Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Day in the Life

I've been looking forward to writing this post for a few weeks, so I hope you guys enjoy it! This week I spent a day taking photos and documenting what a normal day of life in Italy is like for us. Every day is a little different, but here is a peek into our life!

7am -- alarm goes off. We've been having trouble sleeping because of the heat, and for some reason between 5-8am has been the easiest time to SNOOZE


8:30am -- hop in the shower

9:00am -- breakfast of apple tart and caffe latte


9:30am -- get dressed, ready for the day


10:10am -- tackle the breakfast dishes. Living in a small space we have to do these dishes after every meal...


10:30am -- I get a lot of satisfaction out of cleaning this area. Feels so much better when its sparkling! (The pastor's wife gave me a hint to cleaning the stainless steel - vinegar!)


10:35am -- take OOTD (Outfit of the Day) photos for Latte Loves Style on the patio. Usually I have to tie the camera to the fence and use the timer, as not to bug E (who is in the study all morning)


10:40am -- head to the weekly outdoor market in Bollate for the first time


10:55am -- this place is crazy! I've never seen so many different kinds of vendors -- clothing, shoes, rugs, curtains - in addition to the cheeses, cures meats, fish, produce, and breads.



I would estimate there were around 200 vendors. huge!


I find a doppelganger of my ex-bf's dad. Which I guess isn't SO odd, because he is Italian-American...but funny, because he's also a police officer!


11:14am -- Totally overwhelmed with trying to order cheeses and meats in Italian (and not knowing what to get), I decide to purchase some pesche noci (nectarines), 1 for 1 kg This is about $.65 per pound!


11:40am -- I also stop by a clothing vendor and get a couple of tops for my sisters at 3.5 each, and one for myself.


11:52am -- arrive back at our flat, and it's time to start working. I sit at the kitchen table, plug in our internet pin drive and get started.



1:00pm -- It's already 26 C in the flat (about 78 degrees) so I change into my new top to keep cool.

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2:30pm -- I take a short break for a light lunch of caprese with E. Fresh mozarella is cheap here and tomatoes came from a neighbor's garden. The pastor's wife prepares it with dried oregano and basil and salt -- so that's what I did.



2:48pm -- back to work....and on it goes.

3:00pm -- i snack on these amazing cookies called Macine. must be dipped in milk!

4:16pm -- take my real lunch break, and go for a walk with E to stop by some friends' to find out when we'll leave for Cinque Terre tomorrow. They are not home (this turns out to be a bad sign), and it is beastly hot. We pop into a grocery store to cool off and pick up jam.


4:39pm -- arrive home with croissants and jam, and I log back into the computer.



7:04pm -- Vittorio picks us up for haircuts at his brother-in-law's salon.


7:20pm -- I realized I have no way to bring a photo of the Katie Holmes pixie cut I wanted to try, and some difficulty communicating. I show the stylist approximately how much I want cut (a lot) and hope it turns out!

7:55pm -- tada! it's much shorter. and I have straight bangs! Not exactly what I was thinking, but I like it.


8:10pm -- we head to Vittorios for dinner with his brother-in-law and his BIL's gf.

8:25pm -- antipasti. Lox on bread, as well as red pepper spread and this incredible shredded cured meat that I can't remember the name of. YUM



8:45pm -- Daniela brings out parsley-tossed cold potatoes, bread and tuna stuffed olives


9:00pm -- the main course -- swordfish filets! baked with olives, tomatoes, and shredded bread. they were SO tender.


9:30pm -- fresh fruit is brought out after every meal. I forgot to snag a photos of the grapes, apricots and nectarines we ate

9:52pm -- ice cream comes out! Chocolate and creme brulee mini ice cream loafs. The creme brulee had this amazing sugary crust.


10:30pm -- the boys smoke while we all chat. Vittorio is the only one who knows English and Italian, so he spends most of the time translating.


11:10pm -- Vittorio and Daniela drive us home.

