Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Invece di Puglia, sono venuta a ballar in SICILIA, SICILIA, SICILIA

Sicily. Day 1.

Arriving at Ciampino from Fontechiari was a stressful journey.  Fabrizia, Nonno and I climbed in the UNO-45 around 8:45am after having stayed up til 4 am at the Notte Bianca in Atina, and I drove us all safely to Frosinone where I would catch a 9:55 train.  I said good bye to Fabrizia since she was leaving the following Monday, and told her to drive safely home in the old UNO, then told Nonno I would call when I needed to get picked up on Wednesday (even though I knew Uncle Bob would be there, but they didn’t!).  I boarded the train to Ciampino, knowing that when I arrived I would only have 60 minutes to get to the airport, check in and find my gate.  Me being a nervous, anxious, crazy person, freaked out the duration of the train, planning every possibility of my arrival at the train station, how I would get to the airport and then where I would need to go there after.  Clock racing when I arrived at Ciampino Stazione, I hurried outside and didn’t see any buses so I asked the autista how much a cab ride to the airport was and he said 15 euro, so I got in.  After I was safely in the cab I grilled the cab driver about where the terminal was and where I would need to go for a RyanAir flight, and he assured me there was only one gate, one check in, and maybe 4 planes, so I would have no issues. Ciampino was tiny.  On the way the driver pointed out the Appian Way lined with tall pine trees. Cool.  Then I arrived.

Still nervous to miss my flight, the line at the check in was LONGGGGGG.  I noticed the couple in front of me spoke English so I asked what time the flight was they were waiting for, their response 3:00.  So I freaked out a little because mine was at 12:20 and it was already 11:40.  So I proceeded to ask passengers when their flights were and managed to cut my way threw the line and make it to the RyanAir gate with what I thought would be only a few minutes to spare, and turned into a half and hour of waiting to board.  All that anxiety for NOTHING!

The flight was easy and even though we left the gate 25 minutes late, we arrived 5 minutes early.  The man sitting next to me showed me all the major points near Trapani that we could see as we landed.  Very nice man. Once I exited the plane I went to the Terminal and called Serena, Serena said there was a driver who would be coming in an hour or so... that sucks. But luckily when I hung up, a mysterious number called and it was the driver who said he went against what Serena had told him because he didn't want me to be waiting, and came early! Yay!!  We drove past barren field with cracking earth then finally made our way to what seemed like a smaller city.  Streets of houses popped up and we took a right down one of the roads and drove past gated houses until we stopped, the driver made a telephone call and Serena emerged from the house.  I was introduced to her family then shown my room, and then told to put on my bathing suit.  After her grandmother fed me some fish, we were off to the beach, where I immediately fell asleep.  I think I forgot to I warn her that this would be my vacation of catching up on the sleep I had lost all summer.

For merenda, Serena pulled out to pastries from a paper bag and explained that they were bombolone. I tried to be good and said I was all set, but then I saw they were filled with Nutella and I couldn't resist, plus I was rather hungry. They were cold and still delicious, and Serena assured me we would get fresh ones within the next five days and I would love them even more.  Around 5:00, Serena's friend Davidu and his girlfriend arrived at the beach, and we figured out a plan for the night.  Alessandro (Serena's boyfriend) left the beach to go play some soccer, and the rest of us hung out and decided that we would head to Marettimo (an Island) the following day. That meant we had to go get lunch, so Davidu drove us to the Coop where we picked up sandwich materials for the following day.

After we quickly returned home to meet up with Ale, and then showered got ready and headed into Mazara del Vallo for dinner.  We ate at a relatively large restaurant, outside, and at around 11:00 PM.  I was falling asleep before my dinner even arrived, but the busiate (trapanesi cut pasta) that I had was exquisite.  Nodding in and out of conversation, we finally finished eating around 12:30, and we were in bed by 1:00, me passing out immediately after I hit the pillow.

We arose at 6:00 to prepare the sandwiches and then head to get tickets for the boat to Marettimo.  Davidu was a little late to pick us up, and it took us longer than intended to get to Marsala to catch the boat, and we were out of luck when the tickets for the boat were all sold out.  Instead we bought tickets in advance for the next day's boat, then drove around through Marsala before changing our agenda to head to the Scala dei Turchi and Agrigento.  It was a long day filled with driving and fantastic views, and the beach at the Scala dei Turchi was absolutely breath taking.  At night we drove to Agrigento, seeing the ancient temples lit up under the moonlight, and grabbing a quick arancino for dinner before returning home.  It was a long day, and I was looking forward to a nice relaxing sunday on the island full of sun and sleep!

Sunday we woke up early and drove in to Marsala. Alessandro had gone to the panificio to get the fresh bombolone, so when we finally boarded the ferry we indulged in the delicious treats, and then I immediately fell asleep for the remainder of the journey.  Once we arrived, Ale' and Davidu ran to go reserve us a space on small boat tour that would take us around the island, going in and out of the caves and let us jump in the water at points.  Once we boarded the boat I took in the gorgeous scenery, then once again laid back and fell immediately asleep.  Serena was astounded at how easily I could fall asleep even on a rocking boat.  The boat went in and out of gorgeous caves, the captain explaining the importance of each one, and then eventually we anchored for a little bit to jump off the boat and enjoy the swimming pool pristine clear water. It was fantastic. We stayed on the island until 4:00pm then headed back toward Marsala arriving in port just before 6.  On the way home we stopped at a supermercato in order to buy some drinks for the night.  Monday was Ferragosto, so Serena said it was tradition to stay up all night Sunday dancing on the beach and drinking.  We bought limoncello and chupitos and then headed back home to get ready, and eat the amazing feast of fish that her Nonna had prepared for us.

The meal was above and beyond delicious.  We each had gamberoni, Serena's favorite meal.  And were meticulous about getting all of the meat out of each of the shrimps.  And the shrimp was accompanied by a large bowl of hand made pastas covered in a garlic/butter/shrimp sauce as well.  I think I ate enough fish in the past 2 days to cover the entire summer!  Serena's Zio pourred out generous glasses of vino bianco to each of us, and kept refilling my glass, while refusing to give any to Serena.  And then at the end of the meal her nonno arrived with tall shot glasses that had been frozen, and a bottle of his home made limoncello. Buonissimo!  Oh, and of course a platter of cannoli!  By the time I was done eating I was ready to go to bed because I was put in a food coma, and I was nervous about how I was supposed to stay up the entire night for Ferragosto... eeeesh!

After dinner, around 11:00 we walked down to the beach where each beach club had something different going on. According to Serena it wasn't nearly as packed as it usually was, but she was ready to have a good time anyways.  We walked down the beach looking to see which lido had the best palco, stage with a performance, and we stopped outside of one where everyone was dancing like crazy on the beach. As the night grew deeper I slowly began to run out of energy and honestly didn't have much desire to sleep outside on the freezing cold sand at the beach, so I broke the news to Serena that I was about ready to go home. We finished chatting with her friends, said good bye to her cousin Max then walked back home, leaving the music and crazy drunk people behind.  I was kind of sad I didn't get to experience the full Ferragosto party and experience, but I was more than delighted to have my head hit the pillow around 3am, and know that I could sleep in the following day because nothing would be open for Ferragosto and the only plans for day were to sleep, beach it and eat.

