Camerano Journaling

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Gypsies of Florence

Beaten dark hands appear like used leather out of her long colorful sleeves. these hands have seen many days, many sleeves and many dirty coins. The Gypsies of Florence make their living with their hands. They may not sew, cook or clean, but instead they hold out their palms in desire of being fed with spare change from tourists and trustworthy Italians.

Many people wal past without a glance, but those who pay the Gypsies the slightest of attention are followed and harassed for monents which begin to feel like hours. The women are desperate, hungry and angry. Their hands do their work, as American and Eupopean tourists do not understand their broken sentences.

An American woman, with light skin and soft hands is approached by a Gypsy. Her hands have not seen the days of begging for coins. She reaches into her designer purse, and removes a small pile of change. Sorting through the money, this woman reaches out with a euro. As the Gyspy ungraciously snatches the coin, their hands almost touch. The hands are like night and day, black and white. They are the hands of different cultures with different pasts. The only connection is the euro, which is quickly forgotten as both women scurry away in opposite directions.

Dannielle Abbott--Minnesota State University

Camerano

Traveling to Camerano is much like driving into the past when the world was unspoiled by traffic, overpopulation and pollution. Camerano, Italy, perches on a hill over a valley of sunflowers, tilled fields, red-roofs and the Adriatic Sea. The two lane road meanders through the farmland and up into the town. Breathtaking views, myriads of dazzling color, endless hills, timeless stone and vibrant people all compose the atmosphere that is Camerano. It is impossible not to imagine being transported back in time as one walks the streets and experiences the long-established culture and environment. A serene town steeped in tradition. Camerano is a place that time has truly forgotten.

Zan Lanouette—Gonzaga University

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

On the Beach




The Adriatic is unabashedly blue-green, swelling and
receding in response to the pull of the moon as it
absorbs the criss-cross of fast boats churning up
foamy wakes. It is lunchtime for many of the families,
who are seated in the shade of their beach umbrellas,
cutting pizza with plastic forks and hunched over
take-out dishes of pasta. A few swimmers can be seen
off in the distance, but most are splashing around in
the breakwater--- children shrieking in bright
inflatable water-wings, and lovers locked in a salty
embrace with their chins on each other’s shoulders.

Vendors hawk cocco fresco and imitation-leather
handbags, threading their way through the assortment
of beach chairs and legs and kids with gelato goatees.
Women oil themselves, arranging their bikini tops for
maximum sun exposure with minimum tan lines, while the
men suck in their guts, streamlined in their Speedos.
In the afternoon, when the shadows begin to lengthen,
they will close the umbrellas and pack up their
assortment of beach gear and head to the parking lot,
where cars are double-and triple-parked in the
shimmering heat.

Elise Castle--Humboldt University

Boys to Men

Boys to Men

They are sitting in a row in front of the game, two to
a chair in the cooling evening, voices pitched low,
but squeaky with prepubescent hormones. The larger one
provides a lap for the smaller one--a hand resting
on the hip of his friend, his arm loosely draped over
his shoulder, lightly cupping his neck. Heads lean in
to whisper, mouths smiling at each other’s ears. They
have probably been doing this since they were old
enough to sit by themselves at the calcio, perhaps
unaware that time is running out for this sort of
display of unselfconscious fraternity.

Girls, then women, will replace their objects of
desire, and they will be too large to sit on one
another’s laps, but for the meantime, they remain
physically attached, leaning into each other in the
blue glare of the television, serenaded by the buzz of
the locusts, feeling the steady thump of their
friends’ heartbeats at their backs.

Elise Castle--Humboldt University

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Gonzaga Public House



The large white banner is framed like a widescreen movie in a lighter shade of navy blue. A large snarling bulldog owns the center, “Gonzaga University” spelled out above its menacing head. From a distance, the signatures of students from the Gonzaga in Florence are speckled about, but at close proximity they jump off of the banner. This is Public House, known as P.H. to its regulars, and it is a home away from home for traveling Zags. It is a smaller version of the “Bulldog Tavern” in Spokane and all around the bar are signs of the Jesuit university.

Just through the doors are framed posters with hundreds of drunken signatures from nostalgic Gonzaga University students. A small red and white felt banner vertically reading “Bulldogs” sits in the background over the shoulder of Lorenzo, the balding charming bartender with an ageless face. Circling the bar behind him is an inconsistent sea of green. U.S. one dollar bills, each tagged with a special message to Lorenzo, express the students’ gratitude for his hospitality. Inebriated Camerano students soak in this atmosphere as they slam another empty shot glass on the table and begin to belt out off-key renditions to Lynard Skynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama.”

The song is anything but harmonious, but to the people in the bar they might as well be finalists in “American Idol” at this very moment. Not all the students are from Gonzaga, but it feels like they have also found a home away from home at P.H. And for the Bulldog alumni present, they have never felt prouder to be a Zag.

Eric Heinz--Gonzaga University

Monday, July 24, 2006

Venice without a BB Gun


I glance up at the grandeur that is Venice but can only think of the pigeons that crowd the square and crowd my space. They are invincible: unafraid to sit on my foot, fly at my head or poop on my leg. The little boy next to me has five sitting on each arm. He laughs, but I only cringe. These little monsters are, for the moment, the bane of my existence as I literally kick them out of my way. Here I am, in the middle of one of the most incredible places in the world, and all I want is a bb gun.

Caroline Powers--University of Tennessee

New and Improved, Satisfaction Guaranteed



The Basilica Santa Casa in Loreto is blinding white in
the midday sun, as are the nuns who cross the piazza,
pushing wheelchairs or leading their charges by hand.
Pilgrims make their way up the steps into the dark
chamber of the church, seeking healing from the Black
Madonna, blessings from the ordained or freedom from
guilt through the act of confession.

