Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Italian Experience: Volume 5

Double Pomegranate

    Strolling up to the Medici Palace, the tree lined pathway beckons for attention, quietly sighing as yet another pedestrian has ignored the dilapidated walk. The cracks in the sidewalk are filled with grass, easing the strain from the concrete jungle that the city has become. The gates of the palace would be considered huge in the eyes of giants, as they set the scene for the proportion of the entire garden. A large double flowered sterile pomegranate tree greets you to the start of the Medici gardens, with tons of bright red-orange blossoms that add a touch of zest to your day. We walked up the garden (a component of Italian gardens is having terraces) to see a hortus conclusus, which is a type of garden that is enclosed. This particular garden was shut off from the rest of the main garden because back when specimen plants were brought over from the Americas, this protected them from unfavorable weather conditions and separated them from the less valuable crops. Some of the plants that were in the garden were citrus and other viny crops including true jasmine (not Asian jasmine which is used in the US). There was a small pool of water in front of a statue that contained water lilies that popped up from the water as if trying to pull you in. I wouldn’t have minded being drug into a cool fountain on a hot afternoon.
Water lilies at the Medici Gardens
          After seeing the front part of the garden, we ventured to the back part, which mostly contained the citrus plants. The citrus is grown in clay pots that were made to be moved inside because they cannot handle the cold weather that the winter months exude. The largest tree was a pommelo, standing at a whopping two tons. We came across a strange alien looking fruit that I had seen before, a buddha’s hand. This fruit’s name will make sense once you see it. The fingers of the citrus thwart and curl like a witch’s left pinky toe. Although crazy looking, this fruit has no edible value because it is made up of mostly skin and pith.
Streets of Venice

                  This past weekend I traveled to Venice. Getting lost in this city is something akin to a past time. You think you are trying to get to St. Mark’s Basilica, when in fact you are wandering around the island, not being close to remotely anything that looks familiar. The streets get lost in themselves, creating a maze of paths that traps your heart in the city and won’t ever give it back. A wrong turn down an alleyway brings you to a street made of water; the canals are the main mode of transport around the island because cars and bicycles are not allowed. Overall, a beautiful last trip to go on.

Live jazz at Santa Chiara
            Tonight is one of our last evenings here in Castiglion Fiorentino, and even Italy. As surreal as it seems, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the first half of my summer. I heard about this trip when I came to A&M my freshman summer for orientation. As I type these words, live jazz in the courtyard of Santa Chiara, my home for the past five weeks, sings my sorrows away and gives me a renewed look of the time I have been here in Italy. This program would not be the same without the friends I have made on the trip. Our faculty also gave us the confidence to power through difficult situations that we encountered. Without them we would be but mere mundane entities strolling through a forest of sticks shoved into the ground looking for any semblance of hope for the unknown. Without this trip, I would be stuck in a vacuum, trying to escape; yet there is no physical way to. I will miss every single waking hour I have spent here, but I know that my future is a pen awaiting the author to pick it up and write.

Ciao for awhile,

            Keith Tamborello

P.S. If you are reading this and have at all been inspired to travel to Italy, please do. This has been the best experience of my life and I would recommend it to any and every person. It makes me sad that we are leaving, but joyful in the hope for our future.

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