We once again ate fish for lunch and dinner, and then we headed into Mazara del Vallo at night to do a passegiata and see the city that was so famous for its fish port among other things.  We walked through the town, that was hopping with people despite the holiday, and walked to what Serena claims is the most famous gelateria.  There I had a brioche filled with ricotta and chocolate gelato.  The ricotta gelato was fantastic, so rich and surprisingly a delicious flavor of gelato! After the gelato we headed home, happy to head to bed on the early side, and ready for another big day of sightseeing Tuesday with Serena's zio and zia.

Tuesday morning we woke up late.  Probably around 10am, and headed to the beach for a quick dip before Serena's zio packed us into the nonno's UNO and we headed into Marsala.  We went to walk around the city for a few hours despite Serena's protest, and I was happy to be able to see the city and do a little shopping.  Too much beach time was getting to me!  We strolled through Marsala, I found a birthday gift for Leann then we headed back to the car, stopping at a bar to get an arancino. After we indulged on our treats, we stuffed ourselves back into the UNO and then followed the road signs towards Trapani.  Off to see the SALINE!

I hung my head out the window, camera rolling off my neck as we drove along the shoreline to where the salt mines were in Trapani.  The entire ride there you could see windmill after windmill, salt pile after salt pile, and the view was just miraculous.  Driving up Serena promised me we would park the car and I could get better pictures, so I relaxed a little bit trying to get good shots out of the moving car. We pulled up to a dirt parking lot next to a restaurant built on to the salt mines and unloaded ourselves from the car just in time for sunset.  We debated whether or not to go into the museum, then finally agreed to go in and look around, then go to the top of the wind mill at sunset to look out over the water and the rest of the windmills and massive piles of salt.  We waited in the top of the mill until the sunset, then headed back out to the shore too look at the remainder of light being cast along the horizon.  With the sun completely set, we piled back in the tiny UNO, and Serena's uncle sped on towards Trapani.

We ended up driving right past the airport where I would have to be taken to the following day, and found us struggling to follow the crazy road signs pointing us toward our final destination.  An hour or so later, we were finally driving through the heart of Trapani, and then found the lot near the funicolare to take us up to Eriche.   I really had no idea what Eriche was, but once we climbed in to the funicolare,  I knew I would be entering a city too spectacular to describe.  The funicolare rose and rose, the wind rocking the car back and forth, as the shoreline grew farther and farther away, the lights of the city making the perfect coastline pop perfectly.  I should have worn more layers, because it was freezing by the time we reached the top of the mountain and walked into Eriche.  The city was literally plopped on the tipity top of a mountain.  Bricks and stone everywhere, we walked straight up the steep walking only pathway leading us to the castello.  We walked past ceramic shop after ceramic shop, stopping here and there to shop for souvenirs.  I landed upon a nice ceramic tile that had fatevi i cazzi vostri written across it and couldn't pass up buying it. After we searched for a place to eat, and I spotted a Buon Ricordo restaurant and suggested we eat there.  It was of course nearing 10:00pm but who would have thought the kitchen would be closed? We were in Italy!  But for some strange reason it was CHIUSO and they would not seat us, nor would they let me buy a plate for my mom without having eaten the meal. Rude!

Soo, senza mangia, we went forward, stomachs growling, our only resolution. CANNOLI!  So we continued walking to the top of Eriche, getting a nice butt work out and then walked around the castello, checking out the view of the thousands of lights below us.  A complete 360 degree view of the island around us.  I could only imagine the view during the day.  After taking our pictures and walking around, we headed back down the mountain to stop at the most famed pasticerria  in all of Sicily.  I offered to pay, and Serena's uncle ordered us 6 genovese  and 5 cannoli.  The genovese were hot right out of the oven, circular pastries filled with hot creme, beyond good.  We stepped outside of the pastry shop and immediately scarfed them down.  Then we headed back down the hill with our package of cannoli in hand.  Nearing 12:00 we reached the bottom of the hill town, stopping to get an arancino at the bar.  Apparently they were very terrible because Ale, Serena's boyfriend, complained and got a refund for his terrible tasting arancino.  Crazy.  Then we headed toward the funicolare to head back down the steep mountain.  In the car we opened the cannoli, and we ate the best cannoli in all of sicily.  They were quite delicious!  Dreary and full, we climbed back into the UNO then Zio drove us back to Mazara del Vallo, and we climbed into bed after I finished packing my bags.  Off to the mainland in the morning!

Mi sono svegliata alle nove.  I woke up at 9:00, fresh bombolone waiting for me at the breakfast table.  I sat down to eat spending my last few minutes with Serena's Nonna in the kitchen.  Afterwards I got my bags out of my bedroom and headed out front to wait for Davidu and Lucia to come by.  When they arrived we said our goodbyes and took some final pictures, then we loaded the car and off to Trapani we went!  Before I knew it I had spent 5 amazing days with Serena in Sicilia, and I was already back in Rome headed to Frosinone where hopefully Uncle Bob was still planning on picking me up!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Le Avventure del UNO-45

Friday, went to work to find only three of us in the office. Myself, Francesca and Marc.  I was able to leave around 4:00, and Sarah (from switzerland) had invited Zoe, Danielle and I for dinner at her place, so I rushed home to get ready because I wanted to go shopping for a new borsa because my target one is starting to fall apart. When I got home I showered and also prepared my bags to go to Muto in the morning, then I headed out toward Via Nazionale to find a new purse. I walked up and down Via Nazionale down to Piazza Venezia and back up to Termini and had no luck in finding a new bag.  However, I did stop in a bookstore and I found a recently released Italian film on DVD that looks entertaining, I figured I could show it for Italian Club back at school, and I also bought a Nicholas Sparks book in Italian as my next challenge! 

Before heading back up Nazionale to Termini to catch the A line I stopped in the Despar Supermercato to get a bottle of Chianti to bring to Sarah's house. Then I trecked back up Via Nazionale, realized there was a fermata at Piazza della Republica, so I hopped on the A line there, and rode it to Lepanto, across the river toward the Vatican, and got out and followed the directions she had sent to get to her apartment. It took me and my map a few minutes to realize which side of the metro stop I had exited, I almost had to stand on the map like Joey in Friends when they were in London to figure out which direction to head, but luckily I managed to find the right road and headed the right direction toward Piazza Mazzini, and was at Sarah's apartment by 8:10.

I was the first to arrive, so she gave me a tour of her apartment.  She lived with 7 other girls, and the place was rather large. Each room was plenty spacious and seemed nicer than what I was living in, but their kitchen was the tiniest thing I've seen, and they too did not have a salotto or living room to hang out in (mom!). We sat down in the kitchen and opened some wine and we chatted while she prepared the final parts of our meal and while we waited for Zoe (Danielle couldn't come because her sister was visiting).  One of Sarah's roommates (can't remember her name) was joining us for dinner. She was from Budapest, Hungary and was also interning, but at a wedding planning company, and she had just been given a potential full time job for the following year, so she took out her bottle of Limoncello and offered us some.  We sat and chatted while Sarah continued to pull new dishes out of the fridge and added the finishing touches.  Sarah had worked in a kitchen of a restaurant near San Pietro for her internship, so apparently she loved to cook! Close to 9, Zoe finally arrived, and Sarah dumped the risotto in the pot. We drank some more wine then moved to the table in Sarah's bedroom to eat the meal. She had made couscous, potatoes, risotto and a chocolate cake (the same kind she brought to Nunzio's apartment).  We sat down and indulged in all the delicious treats and had a wonderful evening.  10 minutes before 12:00 I ran out the door to make the last bas back to Via Udine, I had to flag it down because right when we walked out we saw it driving by.  We did the two kisses very quickly in the middle of the road and then I ran onto the bus. Safe!

