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.

PIZZA
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!

Monday, August 1, 2011

sciopero


So Thursday I rushed home from work to say bye to Rihem and to get ready to go meet my parents. They were staying near Saint Peters in a hotel, dad had arrived around 4:00pm, mom met him at the airport and they had plans for me to meet them at the hotel at 7:15.  Obviously when I call my mom and say I’m on my way to the hotel she replies, oh well were going out, so we won’t be there, can we meet somewhere else? Luckily the bus I was waiting for that would go direct to their hotel hadn’t come yet, so I could adjust my transportation plans to accommodate their movement!  Instead mom told me to meet her at Hotel Rafael, near piazza navona, where we would decide together the plan of action.  So, I took the bus to Argentina and walked to the hotel where I looked around the lobby for my parents, called them, no reponse, and then waited outside, calling my mom every couple of minutes. 15 minutes later mom returns my call, I ask where she is, clearly she responds “at the bar at the top of the hotel!”  How the heck was I supposed to know she would go up there?  The whole 15 minutes I waited for them, they had already been enjoying their premium service and white wine atop the hotel roof! Beh!
I took the elevator up to the 6th floor and found them enjoying their wine and taking pictures of the fantastic view.  I said hello and hugged dad, finally here, and then sat down to tell them about my week.  We sat and chatted, and conversed with the older couple next to us who were flight attendants and loving living the life of air travel. It was their second time back in Rome in the past week.  Their lifestyle sounded quite fun for a couple who loves to explore.  Around 8:15 I began shuffling us out of the bar because I had made a reservation on my mother’s request at the restaurant in the Gusto complex near Piazza del Popolo. We were actually pretty prompt and arrived by foot before 9:00, but we found out that I had made a reservation at the wrong part of the Gusto complex, I reserved at the restaurant when my mother had wanted to eat at the Osteria. Why every place of that complex has the same number to reserve… I don’t know… but anyways there wasn’t a wait at the Osteria so we were able to sit down immediately and we told the waiter that we made a mistake with our reservation and we think that he took care of it all.  For dinner I had a some kind of lamb stew with olives, dad had cacio e pepe, and mom had tune with balsamic glaze.  All of the food was delicious and of course so was the wine.  During dinner we discussed Friday’s plans.  I knew there was a sciopero, a strike, so I wasn’t sure how getting to work was going to work, but I felt too terrible asking for the day off so I could go on the Scavi tour with my parents, when I already had asked for a day off to go to Sicily in August.  So we discussed the possibilites of what would happen with the strike, and we decided that I would do my normal routine and try and get to work, and if the buses and trains were no longer running I would briskly walk to find mom and dad at their hotel and go on the scavi tour with them. Awesome.
Osteria delle Frezze, Citta del Gusto
 Nearing 10:00 I left the restaurant before dessert was ordered, the wine was finished and they paid their check.  It was Thursday so I wanted to go to Isola Tiberina for the Friends in Rome aperitivo event, and I didn’t want to stay out extremely late, and neither did my parents, so I left on foot and got to the Island by 10:30.  At the island I met up with Helena and saw the regular people who I liked to converse with.  I saw Teri, the Canadian woman who I had gone for a gelato with, we chatted for a few, and then I walked around looking for new people to meet.  