11:30pm -- sleepy computer research. We found out earlier in the evening that the couple who were going to take us to Cinque Terre have a sick daughter so we can't go. It's technically our 'day off' so we spend time trying to figure out an alternative plan that won't require 2 + hours on the train or too much money.

12:12am -- we give up, and decide to go to bed and see what tomorrow brings. Zzzzz

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

a few thoughts on the hard parts

We've already been here for over three weeks, and a few people have asked what's been the hardest part about coming here.

It initally sounds super exotic and exciting...a summer in Italy! But there are lot of things that have been a little uncomfortable. Not having TV (or DVDs, or access to Netflix!), sleeping on a fold-out couch, being couped up just the two of us all day long in a place less than half the size of our [very small] house in CA.

But those have all been secondary compared to what the language barrier has been like. Our first two weeks here we excitedly dove into learning the language through a Pimsleur learning course, but we felt like we'd barely learned anything. We could introduce ourselves, ask the time, order food, but conversationally we are so stuck.

There are about 7 people in the church who speak English fluently enough to have a normal conversation with (and 4 of those people are in the pastor's family). With everyone else we can smile, say hello, ask how they're doing -- and then, that's it. Everyone converses on as normal and we're left feeling like a third wheel.

This was driven home for me when we stopped by the pastor's elderly mother's house today just to say hi. She is the sweetest lady, and we had so much to share with each other. We attempted at communicating a few words, but ultimately, sat in smiling frustrated silence until we left.

Even when people do try to include us, by translating a few thoughts here and there in a conversation, it's tedious and inconvenient, and we're still unable to fully participate. For E, it's been tough not getting the jokes. Even if we catch a word here and there, we don't understand the intricacies of the language enough to get the jokes and teasing that goes on between the people here. [Which happens a lot!]

There have been a few moments of so much frustration I wanted to scream. It's so isolating to be in the midst of people happily conversing, and not be able to participate.

Have you guys ever experienced the frustration of inability to communicate? We'd love some encouragement!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Girl's Night Out: Italian Style

The church E is working for this summer is fairly small and very community-oriented. On the last Saturday of each month the men and the women takes turns going for a night out to fellowship and eat.


This past Saturday was the girls turn, and we met for bowling and pizza.


It was so natural and I was struck again that I was so far from home – it felt just like a regular girl’s night out! [Despite the language barrier…but that’s for another post] There was chatting, laughing, cheering, consoling, and encouraging.



All the women of the church means all – babies included!


In Italy, the way they eat pizza is really different from ordering pizza in the US. Here, they only have one size (about 14” in diameter?), about 50 different varieties, and everyone orders (and eats!) an entire pizza themselves!




Thankfully I got some good advice + menu translation and loved my pizza, Sfiziosa (sausage, mushroom, mozzarella, gorgonzola—like nothing you’ve had before)



It was a delightful evening.

(a gelato cake from Calabria)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Venetian getaway

As I've mentioned before, E and I are staying very busy working while we're here. The only reason I'm able to be here is because I agreed to work remotely for a few weeks, and E is working hard in his internship. We spend most days inside our tiny flat at the desk/kitchen table.

[I'm planning to put together a day in the life post so you can see what our Italian lifestyle is like -- it's not quite as glamorous as it might seem!]

The pastor here gives E one day off per week, usually Monday. Last week we got to visit Lake Como, and this week because of our anniversary, we were allowed two days off to spend in Venice!

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As E and I honeymooned in Italy - spending three days in Venice, it wasn't anything new. But two years ago we felt an immediate connection to Venice and fell in love with it , so there was no question that it was worth it to go back.

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We booked a night at Hotel Noemi, which was a nice hotel with a great location just a one minute walk from St. Mark's Square.
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We were a little nostalgic for our honeymoon hotel because of its quiet, tucked away location, but this time we were much closer to the big sites.

Milan 30 for 30: Day 19 [Venice]

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We didn't make any plans, or see almost any of the sites we felt compelled to last time, just wandered the streets and canals

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Milan 30 for 30: Day 20 [Venice]

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walked in the park
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ate waaay too much gelato [and found a new favorite gelateria]

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and fell in love with Venice all over again.

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