Even though it was only 12:30 when I went to bed, I hit the pillow hard and didn't stir one bit until my alarm went off at 6:50.  Makes me nervous that this summer is going to catch up with me right when I get home and I'm going to have to sleep for a week straight!

I arrived in Frosinone puntuale to find Nonno and Maria waiting for my on the platform.  They ushered me to the car and put my things in the trunk, then I offered to drive back to Muto for Maria.  Surprisingly she was grateful for my offer and let me drive her white FIAT Panda all the way back to Muto, no complaints!

When we arrived I unloaded my suitcase as usual and Nonna came out asking if I had laundry to do... as usual I responded "Of course", but told her not to worry about doing it, and I hustled to throw it in the washing machine myself.  I got myself organized and brought my things up to the Blue room that mom and dad always slept in.  Since it was only me in the house I finally would have the chance to sleep in the best bedroom! Sweet! I unpacked then decided that I should probably go on a run despite the extreme heat, so I changed and headed out on a short run before Nonna pulled out lunch.  I can't remember the specifics of lunch, but I do know that is was delicious, and delicious enough to put me into a food coma afterwards.  So I climbed upstairs, showered, then took a nap in the blue room.

When I woke up I descended downstairs to see what the older crowd was up to. The conversation... mushrooms. Nonna and Maria were talking about the Festa del tartufo in Campoli and it sounded as if they were ready to go up and buy some mushrooms, so I suggested we drive up before the sun set and check it out, they agreed without hesitation and off we went.

Climbing up the hills of Campoli I could tell Nonna and Maria were very excited to see the Tartufi and buy some mushrooms.  When we arrived, Maria dropped Nonna and I right at the beginning of the festa street and went to go park the car.  Then we slowly made our way up to the top of Campoli passing numerous stands with sausages, porcini mushrooms, porchetta sandwiches, cheese wheels, tartufi, granitas etc.  We even passed some of the local ragazzi wearing ciociare (the traditional footware).  We stayed just long enough for Nonna to buy 20 euro worth of funghi porcini  and a kilo of pasta with tartufo baked in, and then we retreated back down the hill to Muto so that Nonna could show off to Nonno what she got in Campoli and then begin cooking.

For dinner we had tartufo flavored fettucini in a funghi porcini sauce and it was spectacular.  After dinner I hung out until Ilario came to pick me up to go to the festa of the night.  Destination: Atina.  In Atina Inferiore we walked through the stalls and stalls of junk, purses, jewelery, soccer jerseys, candy, music etc. then stopped at the giostro where Claudia convinced me to go on a ride with her.  We went on this ride that went in circles and bucked you up and down, that if rode in America, they normally would have strapped you to the bench as to not fall out, but here in Atina we were rolling all over the place and were actually encouraged to get up out of our seats and dance in the middle of the platform while the ride was doing its twists and turns... No thanks! I hung on with my dear life!  After the ride finished we headed back to the car. We had a relatively early night because most of his friends were away at the beach, I didn't mind of course and I was happy to take any extra hours of sleep because my summer had been preventing me from getting maximum sleep!

Sunday morning I woke up early as usual to catch the best time of the day at Muto.  Nonna had the Moka ready for me to turn on and make a cappucino, then she gave me the last cornetto from the bread box and I headed out to the patio to enjoy the coolest part of the day at Muto.  Around 10:00 Fabrizia called saying there were no trains until this afternoon, I knew that wasn't right, so I looked up on from my phone and found that there was a train at 11:00 that she could take, and Nonno and I would be waiting for her in Frosinone.

It was easy to find Fabrizia exiting the train in Frosinone because she was the only blonde.  Maria spotted her first, which was pretty impressive, the Nonno went over and they hugged each other for a good long while.  Nonno was thrilled to finally see Fabrizia back in italy and it was adorable.  We headed back to the UNO-45 and climbed in, then I drove us back to Muto where Nonna was waiting for Fabrizia to arrive as well.  It was a bittersweet moment when we were all standing outside the front door of Muto, until Nonna realized it was past noon and rushed inside to finish the mushroom pasta, that Fabrizia had just informed her she wouldn't like! Uh ohhh! Joking... just a horror story of mushroom soup from her childhood, but she assured nonna the food would be fine and she would enjoy it.

After our delicious meal of mushrooms and fried zucchini flowers Nonna ordered us to go rest and refused to let us touch the dishes.  We attempted to wash a few, but then she came at us yelling, and we both resigned and went up to nap, assuming it would be more dangerous for her to keep yelling at us with that force.

After nap time we rode up to Campoli, admittedly being a little nervous taking the UNO up the back  roads and having second guessed the route one time.  However, we arrived safely and weaved our way up the side of the mountain on foot because I refused to park on a steep incline. We weaved up through the percorso of the festa and walked past a number of stalls and homes that were selling tartufo products or other hand made goods.  At the top of Campoli we climbed the tower where a local photographer had his art displayed, and then we huddled in the piazza where everyone was already eating, drinking and dancing.  Only staying for a short minute, we retreated back down the hillside of Campoli stopping to by some tartufi for Nonna (as a surprise! she didn't buy them the day before b/c she thought they were too expensive) and the pasta with tartufo for Maria (upon her request).  Before reaching the car we saw the local teenagers dancing to folk music in there cioce and spotted two ripe figs on a fig tree that I had to climb a wall and look like a fool in order to reach.  All in all a successful first festa for Fabrizia.

At Muto we presented the gifts to Nonna. First the figs, and then the TARTUFI (saving the best for last). However, we didn't quite get the reaction we wanted... we asked if she was happy and asked the same of Nonno and all he could repeat was fichi! He was mesmerized by the TWO figs we had brought home and neither of them seemed to be nearly as thrilled about the tarufo as they were about the two figs....  those nonni ... very strange!

After we gave everyone their gifts we sat down to dinner and enjoyed whatever delicious treats nonna had prepared for us.  As the sun set we saw the spare exploding in the distant town of Posta Fibreno, preparing for the festa later that night.  Both Nonna, Nonno and Fabrizia somehow convinced me to not go into work the next day, so that I could spend some more time with Fabrizia and attend the best festa in Fontechiari, la festa degli emigranti.  After the were successful in their efforts to prevent me from going back to Rome in the morning and after I had emailed my boss we finished up our meal.  Since Fabrizia just arrived, she was pretty tired, so we resigned to bed early that night after Nonna explained to us what the festa was at La Posta that night... gesu christo sotto l'aqcua!  Apparently they have a procession of the cross down to the lago di posta fibreno and then they submerge the cross into the water and celebrate... for what reason, I'm not too sure, but it sounded pretty entertaining!

