Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ponsettos e Mamma vengono

Longest weekend of my life! Not in a bad way though, in a great fun and tiring way. And I don't think I'm going to make it through the day, che stanchezza.  Friday night I met up with the Ponsetto's after I got home from work.  I took bus 61 right to Piazza San Silvestro, then Julian came to find me and show me the hotel, the door was slightly hidden among all the retail shops on the first floor of the building.  It was 7:30, and I was happily surprised to hear that the Ponsetto's were on the Italian dinner schedule, so after I said hello to everyone, they suggested we go to the roof top terrace and have some wine before heading out to get dinner. Drinking a bottle of Chianti, we caught up with each other, since it had been quite some time since play group days, and High School was probably the last time I saw Julian and even longer since I saw the rest of the family.  I heard about their tiring 18 day family european vacation, and realized they were probably happy to have me interupt their constant family time.  If I was on day 15 of 18 days with my family, I know I would be getting a little edgy with them!


Around 8:15 we headed out toward Piazza Navona, crossing the Corso, heading past the Parlament building, past the pantheon and stopping to check out the beauty of Piazza Navona at night before heading behind it to find a good place to eat.  The road that was home to Cul de Sac had multiple Trattorias including Baffetto, so I told them we could go to any place we passed there.  We saw Baffetto and probably would have eaten there, but per usual there was a line of at least 20 people stretching out the door and down the cobblestoned street.  Instead I mentioned that my mom liked Cul de Sac and that they had a good wine list, and Sue insisted we go where Marisa felt was best.  I went inside and asked how long the wait woud be, the man said 15 minutes for inside and 40 minutes for outside, so Sue grabbed the number 17 out of his hand, and we retreated to wait outside until our number was called.


Stomachs starting to growl, the waiter came out and asked if I spoke Italian.  I responded with un pochino, and he continued to explain the table situation.  There was a table available outside, but realistically was meant for 4 people, but he could add 2 extra chairs if we wanted to sit there, or there was a larger table available inside, we could pick.  I explained what the waiter had said, then we decided on the bigger table inside, which even that we could barely fit in, so we had no idea how outside would have worked out for us.  Squishing into the small booth we got our menus and began to perouse our various options.  I asked for the wine list because the place was known for its wine, and shortly after the waiter returned with a binder as thick as a dictionary filled with their selection of bottles, and then a smaller book with their wines offered by the glass, it was ridiculous their selection, and now I knew why mom liked it so much!


Cul de Sac wine list
MOJITO
When it came around to order drinks we ordered a bottle of water naturale then Dan asked what regional Red the waiter recommended, telling him that he liked things generally from Montepulciano.  I can't remember the exact name of what we ended up getting, but it was a 19 euro bottle of something of San Giorgio and it took the waiter 4 or 5 minutes to locate the bottle and retrieve it from the wall that was covered in bottles with the help of his colleagues. Now that was entertaining.  After he finally retrieved our bottle of wine we placed our order.  I got fettucine al pesto, Dan got Ossobucco, Sue got some kind of rolled up meat, Julian got roast beef, Joe got a sala and lasagna, and Maddie got sundried tomatoes and some kind of pasta that didn't have meat.  My pesto was delicious, and everyone else seemed happy with their food, and I had a bite of the Ossobucco and it really was incredible.  They ordered another bottle of wine, and we enjoyed each others company, chatting it up until the second bottle was finished.  After dinner I pointed Dan and Sue in the right direction to get back home, then Maddie, Joe, Julian and I headed toward Trastevere to meet up with Helena and then head to a club in Testaccio.  Before heading off on foot, we stopped to get a large mojito at a bar in Trastevere, then convinced a restaurant to let us use their bathroom when we were walking there, and we nicely tipped them 2 euro (well Julian did). By 12:00, we arrived at Coyote, Maddie, Helena and I cut the 10 person line, and got the boys in, and immediately Maddie and her blonde hair was surrounded by Italian men.  Quite entertaining.  We danced and hung around until Joe had a run in with some plastic cups and the bartender, then we headed out to find the night bus and go home.  By the time we left it was around3:30, we had danced plenty, and had plenty of jokes and fun, so Joe's timing with trouble wasn't much of a problem for us.  By 4:00 we had taken the bus to Piazza Venezia, and I had decided I would be sleeping on the floor of the Ponsettos hotel room. We walked down Corso to Hotel Parlamento, probably made a little too much noise than the concierge would have liked, I made a nice bed out of blankets on the floor behind the door of their room, then slept for four hours, woke promptly at 8:00 to get back to my apartment to clean up, get a cappuccino and cornetto and arrive at Termini to meet mom who was arriving via Leonardo Express.


When I arrived at Via Udine, I cleaned up quickly and called my mom to see if she was on schedule.  Thankfully she was arriving later than planned, at 9:40 instead of 9:15 now, because I never would have made it their by 9:15.  Heading to Bologna to catch the metro I stopped at Mizzica, getting myself a chocolatey brioche and a cappuccino, and then a cornetto filled with pistaccio cream to take to mom. I sat down and sipped my cappuccino since mom had bought me a little time, then I headed to the metro, arriving at Termini with 15 minutes till the Leonardo Express arrived.  5 minutes of that was taken trying to buy a bottle of water, and the other 10 minutes was used walking down the damn platform.  At 9:42 I saw mom walking down the platform with her orange bagalini and big red suitcase in tow! Yayy! Mamma è arrivata!  Excited to see her we hugged, and then I offered her the cornetto. She declined and we walked to find the bus 175 to San Silvestro and caught up with each other and all my roman adventures. Around 10:40 we had finally reached Parlamento, we checked in, got a cappuccino and brough it up to the terrace to relax for a few minutes before returning into the hot sun and a days worth of  being a tourist.


Mangiamo a Cibo
we walked all the way up a street perpendicular to Via Cavour past Santa Maria Maggiore to find a little church called San Pressede, a church that I had been in twice before, but mom had never set foot in. Ha! I'm beating her in churches visited now I think! At least in Rome anyways.  We walked to Termini to catch the metro around 1pm, we were hungry, so we took it to Bologna to find a place to eat by my apartment.  The place I had wanted to go unfortunately wasn't open, so we decided on Cibò, a modern little wine bar/restaurant, and we were thrilled with our choice.  We ordered verdure gratinata (vegetables baked with bread crumbes), fagiolini and un petto di pollo grigliata. E stato buonissimo, legera e perfetto per noi! After lunch we walked to my apartment where mom met Rihem.  We talked for a while, briefly rested our legs, and decided we needed to keep moving before we fell asleep right then and there in my bedroom. We took bus 61 to San Silvestro, not sure why we went back to the hotel, but I got to use the bathroom quickly, then we took a tiny bus from there to near Largo Argentina.  From there we walked to Piazza Navona and went into the Museo di Roma that my mom loves so much, unforunately there wasn't a new exhibit ther for her to see, but she walked through with me again anyways. 


