Sunday, June 30, 2013

Arrivederci Roma

 My last day in Italy for a while, I thought I'd get an early start and go to St. Peter's.  Little did I know that everyone else in Italy had decided to do the same thing. I never did get inside, this was the line to get in.
If you know anything about St. Peter's Square, this is the end of the colonnade on the left as you face the basilica, and it snaked through a maze like the lines for E-Tickets at Disneyland.  I was done! 
This was a nice peek, and as close as I got!  I'll be back!

This line was for the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, which are around the corner to the left---you can't even see the street that it's on there are so many people here.
And just when you think Italy has shown you all its surprises, you come across a beautiful fresco on the outside of a building. 

As I said in my last post, the Italians are the reason to come.  These men reminded me so much of my grandfather and his friends, sitting in the park, reading un giornale and discussing life.  Simple pleasures on a Sunday. 

 Wishing you a buona giornata from Rome.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Counting Down Towards Re-Entry

I leave on Monday to go home to San Diego.  This three months has flown by, and although I have missed Dr. C. and my friends, I will have a hard time leaving Italy.  There are so many things I have learned here, and it's hard to put into words just how much this trip has meant to me.  I've had the privilege of living in a small hill town in Umbria, learning Italian at a language school, and working alongside the awesome people at Enoteca Properzio here in Spello. I have been living my dream.

Here are the top things I've learned while in Italy

Do more with less:  this from a woman with every electric gadget known to man, from computers to Cuisinarts, I've got it all.  You can get along just fine in a rented apartment with a few odd pots and pans, and a fridge.

Don't be afraid to get lost:  Getting lost puts you on the road less traveled and can reveal things you'd never have seen traveling on the road everyone else has gone down.
Translation, the road of 1,000 lunatics
Don't be afraid:  fear is what keeps us from trying new things and discovering new places.  Be bold and step out in faith--take that trip, drive in Italy, get on a train, instead of wishing you could go.

Be Spontaneous:  One day at a cooking class at the enoteca, someone brought in a guitar because one of the students said he loved playing, by the time he got to playing, Roberto was dancing with his wife, while we were plating the food.

As the cook in the movie The Muppets Take Manhattan said, "People is peoples" the world over.  We may not speak the same language, agree on religion or politics, but we are human and that unites us all.

Big cities in many respects are the same all over the world--whether it's Rome, Milan, New York, Tokyo, Boston, Hong Kong or Berlin, they are big, noisy, crowded, filled with excitement, adventure and history, they just come in different flavors.

Take photos:  a digital journal is a great way to remember what you've seen, and above all what you've learned. The memories are there for you to enjoy for many years.  There was never a day here when I was without my camera or my cell phone to take photos.

I've learned that Italian is a beautiful, complicated language with grammar rules that defy logic and that Italian road signs can be difficult.

Make new friends:  Try out the language, and start a conversation with someone.  In the past months I've met my neighbors, new friends at the enoteca, and classmates at school from all over the world.  What separates us is geography. 

The treasure of Italy is the Italians!  Funny, smart, complicated, passionate people, they are crazy for calcio (soccer) their families, their food and their wine, and I'm crazy about them.

Thank you to the Three Wise Men of Spello:  Roberto, Luca and Carlo Angelini, Irene and Daniela Angelini, Camelia, Tanya, Kaoma and Chiara for making me feel so at home here in Spello.  Grazie Mille!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Weighing in on Paula Deen (Sorry for the Pun)

Since everyone on the planet has an opinion, and even in Italy I've been asked what I think; here's my take.
  1. Paula Deen's show was cancelled because she admitted to making racial slurs; it's a matter of character, not her cooking
  2. Paula Deen chose not to reveal her diabetes for almost 3 years, until she signed a lucrative deal with a drug maker; it's a matter of character, not her cooking. 
  3. After announcing her diagnosis, she continued to cook in the same manner and declared that "diabetes is not your fault"; it's a matter of character and not her cooking.  
  4. Michael Pollan said it best, "you don't watch an NBA basketball game to learn how to play basketball" it's entertainment; and you don't watch the Food Network to learn how to cook.  Paula Deen is a personality, period. 