Cornelius arrived with his sister, so I met her. I met a girl from the states who moved here and was living with her Italian boyfriend who had studied in the states; so he spoke English perfectly (jealous).  I asked if he had any friends he could introduce me to, but unfortunately he never followed through haha.  Toward the end of the night Helena and I met two French guys, one who was living here and the other was his visiting friend.  We talked with them a while, found out he lived near Piazza Bologna like me, so I would have someone to walk with need be, and then around 12:30/1:00 we decided to head out.  I found Cornelius and his sister, because I usually walk home with him, and waited for them to say good bye to who they were talking too. The French were too anxious to wait for us, so they left on there own, while Cornelius, his sister and I left 10 minutes later.  We struggled in the bus department, wasting time and getting on a bus that didn’t take us exactly where we wanted and we ended up at Porta Pia.  From there we started walking to find another bus so Cornelius and his sister could take it because they lived farther than me, and we ended up running into Fabiane and Jan, the French.  We found a bus stop that Cornelius could wait at, then I walked home with the French people, 10 minutes and I was home, in my bed, fast asleep. Walking is most of the time a lot more efficient then waiting for buses depending on where you are!
Friday I woke up, went to Café Art, got my cappuccino and cornetto and walked to Bologna to get the metro at 8:35.  There was an announcement replaying itself in the metro saying the last train was about to depart the head of the line, so I asked the ATAC metro man if there would be buses at Laurentina to get me to work if I took the last metro.  He said he could not be sure, but that the sciopero was starting at 8:30, so it would be unlikely, so I decided I wouldn’t get stranded at Laurentina, I would call/email Francesca and let her know my predicament, then go meet mom for the tour.  Somehow I had Francesca’s wrong number, so that didn’t work, I sent her an email, feeling shitty about what I was doing because I knew I had work to finish that I didn’t complete the day before, but anyways I explained I wouldn’t be coming and that she can send me the documents I was working on and I would work from home.  So I did that, waiting for her response while I waited for hopefully the last bus of the 61 that would come by, I already saw I missed the 62… luckily 5 minutes later the last 61 rolled by and I was able to take it all the way to San Silvestro and then walk to the Vatican and my parents hotel to meet them.  Francesca responded to my email and said not to worry. She sent me all of the documents I needed, and while the emails were rolling in, mom, dad and I were strolling into the secret place on the left side of the Vatican to get our special Scavi tour. Awesome.  I would have enjoyed the tour 5 times more if I wasn't preoccupied with thinking my boss was going to kill me, but nonetheless, I was glad I went on the tour because it was something I would not have done with out being dragged by my mother.  On the tour we saw numerous mausoleums that were built maybe 100 years after the death of St. Peter.  Pagans had chosen the place where Peter was buried as a home for an Acropolis, unrelated to the fact that it was Peters resting place. Then in constantinian times, more mausoleums were built and a trophy was built upon Peters burial place.  We were able to see the remnants of the constantine additions, the original red brick features built by the pagans, many sarcophagi, and the place where St. Peter's bones are, but you can not go into his tomb for the space is too small.  All of the area that we toured was excavated during WWII and it is really only a small portion of the grounds that lies under the new basilica. Still very fascinating. I probably got the details confused, but that's what I took away from the tour, and I was ultimately happy the sciopero allowed me to go on the tour!

