classroom can all aspects of my creative possibilities and of art as never teach me. These obstacles, such as commua whole, it has been studying abroad that has en- nicating with a native, figuring out the bus schedriched the breadth and depth of that knowledge. ule, or taking an art project to the next level, help In Florence, and through the project Me Myself create the attributes that shape my future self. No longer is my everyday routine reliable or simple, but it is complex and unknown. Truly, I have grown tremendously as a person and as an artist while studying in Florence. Only in an unfamiliar environment would I have been able to experience these new emotions, obstacles, beliefs, and way of life. Through these new experiences I have been given the chance to discover all the different characteristics that make me an individual. I have a fresh outlook on myself. With this awakening I have been able to take my creations to a whole new level. If I did not take the opportunity to study art abroad, and if I had just chosen to stay in a safe and familiar environment, I would not have had gained the same invaluable knowledge and deep insight on art and life.






off, I’ve participated and seen things that were better than goals on my list, and I’ve been through such amazing experiences that I’ve completely forgotten about my bucket list. The thought of exploring, and getting blissfully lost while here in Florence has overcome any initial notion of completing my bucket list. Although I’m still working towards the end, the drive behind completing the list has evolved from a need to accomplish to a need to explore the unknown. The more I travel, the greater my desire to feel like one of the few. Exploring, to me, will always carry the connotation of being the first to try, arrive, or become something brand new. More often than not, the ‘new’ isn’t new to the world, but is simply new to me. It isn’t spoiled or tainted by that fact though; no matter how ordinary an item on my list may be, it is always followed by a unique tale with new ears waiting to hear it. After all, it’s not always what you do, but it’s who you’re with and how it’s done that matter. within reach, as I learn to overcome fears of rejection, failure, and most of all, growing up. It appears obvious and perhaps cliché that every study abroad student has once-in-alifetime chances and experiences while abroad, but it’s what each student does with those opportunities that make them miraculous. My desire to explore is directly proportional to the opportunities that I’ve earned. They have transformed me into much more than the student I was before I arrived in Italy. Truly, adventure and discovery are what await those who allow themselves to wander without direction. As the year comes to an end, I tend to look back on my personal bucket list. I evaluate what I’ve accomplished and look for motivation in order to get a step closer to some of the goals still unaccomplished and within reach. This year, although more successful in adventurous endeavors completed, is different. Over the last four months I’ve added more to my list than checked Getting lost in Florence was all but too easy. Initially because of the non-grid city map, maybe, but it was far more than that. A beautiful city stuck in time swallows you whole, with its ever-famous art, cuisine, and lifestyle. A new life of exploration awaits any who wander in, and that’s just what I did. The last four months have been enveloped in the notion of exploring myself, my abilities, my passions and most of all, my courage. In getting lost, I’ve learned many lessons about myself. Productively, my abilities to save time and money have grown. New passions have been explored, like cooking and writing. In trusting my instincts, I have been able to conquer over-thinking, stress, and fear in many daily circumstances. Allowing courage to prevail has enabled my career aspirations to come

M i t r i D i F r a n k i e b y

E n g l u n d A b b y b y

adventure and discovery are what await those

who allow themselves to wander without direction.

Due West




J a n e z i a

K e t c h e l

Dear Florence,

Florence photos by David Weiss

My dear Madretsma, There is nothing that I could possibly say that would perfectly describe how much I love you. Your enchantment has filled me with such splendor; it is hard for me to even begin. Though I was only in your presence for what seems like a moment in time, that is all it took for me to see your true colors. You are beautiful in your own fashion and structure, designed and decorated with such wisdom and thought. Your beauty is not fl ashy, nor is it dull; everything you are and have is eloquently sewn into a brilliant masterpiece. From your vibrant avenues to your curvy canals, nothing about you is out of place. Though the air is bitterly crisp, your grandeur is welcoming and warm. Your complexion is painted with an autumn glow and falling leaves dance in your eyes. I feel complete when I am near you and lost when I am distant. The exquisite effect you have on me sends my dreams into such a frenzy that it causes me great pain that I am not in your presence. But please do not be dismayed by my weakness. You are my aspiration. You hold my soul with the gentlest hands. To you is where my compass will always lead, and with you is always where I will be.

How can I even begin to repay you for what you’ve given me? You became such an exciting and intriguing event for me from the very moment I discovered I could have such a journey. The second I arrived, you began teaching me important life lessons. You reminded me that making new friends isn’t so difficult, and that I have the capability to adapt to a different place, city, and culture. I have learned so many things from my courses and from my professors who you have so graciously granted me. You taught me how to cook and eat healthier, how to be even more creative through art, and how to be truly relaxed through meditation. Your gifts have given me an even greater determination to achieve my goals for my career and my future. Every day, I learn something new about your culture. I learn something new about myself as well. You have given me a boost of confidence, higher self-esteem, and a more positive frame of mind. I cannot thank you enough for entwining my path with so many other wonderful people. I will never forget the friends that I have made and the instructors and professors that have inspired me. Nor will I forget those who assisted with getting me here and program advisors, and everyone else along the way. I thank you for all the help you’ve given me. I will miss your beautiful Cathedral, your voluptuous fields of grapevines and olive trees, and your history and art. I will miss your cultural differences, your dialect, and everything that makes you who you are. Every time I sprinkle parmesan cheese on my spaghetti, taste the bittersweetness of balsamic vinegar, or twirl a glass of wine, I will think of you. I will always look back on my time spent under your sky with a smile, laughter, and joyful tears. I hold you in the highest honor, and I give to you all the gratitude that I can possibly bestow. Florence, my dear Florence, you will always be in my heart and in my memories. Sincerely your student and friend, Me

Your complexion is painted with an autumn glow and falling leaves dance in your eyes.

Lovingly yours, Me illustrations by Federico Cagnucci

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S i m o n e t t a

F e r r i n i

As author Kate Simon provocatively stated in her groundbreaking travel book “Italy: The Places In Between” (1970), one needs to see the places “in between” the major classical Grand Tour destinations (Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples) in order to truly experience the reality of the “bel paese”. Siena, Volterra, Orvieto, Gubbio, Ascoli, Ferrara, and Treviso are some of the destinations that she recommends her readers visit, places that certainly do not appear on the priority list of many contemporary travellers. In having to design an itinerary for a hypothetical Grand Tour of Italy in the 21st century, I definitely embraced her view that it is mostly in the minor or less-known places (less-known even to Italians themselves) that you can make the most astonishing and rewarding discoveries; at the same time I would like to add to this route the flavor of awareness, a necessary ingredient I believe, for any journey undertaken in the age of globalization.

