Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why I love the Italian (European) Football Culture

As you know, football (don't call it soccer) isn't just a national obsession. It runs in the blood so it is in the DNA of Italians and a huge part of the culture. I have learned that the best time to go food shopping or to the park is when there is a big game on, and as a result, little traffic and no crowds. I just finished watching the Italy/Slovakia game, and Italy lost (3-2)and is out of the World Cup games. They were the champions of the last World Cup, and so this is especially disappointing. But we did have the pleasure of being in Sicily for final game four years ago. We watched it outdoors in the piazza of the small town we were staying at- the game was projected onto a bedsheet hung by the young men onto the side of the town hall. Unfortunately, a torrential rainstorm came through half way and the tv lost its reception, and our friend Marco (who, with Kathryn, was vacationing with us) ran all the way back to our apartment to continue watching the game.

When I went to get Ray at school today, the Italy game had just started. The classroom had been converted to a TV room. The teachers lined up chairs in front of a small TV and the students - 3, 4, and 5 year olds - had the Italian colors painted on their cheeks and were all sitting quietly and watching the game. They sure start them young, eh?

Why do I LOVE watching football here?
1. Because the English (and non-) teachers I work with all went to the nursery room (where the biggest TV is) after school to watch England play yesterday, armed with beer and wine.
2. Because the carpenter who is working on the garage outside our apartment pulled his car closer to listen to the game on the radio while he continued working (which is surprising as most people go home or to a bar but I suspect he is not Italian).
3. Because the Italian players broke down and cried like babies on the field when the game was over.
4. Because the coach of the Slovakian team did the victory walk around the field, waving at the fans with tears running down his stoic face.
5. Because businesses close, and schools shut down whenever Italy makes it to the finals.
6. Because when Italy wins an important game, you can always here the cars honking for 30 minutes after the game is over - and if you are lucky enough to be in the main piazza, watch the waves of Italian flags out of car windows and motorbikes. The police take a step back and just watch.
7. Because I was able to attend/watch many of the World Cup games held in the NJ/NY area in 1994 and I can remember the Irish fans going absolutely crazy (they won against Italy) and walking on the shoulders of the highways to walk back to where ever they were staying, singing and waving their flags. I didn't get it then, but I do now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Updates - go Kenji! Are those french fries?

We are packing up, finishing off the last days of school, and heading to the beach for a week on Saturday and then to visit the Hoddells in the Marche for a couple of days (they are returning this week from DC) . We have been so busy socially as well that we are pretty wiped out and looking forward to doing nothing but building sand castles and eating pizza (the end of the school year brings tons of events for each of us). I have loads of photos to show, but I left my camera at the last party we attended but will get it tonight at an aperitivo I am going to. Funny, not having that thing felt like I lost my left hand. I take it everywhere with me.
Ray is going to attend my school next fall. He is so excited and this will make my new commute incredibly easier. We are renting a garage a block over from it so it couldn't be more convenient. Here is a photo of him at the new house when we went to visit last weekend. He went straight into the sprinkler with all his clothes on.
I'll write more later -

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Movin' to the Country

With one phone call, we know that we are probably moving homes on or about July 15th. We are getting really psyched, and will book a moving company this week so that we get some boxes delivered to begin packing. I am going to do it all myself: curtains, dishes, clothes, hanging lamps, etc. In Italy, unlike in the USA, homeowners take everything including light bulbs. It is common to move into a home requiring a new kitchen and bathroom fixtures (I am talking toilets and bathtubs here) than to have them in place. We agreed to leave all that in our house, though we will take some of our light fixtures - a traditional Venetian hanging light, some sconces we bought on our trip through Sicily (Caltagirone - famous for ceramics), and a couple of our favorite smaller ones. Fortunately, our new house will be mostly furnished in the sense that the only things we have to buy are a dishwasher and a washing machine (dryers are becomming more common, but for the most part Italians line dry and I will have a clothesline, finally! No more laundry on the balcony rail.) and of course some bits and pieces of furniture. At this point in life, I would like to minimize purchasing as that just feels like more of a burden than anything else.

Ray is telling his friends how happy he is to move too - which is a relief as I think we are doing this just in time. If we had waited even another year or two he would have put up more of a fight, I think, but the promise of a new cat and another hamster, and a tent along with a plastic pool seems to do the trick for now.

Plan to visit!

And there are some things I will miss about the city, but I think there will be other scapes to distract me.