Going to bed around 10:00 was a relief and not having to wake up at 5:00am to head back into Roma was an even bigger relief.  I was content to wake up the next morning and have the whole day ahead to spend with Fabrizia. When I woke I made myself a cappuccino and then started to make myself eggs, having to call Nonna to help me flip them.  She boasted how eggs are the only thing Alex could make, and she seemed disappointing in my lack of egg flipping skills. After breakfast the agenda for the day was slim.  All we wanted to do was enjoy Muto, head in to Sora after 4 to do a little shopping and then relax with the nonni.  Fabrizia and I walked down to the forno past the prime baking hours and were only able to get one fagotino al ciocolato. Worth it! And then we napped and read outside on the patio until 4:00 when the stores in Sora opened and we headed into town, me driving the UNO. In Sora we went to the Brasilera to pick up some fresh bags of espresso, then we went to the giolleria to get the pearl necklace and bracelet mom had got strung for me, and for Fabrizia to treat herself to some new gold hoops.  After our errands were complete we headed back home to get ready for the festa and figured out rides to get up to Fontechiari.

Bernard came to the house around 7:30 and he drove us right to the main piazza and dropped off the nonni with Fabrizia, while we drove back down the hill to park the car illegally and then head back up.  When there's a festa, there are generally no parking rules, so we parked right in front of a stop sign. Perfect.  We met up with Fabrizia and the Nonni when we reached the top of the hill then we went to go wait in line to get our free tickets for the food.  We were very impressed with the comune di fontechiari when all of our names appeared on the list of emmigranti and then I had to pretend that my brother was somewhere and couldn't come get his ticket so that Bernard could get a free meal, because for some reason (he won't tell me the whole story) his name was not on the VIP/immigrant list.  For 9,00 euro if you weren't an immigrant of Fontechiari or for free if you were you could have all the wine you wanted, tagliolini e fagioli, panino di salsiccia, crespelle, spezzatino di pecora e minestra ciociara.  Fabrizia and I only made it to the sandwich, the tagliolini and then the crespelle, but Maria had everything checked off her tag by the time the night was over.  We ran into Ilario and his friends while we were with the Nonni and he said he could bring us home later, so we stayed and hung out with them while the main piazza in Fontechiari turned into a discoteca for the younger crowd.  Quite the entertaining night, and Fabrizia and I had a great time dancing to some songs at the close of the night.  We returned home to Muto around 2:30am and I prepared myself for the early morning commute back to rome Tuesday, and told Fabrizia I would return Wednesday night if I didn't have to work on Thursday.

crespelle ladies
My journey Tuesday morning was already recounted in a timely manner, so I will skip the details of that.  But after the long commute Tuesday morning, I arrived at Aircom to hear the good news that I would definitely not need to come into work Thursday, lucky for Fabrizia, I could start my ferie early.  Tuesday and wednesday I packed for Sicily and went to work getting everything done in advance and set everything up for my reentry 10 days later without Francesca, and Wednesday I did my hour commute with my baggage for Sicily in hand, so that I could escape the office and head to Muto as quickly as possible without heading back to Piazza Bologna.  After work I successfully made it to Frosinone around 5:30 where Fabrizia and Maria were once again waiting for me.  I got in the car and once again drove her white panda back to Fontechiari because none of the vecchie had trusted Fabrizia with the roads to Frosinone yet.

Luckily for me I had arrived just in time to make it to dinner at the neighbor's house. Fabrizia, Nonno and I walked down Muto around 7:30 to head to the house of the other francese for dinner, while Nonno described to us that we were doing a passegiata romantica and that we should have young boys take us on romantic walks as well.  When we asked if he ever took Nonna on romantic walks he tried to avoid the question, but then finally admitted to having took la signora on a few romantic walks (la signora disagrees).

When we arrived at our destination the table was being set for 16 people, the wood fire was being started, and the wind was also picking up.  We discovered that they had a grove of 18 peach trees with the most delicious peaches you would ever taste, and we snacked on peaches, nuts and chips while we waited for the meat and the rest of the meal to be prepared.  We hung outside until it became to windy and we had to move the table indoors, and then once the meat was almost ready, 1.5 hours after we had arrived, we were finally allowed to sit at the table.  The entertainment of the night was Toni (?), the australian neighbor, who had just arrived and quoted she felt better in Italy because "bevo, mangio, fumo, (making sex hand motions)" She nearly made Fabrizia and I cry when she said that at the table.  Food wise, we were each given our own personal plate of antipasti, complete with olives, prosciuto, melon, cheese and bread.  I was full by the time I was done!  No worries though because more courses were to come. Following the antipasto were other vegetables and then the abbachio.  We were served from two huge pots of lamb and I unfortunately could only fit two tiny ribs into my stomach because I was already so full from the antipasto.  In between courses Fabrizia and I found the australian filling our glass back up with wine, and then we also started adding peaches to the concoction. Delicious.  For dessert there were baskets of peaches, most of them from their yard except for the nectarine that Nonna picked out and then was appalled at when she found la ticketa still stuck to the side of the fruit.  Along with the fruit came a home made peach torta, made by another women who was at the party from Canada, there was also Tiramisu and then after that portion of dessert they came out with individual packets of ferrero rocher sorbet.  By that time it was nearing 12:30 and Fabrizia and I were falling asleep before the oldies! Yikes!  When the hosts descended the stairs with bottles of limoncello and after dinner bitters, Fabrizia and I looked at each other and mutually decided it was time for us to excuse ourselves and walk home to Muto.  We were pathetic leaving before the Nonni, but we were so tired and we had a big day alla piscina the next day, so we thought it was in our best interest to head home.  We said our good byes and our thank yous and we were fast asleep in our beds just before 1am.

Thursday morning we headed into Sora for the Mercato. Goals: Find leather shoes, a leather bag, baby gift for Fabrizia's friend, and a seat cushion for Nonno's chair.  Success rate = 33%.  Madness at Mercato as usual, Fab and I split up to peruse the shoes... no luck, then we met back up with Nonna and Maria where they took us to find baby gift for Fabrizia, then Fabrizia and I bought Nonna a beautiful Padre Pio bracelet for 1 euro.  All in all a rather successful trip.  When we got back to Muto we discussed with Nonno his plan for the doctor's so that Fabrizia and I would be able to drive up to Arpino and go to the pool at Suncrest Hotel! It was a long discussion, but we finally figured it out and we were on our way to enjoy the sun.   We spent the day at the hill top pool, met some strange man from Canada whose sister was marrying the man who worked at the hotel, and by 5:30 we descended back down the hill (Fabrizia at the wheel this time) as to not be late for the fresh pesto pasta dinner.  When we arrived we helped make the pesto, crushing it with a mortar and pistil, and found out that Nonno's doctors appointment was successful (no longer did we feel guilty about not going).