My itinerary would start from the north, in Torino, a city that has been dismissed for too long as the “city of FIAT”, but that in recent years has undergone an interesting cultural transformation. After the Second World War, Torino became one of the main centers of industrial development and consequently, the forced destination of a massive wave of immigrant workers who moved from southern Italy in search of jobs and better lives. Today, Torino is one of the most lively and most innovative cities in Italy. The locale is constantly trying to blend tradition with modernity, hosting both rock and classical music festivals (Traffic Festival and Mito), literary events (Salone

Internazionale del Libro), spiritual gatherings, (Torino Spiritualità), and a yearly international fair about sustainable agriculture and biodiversity (Terra Madre). Museums are a highlight of the city; it is home to the modern Museum of Cinema housed inside the majestic 19th century Mole Antonelliana (from which you can have a panoramic view of the city) and the prestigious Egyptian Museum (one of the major Egyptian museums in the world) that ideally converses with the high-tech displays of the Museum of Oriental Art. Also of interest are the restaurants and clubs of the renovated Quadrilatero neighbourhood, and the traditional historical cafés located on Via Po. After Torino I would recommend moving towards central Italy in search of alternative routes. I would stop first at the Fattoria di Celle - Collezione Gori in Santomato di Pistoia,

it is only by deviating from the beaten track


in both our lives and in our travelling experiences that we get a wider perspective of the world and of ourselves.


a beautiful estate in the Tuscan countryside that is home to a collection of environmental installations- a perfect harmonic blending of nature and art. The Villa Celle was built, in its present form, in the late seventeenth century and in the mid1800’s the park was enlarged and transformed into an English-style garden. When Giuliano Gori moved his collection there in 1970, he carried on the property's tradition of hosting artworks made specifically for its spaces. His idea was to ask each artist to choose his/her own site (either outdoors or inside one of the old buildings) and then develop the idea according to the place chosen. The result is a collection of artworks that are inseparable from the property; they have become an integral part of the site and the landscape. From the countryside I would then suggest heading towards southern Tuscany (Maremma) to visit another hidden artistic treasure: the Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarots Garden) located near the coastal town of Capalbio. Designed by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, the garden displays a collection of huge sculptures depicting the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot cards. Niki was inspired by the work of Gaudì in Barcelona, especially by Parc Guell. Following the winding lanes of the garden, one is completely immersed in an esoteric maze of colors, symbols, images, and fig-

J.H.W. Tischbein, Goethe in the Roman Campagna, 1787


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ures that blend together the artist’s visionary imagination with her personal life story. Leaving Tuscany, I would move south towards the region Basilicata, following in the footsteps of the protagonists of the road movie “Basilicata Coast to Coast”, produced by the Regione Basilicata in 2010 in order to promote the beauty of this small, forgotten area of southern Italy situated between Campania, Puglia, and Calabria. In the movie, the protagonists (some musicians and a journalist) travel across the region from coast to coast in order to attend a music festival, encountering on their way numerous adventures that end up having a therapeutic effect on their lives. The town of Matera, with its Sassi (caves) would be a must see stop; it holds the most outstanding and intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, dating back to the Palaeolithic age. The Sassi and the Rupestrian Churches of Matera came recently under the protection of UNESCO. The last part of the journey would be spent in Sicily, near Palermo, visiting two associations that fight daily against the presence of the mafia in their own region. The first one, Libera Terra, is an association formed by cooperatives of young people that have been assigned the lands and properties confiscated from the Mafiosi in Sicily, Calabria,

Campania, Puglia, and Lazio. They produce oil, wine, pasta, among many other organic goods that are sold in the Libera Terra stores, and in other stores under the Libera Terra name, all over Italy. The second one is Addio Pizzo, a group of volunteers, whose main aim is to promote awareness about ethical trade in Palermo and in the region as a whole, and to support businesses that stand up against racket, denouncing their extorters. The spirit of this association is summarized in their own motto “A whole people who pays the pizzo (racket) is a people without dignity”. My tour would surely be very partial and would leave many parts of this beautiful and complex country and culture unexplored, but I am truly convinced that it is only by deviating from the beaten track in both our lives and in our travelling experiences that we get a wider perspective of the world and of ourselves. As Mr. Eager says in A Room with a View: “If you will not think me rude, we residents sometimes pity you poor tourists not a little -- handed about like a parcel of goods from Venice to Florence, from Florence to Rome, living herded together in pensions or hotels, quite unconscious of anything that is outside Baedeker, their one anxiety to get ‘done’ or ‘through’ and go on somewhere else.”





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There is one thing that all good stories have in common— one necessary feature that can be found in every best seller: transportation. There must be transportation. A writer must be able to establish an environment for the reader to enter into, and temporarily drown themselves. Especially in children’s literature, it is essential that a world be created, one with a mindset that is all its own; a peculiar craft, surely the mark of a literary master and his or her pen. In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the concept of an alternate reality is exploited with artistic precision. The hero, Alice, spends the majority of the book exploring this new underground setting, seeking truth in its creatures and offerings. She experiences a parallel universe in which she must journey through in order to ultimately achieve self-discovery. The teleportation from the real world to wonderland is one of mind and of place, inescapable for anyone who might turn through the pages of the novel. Consider the Tuscan writer Carlo Collodi’s classic, The Adventures of Pinocchio. His work provides a less explicit peek into the realm of unfamiliarity through the eyes of a young wooden puppet. The toy spends his days wishing and dreaming to be a part of another sphere of existence, focusing his energies on that of the real boys. The fascination with being alive—Pi-

nocchio’s relentless insight into this world of the living and the wonders it would do for his contentment—establishes a definitive line between the worlds of the living and the inanimate. This is one of the first great international works of fiction that explored the idea of a lifeless toy becoming alive, and what that might be like. The most fantastic of them all, however, might be the magical world of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. This strand of epic novels highlights just how valuable this skill can be. Rowling’s ability to create an entire magical universe—one with characters, language, jargon, sites, moral laws, and structure, completely of fantastic nature—enables her to draw her reader in that much further. I have yet to encounter many readers who have come in contact with her novels and not been completely engulfed. Getting lost inside of the text is desired—and expected. It is said that we can’t possibly be in two places at once. What difference does it make if we are speaking literally? The same rule should apply. For if we are reading a novel that is truly magical, and truly great our minds will be transported, and our existence will inevitably follow.

illustration by Meiwen Wang

illustration by Dillon Hesse

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J o h n n y

S n e l g r o v e

Exploration demystifies the unknown and broadens our knowledge of the world. Whether it be an exploration into new lands or an exploration of intellect, at the end of the journey we always return home with new ways of understanding the world that we so often take for granted.


Of all the things we take for granted in our lives, language is an often overlooked and underappreciated avenue of exploration. Language is complex and plays a paramount role in our dayto-day lives. Take a three-day vow of silence and this becomes readily apparent; we cannot live without language. Email, Facebook, cellphones, text messages: all serve as a means of communication and expression, and underlying everything is language. To the vast majority of people, language is the single most important entity in their lives. Language is commonly understood as a medium for self-expression. What we don’t often realize, however, is that our self-expression through language is heavily influenced by the language itself. Language is subjective, not objective. Contained in a language are distinct affinities for specific religions, views on individuality, attitudes towards family, tradition, and, unfortunately in some cases, instances of racism and bigotry. Below is a list of Italian words that have provided me with the most profound insights, the heartiest laughs, and a better sense of the Italian culture through language.



