Locating laundromats in sunny Italy

Sunday Snapshots

Travelers: To update...

June 30, 1996|By Tom Collins

Locating laundromats in sunny Italy; Travelers: To update a travel guide, students Katrina Barnett and Maria Alexandra Ordonez had to find out everything about several Italian regions.

Last summer, Katrina Barnett and Maria Alexandra Ordonez flew off to Italy with a list of things to do so long it would have made the most seasoned traveler cringe.

The Baltimore women were covering a group of Italian regions for the travel guide "Let's Go Italy," one of a set of 24 travel books updated each year by Harvard University students.

Barnett, 19, is a sophomore majoring in the history of literature. Ordonez, 22, is a senior majoring in Hispanic and Italian studies.

They applied for the jobs primarily for the chance to see the world. "It was the basic idea of people paying for me to travel that attracted me," Ordonez says.

Ordonez, who had the Sardinia-Tuscany-Umbria beat and had no formal training in Italian, says she learned words from the signs in the supermarket.

Barnett says that at the beginning of her trek, the task that lay ahead seemed formidable. For two months, she was going to be alone in a foreign land and would need to know her four regions -- Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna -- inside and out. She needed to find out everything, down to where the laundromats are and how to get in touch with the pharmacist after dark, and record her observations each night.

"I spent the first few days completely terrified at what I had gotten myself into, but at that point it was too late to back out," she says.

Although Ordonez suffered similar jitters, she says, "You have to retain your spirit. So if your train isn't on time, you have to be prepared to do something different."

Both women might be considered seasoned travelers. Before applying to "Let's Go," Barnett had participated in academic programs in Spain, Mexico and Costa Rica, and had traveled to Africa as well as all over the States. Ordonez, whose parents are originally from Guatemala, studied in Paris for a summer, and she also had been to Britain, Holland, Greece and Argentina.

On this trip, aside from Barnett having $900 in traveler's checks stolen, and Ordonez losing a contact lens, the experience was relatively calamity-free.

The travelers are quick to say that the project was not easy.

"You can't call your parents every day because it's way too expensive, so it really shows you whether you've got it or you don't," Ordonez says.

Barnett adds, "My confidence level was so much higher after having survived," she says. "It was a great experience, but it wasn't easy." Quilting. It's another way to look at the history of Maryland. And the history of women.

Authors Gloria Seaman Allen and Nancy Gibson Tuckhorn dedicated five years of their lives to researching and writing the history of quilts in Maryland.

The finished project is a 223-page hardcover book called "A Maryland Album." The book focuses on quilt making in Maryland during a 300-year period, from the 17th century to 1934.

The book is based on the Maryland Association for Family and Community Education Quilt Documentation Project.

There are photos of 75 quilts in the book. When possible, Allen and Tuckhorn interviewed descendants of the quilt makers and wrote about the motivations and inspirations behind the quilts.

"On September 11, 1851, more than 1,000 people endured the 'burning heat and suffocating dust' to attend the opening of the sixth annual fair of the Montgomery County Agricultural Society.The makers of the best silk, ornamental and calico quilts each received $2.50, a significant prize for handiwork when the average daily wage for a laborer was only $1," Allen writes.

Neither Allen nor Tuckhorn considers herself a quilter.

"I have made a quilt before," says Tuckhorn, textile curator at the DAR Museum in Washington. "But I do not like to sew." Quilts, she explains, provide another avenue for learning about womens' lives.

Allen, the former director and chief curator of the DAR Museum, lectures and writes on the social history and material culture of the Chesapeake region.

She is also a doctoral candidate in American studies at George Washington University.

"My interest in quilts came primarily when working at the DAR Museum," Allen says. "They have an outstanding collection."

Pub Date: 6/30/96

Sandra Crockett

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