 After dinner we waited for Ilario to pick us up and take us to the Notte Bianca in Atina, and once again Fabrizia and I had a wonderful night, us trying to stay on top of Ilario's rapidly fast speaking friend Melissa.  We danced in the piazza in Atina and bought Peronis and Porchetta sandwiches from the truck parked in the piazza and had a grand old time.  Unfortunately it wasn't an actual Notte Bianca because the shuttle buses stopped at 3:00, so we had to catch the last one to make it back down to Atina Ponte Melfa to where we had parked the car.  I wasn't too disappointed we didn't stay out extremely late because at 8am I had to be up and on my way to Ciampino to head to Sicilia.  All in all... great 3 days with Fabrizia, and the stories we heard from Nonno and Nonna just got better and better as the days went!

8am off to Frosinone to catch the train to Ciampino!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

le cose che mi mancono

Things I miss...

Eye contact
Prosciuto contests
Cinque Centos
The metro saying "prossima fermata, piramide" pronounced peerahmiday
babies up at 1:00am
Eating dinner at 9:00pm
Drinking on steps
Walking past Mizzica
Seeing Mokas in every store window
Orange pants
Yellow pants
Green pants
Italian chiacchierare
Cafe' 5+ times a day
Men wearing nice shoes
Riding public transportation
Getting fresh water from the fountain on the way to work every day
Cappuccini (I know I already said it)
Via Muto
La Ficora
Mountain air
The smell of Muto
being called cara, bella, & cocco by Francesca

thousands of more things......

working on finishing up the last details of the summer! Will try to get the posts up ASAP! Scusatemi!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weekend di Compleanno a Muto

Caught the 7:34 train out of Termini and arrived in Cassino at 9:30.  Mom and dad were there waiting for me and wished me a Happy Birthday once I snuck up behind them (since they didn’t see me exit the train). We went to find the car and then struggled to find the shoe area of the Mercato.  Once we found it, we parked, and then mom and I strolled up and down the bancarelle, me getting frustrated with lack of sleep and lack of success in shoe purchases. Lame! By 11:30 we had met up with dad, and we were searching to find a cappuccino and a bathroom for me.  As I entered a bar to ask to use the bathroom, I hear a little voice saying ‘Hey look! She is from Union College!’. A family of 6 or 7 catches my attention and tells me, mom and dad that they are from Schenectady.  Obviously my mom says, “no way we are too! We’re actually from Rexford! My parents anyways…” The other Schenectady family responds; “Really? Us too… what is your last name?”  Our response: “Serafini”, their response… “No way! I’m Michele’s Pharmacist!” My mom: “OH YOUR BOB THE PHARMACIST!”   Really… what a small world that we run into Nonno Michele’s pharmacist at a dumpy bar in Cassino, what are the chances of that?  We chatted for a few minutes then we were off to find a Pasticceria to buy me a birthday cake.  We ended up finding a place that sold us a 10 euro millefoglie cake with Nutella, then headed on home to Muto to make it for lunch.

Pooped from barely 4 hours of sleep over the past 48 hours I scarfed down my lunch then sluggishly walked up the two flights of stairs to my bedroom to sleep the rest of the afternoon away.  I had to prepare myself for the Notte Bianca in Broccostella that night… I was on a non-stop schedule.

6pm I rose from my bed and headed downstairs to find the rest of the family.  We hadn’t eaten the cake at lunch because we had gotten too full, so we pulled out some Prosecco in hopes of eating the cake before we went out to dinner at Tapa Wine bar with the D’Ammassa’s, but of course we were still full from lunch and we were only able to drink the Prosecco and yet again the eating of my birthday cake was delayed.

8:30 we met the D’Amassa’s at the Tapa Wine Bar of Fontechiari. Splitting the table by kids and adults, the kids made the executive decisions on what kinds of pizza we would be getting and how many pitchers of beer.  Reality was, Nancy and her diplomacy were in charge and she got straight down to the point and ordered the table a variety of pizza’s, 4 red, 3 white, and kept the pitchers of beer coming. Brava Nancy!  It was nearing 10:00 and I was supposed to be back at Muto for Ilario to pick me up at 10:00, so I asked the D’Amassa’s if they wouldn’t mind taking me into Brocostella with them after dinner, and I went to call Ilario to tell him I would meet him Brocostella.  By 10:45 we arrived in Brocostella, a sneaky way that Gigino knew, so we found prime parking right behind the comune of Brocostella.   I followed Gina and Nancy to Christian’s bar, I went to the bathroom, and they got me a beer, and introduced me to a few different people, all part of Gina’s boyfriends extended family who owned the bar DeVito in the center of Brocostella.  Shortly after I met up with Ilario and I headed off with him and his friends further down the street where we ran into a festa at “Nonna Nunziata’s”! 

Nonna Nunziata… a sweet old nonna who had her house opened to anyone who wished! Two long tables with sandwiches, finger foods, and jugs of sangria were out that she willingly was serving to drunken young community of the surrounding towns of Fontechiari. So entertaining.  A few glasses in they all began to sing drinking songs starting on the lines of screaming “BEVOO, BEVO, BEVO, BEVO, BEVOOOOO” then some other words that I couldn’t understand.  Out front there was a DJ blasting greating music and a pile of wooden crates upon which a 70-year-old man was dancing with his shirt off.  He was insane! Wouldn’t stop moving, shaking his hips and having a grand ole time.   A few hours later I saw him hobbling to go sit near the food… I think he may have pulled a groin…

After Nonna Nunziata’s supply of sangria and food was exhausted we said our thank yous and kissed the sweet old lady, then walked back down the main drag toward the main piazza where a outdoor discoteca was slowly coming to life.  There was a stage with half naked hired dancers flaunting their stuff in the piazza of the main church, a loud sound system and DJ and a bar that was continually pouring beers for the ever-thirsty population of Brocostella.  What a scene!  We spent the remainder of our night in the main piazza at the discoteca, only leaving to use the bathroom or to accompany someone to the porchetta truck located a few hundred feet away.  It was quite the wild night and I returned home safely by 4:30 am.  The festa life slowly draining all of my energy…

Sunday I got to sleep in a decent amount, but not too late as to oversleep lunch.  Prompt as usual Nonna had lunch out for us by 1:00 and our stomachs were pleasantly filled by 2:30 in time for our afternoon siesta. We hung around Muto all afternoon, I went on a run and my parents began to pack their bags up.  We did one last run into Sora right at 4:00, so that mom could by another 3 kilos of coffee from La Brasilera, refusing to believe that their suitcases could be overweight on account of coffee.  When we returned home we agreed that we would only eat fruit for dinner along side with my birthday cake that we still hadn't eaten.  With much struggle we convinced the nonni to come sing the cake with us, and we finally ate our 10 euro millefoglie cake from Cassino.  Nonna was raving about how delicious it was, I think she had 3 slices!  It's funny how much she liked it, and how much she had liked the cake for Michael's birthday.  Both cakes tasted good, but not to the extent Nonna and Maria made them up to be! Cakes in America are better than Italy, in terms of birthday cakes that is. Every other type of food is better here though.  And it's not that cakes aren't good here, just when you grow up in America you have that sense of what a birthday cake should be like, whether it's an ice cream cake or a betty crocker box cake piled high with frosting, you keep that expectation and when you end up having your birthday in Italy and celebrating it witha millefoglie filled with Nutella, or a fruit covered spongy rum cake, or a fruit tart, it's not that they don't taste good, it's just not what you want and expect on your birthday. Insomma, la millefoglie di nutella era buona, e sono stata contenta con il weekend :)

After the birthday cake we made sure all of our bags were packed and that we had a plan for Monday morning's departure.  Then we headed back into Sora for one last passegiata down the Corso until our next appearance in Italy together (2012 woo!).  We grabbed two slices of margherita pizza from Pizzeria Carmela since we hadn't yet indulged on a slice.  The woman gave me 3 decently sized slice and only asked for 2 euro, pleasantly surprised with how economical the most delcious pizza in the world is.  We walked down the Corso with our pizza a taglio then headed toward mom and dad's favorite bar (which they still didn't know the name of) and we sat down to have a drink before returning home.  Dad got some birra bionda in bottiglia, mom got some wine and I got a spritz... Afterwards we headed home to sleep until 4:45am. 