The last thing I will say on this subject is that Paula Deen or any other celebrity, does not affect how I cook, eat or live my life.   

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Alla Lavanderia

I'm not sure when I was last at a laundromat, but since I've been in Italy, I go once a week.  When I've been in school, I take the laundry in the car, stop at the lavanderia and get it done on the way home.  Although small, this one in Spello is great; the manager now knows La Americana, and greets me as I walk through the door.

I can get two loads done in the space of 1 1/2 hours, and that gives me time while the wash is going to go to the supermercato to buy provisions for the week.

Here's the drill, select the machine, you can see the big loads go on the left.  Then you go over to the pin-ball machine-esque money machine.
Slide in the bills, and then wait for a load of change to come out, just like a slot machine.  This is especially true if you put in a E 20.

Select the wash type, then buy soap, and put that into the machine and you are ready to roll.

Once the clothes are done, it's time for the dryer.  Most Italians wash their clothes and then hang them out to dry.  A lot of the customers at this lavanderia take their clothes home to dry on the line.
The smell of line dried clothes is lovely, but the main reason that they line dry the clothes is to save on astronomic electric bills.  My Nonna and my mom both used clothes lines over the dryer and my mom had this whirligig looking thing that we were sure would blow off with all our clothing when there was a windy day. 

  Buona giornata from Spello.

Another Day in Rome

Yesterday I decided I would take the fast train to Rome from Foligno, a town about 10 miles away.  It took 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the train center of Rome, Termini.  Termini is the hub for the trains and Metro: it's big, noisy and crowded, but don't let the guide books steer you out of here, the Metro in Rome is great, and can get you to and from a lot of destinations in less time than a hot taxi. 
I bought the Metro BIG ticket for E6; it's an all day pass and you can ride the bus or the Metro for 24 hours.  A bargain!
I decided that I wanted to go back to Piazza del Popolo to see the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo (the Church of the Madonna Mary of the people)  There is artwork in this sad church from Raphael, Bernini, Bramante, Pinturicchio, and Caravaggio to name a few.  The metro line stops right at the church, and I was inside within 15 minutes of arriving in Rome. Many of the Italian churches today feel sad and neglected.  Santa Maria is dark, yet it has some incredible works of art that should make it feel special.  If you remember the movie Angels and Demons, this church was one of the churches that was featured. 

Painting by Raphael

Bernini sculpture

Bramante's altar

Raphael's mosaics

Even the floors are interesting

This church has more skull and crossbones in it for a holy place, I still can't figure out why

If I read Latin, maybe that would help!



As long as I was here, I decided to stop in at Noi Salon and say hi
So hot even some of the fountains were dry!
Piazza di Spagna

The Via Condote--all the designer shops
I even took the Metro to Mecca--just kidding it's Eataly in Rome---4 floors of amazing Italian food---unlike the one in NYC, they wouldn't allow me to take photos
Then it was back to Termini to catch my ride back home.  Of course there are 4 McDonald's in the train station and the biggest mall ever on the underground Metro floors!  Get a load of the offerings at MickeyD's--- I will never look at Brie the same way again!

As I said, this place is crowded and noisy, but it is the place to connect in Italy.  Many guide books warn you that there is a good possibility things will be stolen or you will be a victim of a pick pocket, and although there are a lot of people here, there is also a LOT of security here.  Just be careful, and watch your stuff--you'd do that in any big city in the States.  I'm back home again in Spello. As I write this, I have a bag of ice on my ankle. I stepped off a cobblestone in Spello the wrong way, and came down hard on it--it's not broken, but it is sure sprained.  Hoping ice and Advil will lessen the pain.  Wishing you a buona serata from Spello.