Getting my caffe latte freddo
Having made a reservation at 8:00 for La Quercia, and the time nearing 5:00, I wanted to have time to take a nap back at the hotel before leavin.  So, I made mom get a move on because I know she insisted we go get a coffee at the Capitaline Museum's cafe before returning to Hotel Parlamento.  From the museo di Roma we walked to Largo Argentina, and took the first bus that would take us to Piazza Venezia, which happened to be the familiar 62 Piazza Bologna bus.  From there we hiked up the stairs to get to the Capitaline, witnessing a wedding party that had gathered in the Campidoglio.  We snuck into the cafe, receiving the unfotunate news we could not sit out on the terrace because they were setting up for the wedding we had seen, but we decided we'd get coffee anyways and sit by the window. The cute waiter at the bar politely diverted our request for cafe latte freddo to the cassa before he made them for us.  What were we thinking trying to order a drink with out lo scontrino? So I went to retrieve my receipt with two caffe latte freddo (2,40 euro each) and then returned back to the counter to hand the bar man our receipt and to retrieve our caffe latte freddos.  Once we got them and took them to the window I had a hard time not chugging it because it was THAT good.  We thouroughly enjoyed our drinks, then headed out to catch a bus from Piazza Venezia, and down the Corso to Hotel Parlamento.  Once we arrived, I laid down on the bed, face first, on top of the covers, and passed out for a solid 30 minute nap, before I had to shower, get ready and coordinate with the Ponsetto's what the evenings plans were.


Obviously we couldn't hold our dinner reservation of 8:00. That would have been too prompt, and too good of us (well my mom).  7:40ish we were up on the terrace enjoying wine and conversation, me edging my mom to get moving, because I knew the people at La Quercia would be pissed if we were extremely late for our prenotazione. So I made mom call them to say we would be late, and by 8:10 we were out the door walking toward Campo de Fiori and Piazza della Quercia.  When we arrived we immediately spotted our table, told them our name and that we had a reservation and then we immediately sat down.  I was happy to have mom there to give me suggestions on what to eat, but she was too busy chatting with Dan and Sue, and didn't pay much attention to me.


Our waiter was very nice, and spoke only italian to us, explaining the specials very eloquently, only mom and I could understand them.  So after he explained them, he stood there smirking as my mom attempted to translate the specials he had just rambled off to the rest of the table.  4 minutes later, another waiter comes by and tells us our waiter was born in Boston and speaks perfect English. Go figure!  So he was just getting a big kick out of my mom trying to explain everything, but then he was nice and spoke english to us when we asked, but we actually preferred him to speak Italian :) Stavamo imparando! The adults down that end of the table ordered the wine, a white "Est est est" which is local to lazio, and a red that I can't remeber, but it was delicious.  I can't begin to recall what everyone got to eat, but we started off with a variety of roman antipasti that the waiter recommended. He brought us a mix of everything (not nearly as much, and a lot more expensice than what the McDermotts and I had at TAPA).  We had fried zucchini flowers, mozzarella di bufala, grilled eggplant, bruschetta and some other little munchies.  For dinner I ordered the cut of steak that was mixed with an arugala salad with cheese and tomatoes, it was the perfect light delicious dinner. Julian and Mary Lou got the rabbit, which was going to be my second choice. Some people got saltimboca (sp?), Maddie the vegetarian got ravioli I believe, and all in all we had a fantastically delicious dinner that I finished off with a caffè, and a great visit to the bathroom, stopping in the kitchen to take some great photos! One of the cooks didnt hesistate to tell Maddie (in italian) that he would take her photo and place it on his night stand to look at every night. So entertaining.


in cucina a La Quercia
Everything was great about our dinner, there was just a strange ending to it, as our waiter scooted us out to make room for the next group of people for dinner.  That is something that NEVER happens in Italy because its rude. You could generally sit in a restaurant for hours and not be bugged to leave, here in Italy you have to ask for the check, if you finish eating its not immediately brought to you like it is in the states, there is no pressure to pay, and if you leave right after you eat people act like your committing a crime!  So being rushed out of there left me and my mom uneasy about the waiter and the restaurant, but our overall dining experience had been rather pleasant, the food delicious and an entertaining kitchen staff, so we forgot about it and went off to find some gelato.


We walked down a side street toward the river where I knew I had past a good looking gelateria a few times in my travels.  Only 5 of us ended up getting gelati.  We got 2 euro cups, and I got a combination of straciatella and banane, the Ponsettos got a variety of flavors, and we ate our gelato sitting outside the gelateria while our parents wandered off to go home.  After we ate our gelato we went back inside to purchase some Peroni’s from the refrigerator then head over to Trastevere to walk around and figure out what the plans for the night would be.  We had plans forming to meet Philippine (a French friend) at the Gay Village because we had heard great things about it, but I wasn’t exactly sure the details of the trip, the location, the cost etc. so I didn’t want to be exploring while I was with the Ponsettos.  Instead we met up with Helena and decided we would head back to Testaccio for round 2, but see if there were any other discotecas there that would strike our interest.
By the time we got there it was around 1:00 and Maddie was ready to be at a club.  We went into one that was before Coyote, the ladies went in first because we were free, to see if it seemed decent before Joe and Julian came in.  We walked into the dance room and it seemed to be like a cool place, so we ran back downstairs and got the guys.  We should have checked out the scene a little bit carefully, because once we reentered and went further into the dance floor we realized it was mainly older guys and they seemed rather strange. We gave it a few minutes, but then got too creeped out by the people there and made a decision to return next door to Coyote which we knew would be fun.  We gathered the boys as they contemplated whether they would go home or pay a cover again, and we finally got them to stay and headed to Coyote.  Joe and Julian waited in line separate than us because we weren’t sure if Joe was going to be allowed back in.  Us ladies walked to the front of the line and negotiated with the bouncer to get in for FREE, thank goodness for Maddie’s blonde hair! Haha kidding, but not really.  We went on in, and we were immediately happy to be back in Coyote, and Maddie Lou seemed content there as well, and immediately a cute, NICE, Italian boy comes up to strike conversation with her.  Much better at Coyote. Mainly normal people, of mainly younger ages.  Soon after I got a text from Julian, they wouldn’t let Joe in, so we talked to him over the wall, I threw him my map and they went off to find their way back to the hotel, and we returned to the dance floor.  We danced and mingled with Italians until 3:30, but at that point I was beat, and I decided we should head home.  We caught the bus, got to Piazza Venezia, then walked down Corso to Hotel Parlemento. I was THRILLED to be back in a bed :)
Sunday morning I woke up around 9:30, before mom even got up.  I got her mobilized. She was shocked I was able to function after two nights of sleeping at 4am then waking up at 8 and 9.  It was a struggle, but a small afternoon nap session was all I needed to keep me going! So we woke up, ordered our cappuccinos and took them to the roof deck where Sue and Dan met us to talk about our plans for the day.  The Ponsettos were planning to go to an English mass at San Ignazio, going to see the church of the Gesu then to Colosseo to check that out and all those ancient ruins they have in that area.  Mom and I were headed to Sant’Ivo then to Porta Portese to check out the flee market that everyone says you should get to at some point.  So we split off going our own ways after breakfast and decided we would both be back at the hotel around 6, then we could go for an early dinner.