Monday morning by 5:15 we were out the door, by 6:00 I was at the Frosinone train station, I kissed my parents good bye, I headed toward the track to catch a train back into Rome and make it to work on time, and my parents headed back to the car to drive to Fiumicino and head back to Boston.  Their stay was too short in my mind! Especially since I was only able to see them on the weekends because I am a working lady here in Italy.

During work mom called me from the airport announcing she got kicked off her original flight because it was overbooked. She seemed a little bummed that she would no longer be arriving at a resonable hour in Boston, but after she explained the bonus she had received for agreeing to take the next flight, I told her I would have agreed to the conditions in a heartbeat as well!  She received almost an entire reimbursement of her ticket and would be flying first class on the way home.  So jealous! I'm hoping this happens to me when I head to the airport too!

That's that. 21 over and done with!  Well celebrated with friends and family even in a country where the age has little significance. I was happy that I didn't regret not being back in the states for it, and I was thrilled I still had one month left in this amazing country.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Festeggiamo! Finalemento ho ventuno anni!

*Haven't had internet on my computer in a while so please excuse my late posting!*
Thursday at work I was messaging and BBM-ing Helena all day to figure out our plans for the night.  It’s funny how the midnight before your birthday can be so much more exciting than the actual day.  Friday, my birthday, I was just planning to go to dinner with some of the friends I’d made, and that would be plenty for me.  I felt bad that I wouldn’t be going back to Muto for my actual birthday, but I didn’t think there would be much to do, and I knew my new friends in Rome would be happy to celebrate with me (all though I would have liked to have a proper celebration with the nonni and my parents as well).  Anyways, so Helena and I were scheming plans for the night while we were supposed to be working, and we decided we would bring wine to Piazza Trilussa (the main steps in Trastevere), hang out there for a while, then head on over to Aperitivo on the isola, and then return to the steps if it was too early to go out out, hang out and have a grand ole time.  Plan set. 

Plan changed…

Kate a friend I had met earlier had 1 day left in Rome before she returned home, and she wanted to go get a Tiramisu at a bar that a friend had raved to her about and she had asked me to go with her, so our plans shifted slightly.  I would meet Kate at Cade Dovelu on Via Nazionale at 8:00.  Helena would try and get there by 8:30. Then we would meet Cornelius at N’importe Quoi at 9:00, then we would go to the steps all together and then to the Isola for aperitivo and resume the plan, just all a little bit later.

So after work I hurried home to get ready to go out. Showered and got dressed, then went to find a shopping bag to carry the 4 beers I had in the fridge. Helena said she would bring a bottle of wine, and I said I would bring some beer, for all of us were sick of paying 8 euro for one drink. Surely supermarket beer and wine was better and cheaper… anyways I met Kate at 8. Rhyme! And we went to sit down inside the café, and we ordered ourselves Tiramisu.  We sat and enjoyed the delicious treat, and chatted for a while.  Kate had been given the opportunity to go nanny for an Italian family during their 2 week sailboat vacation through Croatia, but her work wouldn’t allow her to take anymore time off, so she unfortunately had to return to the states the day she had planned when she made her tickers… Saturday morning.  Since it was going to be her last opportunity to go out in Rome I convinced her to come out with us instead of going home.  With some convincing she agreed, but needed to go home and drop her things off and get changed to go out, and then she would meet us at the Isola.  Nearing 9:00, Helena had already called and said she would meet at N’importe quoi because she didn’t want Cornelius waiting for us, we’ve all turned into horrible Italian time tables, LATE LATE LATE!  Kate and I got espresso pick me ups before paying and leaving.  We took a bus to Argentina, then took the Tram across the river where I got off, leaving Kate on the tram going back to her house near Marconi to get changed and ready to go out!

Friends and Prosecco!
I walked to N’Importe Quoi to find Helena, Cornelius and Phi (who was working).  We hung outside the café for a few minutes, and then we convinced Phi to ask her boss if she could leave.  With permission, we headed toward the Isola to open the bottle of wine in the Piazza at the top of the stairs. We sat around the monument and cheers to Roma then just relaxed for a while.  A bride and her friends came around taking pictures and acting silly for a bachelorette party and I took a picture of the group for them. Around 10:30 we descended down into the Aperitivo at the Isola and found Zoe and her boyfriend and a few others to chat with.  Kate got there around 11:00, and we all sat in a circle enjoying ourselves and the atmosphere of the river.  Convenietly at Midnight I had to use the bathroom, I really didn’t want any singing to go on, so I snuck away to go to the bathroom missing the first 15 minutes of my birthday because of the long line.  However, when I returned to the circle, everyone started singing happy birthday, and they dished out a bottle of Prosecco for me and my 21st birthday! wahoooO!  It was the best! I was so relieved that I had made friends who were so happy to celebrate my birthday with me, and who were so generous and shared all the same passions as me!  I had been nervous about spending my 21st birthday abroad, but it turned out to be just perfect!  12:45ish we left the island, mostly everyone went home, but Kate, Helena and I headed to Testaccio to have a grand ole time at Coyote (where else?).  On the way I found the perfect birthday gift for myself… A roman license plate abandoned on the ground! We stashed it in Helena’s bag, then continued walking to Testaccio.  Once at Coyote we danced the night away until the place closed.  At 5am I got in a cab and headed home, thrilled to wake up at 8:00 and go to work!  I figured since it was Friday and my birthday they would let me out earlier than usual, so I wasn’t too worried about having 2 hours of sleep, I could nap after work!

Aircom Crew L-R Consolato, Me, Francesca, Valeria, Benedetto
So I went into work and right away Francesca and Valeria said Auguri to me. I thanked them, then sat down to do my work!  The day went as normal, us doing our work, having a few coffee breaks and then having lunch around 1:30.  I was secretly hoping that after we had our after lunch coffee, I could do one more thing and then Francesca would say “Cicha, quando vuoi andare, vai” That’s when I would take and extra 5 minutes and then finally say okay Ci vediamo domain, or ci vediamo lunedi!  But that didn’t happen as I was expecting.  Instead she said that Francesco and us had to meet in the Salla di reunione at 3:30 to talk about the Vodafone project. Seriously? I just wanted to go!!!!!  It neared 3:30 and things came up so the meeting was postponed 20 minutes.  Finally, Francesca grabbed her notebook and said lets go! So I grabbed my notebook to start taking notes, we went into find Francesco and he started saying something about Vodafone, then I knew something was up cause it was a little strange feeling and Valeria and Consolato had come in as well, so I look out the door and see Benedetto bringing in a cake with a big ‘21 ‘candle burning on top. Stoppp it, I was so embarrassed! They made me make a speech, I wanted to die.  I basically said thank you for everything, its been great, and it was just so awkward, but then we ate the cake, Valeria cutting it of course (she is the mom when it comes to making the coffee, bringing in Tiramisu, serving things etc) and we enjoyed the cake and although I was mortified by the event, Aircom had made my day J  Soon after that embarrassment Francesca let me leave, and I was off to get ready and to meet my friends at Piazza Trilussa to head to Ivo in Trastevere for dinner.

