Thursday, May 29, 2008

Photos of Bologna

Bologna is a great city to live in. Small enough not to feel overwhelmed, but large enough to offer enough culture and amusement for even Andrea. And of course, having all those bars and restaurants that spill into the outdoors in the summer is wonderful (here is Keiko enjoying her cappucino at the trendiest bar in town).

The two leaning towers and the Neptune fountain are the city's landmarks and I just love the covered sidewalks which make walking around town doable all throughout the year (there are more than 20 miles of porticos throughout the city). The main square, Piazza Maggiore, is a great place to hang out and hosts the fresh food market next door. The third photo above is the entrance to Andrea's office.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Driving Italian Style

I had to go through a torturous process to get my Italian driver's license. I paid €600 (approx. $950) for a course that I attended three times (it was in Italian and I would frantically flip through a dictionary in the classroom), and for one hour of behind the wheel with a teacher (silly, it seemed, after 30 years of driving in the US). It is a known fact if you try to get your license without the school representing you, it is very likely that you fail. So I studied for more than 100 hours for the written exam (now offered in English on a computer) and during my one hour behind the wheel, I had to ask the guy to turn the radio down when I was trying to ask a question. But in the end I got the license (even though I was yelled at by the examiner while on the road cause I didn't understand what he was asking in Italian) and now happily zip around town on my Vespa. We also have a motorbike for Andrea and a gas guzzling old Audi which we take on trips around the country. Our next car will be one of those politically correct special gas cars - we'll buy it when I start working full-time.

Here, Ray is hand-washing my Vespa while Andrea looks on. We also bought Ray his own helmet but I have yet to take him out alone. Italian law states he must be 5 years old, but he is very tall so I will wait until the fall when I will have to drive him to his new school.

Oh, and about the hours I put into studying the laws of the road - something of a joke as it seems the none of it applies. I never see a cop on the streets - on foot or in a car - and people will park their cars right in high traffic lanes and go in a bar for an espresso. I also yell out "thank you" to every driver that swerves around me and Ray while we are in a crosswalk. agh.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Our apartment

We moved into our current apartment last May. We had it completely restructured - originally it was a bi-family villa built during the facist era but now our side is now divided into three apartments, one of each floor, and we have the middle level which, being on a hillside, is on the street level but drops down on the other side.
We live on a street just outside the historical center (our previous two apartments where in the centro) and now we have a nice combination of fresh air and being close enough to the piazza (a twenty minute walk or a five minute bike ride). Though I complain a lot about having to push Ray up the steep hill, the payoff is a nice view and less flabby thighs. Also, there is a lovely hillside orchard at the dead end of the street (the first two photos), where we get some nice views and Ray can get some exercise.

This is the only photo I could find of the living room - with my American friends who are all married to Italians (originally from California, Idaho and Washington DC).
The views from the apartment include a distant chuch that the sun rises behind...


Since we really can't manage a dog in our small apartment (that also lacks a garden), we offered to take care of Poppy, James and Philippa's dog, whenever they had to go out of town. Poppy came to be a part of their family several months ago (she was born in Ravenna, a Fox Terrier) and is really great - she is wonderful with the three kids and over the ten days she stayed with us was exceptionally behaved for a puppy. The reason she is wearing this collar is because she had a cyst on her leg removed and this prevents chewing (though in Le Marchè, she managed to expose a few toes). As you can see, she is adorable though Ray did cry when she managed to steal his pacifiers.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ray's party at our friends' home in Le Marche

Our good friends, James and Philippa, invited us to visit their gorgeous home in Le Marche, the region east of Tuscany. They threw a party for Ray's third birthday on their terrace and their three girls made a really big fuss. In spite of Ray being tired and cranky, it was just lovely! The last photo is Ray celebrating again at Nonna's house.

Chris' new blog - check here for exciting news

Okay, so I have been living in Bologna for 4.5 years and only now have created a blog so that my family and friends can check up on me. I will try to be faithful in writing and apologize in advance for all the photos of Ray that I will be posting here.

Andrea is in Sicily for the weekend, attending a conference in Taormina with all his Italian collegues who flew in from the US. I, at the moment, am enjoying a sleeping 3 year old on the sofa and a day of breezes and sunshine - appreciated after7 days of rain. (well, at this moment of publishing, it is now pouring rain again...)