Literally means “fingers of the feet” I find it funny and a bit odd that Italian doesn’t have a specific word for toes. If language is as telling as I believe it to be, what could the Italian’s linguistic definition for our southernmost digits reflect towards toes?

BRAVO, BUONO, BENE, BELLO Italians have a lot of ways of showing appreciation and congratulations: bravo for acing

an exam, buono for delicious pasta, bene if you’re feeling good, and bello if you’re looking good. If you’re doing something right, Italians won’t hesitate in letting you know! The specificity is the most interesting part about Italian congratulatory remarks. It suggests that relational values and camaraderie are a central part of Italian culture. It’s hard to appreciate others if it’s every man for himself. English, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same level of congratulatory classification, and I believe our strict adherence to individualism plays a role in this. Someone can play piano well, or can be really good at playing piano, or they can be an excellent pianist, but well, good, and excellent are generic adjectives. In the end, an English speaker must yell “Bravo!” if they really want to get the point across.

GUSTO Another Italian word that has made its way into English, gusto literally means “taste” or “flavor.” The Italian use of gusto is multifaceted, though. It is used literally in relation to the sense; like English, it is used to describe someone’s artistic or stylistic bent, as in, “He has good taste in Christmas sweaters” – but in Italian, di gusto preceded by a verb such as “ridere (laugh) di gusto” is also used to describe something done heartily or with a particular vigor. English has adopted the word to mean specifically this, so we yell, “Go on, sing! Do it with gusto!” If anything, gusto reflects Italy’s love of good food. But then again, what culture doesn’t like good food?

SUONARE A simple and succinct example of a word that reflects its culture. Suonare is a verb mean-

ing “to play a musical instrument.” The importance of music is built into the language. English must make do with the much less specific (and somewhat diminutive) verb “to play.” In other words, the English language has about as much respect for musical ability as it does for a toddler’s sandcastle.

VOI Verb conjugation is the biggest difference between Italian and English. Much of the logic in Italian is contained within the verb. The ways in which a verb is modified lets the listener know who the subject is, whether it’s one person or more, and when in time the verb took place. Once the speaker has the rules memorized, sentences can become very succinct and short while still containing a hefty amount of information. Any English student probably remembers the coarse words of William Strunk’s The Elements of Style, in which Strunk commands students to “Omit needless words!” He probably would have been less crotchety had he been born an Italian. One of the oddest things about English is its lack of a pronoun to signify “everyone being referred to except for the speaker.” Southerners in the United States solved this problem by introducing the contraction “y’all,” formed from youall, but usage is not widespread. English speakers, unfortunately, must bumble along with awkward sounding phrases such as “you guys” or use an ambiguous term like “everyone” and hope people get the meaning from the context. Italian neatly avoids this problematic ambiguity by using the simple article voi. Sometimes I wish we would adopt voi into English as well, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

VOTING IN VESPUCCI’S NAMESAKE b y 2012 witnessed a significant political moment in the land named after Vespucci. The United States of America re-elected Barack Obama as president. Samantha Gormely reflects upon this historic moment as she studies abroad. “A year of discovery.” Honestly, I can’t think of anything more fitting and more appropriate for a year of discovery than an election year. It’s a time when we really dive into the values that are dear to us and reflect on which candidate will best support the values that so clearly and firmly define us. We must discern what we believe, what’s the best for a country, and what will continue to make our home a place we love and cherish. What really makes this election year in the USA stand out and feel like a true moment of discovery is that, for many of us, it was the first time we voted. This was the first of many opportunities to check the box next to the name of the country’s leader for the next four years. While the resulting reflection and action are exciting and create a great moment of discovery for


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S a m a n t h a

G o r m e l y

each of us, there is one variable that cannot be overlooked: living abroad. We are in an entirely new place, blazing our own path. While college is an opportunity to forge out on our own and establish our independence, this experience is more than that. This is about discovering who we are in a global setting, about how we can create a whole new life in a whole new place, away from everything we know and love. And while we are creating this new life, we are creating a new us, and in creating a new us, we will help shape the future of our home country. We are away from the influences that we normally find ourselves under; our outlooks are different. We aren’t the same and we never will be again. These wonderful, curious, and impacting changes we are experiencing will be reflected in our own individual votes as we strive to discover the candidate that most accurately serves the needs and desires of the new us and will help us to create a nation that we can truly say we discovered for ourselves.




M i r e l l a

S a r t i

The Diamond, “Il Diamante,� is a new generation solar power plant designed and developed by Enel's Research Department (Enel is the largest electricity company in Italy) and the University of Pisa. Not only is the Diamond an extraordinary example of energy exploration, its architectural design blends harmoniously into the delicate and diverse natural landscapes that Italy is famous for. During the Fall 2012 semester, my Evironmental Conservation class and I had the opportunity to visit the Diamand at the Villa Medicea Demidoff Garden in the Pratolino area of Florence. Thanks to staff members Alessandro and Irene, who guided our visit, we were able to learn in depth about the Diamond and its sustainable approach to energy. Mounted on the faces of a geodesic dome structure, the solar panels generate electricity that can be stored in the form of hydrogen for use when the skies are overcast. The whole structure is brought together by a construction of huge proportions made of prefabricated glass and steel, creating a new type of functional power plant whose striking appearance achieves a harmonious balance between architecture, technology and nature. The Diamond features spherical shape and has an 8-meter diameter. Thirty-eight polycrystalline silicon solar panels are arranged on the crown and the south-facing side. The remaining surface is covered with glass panels to protect the structure against the wind. Inside, in three spheres each 2 meters in diameter, there are hydrogen storage tanks that utilize the advanced technology of metal hydrides. The plant can generate enough electricity to meet the energy demands of a small apartment block.

a harmonious balance between architecture, technology and nature.


During the day: the energy from the sun is trapped by the photovoltaic panels and converted into low voltage electrical energy. The energy thus produced is available to power appliances such as those used in a small apartment block. Surplus energy is sent to an electrolyser and used to break down the water into oxygen and hydrogen. The resulting hydrogen is sent to an accumulator tank.


During the night (or in the absence of sunlight): the energy, produced during the day and stored as hydrogen in the accumulator tank, is used by a fuel cell that transforms hydrogen's chemical energy into electrical energy. The electrical energy produced by the fuel cell ensures the continuous supply of power for the appliances in the house.

