Arezzo Impressions



by Adina Necula, adult student, class 2 B AMG

I never thought that a failure could bring something good besides a lesson. This year, more specific this spring, proved me wrong.The fact that I had the opportunity to see a foreign country and not just any country, but one strongly connected to our past like Italy, gave me the possibility to analize my life so far. In addition to the cultural spirit I borrowed from the sightseeing, the people I've met gave my week a whole new perspective and made my days colourful.
6th of April-Sunday: we arrived in Rome by plane and for a couple of hours we, my teacher, the head teacher of my school, another student and me, explored this amazing city as much as we could before we were to leave to Arezzo by train. The result of seeing The Colosseum, Saint Peters Square, Fontana di Trevi and Traians Column was my speechless approach regarding any new small piece I discovered with each step I took. Although I was very impressed to see for myself places I've always visited only "by pictures" my favourite was, without any doubt, Saint Peters Square. The scale of the construction and the fact that it is entirely destined to religion was to me overwhelming. And I was really surprised to find out that a red stone in the square, the only one among green ones, is a reminder of an attempt to kill Pope John the Second in 1981.
Monday: was the day  I saw the school I.T.E. "Michelangelo Buonarroti" for the first time, and met the Italian teachers, Alessandra and Maurizio who made a very nice impression on me regarding the relationship between teachers and students and later on, when I had the chance to see how classes take course, the relationship between students and the act of learning. Being the first day, the main activity was getting to know Arezzo by taking a tour and visiting Piero de la Francescas frescos, il Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, the Badia delle Sante Flora e Lucilla church and Piazza Grande.
Tuesday: we began our day with a trip out of town, in Sansepolcro. A few students from Sansepolcro accepted the responsibility of being our guides through the town, helping us to understand the great value the Civic Museum and the Cathedral of Saint Giovanni Evangelista have to the locals. Museo Civico remains in my memory as the museum in which I saw in a painting a man pierced by arrows with a rather relaxed appearance in front of death, and that was like a lesson from another millennium. And the Cathedral is special to me  as well, because of the marble strained-glass windows.
With Tuesday being far from end, we made a stop and visited Anghiari, a little town protected by unassailable ramparts, of which history is linked to a famous battle painted by Leonardo da Vinci. We ended the day with a presentation of Romania and traditional elements of Romanian gastronomy at the school, and small packages I made for 2 of the Spanish students who enjoyed the food specifically.
Wednesday meant day excursion to Sienna and meeting Maria Grazia, a wonderful teacher from whom we had a lot to learn and who gave the day a more personal character because of her passionate way of unravelling us the historical facts related to the city. We were each handed an all inclusive pass for the Complex of the Dome and started a marathon visit in the complex. This way we saw Libreria Piccolomini, Battistero, Cripta, Cattedrale and the sight over Sienna from the top of the longitudinal, unfinished part of the cathedral. The things I liked the most from this complex were the ceiling in the cathedral (painted like the night sky full of golden stars), the floor in the library (made of halves of Moon, the symbol of the Medici family), a very beautiful strained-glass window which was meant to be part of what was never finished and held in a museum ever since, and of course, “la più bella vista panoramica di Sienna” from the top of the unfinished wing. We ended the day in Piazza del Campo, resting on the  warm paved ground and surrounded by reddish brick buildings while the Sun went down.
Thursday was another day of excursion, this time in Florence, where we started our tour hoping that we won't be affected by Stendhal syndrome, common among tourists as a result of getting in touch with so many pieces of history of an overwhelming beauty. The Uffizi  Gallery, our first destination, is "home" of one of the biggest collection of art works belonging to Sandro Botticelli (whose paintings were my favourites), Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rafael, Titian and Fillipino Lippi (also one of my favourites). The exit of the gallery sent us in Piazza della Signoria, famous for the copies of sculptures like Michelangelo’s “David” and Donatello’s “Lion”. Last stop before heading "home" was Ponte Vecchio, a bridge dating from XIV century.
11th of April-Friday: we've met a few students of Alessandra’s like Nora, Armando, Rachele and Adrian (native Romanian). They were our guides through our tour, ready to share at least an interesting detail about every one of the following: Torre de la Brigazza, San Domenico church and Porta San Lorentino, il Prato  and Amfiteatro Romano. Also we participated at English classes in the school where I felt a really warm and friendly atmosphere, not only between teachers and students, but between them and foreigners like me.
In conclusion, for me it’s very difficult to choose a favourite place in Arezzo, because the people there and my host as well made me feel like home, so that's what it became: my second home. But if I were to express my attachment to certain places, those would be 2. The clock on the Palazzo della Fraternita Dei Laici and its unique feature represented by the astronomical function-the movement of the Moon, being the only one in Italy and one of the rarest in Europe. And next to the school, Badia Sante Flora e Lucilla, a very simple and elegant church, home of the oldest functional organ in Europe and the result of a man’s all life dedication, Don Verzzio, a very warm priest and, as I could easily understood, a beloved man.
My biggest surprises in Italy were in fact, the people I've met, the other students especially. Although we were from different countries and had different cultures, we got along as if we were lifetime friends. Every day I thought it could not get any better, still it did. Every lunch together, every conversion of usual words in all our languages, every song we've shared, every joke in English brought us closer together. I'm actually very proud that I had the opportunity to meet all those wonderful people and that they've allowed me to get close to them and the only way I knew to say thank you was by smiling as much as I could even though I got sick and on the inside (and pretty much all my outside) I was feeling miserable.
In addition to the thanks addressed to all the students (Italian, Spanish, Turkish) and all the teachers (Romanian, Italian, Turkish, Spanish) I have some special thanks for my host and her family. Simona was like a second mother to me and I felt amazing within her beautiful family, each day began with breakfast together and a good-day embrace from Ricardo, her little son.
All in all, that week was the best of my life and with the first chance I will visit again Arezzo, Simona and her family, Alessandra, Don Verzzio and my new friends in Spain - Daniel, Nayibe, Cristian and Natalia, hoping to see again their teachers too, Yolanda and Rafael.

The Grundtvig learning partnership “Promoting English as Means of Communication in European Adult Education” (GRU-13-P-LP-253-PH-ES) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Commission or ANPCDEFP cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Video by Dani Letrán (CFA Josepa Massanés)