8:30pm everyone arrived.  I had been walking behind Zoe and her new bright purple hair, so we arrived at the same time, the shortly after Phi, Cornelius and Danielle appeared as well.  Helena had texted me saying she wouldn’t make it to dinner because it was her last day of work and her coworkers took her out, but she would meet up with us wherever we were once she was ready. After we were all there we walked to Ivo in Trastevere and asked for a table outside, and shortly after we were seated to have a delicious dinner.  I finally was able to order the carciofi e melanzane pizza that my mom had ordered with the Ponsetto’s and it was just fantastic.  Dinner was perfect, nice and relaxed and amongst good company, and after dinner, Zoe and her boyfriend left, Phi went to go pick up her friend who was arriving from Venezia, and Cornelius, Helena, Danielle and I headed into Testaccio to find a new club to dance the night away at.  Running on two hours from the night before I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel one bit tired.

When we arrived in Testaccio all of us ladies had to use the bathroom, so we found a bar to go into.  While we were using the facilities and American pub crawl guy came up to us and tried to promote his Coliseum pub crawl.  We obviously weren’t buying into it, but we figured we could get some information out of the guy, so we asked where else he brought his tour besides Coyote, and he told us about a place further down the road that was free of charge. And so off we went! We stayed in a place we found with no cover charge, unsure if it was where the man had suggested, but it was fun, so we danced there until Phi called us and needd help finding the place.  We met up with her and her Italian friend Leonardo from Venice (who still had his suitcase with him), and we headed back to the club we were at.  Around 3:00 we decided to check Coyote out, because Phi and Leo weren’t into the music playing at the first one.  So we went to Coyote and spent the rest of the night there.  Fabian, the French guy we met a few weeks ago, decided to come to meet up with Helena, and around 5:00 I was exhausted and had to catch a train back to Muto at 7, so I ushered Cornelius out along with Danielle, Phi and Leo and we headed to catch the bus.

We all went our respective directions and since Cornelius was heading back to Austria Saturday afternoon, I had to say my final good bye, or See you later.  Too many people would be leaving in the next week, I wasn’t looking forward to it.  But since we all have the same ambitions of travel and language we figured it wouldn’t be far off to say that we would see each other later, instead of it was nice to know you briefly!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

il viaggio da sora a roma

So, today is Tuesday.  Yesterday I didn't return to Rome because Fabrizia had arrived on Sunday and I wanted to spend more time with her, plus the Nonni wanted me to stay Monday night for the festa degli immigranti a Fontechiari (there will be another post with more details).  Anyways, since the metro at Anagnina is closed, I had to figure out an alternative way to get back to Termini that wouldn't be too tedious of a commute, so yesterday I went to the tobaccaio to get a bus ticket and check the schedule for the buses from Sora to Frosinone in the morning.  The plan was take the COTRAL bus to Frosinone and then take the train straight to Termini. facile, non?

Pretty tired from last night's festa, I woke up at 5:00, scrambled my things together, forgetting my retainer and my computer charger among things, and called Maria to bring me into Sora.  I was there in time for the 5:30 bus, and just to be sure, when I got on the bus I asked the man if it went to Frosinone. He said yes it does, but not to the ferrovie train station, only to Piazza di Matteis. Great... So I started asking questions, saying I would go all the way to Anagnina I guess, but I didn't have a ticket, and I didn't know how to go another way, and yada yada yada, the bus driver wasn't giving me any suggestions on what to do, or anything else helpful, so I continued asking questions to see if I could get any helpful response, until a nice man probably 40 years old or so, dressed in a suit said he could help me (in Italian of course). I questioned this man numerous time just to make sure that where the bus was going, he was going, and where I was trying to go were all the same places, then I said Okay, I'll follow you, and I went and took a seat behind him.

I slept most of the way, and when I saw I was nearing Frosinone I stayed alert.  Shortly after we were arriving in the center, and the man in the suit caught my eye and said the next stop would be ours. So I gathered my things and got ready to exit the bus, then swiftly followed the man after we got let out of the bus. He offered to carry my bags, but I politely said I could do it myself, and then we were off walking to where we could take a different bus to get to the stazione.  He said we had about 10 minutes before the bus would arrive, so he pointed us in the direction of a bar where he insisted he buy me a cappuccino.  Right as that was happening, a woman who he appeared to know from his daily commute appeared and offered to pay for his caffe and for the cappuccino ragazza (me) that she wasn't quite sure who she was... He on the other hand insited he buy coffees for all, so we went to the bar and drank our coffees while we waited for the bus to arrive.  I drank my cappuccino relatively quickly, since they only got espressos, then we went out to wait for the bus.  Waiting I stood there listening to the man and the woman speaking in Italian, and once again he offered to take my things for me, troppo gentile.  The bus pulled up a few mintues later, we all climbed on and sat near each other, then once again he warned me when we were arriving, and we got off the bus together, the woman saying good bye and heading a different direction than the train station from us.

We walked into the waiting room and read the departure times, and he told me the next train would be in 15 minutes at binario 2.  At this point I knew how to get into Rome, but he had been so nice, I didn't just want to say thank you then awkwardly stand 10 feet away, so we continued to travel together.  Again he offered to carry my bags down and up on to platform 2, but I said I could do it. Waiting on the platform, this guy (I think his name was Francesco, so we'll just call him that from now on) seemed to know everyone.  He explained how most of the men on the platform who he greeted were all polizotto or carabiniere and he knew this because he too was a polizotto.  Soon he found a friend who came to stay in chat, and when the train arrived he insisted on grabbing my bag and told me to follow him so we could secure seats because he was sure they would fill up quickly for an old train with few seats had arrived. We rushed the door once the train stopped and he found us seats and put my suitcase above.  His friend sat near us and as the train pulled away the talk of the tartufi and porcini mushrooms began.

This guy was telling crazy stories about mushrooms that I'm sure Nonna and Nonno would have loved to partake in.  A white truffle was found once somewhere and his grandmother had it but wasn't aware it was a white truffle and she ended up boiling it with potatos that she was cooking... that got a good laugh. He also described mushroom hunting trips he and his father had been on and the kilos and kilos of porcini mushrooms they had returned home with... then I dozed off... and I think we all did. Arriving at Termini I started up conversation asking Francesco if he worked near the station, and if he had to make that commute every day. No and yes.  Holy crap! I would die if I had to do that everday.  Getting off the train we walked down the platform together, he insisted we have another coffee, I politely declined troppo caffe, and told him I had to hurry up to get to work. We shook each others hands, exchanged names (which clearly I suck at remembering), and I thanked him again for having helped me make it to Rome, then I told him maybe I would see him the next morning I'm hurrying to get back to work from Muto.