The Enel website may be consulted for further details on the Diamond: _ technology/renewables _ development/solar _ power/diamante.aspx

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During the Fall 2012 Introduction to Mass Communication course, the class was asked to define what a public space is. The varied answers created an opportunity for everybody to give the phrase “public space” a new definition. It allowed us to interpret the city of Florence as a spatial network that we temporarily inhabit on different conceptual and physical levels. At first the class worked on the concept of “public space” vs. “private place”. Historically, in Western cities, and in particular in European cities, a public space was the square, the center of the city where political power (city town hall), religious authority (cathedral), and commercial happenings (market) were concentrated. Everywhere else was a private place. Today, the concept of public space has undergone a multi-dimensional expansion: the meanings of “space” and “public” have most definitely changed. Besides the traditional definition of a public space as a place where every citizen has the right to move freely, the sociological approach has proposed a relational view that deems a public space to essentially be a “place of relationships.” According to this approach, a space is public whenever it creates an avenue for social and relational interaction- virtually anywhere a person is exposed to other individuals. This can happen at a bar, at the gym, at school, in a neighborhood, and even at home where through our laptops or mobile devices we can move (through webcams), build and manage relationships (through social networks), work and spend our free time. Any place where there is the potential to interact with other people, even if it is involuntarily, can be considered a public space. So are places where people are free to speak their minds, argue, praise, or communicate in any form. Gathering places have been extended beyond physical spaces like piazzas or cafes to include virtual spaces of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare where people can interact across time and space boundaries. The class’ second step in conducting this research consisted of each student giving answers to questions like “What are public spaces in Florence?” and “Why are they considered public spaces?” We observed different public and private spots around the city and determined the various factors that draw

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“Clean Up the World” is a community based environmental campaign that encourages surrounding communities to get involved in the environment and promotes sustainability. It gives people the opportunity to make a difference by being directly involved. In Italy, “Clean Up the World” is known as Puliamo il Mondo. This year “Clean Up the World” took place in Parco delle Cascine on September 28. Mirella Sarti’s Environmental Conservation class had the opportunity to participate this year by helping pick up litter along the Arno river banks. The campaign encouraged many students, businesses, and local individuals to help preserve Florence’s natural environment. “It was a great opportunity to help out another community and continue the movement of environmental sustainability,” said Florence University of the Arts student, Amy Diestler. Florence was not the only place where this movement was taking place. All over Italy volunteers cleaned up roads, squares, parks, beaches, and rivers to make sure all waste was discarded properly. “Even though Italy isn’t my origin of residence, I believe we should all still take part in respecting the surroundings in which

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For more information, visit WWW.CLEANUPTHEWORLD. ORG .

Our place, our planet, our responsibility.

Find us @ Tumblr: Facebook: Finding Florence Instagram: Finding Florence

people to congregate at these places. To document and share our observations, we used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a Tumblr blog. The pictures that the class chose to promote the blog are some of the most popular spaces in Florence, as well as some of the city’s best-kept secrets. Piazzale Michelangelo, San Lorenzo market, and Piazza della Signoria are locations highly frequented by locals and tourists alike. However, locations like Mama’s Bakery, I Fratellini, and Volume are great finds that are less well known. This project was chosen for a panel at the annual conference held by Florence University of the Arts and Stony Brook University. This was an excellent opportunity to show our attempts to combine traditional and modern ideas of public space and to create interaction with the audience, asking them to comment on their favorite gathering places. At the conference, students and professors alike were able to share their thoughts on the public spaces the class had found, pointing out which locations they considered to be worthwhile. In the future, we hope that more people will join this endeavor. We hope for everyone to be able to explore public spaces by commenting, adding their own photos, or providing their own two cents worth of information and suggesting new public spaces around the city. Our class, together with the Computer Graphics class are currently defining an ad campaign in order to further promote the blog and Facebook page among the main “public places” in the city of Florence. Florence University of the Arts will also aid us in promoting our initiative through the school network.


Due East

WANDERING IN AN URBAN SCENARIO: FLORENCE AS A SPATIAL NETWORK M e g h a n Abb ou d, L au r e n Alde r s, M a rt h a Bl a i n e Dav i s, Maggie Gallagher, Nora Hedgecock, Alexandra Marie Lopez, Jay n e Nagy, Ha n na h Sa ndberg, Nat h a n Edwa rd Sa ndidge, Jessica Spin elli

an d th e Int ro to M a s s C o mmuni c at i o n cl a s s

CLEAN UP THE WORLD 2012 S h a n n o n F a s o l a

we live, giving everyone the chance to enjoy the natural beauty Florence has to offer,” said Florence University of Arts student, Sabrina DiClemente. The goal this year was to increase good recycling habits and successful waste management. It is estimated that 35 million volunteers participate in “Clean Up the World” each year and the message lies in proving that everyone and anyone, can make a difference; through small, everyday acts we can make our cities more sustainable places, our monuments cared for; give more impetus to the green economy of eco-efficient recycling which is currently on the rise. “It was a wonderful experience to be able to help the Italian community and improve the environment, even if I’m only living here [in Italy] for a few months,” said Shannon Fasola, also a student at Florence University of the Arts. Let’s share the spirit of cooperation with others this year and get more individuals, communities, and countries involved to see what together we can make happen.




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Growing up as an Italian-American, I realized from a young age that my family—of Bolognese and Piemontese origin—cooked differently than our Calabrese and Sicilian friends and neighbors. Ricotta was used sparingly and butter was a staple. We didn’t go for cannoli, but opted for a flanlike concoction we called bounet. We ate more polenta than pasta. It wasn’t until I moved to Italy in my early 20s, however, that the regional nature of Italian cooking really sunk in. Thanks to several factors, including fairly recent unification (1861) and varied geography, each Italian region has its own culinary history and traditions. Don’t expect to see the same menu in Milan that you see in Venice, Florence, Rome or Palermo. Each city, each countryside touts its specialty—the dish they do best, the crop that grows most plentiful or the recipe that has been around since the Middle Ages, providing pleasure and nourishment to generation after generation. Usually simple and straightforward in their bounty, regional specialties should be sought out in every instance. Eat bistecca in Florence, risotto with saffron in Milan, seafood stew (cacciucco) in Livorno and fried rice balls (arancini) in Sicily. But wait! What of those staples we equate so fiercely with Italian food? The pizza, the pasta, tomatoes, coffee, gelato! Where do these come from? Do they hail from a specific Italian region, or do they—gasp—actually come from other places around the globe?

PASTA For many, imagining an Italian meal without pasta is nearly impossible. The popular legend that had Marco Polo bringing pasta from China during his thirteenth-century travels is almost certainly false. Pasta has been eaten throughout the peninsula for millennia, starting perhaps with the pre-Roman people known as the Etruscans. Following the discovery of a funerary mural depicting people mixing flour and water and accompanied by an old-school cutting machine and rolling pin, a new theory posits that the Etruscans were the ones to introduce this staple to the Romans. An etymology search of “macaroni”, however, points to a Late Greek makaria or makiros, a short pasta made from barley.

