Just a quick post for the moment, to say that I am in Italy! I am staying in a little convent in the town of Chiavari... it is cheaper than most hostels, but I have a private room and private bathroom. The only downside is that there is no internet, which means that I am posting this from an internet café, which means that I am using an Italian keyboard, which means that I can not type an apostrophe and therefore sound unnaturally formal.
Yesterday I had to get up at four to be on the road by six, and after taking a bus, a train, a plane, a bus, and a train, I arrived in Chiavari. It is absolutely wonderful... I had a relaxing afternoon: went to the beach for a few minutes so that I could step into the Mediterranean, got gelato, got a supermarket dinner (chips, milk, and proscuitto... when I am on vacation, I make strange choices for meals) and went to sleep early. The nuns are really sweet, and they run a really professional feeling hotel in their extra rooms. Once they found out that I speak a tiny bit of Italian (though I understand a medium amount) it seems like they have made it their mission to speak Italian to me as much as possible, and they correct my grammar and help me find words. That is exactly what I was hoping for! And I know that they are doing it for my benefit... when I was particularly confused, I found out that one of the nuns speaks nearly perfect French. She just chooses not to, to make me speak Italian. Cool.
Today, I went to Pisa, to see the leaning tower and eat lunch. I have a train pass that allows me to travel basically as much as I want to, so my timing was flexible. Pisa is a relatively big town, and it is quite a walk to the tower. When they were building it, they noticed that it was sinking, and finished it a lot shorter than they had planned. So it is actually a lot less impressive than I thought it would be. However, the complex also has a cathedral and a baptistry, and both of these are spectacular. I went inside the cathedral, since it was cheap (it costs approximately $22 to climb the tower, so I ditched that idea instantly). It is gorgeous inside: such a mixture of types of art. Stained glass, fresco, mosaic, stone work, wood work, metal work, statues... everywhere you look, there is something lovely. I will post pictures once I am working from my own computer!
However, as is always the case with me, perfect travel is impossible. And the mishap of the day was particularly hilarious, because I had somewhat of a premonition of it. After I got pizza for lunch, my train of thought led me to wondering what would happen if one of my shoes broke. I play what-if scenarios in my head all the time, so it was normal. BUT IT DID. My sandal broke. In the cathedral. So I shuffled around until I got outside, and then took off the flip-flops. I had to wander around for about fifteen minutes before I found a place that sold shoes. They had two choices: white sequined flats, and shiny gold sandals of the style that would go great with a toga. I chose the latter, because my feet were ready to fall off from walking on the burning pavement. So now I have a pair of sandals that are about as far from Kel-style as possible. However, I think I will actually be able to get a lot of use out of them.
That is all for now. I will post pictures when possible. The sea, the sky, the architecture, and the weather are all beautiful. The north of Italy is pretty awesome!