Monday, April 28, 2008

Festa della Liberazione

On April 25th, Italians celebrate their freedom from the Nazis. By celebration, I mean food and family. For us American students, family means the Italian friends we've made and food means pasta. We gathered together at a friends country home in the hills of Tuscania for Spaghetti con frutti di mare (muscles and baby shrimp).

Our original plan was to conclude the evening on the beach with a falò, bonfire (not to be confused with fallo, pronounced deceptively similar), but our idea was squelched by the tramontana north wind ever plaguing the area this time of year.

Spiaggia di Tarquinia The Beach in Tarquinia

Regardless, It was therapy to my Southern California soul to smell the salt air and hear waves, no matter how piddly they were.

Mia Famiglia Italia My Italian Family

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Primavera in Tuscania

Monday April 14th 2008 ~ Reflections written on a park bench

A soft Spring breeze touches my arms with a slight coolness, ruffling the pages of the Bible open on my lap. The pungent smell of freshly trimmed grass arrests my nose. A gravelly old voice drifts over the park as its owner walks steadily on the path, discoursing with his companion, probably about yesterday's election. I've lost count of the rounds they made. What a glorious day to be class free and in Italy.

I found it hard to untangle myself from the pudgey covers and plot of my book this morning after I had settled back into bed when breakfast was over. The lure of a peaceful Spring day compelled me out of Sierra's fictional world and into the shower. Slipping my bare feet into the straps of sandals mom had brought me, I reveled in the fact that I could pull on capris and a short sleeve blouse.

A tour group has just piled into the opposite end of the park, admiring the stunning valley below San Pietro. Mr. Mower can't be inconvenienced by the newcomers and continues to noisily cut the green spaces down to size. A group of young men are forced to roll out of comfortable formation on the lawn as the machine rumbles close to their backs, flinging mulch into the conversation.

Large marshmallow clouds have seemingly appeared out of nowhere, creeping stealthily into the azure landscape above me; however, such pure fluff is anything but threatening. I'm hoping some of the sun's golden rays will choose to linger in my darkening tresses.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Gnocchi is a potatoe pasta similar to mini potatoe dumplings. Loredana showed my mom and I how to make homemade gnocchi a few weeks ago. It's very simple and requires only a few ingredients. Here is the recipe in pictures.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break ~ France

Ever since high school, when I started having francophilia tendencies, I've dreamed about going to Paris. Well, it's finally happening! I fly our of Rome Ciampino tomorrow, heading to Beauvais Airport. Four days in Paris and three days in Nice.

Tuscania Ghosts

Our student advisor, Marco, plays basketball for a small local league in Viterbo. Compared to soccer (calcio - cal chi o), basketball is the black sheep of Italian sports. I found this out when a contingent of us went to one of his games. We had made signs to support the Ghosts and wore green and white. I felt very American yelling at the refs and doing the wave. The team got a big kick out of it however; and apparently we are good luck because they only win when we are there to cheer them on.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Prima Frutti

First Fragole (strawberries) of SPRING!

Loredona had a delicious addition to my breakfast spread this morning - a small bowl of beautiful strawberries that had been soaking in sugar and lemon juice overnight.
She told me (in Italian) that its a bit early for strawberries, but they looked very red so she bought them. These strawberries could easily be the best I've every tasted - the sweet flesh was still firm and the color was an deep rosso.
If these are the first fruits, I can't wait to experience what else Spring has in store!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Maratona della citta di Roma

The 14th annual Rome Marathon was held on March 16th. A few friends and I decided to participate in this event ~ you know, when in Rome...

But since none of us had really trained for such a thing, we signed up for the STRACITTADINA, a 4 K "fun run" around a small part of the city.

The run started just after the Marathon took off. We all gathered (in our free t shirts and hats) next to the colleseum and to the tune of "Volare," began our march through Rome. Streets were blocked off and supporters lined the way shouting "Bravi."


Participants: 45.356
women: 49%
men: 51%
0 - 20 years old: 38%
21 - 40 years old: 25%
41 - 60 years old: 22%
over 60 years old: 15%

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


My first encounter with these cute little vehicles was in Zermatt, the all skiing - all the time resort town in Switzerland. No cars are allowed in Zermatt so people use these to transport building materials and tired travelers.
Italy also has a large population of these miniature trucks on wheels. I've seen a couple in Tuscania, navigating the skinny cobblestoned streets with ease. They were also everywhere when I traveled down South in Sorrento and Capri.
My friend Becca loaned me Frances Mayes' second Italian memoir, "Bella Tuscany," and I have been enjoying all the familiar cultural references. She mentioned these small cars in the first chapter, giving the Italian name: APE (ah-pay).