In this place of worship,a nun drones to the masses
through the P.A. system, while the faithful mouth the
words, some with eyes closed, others distracted by the
tourists who are aimlessly milling around. Fake
candles have replaced real ones, and a handful of
change dropped in the slot marked “Automatico”
switches on the little flame-shaped bulbs, sending the
prayer to the heavens through the magic of
electricity. Stained glass windows and frescos that
are centuries-old rub elbows with the thoroughly
modern, and the juxtaposition is somewhat jarring.

A table of nuns lounge in the bar in the piazza,
where a young novitiate talks on her cell phone, and
an old sister smokes a cigarette down to the filter as
they wait for mass to begin.

Elise Castle--Humboldt University

The International Language of Sports


Alcohol and sweat soaked t-shirts are carelessly peeled off the back of drunken Italians (and one drunken American) as the crowd belts a throaty rendition of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” in enthusiastic unison. It is only minutes after Italy has soundly defeated host team Germany in the 2006 World Cup Semifinals, and already a party has broken out on the streets of Camerano. Songs of national pride clash with the tinny bellows of Vespa motors creating an oddly beautiful dissonant sound of victory. Flashes of green, white, and red speed by at careless yet controlled speeds down the steep streets and flashes of white from the countless grins of jubilant Italians circle me like a strobe light.
This is an event that I know I am already proud to be apart of and can share in the victorious pride that the Italians are feeling right now. This is a feeling that I have felt as an American sports fan several times, particularly when my beloved Red Sox cast off their shackles of mediocrity and finally brought home that elusive World Series title. Sports and competition are the greatest international language of all and tonight I am having several stimulating conversations.

Eric Heinz--Gonzaga University

Monday, July 17, 2006

Italia, Italia

The final shootout of the World Cup final game, Italy versus France 2006, was an intense moment. As a crowd of about 35 were gathered around a televison at the local outside bar in Camerano, the air hung thick with anticipation. Fingers were crossed, nails were bitten, prayers were mumbled, and some held their heads in their hands while peeking through spread finders. All eyes were glued to the television screen. Ages ran from about 9 to 80, mostly male.

As the last player lined up for his shot, he ran, he kicked, and he made the final goal. Italy had won the World Cup for the first time since 1982.

People shot up out of their chairs so fast that they knocked the chairs over. There was screaming and laughter, hugs and kisses, and tears of happiness. Every face radiated with a smile.

As the celebration began, Italian flags were flaunted as capes, as youth mounted their Vespas and took off down the roads. Twk teen boys were on a Vespa, one standing on the back. It seemed as if everyone in the town had jumped inot some sort of vechicle and were circling the town honking their horns or playing the Italian anthem. Red, white and green colors were in the limelight. For these people, this would be one of the greatest moments of their lives. This moment, this victory, would live forever in their hearts.

Kiley Peterson--Marquette University

Wearing only his shorts, the bartender holds a champagne bottle in one hand and a medieval sword in the other, ready for battle. The woman bartender takes the champagne from him and holds the bottle away from her face in fear.. The crowd cheers with each movement of the sword. He stares down at the bottle as if a hunted animal. The sword lifts up into the air and comes down. Like watching an execution, the neck of the bottle is severed cleanly and the bubbly champagne pours out like blood. The crowd cheers louder. It’s as barbaric as a fight in the ancient Coliseum with the crowd roaring more and more after each cut from the sword. Italia has won the World Cup. The celebration has begun.

Mark Rowan--Central Connecticul State

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Venice


Venice must sense the negligence and preoccupation of all who press through its remarkable streets. It is, by all means, more than a city. But the modern tourist is living in a contemporary world; a world that has placed art in museums, history in books, and that has succeeded in objectifying the holy cathedrals and mosques of our ancestors. This allows the city, at first glance, to hold the appearance of being alive; but Venice, in all of its chaotic commotion, still seems to sleep. The city is not an urban sanctuary for a young, chic generation to embrace and eventually strangle with its materialistic values and egotism. Instead, it is a mausoleum, living in dichotomy. It has no desire to impress, but it continues to do so. Its historic past gives it reason to exist, but its purpose is lost somewhere in between the souvenir vendors and the restaurant menus printed in English. What tourists want are something tangible, an object or a place that quenches the thirst for possession. And the city has been manipulated, for monetary reasons, so that it appears to give people what they want. It is clear that the real Venice exists somewhere beneath the flashes of tourists’ cameras, but it is impossible to reach it with commercial minds.

Patrick Weatherly--Auburn University

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Walking to Class in Camerano, Italy


Small bits of moisture form at the base of her neck as she continues to climb. The hills that once looked so steep now seem lower. The work is no less difficult, and the sweat still the same. Step, step, step. Without instruction, her legs carry her closer to her final destination. She calculates the time left until she reaches the pinnacle, as if trying to cure the pain that begins to throb through her left Achilles tendon. The right tendon will not be outdone, and begins to ache as well. More hot moisture forms in the crevices of her elbows and knees. Step, step, ache. She has to instruct her legs to carry on as the pain hinders her ability to walk. Step, ache, ache. She sees the top of the hill. She feels the sweat beneath her clothes. Cursing her pain, she continues her climb onward as she wipes away the moisture from her cheeks. Ache, ache, ache. She reaches the top and considers her magnificent feat while taking in the view. The clear blue skies sing to her, as if nothing in the world matters. The picturesque towns adorning each hilltop with rich terracotta roofs and freshly washed white linen hanging from balconies. Enjoying a long breath of fresh air, she is conscious of the flat ground, her beating heart, and the sweat she desperately desires to erase from her skin. She admires herself and her accomplishment before she frowns knowing that it must be done again the next day.

Kelly Erickson-Gonzaga University