Monday, September 22, 2008

AC Milan, Pisa, and Florence

So last Thursday I went to the AC Milan vs. Zurich soccer match, and it was a ton of fun. AC Milan won 3-1. I went by myself through a program for exchange students at Bocconi, and I ended up meeting a guy from Argentina and another from Belgium and ended up sitting together during the game. We all sat in the fan section "Curva Sud", what would be equivalent to Block O or the Dawg Pound. I was pretty surprised at the size of the crowds, less than half of the stadium was filled. It was interesting seeing the differences and similarities between crazy American sports fans and crazy Italian sports fans. They definitely sing and yell a whole lot more than we do, sometimes it seemed like they were more focused on singing and clapping than they were on the game. In the US when you go to a sports event, almost every other person has a beer in their hand. I was kind of shocked because I saw probably only three beers the entire game; instead of beers everyone, literally EVERYONE, was smoking hash during the game (including the 14 year old kid next to me). I wasn't really expecting that at all, and if you're wondering, I didn't join in on the festivities (I'm a good boy Mom!) The only thing I was really disappointed about was that they didn't put Ronaldinho until the last 15 minutes. I guess they didn't want him to get injured for the AC Milan vs. Inter match that is next Sunday.

The next morning I was out of the residence hall at 6:00 am to hit up Pisa, followed Florence later that day for the remainder of the weekend. I went with Charlie from Illinois and Lisa from British Columbia, both students from the Bocconi exchange program. Pisa was awesome, but it was pretty much what everyone says it is: you get off the train, go and see the leaning tower, and that's about all there is. It was still awesome seeing the tower, we pretty much just got lunch, saw the tower, and took the typical pictures that you have to take at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Florence on the other hand was amazing. It is such a beautiful city, with so much art and fun stuff to do. At night, there are entertainers and street bands playing in just about every plaza. During the day there are open air markets everywhere with just about anything you could ever want, from scarves to bags to jerseys to watches, all of which you can barter for. The biggest open air market in the city seemed like it went on forever. We also went and saw the David statue at the Accademia gallery, which was simply incredible to see in real life. We ended up going to the Uffizi Gallery too, also incredible. The Uffizi Gallery houses paintings by Botticelli, da Vinci, Caravaggio, and other famous artists. The most famous painting in gallery is "The Birth of Venus" by Botticelli, it was huge in real life! If you don't recognize the painting by the name, look it up, I guarantee you've seen it before. My personal favorite part of Florence though was the Piazza del Michelangelo. It's the plaza that you have to walk up a ton of steps to, but once you get up there it looks over all of Florence and the view is insane. You can see all of Florence and the hills of Tuscany rolling behind it. We went the first night, saw the city all lit up at night, and had a bottle of wine on some steps overlooking Florence (there's no open container laws in Italy). The next day we went back again to see it during the day and it was better than at night. We caught an 8:30 train to come back this morning. We were supposed to go on a wine tour of Chianti before we left, but I spent way too much money over the weekend and decided that something had to be sacrificed. All in all it was an awesome weekend!

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