Friday, March 7, 2008

Italian Immigration

Once you've gone through the hassle of acquiring an Italian visa in the States, you still have to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno within eight days of your arrival in Italy. This means lots of paperwork and handing over copious Euros for postage and processing.
According to our student advisor, no one ever actually gets there Permesso di Soggiorno due to Italy's crazy beaurocracy, but all you need is the recipt from the post office proving you sent all the documents.
Well, a couple weeks ago, several of us got text messages at 2 am from the Uficio di Immigrazione in Viterbo. Both messages were in Italian and I forgot about them until another student mentioned that she had recieved similar messages. Apparently, no students have ever gotten this far in the process.
So today we had to go to Viterbo to get fingerprinted. This involved waiting in line (not as bad as the DMV and Italians actually know how to form a line), getting each finger copied and then going down the street to a different office with alot of Polizia. Wait a bit longer and then have a complete set of prints taken (each finger, thumb, four fingers, and palm). The two technicians were pretty impressed with my new US passport and laughed about my cold hands.
So, I'm still not sure whether i'll be getting my Permesso di Soggiorno before I leave Italy, but I can check the Immigration office of my list of places to go...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

After (well, more like during...)

The pick is a bit blurry, but, you get the idea...

Carne Cooking Class

The Menu
Pollo Arrosto
roasted chicken
wild boar
Chianina Fiorentina
Fiorentina steak


We saw these cute cattle during our trip to Vulci Archaeological Park. Marco, our student advisor, mentioned that these particular critters make a famous type of steak - The Fiorentina. Little did I know that I would get a chance to taste one of these cuts of meat in the next week!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tarquinia Skyline

Last Friday we went to the Archeological Etruscan Museum in Tarquinia. This is the view from one of the top floors in this interesting museum full of pots, tombs, and jewelry from the Etruscan period.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Soletico ~ tickle

Signgiotso ~ hiccup

Instead of learning useful Italian vocab, I end up remembering random words like the ones above. Fun nonetheless.

Bella Tuscania

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Bar Scene

Terminology varies wherever you are -uptown, downtown; East coast, West coast; American, Europe.

One such difference has been rather difficult for me to get used to: In Italy, bars are not the center of nightlife, full of drinking and dancing. Bars are what Americans would call a cafe - a place to get coffee or a light meal, sit, and enjoy people's company.

Italians take the term bar literally - a long counter where beverages and food are served. The coffee culture isn't a sit down and chat while sipping a venti iced frappuccino kind of scene; it's a let me slurp down a cappuccino while I have a fifteen minute break from class while standing at the counter.

I always do a double take when a teacher says, "take a break, go to a bar. be back in fifteen..."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It's All In The Name

During a walking tour of Tuscania during orientation, we ended up walking down a slightly secluded alley running along the wall in order to get out of the historical center. The street was called Via Della Lupa - The Way of the Prostitute.

Lupa, the Italian word for prostitute, comes from "Lupo" or wolf. Prostitutes used to make a howling sound in order to signal their availability to interested clientele. They lurked in dark streets on the outskirts of town.

Current reference: Professor Lupin - the werewolf teacher in Harry Potter.

Monday, February 4, 2008


My second study abroad semester has begun. I arrived in Tuscania, Italy on January 30th. Tuscania is a small Etruscan village, located in the Lazio region, 90 miles Northwest of Rome.

I live in the historical center of town with an Italian couple (Loredana and Bruno). The school that I attend, Lorenzo de'Medici, is located just inside the medieval walls of the historical center. Six other students (from Boston; Circleville, Ohio; Chicago; Albany; Sun Valley; Monterey, Mexico) are here for Spring semester and three students are the first set of students participating in LdM's "Three-Cities" program which starts in Tuscania.

My classes revolve around Italian arts and culture. I'm taking:
  • Masterpieces of Italian Literature
  • Beginning Italian
  • Digital Photography
  • Foods of Italy
  • Tuscania Sketchbook

With less than a week in Italy under my belt, I've already had a completely different experience than my previous semester in Oxford. This blog will be a culture diary, chronicling my immersion into a new and wonderful place.

Photo: View from a park in the historical center ~ Tuscania.