TOMATOES This one is a little more straightforward. Though tomatoes are at the heart of so many of the country’s specialties—insalata caprese, ragù alla Bolognese, pizza—they are a relatively “new” addition to Italy’s menus. The lusty fruit, called pomodoro (“pomo d’amore”—love apple), arrived on Italian shores in the early 1500s with the Spaniards who had picked them up while traipsing about modern-day Peru.

COFFEE From Arabic qahwah, said originally to have meant “wine,” but now thought to relate to the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, one of the plant’s first homes. The Italian word caffè was introduced in Venice in 1615 by merchants and travelers who had enjoyed a similar beverage in Turkey and Egypt.

GELATO Where there is warm weather and the ability to obtain icy liquids, frozen treats have existed. In my estimation, however, none have quite paralleled the heights of the Italian gelato. Though many questions surround the invention and diffusion of this Italian ice cream, it is widely accepted that Florentine architect, stage designer, artist and all-around Renaissance man Bernardo Buontalenti created the first gelato in the mid 1500s. A sorbet made with ice, salt lemon, sugar, eggs, honey, milk and a touch of wine, the cold cream was then flavored with bergamot and orange, much to the delight of the Medici court for whom it was prepared. There is no doubt that Italian food is uniquely steeped in its own history and that regional differences do exist, but it is a helpful lesson in globalization to recognize that there are more similarities than differences in cuisines from around the world and that in the end—north, south, east or west—we are a truly global community.

PIZZA My handy online etymology dictionary tells us that this word derives from Middle Greek pitta, meaning cake or pie; however, other solutions including everything from Old High German bizzo/pizzo (bite, bit) to the Latin pinsa (to smash, press, or crush). Though we are unsure of which conquering tribe brought this flat bread to the peninsula, pizza as we know it is now synonymous with Italian food. Of Neapolitan origin, it is served up and down the boot and around the world.

Pomodoro [love apple]

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A special team, a special project that literally travels. FUA’s TuttoToscana program expedited a team of faculty and students to NYC in order to wow audiences with the real flavors of Tuscany. What are the elements of this culinary caravan that prepared and presented four successful gastronomic events in an international food capital? 1 CULINARY CONCEPT The 2012 event concept was "Contemporary Chianti" and focused on the rich food culture in the territory located between Florence and Siena. The name Chianti derives from the wine denominations that can be legally produced in this area and has given birth to important Tuscan recipes that enhance the territorial wines and local ingredients. The goal of the theme was to present Chianti as something beyond the "rolling hills" depicted in cinema and literature, but also as an area that is home to innovation both in wine and in food, Chianti as it is lived and tasted today.



Ties between the US and Italy have always been very involved, especially considering historical and war-related alliances, Italian immigration to the US, current US students seeking Italy as a study abroad destination. The year 2012 is especially poignant for US-Italy relations thanks to the 500th anniversary of the death of Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine Renaissance explorer (and subject of the Medici family) who inspired mapmakers to give his first name to the continents of the New World.

event location, the James Beard Foundation, provided an institutional approach to special events. Students and faculty worked side by side at a luncheon and dinner event within the walls of Mr. James Beard’s former home that become upon his death a celebrated non-profit foundation.

4 MENUS The Contemporary Chianti concept generated 4 menus for the 4 events to be presented in NYC. The Queens event, developed as a hand’s on group workshop, featured Tuscan recipes in their traditional and “lighter” versions in order to provide an analytical approach relevant to the university studies of the Queens nutrition students. The De Gustibus demo called for gastronomically sophisticated recipes to entertain an audience that observed the faculty chefs’ live demo of the menu. The James Beard Foundation lunch and dinners were similar in their formalized, multicourse and table-seated formats, both were intended to feature the capstone interpretation of the concept while the dinner menu was slightly more articulated given its evening timeframe.



Program academics were held in Florence for 3 weeks and continued in a practicum format at real-life events for a week in NYC. These two cities are a constant stimulus for program participants. NYC is undoubtedly a global food capital while Florence represents not only one of Italy’s most important cities but is also the capital of the Tuscan region noted for many famous gastronomic exports. The “foodscapes” of both cities are important for program participants to grasp for successful event operation.

3 EVENT LOCATIONS The 1-week event cycle took place at three locations in NYC, each chosen for its unique operational approach to be implemented by the team and a particular variation of creating a special event. The first event was an academic special event that required for the students to act as the protagonists in the role of lecturers and demo chefs at CUNY Queens College, to an audience represented by nutrition students seeking to enter the food industry. The second event took place in a commercially oriented location, De Gustibus cooking school, where the featured team members were the faculty chefs and 2 student assistants. It is located at Macy’s Herald Square known otherwise as America’s largest department store and a NYC symbol and institution. And finally, the third


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between Chianti and Montepulciano, is creating new precedents in sustainable and environmentally conscious winemaking. In all 4 cases, the producers were chosen for their common ground in offering outstanding wines from a contemporary perspective of winemaking in Chianti today.

6 FACULTY MEMBERS The faculty body of TuttoToscana consisted of 6 professors from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, and professions. The represented fields were culinary arts, pastry, event management, public relations, wine expertise, and digital media. Faculty members hailed from the Italian regions of Tuscany and Liguria, the Ivory Coast, and the United States.

15 STUDENTS Lastly, but most importantly, is the most important element of the TuttoToscana culinary caravan. The student group featured 15 extremely bright individuals from different walks of life, countries, and experiences, who accepted the challenge of expressing Tuscan cuisine in the United States. Each had a specific role throughout the learning and event production phases; some had overlapping roles. Ultimately, all of them provided the essential ingredient to answer and overcome the challenge. Their presence and outstanding results offer the finest example of exploration as interpreted by the TuttoToscana project – Newcomers who integrate and execute professional events with passion and acquired expertise, who share an intimate knowledge of Tuscan territory and cuisine in an international destination such as New York City.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of 2013’s culinary concept! 4 WINE PRODUCERS 2012 presented 4 wine producers over the course of the lunch and dinner events at the James Beard Foundation. Each producer featured a different spirit and representation of Tuscany. Santa Cristina, a property of the Marchesi Antinori group, is a historic company who is dedicating immense efforts to contemporary communication methods for client engagement as well as label design. Mazzei, perhaps the most emblematic of the producers for its ties to Chianti territory, carries forth its commendable answers to the perennial challenge between tradition and innovation. Cappanelle is a younger company who has demonstrated an extraordinary ability in interpreting through excellent quality the historic standard of Chianti wines. Salcheto, straddling