CHIUSO
Pyramide
Mom and I set off, legs already tired from walking down the stairs we looked to take a tiny electric bus because something was really appealing about them to mom.  We took bus 119 and got dropped of near Argentina then walked to Sant’Ivo to find that apart from only being open on Sundays before 1:00pm, it was also closed during the months of July and August.  This. Is. Italy. Disappointed we walked back to Argentina to catch the #8 tram across the river.  On the tram we asked a man where to get off for Porta Portese market, he said he would tell us and he told us to stay alert of our bags and to put our cameras in them because people would try and steal them.  So that freaked us out a little bit, but it was nothing we hadn’t heard before.  He told us where to get off, we thanked him and then began walking through the JUNK.  Nothing overtly special about the market, mom and I both decided we preferred the market in Sora, more organized, better shoes! But we did have some luck, I found a sweet pair of Orange foreign pants, PERFECT. I had been searching for cheap ones for a while, and bam, 20 euro pair, that should have been 90 euro fell right into my hands, and in the perfect size for a gift.  Thrilled about the find, we walked through another block of the market not having much more success then decided to walk to Testaccio where there was a new MACRO modern art museum.  I took us in a big circle but I eventually found the museum, only to find out that it was closed along with nearly everything else in the neighborhood.  So, we walked to Pyramide to take the B line somewhere to eat.  

We only ended up taking it 2 stops to Colosseo then ended up walking to Piazza Venezia where we took the bus #40 to Chiese Nuova and walked toward Baffetto to see if we could eat there for lunch.  Unfortunately it was Chiuso, so we walked around the area and decided on a place that we had to eat inside for, but it was filled with Italians so we knew it would be good!  We ordered a birra to split, tasted delicious, I got a pizza with mozzarella di bufala e pachino, and mom got the carbonara.  We also split an antipasta of an arugula salad.  After lunch I was rather pooped, but we went to Hotel Rafael near the restaurant and Piazza Navona to look at their roof top garden and to check the menu out… cocktails were near 20 euros a piece so we strayed away from it, and went to look at the roof top garden that Jenna, Lynn and us had enjoyed Bellinis at a few years earlier near the Pantheon and San Minerva. After that I was dead tired and Mom wanted to go to an exhibit at a museum on Via Nazionale, so I gave her my bus pass, told her not to pay for another ticket, then set her off in the direction of the right bus stop, and I set off on foot back to Parlamento.  I got back around 3:30, face planted into the bed and fell fast asleep until mom returned around 5:30. I dozed in and out until 6:00, then got up, got dressed, figured out a place to eat dinner and made an early reservation for 7:45. 
Ponsettos still weren’t back at the hotel, so clearly our early prenotazione was a mistake.  I hated making reservations we couldn’t make, so I had mom call Ivo in Trastevere and tell them we would be there closer to 8:15.  Once the Ponsettos returned, we told them our plan, they got ready, we went up to the roof to have a drink, then we set off toward Trastevere a little bit before 8:00, and arrived at Ivo in Trastevere 8:18.  I was obviously anxious that we were late, but the restaurant didn’t seem to care.  Our table was empty and ready for us in the corner and we immediately sat down, our eyes pouring over the 40 + pizza choices on the pages before us.  Mom’s eating in Rome book suggested the suppli at this place, so I told them we would have to get a plate of suppli to share, and then I also got a bruschetta con carciofi.  Since I had pizza for lunch I decided on a rigatoni plate with red sauce and eggplant.  The rest of the table got a variety of pizzas that when they came out, I was afraid I had made a mistake in ordering the pasta.  My pasta was absolutely delicious, but their pizzas looked fantastic.  I tried my moms carciofi and melanzane pizza and nearly died. SO GOOD.  After dinner we had found our new favorite pizzeria.  Atmosphere was good, waiters were excellent, Pizza was the best we’ve had, and the pasta wasn’t half bad either! Successful last dinner for the Ponsettos! Now I have to go back and buy some Ivo plates for Dan!  
 
Walking back home to Hotel Parlemento to get a relatively early night sleep only had one requirement: Giolitti.  So we walked back past the Pantheon and curving through the side streets to find the one and only famous Gelateria Giolitti.  Dan placed the order for all of our cones at the cassa like a professional Italian, then we walked up to the case of gelato and began to scan the 50 or so flavors.  What the hell were we going to choose? Too many choices!  I obviously chose straciatella and then I decided to go for the coffee flavor.  The coffee flavor literally tasted like coffee, it was so rich, and the texture was perfect, and I indulged on this gelato accepting the Panna which was absolutely delicious.  Unfortunately when mom took a lick of my cone, she licked a little too hard and the panna, whip cream, fell right off and I caught it in my hand. Gross. It was only a reflex to prevent it from dropping on the marble floors of Giolitti, so after I caught it in my hand I walked over to the trashcan to throw the ball of hand whipped whip cream in the trash L.  We finished our gelati sitting down in the café, not having to pay premium because it was so late at night, then we walked back to Parlamento, checked out of the hotel so we would be ready for the next morning and said good byes to the Ponsettos.  I slept like a rock. 

7:15 I woke up and got ready for work.  I gathered my things, woke mom up, and we ordered our cappuccino’s for breakfast.  We ate, then took a picture on the terrace, then I left mom, so I could catch bus 61 back to my apartment to drop my weekend stuff off, changed quickly, grabbed my lunch and ran out to catch the metro to go in and start the work week.  It was going to be a brutal Monday with only having slept very little over the weekend.  I nearly fell asleep 3 or 4 times Monday, and I accepted the caffe offerings every time they happened that day.  Luckily I got let out around 3:30 and I was able to go home and sleep for a few hours. 


Kate and the dessert calzone, nom nom nom
Tuesday I went to Chit Chat, the last of the season, and Nunzio, our “teacher”, invited us to dinner at his house the following Tuesday, so that was something to look forward to.  Wednesday, I finally got to eat at Dar Poeta.  I met up with Kate, someone who I had met at the last Thursday’s aperitivo (she went to Wellesley and knew Fabrizia! Small world) and we split a delicious pizza, a delicious salad and a delicious CALZONE CON RICOTTA E NUTELLA. OTTIMA! After dinner I met up with Helena and we walked all the way near Piazza Barberini to meet up with Philippine and her cousin for a drink at a bar they were at.  Thursday I went to work and hurried home because I had to see Rihem off, for she was leaving for Israel for a few weeks, and also DAD WAS ARRIVING!! So after work I rushed off cleaned up, said bye to Rihem and headed toward St. Peters to meet my parents and start the weekend off with them!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Una lista... di cosa? non lo so, ma penso che questi punti siano interessante

1. A little Italian boy tell off a street vendor who was trying to sell scarves to his grandmother. No, no, no, VAI VIA! the little boy said.

2. A boyfriend and girlfriend, clearly american, getting on to the metro at colosseo.  Boyfriend gets on, doors close, leaving the girlfriend behind alone on the platform.  He stood in the train waving and smiling while the train pulled away.  She looked LIVID.

3. Nonna's story about Nonno getting a flap of skin cut from his wrist and asker her to cut the rest of it off with scissors.  And the story about him getting stuck in the piscina (swimming pool) which I couldn't figure out why Donna needed to come with a tractor to pull him out for so long, until I realized by piscina they meant the gross pond in the back of their house by the farm. Hah!

4. Ringo crackers.  Little circular cookies, that are like oreos in that you can twist them apart, one half vanilla, one half chocolate and vanilla frosting on the inside.  They taste like Vienna Fingers, and remind me of being a kid.  Giuseppe bought them from the macchinetta, vending machine, outside our office and offered me one. YUM. They come in tube packages when you buy a regular pack, very cool.

