Galileo’s Finger

April 23, 2010

Before we left for Florence, I read an article about Galileo’s missing fingers that had been recently rediscovered.  Apparently, when Galileo’s body was moved to his final resting place in the Santa Croce church, three of his fingers were cut off and stolen.  One of the fingers has been in the Science History Museum in Florence since 1927, but the other two disappeared and have been missing for almost a hundred years. 

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/11/23/galileo.fingers/index.html

At the time I thought – I definitely have to add this to the list of things to see in Florence!  The museum, as the article indicates, was to finish a renovation in March 2010, and the newly discovered fingers were to be on display.  However, the renovations have yet to be completed.  So I never bothered to go to the museum.

But today was our “second chance” day.  It was rainy today, so we decided to go see some things we skipped during our original twelve weeks in Florence.  So we went to the Science History Museum.  Although the newly discovered fingers are not yet on display, we did see many of Galileo’s instruments – including a compass and a telescope.  And we did see Galileo’s 400 year old finger…

And here it is!  Galileo’s finger! Cool or gross?  You decide!

I know you were thinking – I’d like to see it even closer!

Here’s Galileo’s telescope.  It is wrapped in leather. 

This was a fun mirror to look into…

We’ve also walked by the Santa Croce church dozens of times, but we had never gone inside.  Michelangelo, Galileo, and Niccolo Machiavelli are all buried in this church.  So today being the day of second chances, we decided to go in:

There was a lot of renovation going on inside Santa Croce – including behind the altar of the church.

Along the sides of the church are the tombs.  This is Michelengelo’s tomb:

And Galileo’s tomb: 

And Machiavelli’s tomb:

This is the Pazzi Chapel and the interior courtyard at Santa Croce. 

We are looking forward to our final weekend in Florence!  We have to move out of our apartment in the morning.  We will miss it!  We are moving to a nearby hotel for our last three days, as our apartment is being rented to new tenants.  Yes, we are being evicted!   Hopefully, the laundry we did earlier today will be dry by the time we leave!

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Life’s a Beach

April 22, 2010

Today we forgot all about canceled flights and everything we are missing in the U.S. and we went to the beach!  It was sunny and in the lower 70s today, so we went with twenty of the Mount students to the western coast of Italy today to a town called Viareggio.  Being stranded doesn’t mean we have to be miserable!  Nothing like the spirit of our Mount students to make any situation a lot of fun!

An anonymous donor paid for all of the students’ train tickets to the beach today!  So whoever you are – thanks so much!  The Mount students were very grateful! 

The AP picked up a line from my post two days ago about the now famous Brain Golden!  (Brian gave me permission to inform the world of his lack of underwear!)  Brian expects a Calvin Klein or Fruit of the Loom endorsement when he returns to the U.S.  http://wjz.com/local/student.stuck.in.2.1649800.html

Another story appeared in the Frederick News Post about us as well:  http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=103993

Here is the beautiful beach town of Viareggio and the pictures from today:

Pitti Party

April 21, 2010

Another flight out that had three students leaving tomorrow at 7:15am was canceled today!  We are getting used to this news.  The bizarre thing is that it looks like the first Air France Florence to Paris flight since the start of the disaster actually ran this evening.  Perhaps there will not be a plane in Florence to run the 7:15am flight tomorrow.  All the other flights out seem to be operating tomorrow.  So just bad luck for these three students.

But it is a glimmer of hope.  Hopefully, the backlog of passengers will begin to move and we will actually return on April 27th!  Currently the entire Mount St. Mary’s group is scheduled to leave April 27th.

So since we are down on our luck, we decided to have a Pitti Party for ourselves today in front of Palazzo Pitti.  We went to Gusta Pizza, sat on the “lawn”, and had a nice picnic!

It’s almost impossible to get a picture without a couple smooching in the background…

 

One group of students had to vacate their apartment because new tenants were expected to arrive.  So I went to check out their new digs.  It is really nice – beautiful balcony with a view of the Florence rooftops. 

It turned out that the new tenants had to cancel their trip to Florence, because they couldn’t get here!  So the apartment that we just moved out of is going to another group of guys who have to leave their apartment tomorrow.  Talk about an apartment shuffle! 

And the boys returned to the soccer team here!  Their teammates all knew they hadn’t been able to leave, and they asked them to come back.  They are both playing in games this weekend!  It was nice to see Club Sportivo Firenze again!