After we left St. Peter's we went to get mom and dads luggage from the hotel that was right outside the piazza. We walked out onto the street and attempted to hail a cab since no transportation was going still, and there was no way in hell we were walking all the way to Piazza Bologna with or without having to haul luggage with us! So we got in a cab which immediately drove into a mess of traffic, grazie allo scioper la citta era un cassino! So it was a mess getting past Piazza del Popolo then from Villa Borghese we cruised to Via Udine, stopping the cab fair at just under 20 euros.  We were home, I was ready for mom to criticize me not having a family room again, and I was also anxious to get my work done for Francesca because she was expecting the spreadsheet to be finished before the end of the work day.  Luckily I had all the emails and after mom and dad put there stuff down and rested a few minutes they headed out to get lunch and walk around while I did my work.  I made myself a salad for lunch, a little bummed I wouldn't be eating with Vincenzo, Francesca, Valeria and Consolato :( and then I got to work.  I finished everything within the hour, and Francesca didn't send me anything else, so I took the time to catch up on the serious lack of sleep I have been accumulating over the past month and a half here in Italy.  Woaa time out.... Month and a half?? Where does the time go??

Anyways, around 6:00 I called mom to see what the plan was going to be for dinner and everything.  They said they would be home by 6:30, so I just waited for them to get back, then we figure out the night plans.  The buses were up and running for 5-8, so we decided to grab the 62 and take it to Argentina and walk near Campo de Fiori to find a place to eat.  We walked past La Carbonara, contemplating eating there, then walked into Piazza Farnese and landed upon a much nicer atmosphere and larger crowd of Italians at a restaurant called Da Gallinetto.  Our table had a wonderful view of the Piazza and a very lively table of Italians.  For my primo piatto I had gnochetti al gorgonzola con noci, mom had some kinda of spicy pasta with fish, and dad had pasta alla pajota INTESTINES!! Gross! All of the primi were delicious, and then we got a thin cut of veal for a secondo to split between the 3 of us.  For dolci we had a ricotta and chocolate torta, and the wine that mom ordered was delicious, a rosso from Montefalco.  I ate the majority of the dessert, then we paid the bill and walked back towards Largo Argentina, my parents to catch a cab, and myself to head to Trastevere to meet up with Helena.

I found Helena on the steps across from the Ponte Sisto, one of our usual meeting points, and she had run into Fabien and Jan, the french people who we had met last night at Aperitivo. So we hung around the steps with them until well after midnight, then we went with them to Campo de Fiori where they all ordered shottini that looked like french flags, but when they gave them to us they said it was for america. Funny!  I had told mom and dad I would be back between 2 and 3, and as we sat outside chatting, not doing anything particularly great, the clock turned 2:30, and I felt it was time for me to leave the gracious french.  Helena stayed behind with them, as she had no curfew, and I went and hailed a cab because the sciopero was still in effect and there weren't many buses running, and I was fast asleep in Rihem's bed (mine occupied by mom) by 3:00am.

We woke up around 9:00am, packed up our things, mom and I squishing our stuff in to dad's suitcase since neither of us had our own (Marta had taken mine to ESPANA) and then headed up toward Piazza Bologna to stop at Mizzica for a cappuccino and cornetto before heading to Muto. Mom and dad got to see why I was so intimidated of the place... Dad ordered 3 cornetti and 3 cappuccini, almost got stiffed 10 euro (by accident, and it all worked out), then once again I had to return to the cassa to pay 80 centessimi in piu because we picked pastries that were more expensive than what we paid for. Woops!  We sat outside at a table on the side of the road with all of our bags, thoroughly enjoyed our colazione then proceeded to walk to the metro B where we took it to Termini, switched onto the A line and got to Anagnina. At Anagnina we went to the parking garage and tried to figure out how to pay the parking ticket, which we thought we did effectively, but once we found the car and tried to drive through the gate, the gate didn't seem to like how we validated the ticket...  We backed out of the gate that wouldn't let us through, 4 cars had lined up behind us and after we moved they went right through the gate no problem.  Mom went down to ask the garage attendant what the issue was, he said everything was fine and he told us if it didn't work again to press the help button and he would assist us.  What do you know... it didn't work again! We pressed the help button, the mans voice came on, and he said it HAD to work, but we tried every which way, and we swear it didn't work, so he just buzzed us through after he got fed up with us dumb Americans!

We were en route to Via Muto by 11:30, and mom had plans to stop briefly at the mercatino (an old junk shop) before getting to the house, so she could seek our approval on a green set of drawers she had seen that she wanted for the bathroom. When we arrived we found that the drawers were no longer there, things go quick at the Mercatino! Mom was dissapointed, but no worries, her need to buy something old was quick resolved when she opted to buy a large print of Lire (the old italian currency), and I found a group of Nutella jar cups for 1,50! Score!  When we arrived at Muto, Nonna had cooked and was waiting for us and Vince and Annie to throw the pasta in.  We weren't sure when Vince and Annie were arriving so we started unloading the car... soon after Nonna started yelling at my mom for bringing more junk into the house when she saw the large Lire emerge from the car...  It was nearing 1:30 and we didn't know where Vince and Annie were, so mom gave them a call, and they said they woudn't be arriving for an hour or so, so Nonna threw the tortellini in the pot, and we were eating the delicious brodo with tortellini 15 minutes later. Delicious. It was my favorite meal to have, especially in the windy afternoon at Muto. After we cleaned up Vince and Annie arrived, Nonna forced some food down their throats, and we sat out and talked for a while.  At 4:30 Ilario came to pick me up to go see Harry Potter e i doni della morte.  We went to a cinema in Isola Liri and saw it in 3D, I amazingly understood everything, and only got caught up where they mentioned characters names because for some reason they have different names in the Italian book... After the movie he brought me home and said he'd be by at 9:00 again to go to the comedian in a nearby hill town (castellini?).  The parents were going to La Perla for a nice dinner, so I pulled out the leftover soup from the fridge, heated it up, and grabbed some veggies, and ate outside while Nonna rested nearby in her chair. Prompt as usual, Ilario arrived at 9:00, and we were off!

