Text

It has been a while since I’ve posted and I’ve been meaning to recall my trip to Napoli. So here it goes:

I took a train from Rome to Naples (Napoli) around noon on Tuesday. I was so excited to get to use my new heavy duty backpack with all its pockets and cords. The train ride was only about an hour and a half, and upon approaching the station you could see Mt. Vesuvius in the distance. It was incredible.


I jumped on the metro for one stop and arrived at the center. My hostel was located a few streets away. I followed the directions until I arrived at a small side street lined with apartments. Scanning the numbers I couldn’t find the right one. I phoned Giovanni (hostel owner) who promptly appeared on a balcony about 100 feet away and called down to me. It led me to a large iron gate with a door bell. I was buzzed in and then climbed 5 flights of marble stairs through an apartment building that contained balconies on the inside littered with kids toys, furniture, and clothes lines. I came to a set of large steel doors where Giovanni greeted me while I sweated all over the floor. The humidity was unbearable and I had just walked about a mile in the heat with a 10 pound backpack. He noticed my condition right away and told me just a moment, and returned with a giant glass of water. He then invited me to sit with a couple from Turkey who had just arrived so that he could check us all in at once.

After an hour long info session about where to go, what to see and how to stay safe, Giovanni led me to my room. The hostel is an entire fourth floor apartment with two balconies that Giovanni has converted and installed 4 bathrooms as well. He runs it completely alone and has done so for 20+ years. The building’s structure was left over from ancient roman times and he even had pieces of roman ruins laying around in the hostel. He came in a short time later and asked if I was hungry. He presented with a plate of gnocchi and pesto.

The first thing I did was follow an Australian couple (25 & 26, teachers based in London) who had just arrived at the hostel, to Napoli Underground. On our way there, while looking like complete tourists with our maps and cameras out rushing down cobblestone side streets, the australian woman stumbled over a fallen stone pole used to separate the sidewalk and road. She fell flat on her face, and bloodied her hands and knees. After helping her stand up, she said she needed to sit down. Her boyfriend and I were standing by when a gaggle of shopowners, waiters and nosy old women came over to see. One man brought her a bottle of water, another woman began fussing over her cuts and a man who had been standing outside of what I assume was his restaurant in an apron and smoking a cigar came over with a bucket of water and linen napkins to help clean her up. They were asking me things in italian and talking to each other, while she looked completely embarrassed and insisted she was fine. Her boyfriend laughed and kept apologizing to me as I stood by with the bucket of water and trying to explain to the onlookers what happened in broken italian. It was like a scene from a movie. About 10 minutes later, she got up, and we thanked the 10 people that stood around. The boyfriend tried to pay the owner for the water and he refused and patted the woman on the back and said goodbye.

After our mishap, we went to Napoli underground which toured the remains from ancient rome that remained underneath the city. It also held wells for the town and later, served as bomb shelters. Napoli’s houses and buildings all nearly are built on or around the ruins, with one home whose wine cellar goes directly into the ancient theatre that is still intact.

Later that evening, I took a walk around the town and saw the massive churches that reside on nearly every corner, wandered through the side streets and made my way down to the historical center and the harbor and walked along the bay of naples.

The next day I awoke at 7 am and boarded the train at 8:15 for Pompeii.
For those of you that don’t know about this city, it was covered by the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD with ash. Only the rich were able to escape by boat, while the majority of the population was suffocated and then buried by the ash which was 25 meters thick. This caused everything that it covered to be encased and preserved until it was rediscovered and began being excavated in the 1700s. The ruins, mosaics, pottery and body cases are so tragically beautiful. I took a 2 hour guided tour that only covered about 25 percent of the entire town. About 60 percent is closed off due to it still being excavated. The streets are still in pristine (what would be pristine in 79 AD) condition. There is still a layer of ash that lies over them and the ruins. We toured houses, shops, baths, and brothels. It was surreal to be there as I’ve studied Pompeii and watched every documentary about it since the 7th grade.