Read more at the program blog: _ name=tuttotoscana-james-beardfoundation-2012



Due West


Panino Tondo, a restaurant and delivery service located on Via Montebello 56, offers an array ofAmerican burgers, salads, bagels, breakfast foods, along with organic and vegetarian options. Panino Tondo features fresh, high-quality, and local ingredients done the right way. But, like any new business, it has its fair share of obstacles to overcome. We at Professor Paolo Fiorini’s Consumer Behavior class are collaborating with the restaurant in order to discover how to better serve its customers. We are exploring a whole new business culture and consumer behavior by analyzing this local company and observing its distinct endeavors as an emerging company. Panino Tondo’s unique atmosphere and services, like its delivery service, make it an ideal choice for exploring the consumers’ minds and the way they choose what products to buy. Through carefully crafted surveys, we will be able to receive information about the qualities and services customers find most important in a restaurant. By asking questions such as, “How often do you eat out a week?” or, “Are you interested in a company which offers delivery services?”, we will be able to learn more about Panino Tondo’s target consumers, aged 18-25. By working towards improving the company’s customer satisfaction, we will be able to better analyze feedback from customers and develop strategies which will help the brand serve at their fullest potential. We hope that by identifying certain challenges through the survey results, we will be able to have the opportunity to help Panino Tondo improve tenfold. This project has allowed us to apply what we have learned in class to real life situations. Talking with the owner, Samuele Gallori, and being able to actively participate in this process, we have been able to gain firsthand experience in doing business here in Italy.



Authentic Italian home kitchens are more than physical spaces. They represent a standard; a bar that is set higher than most, using materials that are vaster than what the average international student might be accustomed to in their homes. Though it is a

pleasing—and effortless—experience to wine and dine at the local Florentine bars and restaurants, a home-cooked meal is necessary every once in a while. We’re talking about the homecooked meals, cooked INSIDE of the home. But what do we do when our “home” is suddenly

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not the home we know? We fumble when looking for the wine opener; think about an entire meal. From eccentric ingredients to new utensils to unfamiliar home spaces, here’s a look at how FUA student Hannah Johnson navigated culinary waters in her new Italian kitchen.

“Florence is a place of decadent cuisine, rich smells, and fresh produce. As a foodie, it has been such a new and exciting environment to cook and eat! The change has been swift and delicious, but it has not been one without a few adjustments and learned tricks.”




Eat FRESH Fresh tomato and basil go perfectly with grilled zucchini! Also, try the dried mushrooms in the market.

Here’s a few tips I’ve gathered along the way:

A few minor adjustments I’ve faced since moving to Florence:

Eat LATE It is culturally appropriate to eat at a later hour. Eat MOZZARELLA Not every country has such exquisite buffalo milk cheese.

• Add peaches to your bruschetta. Along with slices of tomato, mozzarella, and a touch of balsamic vinegar, fruit wedges make a fresh addition to this fun Italian appetizer. • ”Alfredo Sauce” isn’t Italian but Italian-American. There are a variety of fresh ingredients that make for flavorful pasta dressings: tomato & cream or olive oil, pesto & cream, lemon juice & Greek yogurt, soy sauce & basil, etc.

Stay STOCKED Always keep your fridge loaded with pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan.

• Don’t get stuck on pasta. Instead, try frying some


• Don’t shy away from meat. Meat from your

Visiting the local markets saves money and allows room for fun ingredients, like erbe aromatiche (aromatic herbs).

neighborhood grocer is fresh and can be the most delicious part of an Italian dish. Polpettone or spezzatino (beef or pork stew) are a few absolute must-tries.

• Instead of peanut butter, I’ve bought Nutella instead. It’s great on toasted slices of Tuscan bread. • Leave your recipe book at home? Next time you eat out, pay attention to the dishes plated in front of you. It’s never a bad time to watch and learn. New recipes can be even better than old ones. • No clue what a truffle is? Try the oil first! Festivals in the piazzas around town are busy with tastings and samples.

rice or grilling some potatoes!

• Marinate your poultry. It is simple and easy. Try apricot preserves or rosemary lemon sauce. Leave in the fridge overnight and cook in a skillet the next day.

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I spend much of my time lost in my own mind. As I have grown older I have come to cherish the solitude, the chaos, the abstraction; the desire to learn that comes from an intangible place. My mental time then manifests itself into what I create, a fundamental necessity for those in the textile design industry. Excited by natural things—a solemn ocean, a pile of brush to be burned, exquisitely textured fur—these are the steroids for my mind. They further inspire and edit my ideas, and are then transmitted onto my fabric. Most certainly my love of nature, of texture, and my slightly off-kilter sense of humor have influenced the dresses I decide to create. Each print is made using one insect that I acquired from a friend/collector. Many of the bugs he collects are extremely rare - some species even having been newly discovered by the bug connoisseur himself! His passion along with the beautiful shapes of the insects undoubtedly captured my imagination, and ultimately my work. I sought to create something scientific; something usable yet magical; something unknown. I photographed hundreds of bugs in search of forms that I found provocative. I wanted the viewer to initially find the fabric beautiful, but then experi-



illustration by Arin Ensor


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ence the oddities within the prints and be captivated, just as I had been. My prints are about more than composition—they are about exploring. Exploration is a thematic consistency in not only my patterns, but also my path as a designer. I have never been formally trained in the fields of textiles or fashion, or even sewing; yet all of these skills were crucial in the creation of my pieces and I was forced to sort out the proper processing my own way. Each dress is made from a photograph that I have abstracted, then manipulated into a pattern specifically designed to work with the lines of the print, until finally it is sewn to fruition. I recognize that my design and printing process is avant-garde due to my lack of formal education, but I think this sets my designs apart. I am not hindered by any guidelines. There are no rules. This experimentation adds to the unique perspective I have as an artist and is clearly communicated in each piece that I develop. Since the day I first began, it’s been an adventure. But I’ve only just set sail.

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inter was his least favorite season. The city’s dark and dull cobblestone steps were made even more sad by the mud and the dirt that clung to the thick sheets of near impenetrable snow. Tourists came along few and far between and a sort of eerie silence hovered over his town like a heavy, claustrophobic mist that refused to disperse. From the stool on which he sat behind the counter of the gelato shop – the same age-beaten wooden monstrosity that he had sat at everyday for 22 years now – he began to remember.

He jumped off the stool and was ducking behind the counter in search of his wayward pen when he heard a noise. “The door. Someone’s walked through the door. I have my first customer,” he thought, as butterflies thrashed violently against the thin walls of his empty stomach. Inhaling quickly, he jolted back up just in time to see the glass door close shut as a figure emerged from the blinding outdoor light. There she was. Pristine. Her form perfectly outlined against the rays of the sun that came peeking from behind, forming an ethereal, almost saintly glow. The Madonna had just walked into his humble gelato shop.

He remembered her. He remembered her, and he remembered that night.