So nice.  I guess I'm telling this story because this kind of kindness seems to happen all over the place in this country. He offered to buy me two coffees over the course of an hour and a half.  The guy is married, so I swear it wasn't at all wierd, he was just being genuinely nice and trying to help me find a way to termini with out getting lost. I was relieved to have found him on the bus in Sora this morning, or else I never would have made it to work, and would be roaming around downtown Frosinone! Why is my summer nearing an end?? It can't be! It's just TOO soon to leave this wonderful country! But as Marc Penesso keeps telling me Italy has good and bad, but I keep thinking the good and the little things keep trumping the badness, so I am still quite content where I am :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

quasi ventuno, non ci credo

Monday I woke up and went to work as usual.  At this point Rihem was back in Israel and Marta and Laura were still in Spain, so I had the whole apartment to myself.  Not gonna lie. I love being alone in my own living space, so I was excited to have the entire place to myself to cook, clean, shower, sing etc.whenever I wanted. L'unica cosa che mi ha mancato era conversazione italiana. The only thing I missed about my roommates was having people to engage in Italian conversation to help better my language, but I guess I can't have it all... so I settled on talking to myself in Italian! 

Anyways since I had the place to myself I invited Helena over for dinner!  After work I went to the SMA at Piazza Bologna and bought my weekly spese. Stuff for lunch, yogurts, fruit and salad, and then I bought fresh orechiette, pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes for dinner with Helena.  She was going to bring the wine! Excited for our little dinner party and my first house guest, I hurried home to put everything in the fridge then did some quick cleaning up of the place then sat down to watch harry potter on my computer while I waited for Helena. Clock ticked near 8:30 and I figured she was lost, since she said she'd get there before 8, so I turned on the water and waited for her to call.  When she called the water was almost boiling, so I went to go find her outside, and then we were able to throw the pasta in right when we got back to the apartment.  We made a beautiful pasta with pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella, and enjoyed our wine.  No one else seemed to be going out, so we milked the food and the wine, had a nice and relaxed evening full of good food, good drink and good fun, and I got to go to bed at a reasonable hour! Score!

Tuesday... I don't think I did much tuesday during the day. Oh wait yes. After work I somehow tried to go speed shopping for 45 minutes down the corso, obviously came out empty handed, and rushed back home to get ready for dinner at our Chit Chat Italian group leader's house, Nunzio.  I hurried back, stopping at Mizzica to get a small plate of pastries to bring to his house, quickly changed at home, rested for like 15 minutes, then went to meet Sophie, Danielle and Sarah at Termini.  I arrived at 7:48 and immediately found Sarah and Sophie outside of the Nike store (our meeting point).  Sophie hadn't had time to get anything to bring to Nunzio's so I waited outside the Nike store in case Danielle showed up, and Sarah and Sophie went off to find a supermarket and some wine to bring to the dinner party.

View from Nunzio's balcony
Once Danielle showed up she ran to get a coffee because she was distrutta. Then we walked to Via Nazionale to find bus #60 express, to take up Via Nomentana, somewhere far off our maps, and to Nunzio's apartment. 20 minutes later, 1 stop before the capolinea, we got off on Via Nomentana at Romognoli... we started to walk in the direction the bus had been headed, then realized that we couldn't be going away because we were headed to cross a large main road that Nunzio never mentioned when describing how to get to his house. So we headed the other direction, I stopped to ask a boy if we were going the right way and he said dovrebbe essere la prossima alla sinistra.  It should be the next road on the left, so we walked along, and we were thankful to see it was! Now to find his apartment...  He said it should be obvious, number 35, on the second street corner, but every number building also had an A and a B and just plain old 35 seemed to be hiding from us, then we thought we found it and scanned the name tags on the door, but no Nunzio.  2 minutes later we realized we were at building 37, so we abandoned that porch and went back to find 35 whose street number was hiding. Soon after we located Nunzio's buzzer and we began buzzing... No answer... We waited outside hitting the buzzer repeatedly for 2 or 3 minutes until another woman who lived in the building returned home and we followed her through the gate.  Once inside the gate we rang the buzzer for Nunzio on the inside again, and finally we heard a response.  He buzzed us in the door that was already up, and we got into the elevator and rode it to the top floor.

He welcomed us into his apartment, and we all did the kiss cheek greeting and looked around his place.  All walls of the place were covered floor to ceiling with bookshelves and packed with books.  He also had the same green Ikea chair that I have in my dorm room plopped in the middle of the floor.  He took us through the kitchen, us wondering if we were the first people there (20 minutes late), and we went out on the balcony and found 4 or 5 other members of our chit chat group already sipping red wine.  The view was spectacular. You couldn't see the domes of Roma because we were so far away, but you could see the hill towns that surrounded the city, and the town of Frascati plopped upon the hill directly to the left from where we sat.  The porch wrapped around two sides of the building and it was more than spacious enough for the 14 of us who showed up.

We sat outside and chatted around a few bottles of wine and some tiny ciambelle crackers and hunks of pecorino cheese while Nunzio was in the kitchen preparing his Amatriciana.  We all offered our help, but he insisted he was all set in the kitchen part, the only thing we could help with was opening the next bottle of wine ;) Around 9:00 we began to set the table, and we moved from out circle of chairs to sit at the table set with fine plasticware!  We continued chatting, Nunzio scolding us whenever he appeared from the kitchen and heard English being spoken, and then finally around 9:30, Nunzio arrived with the big shinning pot of rigatoni all'amatriciana!  He dished out generous loads to everyone, we toasted and then we ate! I've honestly never had an amatriciana as good as Nunzios. I tried to eat it slowly as to not scare people off, but I realized everyone else was ravenous with their plates of rigatoni, so my pace seemed turtle like compared to the others. We were given a small second portion if we wanted more (of course I took it), and then Nunzio went back in the kitchen to prepare the secondi! Carmela, a british woman had prepared a dish for the secondi, so he arrived from the kitchen with her meat option, and then came with bowl of prepared carrots for the vegetarian crowd that he had seasoned and cooked.  Best carrots I've ever had!  After the secondi there was no shutting us up. It was amazing how chatty we could all be with only having met each other 2 or 3 times before.

Around 11:00 dessert was pulled out of the kitchen.  All of the guests had either brought wine or a dolci so there were plenty of sweets to go around.  There were to chocolate torta both of different consistencies and both superb.  There were the pastries I brought from Mizzica, then at least two other little trays of dolci that people had brought.  By midnight I was in a food coma, and once again I found myself thinking to myself... these are the people, the conversations, the food, that make Italy so attractive to me.  And I know not everyone was Italian, actually Nunzio was the only Italian, but everyone who attended had something in common, a love for Italy and a love for the language.

torte di cioccolato!
A group of us left at 12 afraid we wouldn't be able to make it home without making the last bus, and frankly we couldn't eat or drink ONE LAST THING! Le nostro pancie erano PIENO PIENOOOOOO!

Can't remember what I did wednesday. Probably met up with Helena quickly and walked around trastevere, but I know I didn't do much because I was resting up for Thursday night and Friday! COMPLEANNO MIO!