Monday, February 16, 2009

State of Mind

Well, so I am being pestered by a sister or two on an update of the "ruin", or "paradiso" depending on your outlook to life. We were back on track this last month with the thought of trying to buy this little stone house. Unfortunately, however, Andrea sees the ruin and I see the paradise and we can't get on the same page. I am going to step back from my obsession and let the house go at this time. We can buy it, I think, at a price we can cover, but the work to be done is so extensive and expensive that for Andrea it is a burden. For me, it is another reason to keep me tied to a life in a country that sometimes can feel as though it is just too challenging, and to develop deeper, more substantial roots here in Italy. I also love the prospect of planning the projects, the work and sweat - of transforming it into a home and a place of nature, beauty, serenity (not to mention being able to host a slew of family and friends), even if it does take the next couple of decades. And it would be a good opportunity for me to practice speaking in Italian.

But the reality is our car is breaking down and we are shopping for a more, environmentally friendly machine. Ray is really not happy at school and I am thinking of enrolling him at the International School where I work so there will be an additional monthly cost there (and they charge €8 a day for lunch no matter the age which equals $10.40 in USD. I know the lunches are hot and healthy but I can feed the three of us dinner on that. It reminded me of how we paid just 2 cents for milk when I was in elementary school in the 1960s in NJ.). Anyway, in the end, it would just make us less financially strapped and I can visit the US more often and we can plan a little more traveling. And just reading the headlines on the economy is enough to keep my spending emotion in check.

So unless I find a couple of more pigeons to do their business on my head, the crumbling stone house on the hilltop will just have to wait for me a bit more. I haven't given up completely on her, yet.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February Update

We returned from Milan last night. I feel as though I haven't been out of Bologna in a long time, and so took the opportunity to accompany Andrea to a conference he had to attend on Saturday. We decided to go by car even though the new high speed train (which runs from Milan to Bologna in one hour as opposed to 2.5 driving hours) just opened this year. It was very nice to get away and Milan is very different from Bologna - much more modern, faster paced, more inhabitants and tourists, slicker.

I had been to Milan only once before - the year I arrived in Italy and at that time the Duomo was covered with scaffolding. Now, as you can see, the marble is brilliantly white and a sharp contrast to the dim, candle-smoke stained interior. It is stunning. After a trip there, Ray and I went to a park where they had some amusement rides, then took a run in the castle garden followed by a quick visit to the nearby acquarium. It was cold but sunny. At the end of the day, we went to a place I found on the internet - a tiny sushi bar and even tinier Japanese grocery store where I paid 13€ for a roll of futomaki (17$) which is completely insane but I have to say it was delicious and worth every cent.

The police making a fashion statement. Here Run is chasing pigeons at the castle.

Last weekend we had some BCSP alumni over for dinner. John, Beth and Krissy (and her boyfriend, Andrea) are all living in Italy - struck by its fever and unable to break away. John even worked as a shepherd in the south - herding sheep on horseback. It is nice to see them occassionally and know that they will be something like an extended family for me as at least two of them plan on a future here.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Boys Night

We had some friends over for a Japanese dinner last weekend - Harriet and Rob with their three boys, Finn, Kei and Seth (from South Africa) and Bologna couple Elena and Franco with their son Giulio (the red head). Ray had a great time playing with them and slept for 12 hours the next night. He usually plays with Philippa and James' three girls, who dress him up and push him around their apartment in a stroller (with a small suitcase full of toys in his lap and holding a leash with one of the girls at the end playing a pink poodle), so it was nice for him to have a rough and tumble night with the boys.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Slow Foodies

For all of you who appreciate food grown the slow, old fashioned way, the Slow Food Film Festival is heading again to Bologna. Marsha and Greg will be visiting then, but if anyone else is interested (Kenji?), it is a great introduction to this organization.

Grilled eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper on garlic-rubbed toasted bread slices - a Sicilian specialty

The Slow Food USA Blog
Travel to Bologna for Slow Food on Film
Slow Food on Film International Festival of Food and Film Bologna: May 6-10, 2009

Slow Food on Film is an international festival that matches passion for film with that for food, while also promoting a new critical awareness of food culture. The festival plays host to screenings of films, short films, documentaries and TV series that focus on food-related issues (drives, perversions, identity and emotional implications) in an original way, as well as on the agricultural and food industry’s repercussion on society and the environment, and on gastronomic memory as a common heritage to be safeguarded.

After the great success of the first edition in Bologna (2,000 daily spectators, 1,350 Slow snacks sold and 800 accredited journalists from 20 countries), Slow Food on Film will be back May 6-10, 2009.

Start booking your stay in Bologna and your food and film schedule at Slow Food On Film! Read more about the event, including how to buy tickets at