5. Communque
6. Insomma
7. Allora
8. Quindi

Simple connecting words that I find so entertaining.  Vincent uses them a lot during lunch, and just the sound of the words is so entertaining the way he rolls the sounds out.

9. Dimmi cara.  Idk what it is but when Francesca talks on the phone or talks with me she says dimmi cara, and its just beautiful.  This language is so mesmerizing and beautiful and it captivates you in a way I can't explain.

10. Consulato, one of the guys who I work with and eat lunch with every day has a button down shirt that he wears, the top five buttons are white, the last has an Italian flag painted on it. So great!

11. I paid 1,65 EURO to send a post card last week.  Over the weekend I took Juliana to buy stamps in Sora, we got them for 0,85 EURO.  Seriously?  Americani, stai attenti. They like to overcharge you for stamps!

12. Foreigners wearing shirts with english phrases, sayings, words...

What is with this? Helena and I spied an 8 year old girl wearing a shirt reading "TRASHY".  Zizi Linda spotted an overweight woman with a shirt reading "Moody Cow". I've seen numerous old women wearing shirts sporting "I'm Sexy" or "Tasty" or other weirdly sexual phrases that you would never be caught dead wearing, yet they wear them proudly, they even bedazzle these sayings in rhinestones.  LOOK AT ME I'M SEXYYYYYYYYYYYYYYy.  Pazzi.

13. Guide books say numerous places are closed for the month of August, so you go, because its only July 20th, expect the bar to be open... woops they took vacation 2 weeks early.  Only in Italy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Le piccole cose

It's been a month here in Rome and I finally feel like I've made good footing.  I've started saying hello to the florist I pass every morning, and the other night I saw him wandering outside of his flower shop, we recognized each other and said buonasera.  I continued walking on with a huge smile on my face.  It felt nice to be recognized, and I was beginning to become a regular, but unfortunately only for a month and a half more.

My cappuccino every morning is also something tiny, worth 1 euro, that brings a big smile to my face.  I don't know what makes the 100% better than anything you can get at starbucks, or any cappuccino I try to hand make at home with my little Moka espresso machine, but nothing compares to Cafe Arte.  The milk is foamed, schiuma, thick and delcious.  I drop a quarter of a packet of brown sugar in, and its already sweet enough.  Today, was a special day at Cafe Arte, they added a little cocoa on top of my cappuccino this morning, these little things tell me I'm going somewhere, and make me appreciate the opportunity I've been given here.

Last night I stopped at Cafe Arte for a gelato and to write some post cards.  The woman I see every morning was there and finally decided to strike up a real conversation. We talked about our backgrounds as she and what appeared to be her brother, or just really good friend who worked there too, hung outside the cafe door fighting over who should ask the next person who walks by for a lighter. Apparently they had been searching for 2 hours... crazy!  Josie, the girls name, criticized the guy (i forget his name) because he wasn't asking the ladies politely enough, and she yelled at him and told him to be more courteous. A few minutes later a neighbor of the cafe walked by and Josie shouted to her something along the lines of "thank god you smoke! we've been looking for a lighter for hours!"  The neighbor was in a hurry and looked tired from a long day, and she stopped quickly said hello flicked the lighter at the two and told them to keep it and that she would get it tomorrow, all in such a playful manner. The language really makes everything 100x more pleasant to watch. Its amazing.

Last night around 11:00 Rehem and I briefly heard fireworks.  I can't miss fireworks. So I told her I was going up to the terrace (which I recently discovered when I helped her hang laundry) to check it out.  She said she would come, needed a break from studying, so we SPRINTED up the five flights of stairs. Sweating when we reached the top there were no fireworks to be seen, but anyways Rehem took out a cigarette and I just enjoyed the view and the cool roman night breeze.  I thought my mom would bring a table and chair up there and enjoy an apperitvo every night had she lived there.  If I were a more permanent resident, I think I would have to do just the same :)

This morning on the metro I spied a girl who I see on my same bus every morning.  Faces are getting familiar.  This life is becoming normal to me.  And now I only have a month and a half left.  Why can't the states be so relaxed and full of life like Rome? 

One other thing I've noticed is that Italians rarely drink to the point of drunk.  It's rare I see a wasted Italian in Rome and that too is refreshing.  There is too much to do, too much to see, too much to appreciate here, and a simple passagiata will keep one entertained, but there are also endless places to dance, free concerts, parks, bars*, etc.  You can never get bored in this town.  Me I don't have many friends here, and I still find that I am having the best summer possible.  If I had no friends in wayland or in schenectady, I don't know what I would do.  I can't explain why its so different here, but seriously, its amazing the world of difference between our countries and between our cultures.  I'm going to happy to be home in september and see my family and friends, but I know I'm going to have to return here the next chance I get!


This week was relaxed, work every day. Monday I met up with a canadian woman I found on friendsinrome.com and we went to get a slice of pizza and gelato, and spoke half italian half english.  I was in bed by 12:00, quite happy to sleep.  Tuesday I worked then went to Chit Chat, learned some Italian Proverbs and met a few more new people.  Wednesday I figured out how to use my superflash card so I can now retrieve my stipend from the bank :)  I walked around a little near my apartment, some streets I hadn't gone down before, and stopped on the way home at Cafe Arte to get a gelato. Tonight I'm trying to meet up with Martina, and then I'll go to the Aperitivo event again at Isola Tiberina.  Helena and I want to try and go dancing afterwards if were up to it.  It was too fun friday. We gotta go back!  I'll see the Ponsettos tomorrow and then Mom comes saturday morning!

soggiorno con i mcdermotts

Friday. Finally Friday! McDermott's were planning to meet me at Piazza Bologna at 5:30, I haven't seen many people I know and love in a while (besides the Nonni). As a result, I was pretty darn excited to finally be seeing them after the week of knowing they were so close to me! Waking up I knew that the day had to be a good one...

Work went well Friday. I woke up early to take the raccomandate to the PosteItaliane in Piazza Bologna. Francesca told me not to worry about being late, but I still got up early as to not take advantage of how lenient my boss and colleagues were! I got to the Post Office at 5 minutes of 8 (opening time), lucky me, there was already a queue lined up along the steps. I stepped into place/into the jumble of people and watched my watch as the hand ticked toward 8. At 8:00 the doors opened, and I managed to be the 12th or 13th person into the building. I hadn't been to the post office in Bologna before, so I was happily surprised to see that the transactions I need to make had their own section and there were very few people in line. The catch was I still needed to get forms to fill out to sending letters abroad, and I had no idea who/where to get them, so I stood awkwardly in line knowing I would get yelled at once I got to the front and still had to fill out a Raccomandata l'estero but I didn't know what else to do. Luckily, I saw a guy who was working the floor, I asked him, he gave me one to fill out, I filled it out, stole a few more forms so I wouldnt have to ask next time, quickly got to the front of the line, paid for the postage then walked to my Cafe dell'Arte to get a cappuccino before heading into work.