This was his favorite season. The city cleared and its otherwise dark and dull cobblestone steps were washed anew with a fresh sheet of immaculately white snow. Tourists came along few and far between and a sort of melancholic silence embraced his beloved town. “Not now, papa. I’m sorry but I’m going to be late,” he yelled from his room turning away from his windowsill. He hopped awkwardly on one foot while the other tried to make its way into the opening of his dark gray trousers. Upon finally conquering the battle with the pesky piece of clothing, he tucked his crisp button-down shirt into his pants, and quickly slipped on his freshly polished leather shoes. “Just the right amount of slickness,” he thought to himself as he ran a wide-toothed comb through his perfectly greased hair. He looked curiously at his reflection, impressed by his apparent transformation. “Who knew what a little tidying up could do?” He tucked his right foot behind his left, performed a fanciful little spin in front of his full-length mirror, and headed out. It was his first day at the gelato shop. His heart was pounding as he stared at the large wooden clock mounted on the wall right above the door. “A few more minutes,” he whispered to no one in particular as he parked himself on the stool behind the counter, waiting for the clock’s heavy hand to strike nine. “Vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, cream, lemon, raspberry, strawberry, peach,” he murmured as he hopped off the stool and pointed to each flavor’s location on the fridge. “Vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, cream, lemon, raspberry, strawberry, peach,” he said again like a mantra as he sat back down and fiddled with his thumbs. “Two. More. Minutes.” he said, loudly exhaling each word as if to force the nervous energy away from his chest with each breath. He grabbed the pen that lay on the counter and began to tap it quickly against the surface, finding a sort of calming relief in that insignificant repetitive action. As he stared intently at the clock’s second hand dancing around in a circle, the tapping got quicker, harder, louder, and finally, the pen missed the surface and fell to the marble floor, triggering a small thump that echoed in between the four walls of the small shop.

He noticed her enormous blue eyes first. They were as large as the tins that carried his precious gelato, and as blue as the Pacific Ocean, or what he’d seen in pictures of it anyway. They were piercing. They were magical. And boy, were they blue. She was older than him, he thought, but not very much so. She could not have been older than 23. There were a few embarrassing seconds of utter silence before he remembered where he was and why he was there. “Hi. Hello. Good morning.” He was stumbling through his words. “How can I help you? Would you like some gelato? Which one would you like to try?” he continued on with his nervous rambling, not allowing her to get a word in edgewise. She smiled, clearly quite amused with his apparent flustered state. She opened her perfectly round, perfectly plump, carnation pink lips: “Two scoops of vanilla on a plain waffle cone, please.” With much difficulty, he managed to peel his longing gaze from her lips and unravel his tied tongue to say, “Of course.” She replied with that same telling smile, placing two coins on the counter as she did so, making a metallic clanging that reverberated in the otherwise vacant space. He hurriedly thrust the cone in front of her face, almost getting a splatter on the lapel of her scarlet dress. “Too much beauty. Too many frazzled nerves. This is too much to handle for a first day of work,” he thought. As soon as The Madonna excited the shop, he heaved a sigh of relief, finally releasing those pesky butterflies from the pit of his belly. The next morning he arrived at the shop at the same time as before, dressed in his gray slacks, crisp shirt and still-shiny shoes. He sat on the stool and gazed at the clock, all the while repeating in his head his song of flavors in order to kill time. He was trying so very hard to distract himself from the thought of her, attempting to suppress the longing to see her beautiful face if only for one more moment. “Vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, cream, lemon, raspberry, strawberry, peach. Focus on that,” he repeated in his head while staring at the light grey cement wall. Suddenly, he heard the door open. He snapped his head sharply to the left to get a look, hoping in that fraction of a second between the wall and the door to see The Madonna again. As if an answered prayer, there she stood, all aglow in the morning sun. “Hello again,” she said. “Hi” he curtly grunted. “Don’t ramble. Say less. Less is more,” he mentally reminded himself. She stood directly across him, her lovely eyes meeting his in unconcealed curiosity, as he remained

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unmoving and silent. “But what if more is more? Should I say something? I should say something. But I spoke too much yesterday. Less? More? More? Less?” he argued with himself. Finally winning his battle with the self, he had just decided to break the silence and recite his standard welcome line when she spoke: “Two scoops of vanilla on a waffle cone please.” He nodded, silently prepared her cone and then watched in agony as she walked away.

But he waited. And he waited. And as the seasons changed from summer to fall, from fall to winter, he waited for his Madonna to show her face once more.

It was with a newfound confidence that he sauntered into the gelato shop the next day, a result of one solid hour of staring into the mirror for a sort of private personal coaching session the previous evening. “You can do this. Just talk to her. You are a confident, handsome young man,” he said to himself, echoing the authoritative voice that cheered him on the night before. Like clockwork, a few minutes after 9am, he heard the familiar tinkling of the bell above the shop door and felt a warm gust of air entering the room as it opened. There she was.

He had gotten used to all this. These dreary days at the gelato shop with nothing to look forward to were unwelcome but familiar friends. Work was work. It was no longer that near-religious experience in which he glimpsed a little bit of paradise on earth through the presence of his miraculous Madonna.

And then one day she came. She burst into the shop in the cold of the night. Her hair tangled and tousled, her cheeks flushed. Those eyes that once sparkled with light and love were as dismal as the dark pavement outside. “Today is the day.” It marked one month exactly since he started working at the gelato shop - one month exactly since he had seen her, since he had been blessed with the privilege of knowing that she existed, since he had been witness to her beauty every day without fail for an entire month. “We’ve been getting along fantastically,” he thought, “I don’t see what reason she could have to say no.” He held on to the single bright yellow carnation he had picked up along the way to work. It reminded him of her and the way her skin looked – dewy and ethereal – that first time she walked through the door. It reminded him of how he felt when he first saw her – heart pounding, chest tightening, world spinning. He chuckled to himself as he thought back to the naiveté of his past self, that version of himself one month ago that knew without a doubt that what he was feeling was love. “That was nothing, a drop of water in an ocean compared to what I feel now, compared to what real love feels like,” he thought with certainty.


At exactly 9:02 that morning, he found himself again in her presence. As if in a sprint against time, no longer able to contain his anticipation, he handed her a previously prepared vanilla cone and hastily uttered, “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?” His cheeks flushed crimson as enormous beads of sweat trickled down his newly-shaven face, betraying his emotions. The world seemed at a standstill as the question lingered in the air like a ball tossed into the sky. He stood there waiting, waiting, waiting for it to come plummeting down back to the ground. She opened her mouth as if to say something, but closed it at once, as if just realizing that it would be best to hold her tongue. A few more agonizing seconds of silence passed by as she looked at him intently, eyes flitting back and forth across his face, as if searching for an answer that was not hers to give. Finally, after what seemed like hours, her lips began to move. Instead of a “yes” or the much dreaded “no,” or any version of an answer to his question, she fired back with one of hers. “But what if I was not at all what you expected me to be?” she said, in a quivering voice so earnest and so tender, it did not seem to be her own. “It would not matter, I would not care, I would still be the luckiest boy to be able to have dinner with you. I think…I think I love you,” he said. Her eyes revealed no hint of surprise at his bold proclamation of love. Her face remained unchanging, except maybe for the tiniest shadow of a smile that flashed on the corners of her lips as she replied, “We shall see.” Her ice cream was melting now. Perhaps it was from the humidity indoors; perhaps it was from the heat of that moment. He was watching the big fat globs of white cream dribble down her cone, hiding his embarrassment in that passive act, when she suddenly leaned over and gave him a tender kiss on the cheek. Then she turned around and walked out the door. She did not come into the shop the next day. Nor the day after. Nor the day after that. But he remained steadfast and constant, eagerly awaiting her re-emergence each day, a vanilla cone always at the ready. The months were not kind to him, though. And they did not reveal even a fragment of her presence.


