Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Art of Aperitivo

Here is an article that explains the aperitivo a bit more. The negroni mentioned is one of my favorite drinks. You can only have one though, if you plan to go out to dinner after...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring has Sprung

Bologna is just beautiful these days. We have had day after day of sunshine and temps in the 60s. No one is wearing a coat any longer and I see some neighbors trying to catch their first tan lines of the season (the serious tanners stay brown all year with weekly visits to the salon. Andrea has one under his office and it is busybusybusy.). If I didn't mention it before, most Italians love their tans and it is a big deal here. It depicts good health....I think, until one turns 50 and looks 65. I take Ray's bike to the park when I pick him up from school, and he can ride around for an hour or so before coming home. Here are some pictures of Giardini Margherita where his school is. In the first photo, his school is the dark brown, low building on the right.

Last Friday I had my English co-workers over for an aperitivo which was fun. Ray had two new playmates to share toys with. Dillon is English/Italian and 2, while Ruby is English and one week older than Ray. The adults had a good time tasting some wines while analyzing the recent Manchester game, and admittedly are not as well versed in vino as their Italian counterparts so when Martin started drinking my cooking wine, I didn't try too hard to stop him. I may have them over again while Andrea is in the states, when I can partner the wine with some rice and curry (yum, you say? Beer might be better.).

The week before, James brought the three girls (here they are with Ray) over for dinner as Philippa had to go to London to see her ill mother. James was pretty desperate for something to do with the kids, so it was nice to have him here along with Krissy and Andrea. Krissy is an alumni of Andrea's program and now works for Furla. She promises to get me some sample bags for the new season at a discount. By the way, if you remember the JBrand deal I had, I did receive my JBrand jeans from LA. Pretty nice stuff, I must admit. Wearing them now.

Italians rely a lot on face-to-face communication. Andrea frequently has to go to an office to discuss something or make a transaction or just to learn of some news. When I ask why he can't do it over the phone or internet, he tries to explain how important it is to have a "personal relationship". This was evident when we bought the car. To the salesman, Andrea became "my friend the professor" to everyone who walked into the dealership and I became the "American wife". So it was no surprise that he was a little annoyed when he learned through the computer that we stopped in another dealership and as a result made things a little complicated by acting offended (and asking for more money). After understanding that we were more than willing to walk away from the deal, he couldn't get the car to us fast enough - the end of this month (originally we were to receive it in May). So we will have it in time for our trip to Vienna the week before Easter.

Here are some photos per Paula's request - Ray the painter, Ray as Spiderman and a recent sunrise. Andrea leaves for the US next week and I have my request in for a new camera so hopefully my pictures will be a little more sophisticated. The cost here is about double than in the US. Thanks to Ken for this Canon. As you can see, I have used it well these past five+ years.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

email me

Dear Family and Friends,
Once again, Andrea has installed a new email program for me and didn't carry over my address book. Please send me an email from your account, so I can add you to my contacts list.
Many thanks,
(The photo is just to add some interest. It is hard to believe Ray was ever so tiny.)

La Macchina

Well we finally bought a new car yesterday, a Honda FRV which is not available in the US, probably due to the three front seats. It will hopefully serve us well as a family of three and we can roadtrip with our bikes in the back. A long overdue purchase though I will miss the old Audi. Andrea and I can't believe that we have a family car. A far cry from the Miata.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It has been a hectic few weeks with lots of little events that have been keeping me really busy. The International School was closed for "ski week" (the Italians love their winter sports) so I spent a week at home and cutting Ray's school days a little shorter, and also going to tutor Michele a couple of times at his home. On that Friday, Ray and I went to Philippa's house in the Marche for a long weekend. I gave Philippa and her three girls a ride down and James joined us later that evening. Ray had a great time, as usual, with the three sisters. James and Philippa took us to visit an old guy who restores old furniture where the kids made friends with these little ponies. Needless to say, as digging through old furniture is one of my favorite things to do and I haven't been able to do much of it here in Italy, I was so happy to poke around the hundreds of pieces and found so many that I would like in a country house (note the dusty kitty pawprints on the table tops). James and Philippa bought a couple of pieces and she surprised me with a gift of one of those old copper cow bells that make a lovely donging noise. If you ever visit the north of Italy, the Dolomite mountains (or the Italian Alps as they are sometimes called), you can see a herd of white cows grazing and the bells on their necks make a beautiful choral sound, though I wonder if it ever makes them crazy as it can be quite loud.

Carnivale, a big holiday here where one indulges in every aspect before the periods of fasting during Lent, was celebrated and Ray dressed as his current favorite super hero. Entertaining at home was the norm this long winter, and we just held an aperitivo for 20 faculty to mingle with Andrea's boss who was here for a few days for a visit from Indiana University. I invited all my work-mates from school to come over this Friday for a wine-tasting. Very casual, of course, just a rush to see who can taste the most wines. ha.

Andrea is getting ready for his trip to the US in two weeks and we plan to take a road trip to Vienna when he returns as it will be Easter break here. I am now counting down the weeks to my visit to the US - and am making a list of must-buy items. I know that winter hit once again in the northeast US, but here the birds are singing and the buds are bursting. Spring in Italy, anyone?