Getting off the metro B at Laurentina I ran into Giuseppe. We walked to the 776 departure area, the bus wasn't there yet and he needed to get due tramezzini for lunch and get a coffee and cornetto before heading in. I accompanied him, hoping we wouldn't miss the next bus, luckily the bus was on Giuseppes schedule and it gave us time for him to get his tramezzini and drink a caffe latte. Then we rode the bus to Tor Pagnotta together having decent conversation in Italian... I felt like I was making process :D We arrived at work and got settled in, lunch and caffe breaks were successful, me engaging in conversation more a little more confident after making it through the bus ride with Giuseppe. I asked Francesca and Valeria for recomendations on where to eat with my cousins that night, after a few minutes of brain farts, they finally came up with a decent list of places in Trastevere and Testaccio, also trying to stray away from telling me delcious places that weren't in the center (which secretly I really wanted to know about). I spent the day doing the tedious work of copying RF Engineer candidates resumes for a new position into an Aircom resume format, and by 4:05 I was out the door ready to be on time to meet the McDermotts!

Once I stepped out of the office, holy cow it was HOT. I went to the bus stop hoping the bus would arrive, but obviously it was late today and I waited 30 minutes outside in the hot sun, pavement burning hot making its way through my shoes to the soles of my feet, and me growing anxious about not making it to Piazza Bologna in time for my 5:30 meeting with the McDermotts! The 776 arrived at 4:35, I got on thankful for the burst of aria condizionata that hit me, and took a seat hoping the bus wouldn't fill up quite like it had the past few days. It was too hot to deal with a packed bus or metro right then. Tired as heck I dozed in and out on the bus as it filled up, as I worried about being on time for the McDermotts and as I BBMed Lindsay updating her with my recent adventures. I got to Laurentina a few minutes past 5:00 and ran down the stairs to catch the train I heard approaching...PACKED with people already, it was going to be a hot ride home.

I exited the train at Piazza Bologna at 5:30 on the dot. I hoped they hadn't caught the train before me, and I was pretty certain they wouldn't be right on time, so I ran outside to get service to check if I had any messages, no messages found, I went back down into the station to wait by the exit turnstile where they would surely have to show up eventually. 10 minutes later I see Juliana, Michael, Zizi Linda and Uncle John looking uncomfortable and hot and on a side of the station that they theoretically shouldn't have apppeared from, so I was confused as to how they got there... obviously Zizi Linda said the crossed over to the other side and went out the way you weren't supposed to so that is how they avoided me seeing them come out... but not on purpose. Ha. Those americani, certainly dressed like them! I hugged them all and then we started walking toward my apartment. I asked them how their day had been and I got very few responses and Zizi Linda said she had to sit before she told me anything about their day or their trip thus far. So we walked to my apartment, stopping at the fountain to refresh, then all sat down at the table to eat what little food I had in the fridge, an apple and some salami hehe, then they began to talk.

We relaxed in the kitchen chatting for an hour or so, they all got on the internet, very happy to check their email and facebook, then the genitori left, I told Linda and John how to get back to Anagnina, then Juliana and Michael got settled in my room, I started formulating a plan for the evening, we all got ready, then by 7:30 we were off to meet up with Helena and add a few more km of walking to Michael and Juliana's feet!

We took the B line to Circo Massimo, where I ran into my colleague Giuseppe again! We passed each other crossing in a cross walk and we said hello, did the kiss on each cheek then went our separate ways. Juliana noticed two ragazzi street performers juggling in the middle of the street outside the metro when the light turned red. They were pretty decent and rather entertaining!  After the small spetacolo nella strada we headed off walking down Via di Circo Massimo (This was my new favorite way to get into trastevere), but we didn't cross over to Trastevere, and instead walked through the Jewish Ghetto to go to Argentina to meet up with Helena outside the Feltrinelli.  I needed to use a bathroom so I tried to go in the Feltrinelli, but obviously it was only for the Bar customers, so I was denied, and waited to go to the bathroom at the restaurant. 

Helena found us around 9:00, our stomachs growling, and Juliana and Michael ready to eat some more delcious food.  We walked down across the river and started wandering to find trattoria that I had eaten at with Lexi and Angela in march and that Francesca had also recommended to me.  It was called Cassetta di Trastevere and had nice outdoor seating, but also a very cute inside room that was modeled like the outside of a house with a terracotta shingled roof and laundry hanging across the room. Che carino! Stomachs grumbling... and the stomachs grumbling just refers to the people related to each other, Helena only ordered a pizza marinara (pizza with sauce), but we, we started with a bruschetta con pomodori e rughetta,insalata caprese e un bottiglia di vino bianco della casaPoi, ho scelto rigatoni alla amatriciano, Michele a scelto una pizza con funghi e prosciutto, e Giuliana ha scelto lasagna ed anche Michele e Giuliana hanno condiviso un secondi di abbachio :) I honestly had never had a bruschetta so good, the bread was baked to a perfect crunch, covered in the perfect mixture of salt and tasteful olive oil.  I could have eaten a whole plate of bruschetta for dinner and I would have been perfectly content!

My original plan was to eat there, then go to Dar Poeta to get a dessert calzone stuffed with Nutella and Ricotta, just like Lexi, Angela and I had done, but by the time we were finished we were too full to put anything else in our mouths.  Instead we had made plans to meet Cornelius at the Isola Tiberina at 11:00, so we paid, and headed toward the Tevere to walk along it since Juliana and Michael hadn't yet, and we slowly made our way to the island, stopping frequently at the stalls to look at food and clothing, and by 11:10 we made it to the Island where we saw Cornelius waiting (we were late, bad, bad ,bad!).  We contemplated our options, then decided clubbing was in the itinerary for the night, and Testaccio was the place for that, but none of us had been, so we started walking in hopes of finding the Testaccio and the night life that everyone you ask will rave of.

We made it in to the quartiere of Testaccio, but were a little nervous because there seemed to be not a soul around, besides a family and two seemingly lost americans behind us (probably searching for the same thing we were!). As the navigator I decided we should turn left, in towards the center of the Testaccio neighborhood and we parted ways with the only people we could see in sight, and soon enough stumbled upon a fairly populated bar.  We stopped in to get water and for Michael to get a Caffe Latte, they looked at him funny when he ordered as it was 11:30pm and the only drink appropriate at that hour was either liquor or caffè (espresso), but they served him anyways, yelled at us for getting water from the fridge for some reason, and then we sat down for a few minutes to relax and discuss the plan of action.  Helena went up to the cassa to ask the woman for directions to the club area of Testaccio, she claimed all the clubs were closed because it was summer and there were only Karaoke places around, but she pointed us in the direction toward the Karaoke bars, and low and behold we soon enough found a street with one club after another.  There the Americans who were walking behind us before we split off to the right recognized us and striked up conversation.  They were from California and just graduated and were in Rome with their families separately, but were friends from home so had met up with each other and googled where to go out in Rome and had found 'Coyote' and that's what they had been searching for.  Coyote was the club Angela had told me and Lexi about, so we said we would go with them there, and off we went.