Another Week!?!

April 20, 2010

This morning we learned that our rebooked flight is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 27th.  This has become a real mess!  The longer this continues, the longer the line is to get a new flight.  If our flight is canceled next Tuesday, it could be a long while before we get another one…  And the volcano isn’t stopping!

I admit to being concerned about our students here.  They are doing very well considering what they’ve been through.  They aren’t getting much sympathy – they are hearing a lot of “it must be really rough to be stranded in Florence!”  Yes, Florence is a beautiful place, but when you’ve said your goodbyes and you start looking forward to going home, it makes it hard to have to stay.  One student threw away all his undershirts, underwear, and socks to get his suitcase under the 23kg limit.  Another gave all his loose change to a street musician.  Many students have run out of their disposable contact lenses.

Mount St. Mary’s University (through the generosity of Drs. David Rehm and Leona Sevick) offered each student $100 of meal vouchers to local restaurants to help boost morale!  And food definitely does the trick!  The students were extremely grateful!

I am trying to create opportunities for the students to get together.  Some of us met this morning over coffee and pastries to make plans for the rest of the week.  We are going to have at least one event planned each day.

I had a random encounter today with a local musician.  I’ve mentioned him in a previous post.  Ken Mercer (http://kenmercermusic.com/) plays guitar and sings american songs in front of the Uffizi every evening between 9:30 and 11.  Maria, of course, has gotten to know him – they are even Facebook friends!  I was walking out of our classroom building today, and he recognized me and stopped me to say hello.  Yes, we’ve been here so long, I do regularly bump into someone I know from Florence on the streets.

So I took him to the closest student apartment and had him play a few songs to lift their spirits.  He had just picked up his guitar from the shop, so he had to string the guitar before he started – I videotaped one of the songs he did today and uploaded it to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ay65abXgew  Watch it – it will lift your spirit!

Tonight a group of us met at Piazza Michelangelo to see the sunset and to see the view of Florence at night.  We then walked to a restuarant to have some dinner.  And to end the day we went to see Ken Mercer playing outside the Uffizi of course! 

Here is a picture of Ken playing for the guys.

The sun setting on Florence this evening:

The beautiful city at dusk:

And finally, watching Ken play again at the Uffizi:

Applying for Italian Citizenship

April 19, 2010

It looks like we are going to be here in Florence for a while!  We were rebooked on a flight scheduled to leave Tuesday, but it was canceled this morning.  We have not yet received confirmation on a new flight, but it looks like it could be this weekend.  So we’ve decided to just apply for Italian citizenship!  The only problem is that the application takes ten years to process, but you never know, we could be here that long!

Thanks to all of you who participated in the Geography Quiz!  Mr. Hennessey’s classes did a great job.  Our two big winners were Susanna Einolf (my mom) with a perfect score, and Tim Einolf (my brother) with a near-perfect score.  I guess they’ve been really paying attention to where their grandchildren and nephews have been visiting!  Mr. Miller’s classes will be looking at the quiz on Wednesday.  If you want to check your answers, the correct ones are at the bottom of the post today. 

I decided to hold a class today to give me and the students something to do.  I had assigned a case study for the students to finish in the U.S., and I figured we should just go over it here.

We also had a dinner this evening with all of the students.  Originally we planned it as a “second farewell dinner”, however, we ended up just calling it “dinner.”  No one is going anywhere!

Today’s big excitement came with one of my students here.  Kevin started growing a beard when he arrived in Florence, and he decided to shave it today – maybe to scare off evil ash cloud demons!  And we took pictures!

Here is Kevin (on the right) in January at our “Welcome to Florence” Dinner

And here is Kevin, in late February, at our pizza making class. 

Kevin, last week, at our “farewell” dinner.

And finally, this morning – the before picture:

And here is the baby-faced Kevin ready to return to the U.S.

Geography Quiz Answers

  1. Mona Lisa (it is now a landmark – not a painting), Paris, France
  2. Grand Canal, Venice, Italy
  3. Duomo (or skyline or view from Piazzale Michelangelo), Florence, Italy
  4. Colosseum, Rome, Italy
  5. Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
  6. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
  7. Leaning Tower, Pisa, Italy
  8. Lake Lucerne (or view from Mt. Pilatus), Lucerne, Switzerland
  9. Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
  10. Arc di Triomphe, Paris, France