We picked up three of his friends along the way, Melissa, Claudia and Valerio, then headed up the hill toward Castellini (?) to see the comedian.  The show was supposed to start at 9:30, but we are in Italy, so who are we kidding? We waited around till 10:45 and the show finally started, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to make it through the night without falling asleep cause I was mad tired and a Notte Bianca was still on our agenda for after the comedians.  But I found myself once again understanding the majority of what the comedians were saying.  There were 6 or 7 opening comedians who I was able to devote my full attention to, but the headliner started at close to 1 and at that point I was freezing and dozing off in the piazza.  But I pulled through and made it to the end of the Ridi Ciociaria event and then we drove off to San Donato.  Car ride to San Donato I definitely kept falling asleep and even being wedged between Valerio and Melissa wasn't keeping me awake.  We arrived in San Donato a little bit before 3am.  The streets were packed with people, and there were shops, food stalls and bands lining the street.  If only it weren't so cold, and I weren't so tired I would have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Things like this you never see in the States, and its refreshing to see so many people out walking up and down the streets, dancing, and enjoying themselves, you just don't see that at home ever. Also, San Donato is on a hill, so we had to climb up some pretty steep hills to get to where the party was at, and mind you, Claudia and Melissa were wearing 3 inch heels... pazze! That you also don't see in America... women climbing cobblestone covered hills in high heels... I was the only one of us to trip multiple times and I was wearing flats!  One day I'll master the cobblestones... one day...

Around 3:30am our stomachs began to growl, so we went to the panino truck and the boys got porchetta sandwiches, and I got a slice of pizza. Once again, they REFUSED to let me pay for what I was getting. I tried to shove money in their pockets, but they just shoved it back in mine.  Gentlemen those Italians.  I don't pay for one thing when I'm in Fontechiari, it's ridiuclous! So they bought me some pizza, we sat and ate and chatted atop San Donato, then we headed on home, I honestly don't know how I made it. Che stanchezza ce l'avevo. Descending down the mountain back toward Muto, I again nodded in and out, and tried to stay awake by texting people on my phone, but that just turned into messes of letters... ask Lindsay!  I got dropped off at home and ran upstairs, not stopping at go, and not collecting 200 dollars, jumped into bed and fell fast asleep. I didn't hear any dogs or foxes that night!

Sunday morning I woke up around 10:00 and just hung out enjoying the countryside until Nonna served dinner. Pasta. Nom. Nom. Nom.  I finished up the laundry I had brought to Muto to do, packed up and waited for when my parents wanted to bring me to the stazione in Frosinone.  I figured they had trains every hour, so I said we could go whenever, but I wanted to go kind of early incase Helena wanted to do something.  I probably should have looked at the schedule because when we got to Frosinone, we realized it was Sunday, and the next train wasn't leaving for an hour and 45 minutes.  Oh well... I had books and my laptop, so I told mom and dad to leave me, and I'd wait alone, so after we made plans for the next weekend to pick me up in Cassino, they left me, and I was on my way back to Rome for the work week. On the train ride home Francesca texted me to let me know the B line was closed between Tiburtina and Castro Pretorio... there had been a fire at Tiburtina station, so when I arrived at Termini I had to figure out the bus to get back, but they had an alternative shuttle running the same stops as the metro, so everything worked out, it just took a little bit longer.  By 11:00pm I was back at Via Udine, ready for bed, and ready for my birthday week to commence!