There were 3 or 4 clubs blaring music in what appeared to be old farmhouses. I thought to myself, hmm, we could turn Via Muto into a raging discoteca, haha.  Some were playing Salsa which I wanted to go into, but I have no idea how to salsa but I assumed it would be fun, and the last one on the left read Coyote, and American tunes were blasting from inside.  We lined up in the queue, we all chuckled as we read the sign on the door "Free Woman", then the bouncer looked at me, and I told him siamo sette, we were 7 people, and he responded saying the ladies could get in free hence "Free Woman", and the men would have to pay 10 euro, but they would get a free drink, so the men paid up, and we walked up to stairs into Coyote!

Scoping out the place and all the Italian men, we walked over to the bar, me keeping a close eye on Juliana :)  Helena and I checked out the drink list and decided we had to get the Viva Italia shooter which was Sambuca and Limoncello... I was nervous about it, but how could I pass up a drink with that name when in italy? even if it would be that disgusting... sambuca and limoncello... so italian, ha!  I got the bartenders attention and ordered two Viva Italias and a Belini for Juliana, our drinks came, we cheers, Helena and I threw back our shots, and I stole a big gulp of Juliana's Belini to wash down the horrid liquorice taste, yuck.  Then we went to dance!  Juliana had a few sips of the Belini then handed it off to Helena and I to finish, then the Californians (Mya and Neil), Cornelius, Juliana, Michael, Helena and I danced, avoiding sketchy Italians, and had jokes and fun until 3:00am.  Too many good looking italiani.  Juliana and Michael seemed to enjoy themselves, and as Juliana's first club experience, I would say we had success!

Legs hurting, eyes tired, we left Coyote and headed to figure out the night buses because we didn't want to spend 30+ euro on a cab ride back home. We said good bye to the Mya and Neil, and made sure they knew how to get home, then we walked off to find a bus stop. At the bus stop Helena went off her own way toward the Vatican, and then we searched the bus lines to find which one we wanted. I noticed a Bell'Italia poster on the fence across the road, so I went and pulled it down so I could give it to my mom, and then we decided we needed to take the N9 to termini, and from there we could get the N1 or N2 to Bologna.  On the bus we met a nice american, can't remember his name, but he was from Indiana (?) and was on a term abroad with his school (Butler) in England, and was in Rome with a group for the week.  It was rather entertaining because I heard him speaking english, so I asked where he was from and he said "America", and in a way that was like "America.. you know that place?"  And I so responded rather sarcastically... umm... ya... WHERE in America? (I'm clearly american too fool).  I found that rather entertaining. Anyways we successfully got home, we all got ready for bed, I set my alarm for 8:15 so I could pack, told J & M I would wake them at 9:00, we'd leave at 9:15, go get a coffee, then head to Termini, grab the train to Frosinone and we would see Linda and John there at 11:53 when the train would arrive.

Ricotta filled pastry of wonder and cappuccino
8:15 I woke up, packed up, woke the cousins up, and did exactly what we planned.  Went to Mizzica, Juliana and I were brave and went to order... it was almost a disaster, the man at the counter told us to ask for something that I had no idea what it meant (it meant a tray, cause we were taking the goods outside) and he also told me I owed the cassa 70 cents because I told them I was getting a tre cornetti and the one I ended up picking clearly wasn't a cornetto, woops! Instead I got a baked triangle of delectable flaky dough filled with ricotta, the pastry literally weighed pounds, no joke.  After we ate our breakfast we continued on with the plan as I had stated, only adjusting it briefly to stop at a bancarella we passed where I bought a skirt I had been eying all week :)  Two hours later we were walking down the platform in Frosinone to catch up with Uncle John and Zizi Linda, 40 more minutes and we were kissing the Nonni and preparing our stomachs for whatever they had coming our way.
Michael and Juliana Sleeping

We ate lunch, a tortellini soup that nonna had made, along with a variety of sides, fagioli, bread etc.  We cleared the table and then went to do what you do between the ours of 1 - 4, sleep.   I had spent 20 minutes sitting on the floor with Zizi Linda staring at the washing machine to try and figure out a better method to wash the clothes because it was taking over 2 hours to do one load and the water in the machine was literally scalding hot, so when everyone went to nap, my wash was done, so I hung everything on the line, found my old sneakers I left at the house, then went on a run in the dead heat of the day.  Nearly died.  Poor idea.  But it felt good to sweat out the food.

Around 4:30, Uncle John, Zizi Linda, Juliana and I drove into Sora to do some shopping and get a cake for Michael.  Not much seemed to be open in Sora and we didn't have that much luck clothes shopping, and with enough asking we were able to find a pasticceria where we could get Michael a cake.  Lucky for us remembered to pay the parking meter.... NOT... When we walked back to the car a meter maid was standing their writing us up a ticket, and Zizi Linda went right up to her and pretended to be a dumb american and to get her to stop writing the ticket, but she wouldn't give in.  All Zizi Linda managed was for her to write the infraction as an expired ticket as opposed to no ticket at all (we had completely forgotten about getting a ticket, really though, it wasn't intentional at all), and she only ended up having to pay 24 euro as opposed to 50 euro.  Finding the Polizia di stato was another adventure.  The woman had explained PRECISELY where to go, but nevertheless, the street she pointed us toward only had a Polizia Locale, so we were confused, but Zizi Linda finally went to check it out after we were sure there wasn't a Polizia di Stato to be seen, and Juliana and I went off to the 5th tobaccaio that we passed that day to see if they had stamps.  Finally a success from the trip, we met Uncle John back at the car with 5 stamps and a paid parking ticket, then went to pick up Michael's cake (or what Italians call a cake... not their forte) and headed back to Muto.

At Muto all was calm. Nonna was getting the abbacchio out ready to cook when Maria came down with another kilo of it to add to the batch.  These ladies were always giving each other food.  And literally every meal I've eaten has been the bickering back and forth of who needs to eat more food between Maria and Nonna saying "Magna!", eat!, back and forth to each other, the occasionally interjecting "Magna"  at one of us kids sitting at the table.  At dinner that night we ate the delicious lamb along with greens, potatoes and roasted peppers, it was delcious, and after Maria and Nonna were done screaming "MAGNA" at one another we actually got some stories out of Nonna and Nonno.  She went on a tangent about her little chicks the pulcini and how alex must have killed them and that's why he hasn't been calling her.  The way that Nonna and Nonno tell stories is just pricesless between their half spoken english and half spoke italian, its just something amazing that we've now just started to notice, so we have been trying to video tape all the stories. So entertaining.  Little bits of angry conversation about the wall and garage situation that Pop was inducing occurred when Toni rang and Zizi Linda took the phone call.  Then once it got dark and we had cleared the dinner plates we proceeded to sing the nasty rum cake to Michael.  Cake, Cake is the only thing Italy needs to improve on, American cakes are just better, there is NO doubt in my mind.

After dinner we washed up and then Michael, Jujie and I went into Sora to see what was going on.  We did a passegiata down the corso then heard music and walked toward it.  In a newly built/renovated piazza there was a large stage and a techno rock band playing, so we sat down at a bar, enjoyed a drink and an ice cream and listened to the band play.  Tired from our previous night out we retired back to Muto around 12 then fell fast asleep.

Colazione
Sunday I woke up early because morning time at Muto is my favorite time.  Nonna would make me a cappuccino.  Me with sleepy eyes would take it outside to the table and try and not be blinded by the rising sun, and I would enjoy the cool of the day while I could, because after that sun rose high in the sky the temperature would sky rocket into uncomfortable.  So that's exactly what I did.  Zizi Linda and I enjoyed cappuccinos, then soon after everyone else descended from their beds, we all finished our cappuccino, ate the melon and the chocolate croissants Nonna had gotten from il forno the day before, then we went to get dressed for church. 