B LE N D I N G # 3 | Fa l l 2 0 12 | y e a r 2 i s s ue 2

She stood at the doorway unmoving, as if it would pain her to get any closer, any closer to him. There were no hellos, no explanations, no exchange of pleasantries. She was not here for gelato. She looked directly at him, her gaze piercing, her face forlorn. Her voice trembled as she spoke, possibly from the cold, possibly from the weight of her own words. “What if I was not at all what you expected me to be?” she spoke, as if not a second had passed since the time of their last conversation. As she uttered those words, she began to unbutton her thick winter coat. Lost in excitement, he replied eagerly, “It would not matter, I would not care, I would still be the luckiest boy to be able to have dinner with you. I think…I think I lo-” As he rushed to her side his gaze immediately fell onto her belly. He stopped in his tracks, halfway between her and the gelato counter, and fell silent. Her belly was round and full and different from before. At once he knew - there was life inside of her; his beautiful Madonna was to be a mother. How quickly things could change. “You remind me of him, you know,” she said wistfully, clearly alluding to the father of her unborn child. “You have the same smile, the same demeanor, the same odd sense of humor, the same…” she broke of in a tone bursting with melancholy. “He used to work here too, right before you did.” Still, there was only silence. “You never did fi nish answering my question,” she said. He tried to say, “I would love you still,” he really did. But a lump formed in his throat – a lump as full as her belly – and he could not bring himself to say a single word. He moved to utter something – anything – but nothing came out, nothing but air. “Yes. Yes, you do remind me of him,” she said, as a noticeable ache echoed in her voice. She smiled a tired smile, hurriedly buttoned her coat, and walked out the door without a word. He stood as frozen as the sticky, sugary substance that he served. “I love you,” he fi nally said to the empty shop as he watched the door swing shut.

From the stool on which he sat behind the counter of the gelato shop – the same age-beaten wooden monstrosity that he had sat at everyday for 22 years now – he began to remember. And as he remembered, he picked up a plain waffle cone, topped it off with two scoops of vanilla, and ate.

exploration... ...FOR THE MIND b y

R e n e e

P u n o


A s h t y n

M a t h e w s

FICTION Mundus Novus | Amerigo Vespucci Il Milione | Rustichello da Pisa

Andare | Ludovico Einaudi

Passage into India | E.M. Forster

Where The Streets Have No Name | U2

Journey to the Center of the Earth | Jules Verne

Mad World | Gary Jules

Alice in Wonderland | Lewis Carroll

The Moon | Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová

Brave New World | Aldous Huxley

Earth Song | Michael Jackson

The Art of Travel | Alain de Botton

Viva La Vida | Coldplay

Identity | Milan Kundera

Drops Of Jupiter | Train

Ender’s Game | Orson Scott Card

Beautiful People | Chris Brown Carry On Wayward Son | Kansas


We Are Young | F.U.N.

Un Paese | Paul Strand

Hometown Glory | Adele

The Blue Room | Eugene Richards

Across The Universe | The Beatles

Uncommon Places | Stephen Shore

Non-fiction Love Song | Jillian Edwards

Modernist Cuisine at Home Dr. Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet

Tout Le Monde | Carla Bruni

Culinary Artistry | Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page


F e d e r i c o

C a g n u c c i

A Trip to the Moon (1902) Georges Mélies the origins of Sci-Fi.

Amarcord (1973) by Federico Fellini - a visionary journey back in time to the Fascism period.

Christopher Columbus (1904) V. Lorant-Heilbronn - the first movie about Columbus.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Steven Spielberg - the planetary adventures of Indiana Jones, an archeology student in search of the biblical Ark of the Covenant.

Nanook of the North (1922) Robert J. Flaherty - about an eskimo family’s daily life; the origins of a documentary movie. The Wizard of Oz (1939) Victor Fleming - a young girl confronts the dark side of the unknown. Journey to Italy (1954) Roberto Rossellini emotional experiences in the Neapolitan area; a British woman tries to save her marriage. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrik a modern explorer of space confronts the mystery of the universe and the historical evolution of human beings. Easy Rider (1969) Dennis Hopper - on motorbikes driving through America from LA to New Orleans, in search of freedom and identity.

A Room with a View (1985) James Ivory - on the way of the Grand Tour at the beginning of the 20th century, from Great Britain to Florence. Back to the Future (1985) Robert Zemeckis - going back and forth in time, breaking the boundaries of real experience. The Fly (1986) David Cronenberg - the attempt of pushing the identity of natural species over the edge. Mission (1986) Roland Joffé - the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in 18th century South America. Innerspace (1987) Joe Dante - a crazy trip into the human body.

Solaris (1972) Andrej Tarkovskij - a mission to a spatial station orbiting an alien planet reveals the limits of physical exploration and suggests a reconsideration of the mysterious beauty of planet Earth.

Dancing with Wolves (1990) Kevin Costner the search of the self out of the laws of war and intolerance.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) Werner Herzog - a visionary conquistadore’s search for the legendary city of gold.

Until the End of the World (1991) Wim Wenders - collecting images of different continents for an experimental device able to let a blind mother see the beauty of our planet again.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) Stephan Elliott - a multicolored and emotional trip through the Australian outback that explores different aspects of diversity. Mullholland Drive (2001) David Lynch - the unpredictable paths of the subconscious out of the linear logic of narration. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Michael Gondry - rediscovering love and mutual connection by erasing personal memory. Sideways (2004) Alexander Payne - wine and life tasting through Californian vineyards. Everything is Illuminated (2005) by Liev Schreiber - an unusual and surprisingly funny quest of the past over the dark shadows of the Holocaust. Into the Wild (2007) Sean Penn - the extreme search of the self in the natural setting of Alaska. Cristóvão Colombo - O Enigma (2007) Manuel De Oliveira - one of the latest movies about Columbus; a contemporary researcher’s quest to prove Columbus' Portuguese roots. Incendies (2010) Denis Villeneuve - a dramatic journey from Canada to the Middle East reveals a disturbing family secret.

expl o

Blending magazine fall 2012  
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