Saturday, April 29, 2006

Our First Night in Italy: Hotel Portofino
Click on the link June 17-19
Piazza Trento, 1 - 30017 Lido di Jesolo, Venezia IT

Would you like a room upgrade?
All adults automatically get a twin bed and a two person room. Those paying student rate default to a student room of 3 or 4 per room with twin beds. If you are not comfortable with this arrangement and you would like to room to yourself or request a double bed, please let me know as soon as possible.
You can email me at

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Our tour has been extended an extra day...get this...FOR FREE. We will have an extra day in Athens complements of EF (hotel, food and transportation). It turns out that July 3rd is a very busy travel date (duh!) and EF could not find enough flight space for our group. So, they offered us an extra day to shop in Athens and then fly Frankfurt, Germany. We will fly from there to Detroit on the 4th, of July. I hope this is good news.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

By Jane Zaloga
While a visitor to Florence will likely see Michelangelo's David, the Duomo, and the Birth of Venus in the Uffizi — and thereby understand something of this city's history — it takes a bit of a wandering eye and a little luck to find some of the other, smaller historical artifacts that tell us about the more commonplace aspects of Florentine life in the past. I'm always fascinated as I walk through Florence and happen to look up and find some such evidence of how the typical Florentines once lived. I like to think of these as "street finds."
There are many of these unprepossessing records of everyday Florence. For example, tabernacles with painted or sculpted images, usually of the Madonna and Child, seem to hang on almost every street corner. They speak of the practice of a popular devotion in Florentine life. One could pass, pray, and get on with the day. Many of these tabernacles still find flowers and candles placed before them, attesting to their continued function for contemporary Florentines.
There are also curious tiny arched openings adjacent to the massive entrance doors of many buildings in Florence. Such small porte del vino, or "wine doors," were used by the Florentine families who lived in these palaces to display their agricultural products for sale, most notably wine. Any Florentine family of note, naturally, had a house in the city as well as agricultural land out in the countryside. For me, these openings are sad reminders that once upon a time, a stroll through Florence could be done with a glass of Chianti in hand. Luckily, today's Florence still has plenty of wine shops — and there's usually one close at hand offering samples in the afternoon.
But back to the streets. Other finds include the marble plaques that can be found on various Florentine buildings at a height of about 20 feet (usually at the level of the street lamps affixed to the buildings). These plaques might commemorate passages from Dante or note an important person who once lived in the building. They might record important events, both true — the ones that indicate the level of the water of the 1966 flood seem to be everywhere, even in the stairwell of my apartment building — and not-so-true, such as the one affixed to the church of Santi Apostoli that records the foundation of that structure by Charlemagne.
Some of my favorite such plaques, however, are the ones that record civil statutes and the rules of proper comportment for a given place. For example, in Piazza Calamandrei, one is reminded to behave decently; in Piazza del Giglio, one is not to play ball or other games; in Piazza Strozzi, one is warned not to sell watermelons or other fruit, on pain of a five-lire fine. If you happen to be a prostitute, you are kindly invited not to live in Via dei Pepi — or you'll face arrest. The plaque on the Palazzo Vecchio behind the familiar (and recently vandalized) Neptune fountain forbids us from doing our laundry in the fountain.
Next time you're in Florence, look for these "street finds," and you’ll find a wealth of detail about how the regular Florentine lived and lives.

Jane Zaloga is currently finishing her Ph.D. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and teaches art history in the Florence program of Syracuse University. When she’s not finding things in the streets of Florence, she leads walks for Context Florence, where she's a docent.

WHO IS GOING? Here is the list: Samantha Affholter Gayle Armelagos, Morgan Barrons Jennifer Byford, Michelle Carson, Patrick Cavanaugh, Kayla Christofferson (pictured on the right with the one dude...uhm), Stephanie Corey Jeremy Debor, Trisha French, Hanna Hollandsworth, Torie Keeton, Amber Lund, Mackenzie Martin, Jordan Murdock, Victoria Murdock, Sara Oyetubo, Andrew Page, Trey Ragatz, Izzy Penfield (Pictured on the left) , Meaghan Romer, Jeremiah Rooker, Jordan Spagnuolo, Russel Tippit, and me

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


April 30th sounds like a good day! Let's meet, greet and eat.. like the Italians do. At about 6:30pm meet your travel palz at Carmelo's Italiano Ristorante to eat some delicious Tiramisu. In the Mediterranean, it is believed that when you eat in good company, the food has no calories. This is a good thing because the main ingredients in this Italian dessert are tons of cream, mascarpone cheese, cognac, and vanilla lady fingers (see photo above, mmmh). Yikes! If you come hungry, feel free to eat a full Italian dinner. If not, just have some dessert and mingle.
Be There Sunday, April 30th at 6:30pm
Bring your apetite and your friendliest self (friends welcome)
Carmelo's is located at 6131 W Saginaw Hwy
Please RSVP at (I need the head count)