Nonna laughed at me cause she said if I come to Muto I always have to go to church with her, but I really didn't mind.  Church at Santa Ristitutta in Sora lasted no longer than 35 minutes.  It was amazing how fast the mass went! That sounds bad now that I write it, but really quickest mass every, and I don't mind being in church with the nonni also being in side a gorgeous stone building that is also the coolest escape in a hot summer is not pain at all. I enjoy it.

After church we headed back to Muto, but I remembered there was the mercato in Casalvieri, so we drove past Fontechiari and into the mountain to see if we could find anything good at the tiny market. I almost bought a pair of shoes, but then decided against it, and we returned to Muto with only fruit and vegetables from the market.  We hung around until Nonna started to cook the pasta for lunch.  Macaroni and meat was always sunday's dinner menu and I didn't mind it one bit :)  We ate lunch together then went to take naps, and when we woke around 3:00 we headed up to Arpino to use the pool at the suncrest hotel.  Now this was entertainment.  Packed with Italians our group looked a tad but odd... but we didn't care.  90% of the people there had a cigarette in hand and were ready to go swimming with it.  People kept pushing each other in jumping on each other etc. and I heard the lifeguard whistle once over 3 hours of pool time.  There were two diving boards, and a DJ that was making our pool time pleasant, and who initiated a diving competition among whomever wanted to join.  Now this was entertainment.  The winner of the competition was named Puppi, and he was a not so slim dude, who wooed the crowd, funny thing was he had the best technique of everyone, he rightly deserved the win.  He did a back lay out, not over rotating off of 3 meter, and everyone else did pathetic jumps or dives.  The runner up however attempted to do a few flips and landed at like 1.25 flips off of 3 meter. HIGHLY ENTERTAINING DAY AT THE PISCINA!  There was also a group of guys who thought they were quite attractive (and some of them were), but this one guy started doing push ups on the grass with his friend on his back, and I don't think any of the group ever went in the water... just laid out tanning their beautiful bods. HA!

PUPPI/A
Around 6:00 we descended back down the hairpin turns of Arpino, somehow managing to get back to Fontechiari a completely different way than we came up.  I refused to listen to Uncle Johns GPS directions, both Linda and I adamant that we knew the way throughout the hills of Frosinone better than "Nancy" did!  When we got back to Muto we told Nonna that we would be going out to dinner and that we wanted her and Nonno to come, likewise they both refused, and criticized us for wanting to go out to eat when she had all this food in the house, she also said restaurants put too much salt on the food, so it wasn't good for them to eat out anymore.  We didn't put up a big fight, we all showered, and then I made the McDermotts wait till 8:00 at least to go eat, they wanted to eat before 8:00 (so not italian). Then we drove off to Gianfranco's Tapa Wine Bar of Fontechiari. 

Excited to eat I perused one of the two menus we were given for the five of us (another thing that is bothersome here) and my mouth couldn't decide what kind of food it wanted to have.  It's so hard to choose what to eat when EVERYTHING is good.  Here in Italy you can't go wrong with what you choose, EVERYTHING is good, but if you pick just right, you can have EXCEPTIONAL food, and that's what I look for, but its hard to make the right decisions!  We wanted an antipasti so we ordered that before we decided on our main courses, the waitress asked how many portions, we said 5 because we were 5 people... that makes sense right?  She looked at us like we were crazy and then asked if we had ever eaten there before, then explained that there was a LOT of food included in the antipasti, so she suggested we get fewer portions, we settled on 3 portions, when in reality, 1 or 2 would have been PLENTY!

The antipasti just kept rolling out.  First she brought a tray of prosciutto and a kind of cheese. Then another board of various salumi e formaggio along with olives and little pickels.  A pizza of foccacia next emerged from the kitchen.  Followed by grilled vegetables, bowls of cannelloni beans, and chick peas.  A platter with bread balls, and an egg and ham baked bread concoction. At this point we looked up at her with faces questioning if there could possibly more, she read our expressions and said c'è ancora! Scalopped potatoes that were to die for, another tray of potatoes cooked differently, bruschetta, a rice plate with olives and tuna in it and a basket of bread soon followed, and she finally said basta.  Holy shit. I'd never seen so much food for an Antipasto, and now we realized why she advised us to order our meals after we had eaten the antipasto. Holy shit!

Antipasti... for 17?
We dug in.  Struggling to finish the antipasto Juliana and Uncle John were still craving a main meal what they had hoped for even though they weren't hungry anyways.  So as we worked our way through the antipasto, we ordered a pasta al ragù for Jujie and a pizza margherita for Uncle John which we would all nibble at. The grandoise proportion of the Antipasto was still shocking me, and even when we ordered drinks we had been surprised to be given a liter of cola, when only Michael had asked for coke, and a very large beer, when only Uncle John had asked for a beer, and the ladies had planned on drinking water.  All in all, the dinner was delicious and we had quite the lovely evening at the Tapa Wine bar, and we left knowing the next time we would order 1 portion of the antipasto.  But boy o boy, was that the most delicious thing I'd ever had, it had a little bit of everything, so it was the perfect meal.

When we got back I packed up my things and said good bye to the McDermotts because I would be waking up at 4:45 to go into Sora to get the COLTRAL pullman at 5:20 to make it to work on time.  Maria said she would be up at that point, so she offered to drive me in, so nice of her!  I fell fast asleep on the click clack by 11:00, and before I knew it I was up in the cool morning air, climbing in Maria's FIAT Panda, and on my way back to Roma for the week.  I had friends now, and mom would be coming saturday, so I was excited to be going back, but happy I got to spend some time with the McDermotts and relax a little at Muto.  Muto was beginning to be the perfect escape from the hot, busy, casino, Roma was :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

nuove amicizie


When I got back from Firenze around 10:30 I was relieved to be home and happy to have the own space again. Something about being able to get organized in my own space on my own time is so relaxing to me, and I was happy I didn’t need to be on Claudia’s “where is the key; is someone at the house?” clock, its always frustrating to me to know that I can’t do things on my own time and at my own discretion. Back in Rome I was independent and could do what I want, come and go as I pleased and was only subjected to the hours of my internship (which were very relaxed), and the reliability of public transportation.

Piazza la Quercia
Arriving at Via Udine I was ready to take a shower, get organized and hop right into bed for a good nights sleep. The previous night’s 4.5 hours weren’t going to pull me through a Monday at the office no matter how much I liked my job. I unlocked our door with the odd shaped key, one that you would never see in the states, and that sometimes spit itself out of the keyhole if you didn’t turn it right, and surprise! It was Rehem’s boyfriend’s birthday, so the apartment was filled with friends! Great, the last thing I wanted to do right then was going introduce myself to 8 new people and try and engage in broken Italian conversation. I said “Ciao” quickly to the room full of people, and shyly returned to my room where I unpacked and showered, put on athletic shorts and a t-shirt and debated whether or not to be social. Consensus was I was too tired to move, so I laid in bed starting to blog about my weekend and ready to go to sleep until I heard them start singing the cake in multiple languages and I decided I had to go in and sing in English, and attempt to be social despite the stanchezza that I had. Laura offered me a piece of cake after we sang, and I sat in the kitchen for 20 minutes or so talking about my college with Daniele (Laura’s boyfriend) and making conversation with Laura’s friend Chiara who is always so nice to me when she is over. 20 minutes went by, I said my Auguris and my buona nottes to everyone then I went to my bed and fell fast asleep.

Monday morning at the office was brutal. Especially since I woke up late and didn’t have time to grab my cornetto integrale and cappuccino at Bar dell’Arte because I had to run to the SMA supermarket in Piazza Bologna to get something for lunch so I wouldn’t starve or miss out on quality lunch conversation in the salla di reunione! Monday was also the fourth of July and I joked with Francesca that I deserved the day off… I should’ve asked on Friday and she probably wouldn’t have cared. I was a little bummed I didn’t have the nerve to because I could have stayed in Firenze one more night to see the concert in Piazza della Republica for the opening of the Hard Rock Café… Claudia said she would call my boss and tell her I couldn’t return, but I just couldn’t let her, although that would have been a HOOT!

Instead of fireworks on the fourth I settled for having a nice dinner with the roommates. I had gone into Marta’s room after work to talk with them all about whatever, and they extended an invitation to eat with them, it was very nice! I helped prepare the meet and set the table, and we ended up eating around 9:45 because Marta’s zucchini took a long time to finish. We ate a thin cut of some kind of beef mixed in with an arugula salad soaked in a lemon/salt/balsamic dressing. We each got our own piece of bufula mozzarella, some salumi, and zucchini, e abbiamo mangiato benissimo.

Tuesday I did the usual routine on the way to work, and during the day I got excited because there was the “Chit-Chat” event at N’Importe Quoi that I found through a website called Friends in Rome, that would hopefully help me find other people in similar situations as me hoping to practice Italian, but also find a few good friends to get a pizza, caffe or a bichiere di vino with. Success! At the small café in the Jewish ghetto I paid my 12 euros, got a glass of terrible white wine, and found myself a few English speaking people who found themselves searching for comrades and conversation partners in the city just like me! During our conversation table we talked mostly about food and I grew very hungry, only to be fed with small not so good stuzzichini or finger foods. I met a girl from San Francisco who had attended school to become a wine maker and was studying Italian in Roma for the summer then was off to Piemonte to work on a vinyard. Mom was jealous already, and so was I… Cornell school of Agriculture was reentering my brain, and so were greater possibilities of subjects to focus on in grad schools (my mom is going to kill me when she hears I’m jealous of a girl who is doing EXACTLY what she told me I should go to school to study!). I also met Sarah, a girl from la Svizzera (Switzerland) who was interning in a kitchen at a restaurant near the Vatican, and a man Tony who was in marketing and frequently travelled to italy from his home town of LA (also speaking Italian very well). We chatted, ate, drank, and exchanged numbers, ready to meet up again at the next Friend in Rome event that was an Aperitivo event on Isola del Cinema (Isola Tiberina, in the middle of the Tevere). I caught the bus back home content and excited at the possibility that from now on I would have 2 or 3 contacts willing to go for a passegiata with me or to grab aperitivo!

Little did I know how exhausting this week was going to end up being…

Performer in Santa Maria di Trastevere
Wednesday a girl named Helena messaged me from the Friend in Rome webite telling me she was in a similar situation as I was in, looking for friends, looking to explore, looking to have some fun. We found each other on facebook, realized we were both normal people and exchanged numbers so that maybe we could get together at some point. When I got home from work, I signed on to FB chat and she was online, so we had a small conversation to get to know each other on a basic level, then I told her I was planning to go in centro, and we made plans to meet up at Campo dei Fiori. Once we met up, we walked to get a Peroni at a small tabacchi that would be cheaper then a bar, then walked back to sit on the monument in Campo dei Fiori and chat about our experiences. Around 9:45 we walked across the river to Trastevere and hung out in Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere watching a not so great “clown”, but it ended up being worth it because at the end I got to hold a torch with FIREEEEEE, FUOCO! Helena and I walked around, happy to have found some else to hang out with, we walked along Lungotevere then walked back up to Argentina where I caught the 62 to Bologna and she walked back to where she lived near the Vatican.

Woof. Tiring week getting to meet people.

Thursday. Thursday. Thursday. Envious. I knew the McDermotts were somewhere near me in the country on their VACATION, and I was starting to get jealous. I loved being in Rome and working, and I still do, but vacation time is starting to seem a lot more fun when people I know are at the beach or at a pool in Tuscany and I’m stuck at my desk on Via di Tor Pagnotta in the Aircom office (I secretly love it). Work went well with the excitement of meeting up with the people I had met on Tuesday again. 

When I got home from work I took a quick nap then got ready to head down to Trastevere for the Aperitivo event. I left the apartment around 7:15, took the B line to Circo Massimo and walked down to the bridge (The way Angela had described to get to her apartment in March). I got to the bridge around 8:00 after casually strolling down Via di Circo Massimo and frequently stopping to take pictures. Zoe (a girl I had met on Tuesday) sent me an SMS to ask if I was going to the Aperitivo event. I told her I would be there around 8:15, and she said she was at N’Importe Quoi and that she was see me piu tardi. I didn’t want to arrive at the bar at exactly 8:00 cause it could have been awkward, so I continued walking around, strolling leisurely and taking pictures and then I finally descended the stairs on the Isola Tiberina around 8:10 cause I couldn’t stand wasting any more time.

Isola Tiberina, bar
When I got to the Pampero bar I introduced myself to the two people who were running it, they gave me a ticket to get a drink, and also introduced me to a guy named Cornelius who was interning for a month at a Holocaust research center. Cornelius was from Austria and I soon found out that he can speak 6 different languages, and very well at that, but unfortunately Italian wasn’t his strongest, so we spoke in English and had a good time. Since we were like the first people to arrive as people flowed in the woman running the event turned many other Americans toward us to say hello, and we ended up meeting a number of people of all different ages who were in similar positions to us. Sarah and Zoe the girls who I had met Tuesday showed up, and Sarah introduced me to a fellow friend she had met from Switzerland named Adrian. Soon after Helena arrived and I called her over to come chat with Cornelius and I. Nearing 10:30 we went to get another drink and I ended up speaking Italian with one of the men who was running the program for 20 minutes or so, it always surprises me when I can hold a conversation for that long without speakng english, I think I may be making progress! We also ran into Fabio, kind of a creepy guy who tries to flirt with you in english and then says your mean... strange. But anyways, all in all a good night, and I felt like I was making progress in the friend department, and I knew at least Helena was always going to be up to doing anything so I was content.

Isola Tiberina
Helen, Cornelius and I left the Isola Tiberina around 11:20, and walked to Argentina to get back to our respective homes. I found out that Cornelius lives near Tibertina, one stop further on the linea b so we hopped on bus 62 to Piazza Bologna together, chatted the whole way home then went our separate ways. The week was beginning to tire me out and I was more than happy to hit the pillow and fall fast asleep, happy that I would be seeing the McDermotts the following evening! Just 6 hours of work to get through then it was the weekend!!