After this, I took the train two stops to where Mt. Vesuvius was. On the way I met a New Zealand couple and a recent Princeton grad. We took to forming a group and spent the rest of the day together. We took a shuttle about halfway up the mountain and then hiked (see: died) 30 minutes to the top. It wasn’t as easy as the guide had promised. But it was worth it. Looking out over the bay of naples, pompeii and Capri in the distance was astounding and to be on top of such a destructive force was mind blowing.

That evening, I met another girl from Australia who was staying at my hostel. She was 20 and spending her holiday traveling Europe. We decided to get dinner down by the sea. We wandered till we came upon a castle that jetted out into the bay and was surrounded by all kinds of little restaurants and bars. We were greeted by an extremely friendly (and attractive) italian man who promised us free wine if we ate at his restaurant. I mean, how could you resist that? So we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine, and some real Napoleon pizza while next to a castle. We topped it off with some Nutella and Pistachio gelato on our walk home.

My last full day there was Thursday. I decided that I would go to the Isle of Capri (the island in the Odyssey where muses cause the ship to crash and Odysseus to remain there for multiple years.) As I was getting ready, Giovanni told me that a woman named Elizabeth was traveling to Capri that day as well if I wanted company. I found her and we headed off. Elizabeth was in her 60s, originally from France but was now a professor of Psychology outside of London. She was a widower with one grown son, and was currently taking care of a dying friend. She needed a weeks get away to keep her sanity and decided Napoli would be it. We got breakfast and headed to the pier while she told me about her travels. She had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, rode on a camel’s back through the Arabian desert for 10 days, held at knife point in India and once (at first unknowingly) had breakfast with Prince Harry in a hostel in Russia. She was a fascinating woman. We boarded the hour long ferry to Capri and talked some more. When we stepped off the ship onto the dock, the view was breathtaking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so pretty in my entire life. The water was crystal blue, and colorful villas were stacked up the cliff side. We decided to take a 2 hour boat cruise around the island. The longboat held about 20 people. We whisked around the Isle, going under rock arches and into caves, and viewing castles that had been carved into the cliffs. The water was so clear you could see straight down to the bottom. Massive cruise ships and house boats cluttered around the island while people swam and lounged, taking in the islands beauty. We went to the opening of the Blue Grotto, a famous tourist attraction there, but the line was nearly an hour long wait in the hot sun. The driver of the boat said that his boat would be staying and waiting while the one that was near us would be heading back to port. Not wanting to waste what time we had waiting in line, we requested to get on the other boat, as did about 10 others. This was made possible by the two boats pulling directly against each other and people jumping from one boat to the next over a foot opening in the middle of the ocean. The people on the other boats were both confused and amused at watching us do this.

After arriving back to our port, we wandered around the beach side village and then climbed the 400 plus squares to the top where the main square was. This area overlooked the North side of Capri. It also was home to its own version of Rodeo Drive (which is why the island is known for being a playground for the rich). Gucci, Prada, Oscar De La Renta, Manolo Blahnik all lined the cobblestone streets.
We grabbed some street food (ham and potato sandwich, rice cakes, and lemon slushies) and then headed back to Napoli.


After a very long day, I decided all I wanted to do was grab a pizza and hang out on the giant porch at the hostel. My new Australian friend and I, headed down to a place called Di Matteos, which Giovanni claimed made the BEST Napoleon pizza and was registered with the Napoli Pizza Association (yes this is a real thing). We wandered around trying to find it till we came upon a corner shop with about 50 people waiting around outside. The front of the shop was a kitchen, with a giant woodburning oven and 5 italian men frantically running around. We obviously looked like lost tourists, and this man standing off to the side asked to help us. We just said we wanted two pizzas to go. He told us to follow him, and took us straight to the kitchen where he told them we wanted two pies. We asked if we were cutting and he said no, that the people standing around were waiting for tables and the wait was approx 2 hours at 9pm on a Thursday. It wasn’t 10 minutes later that two giant pizzas were handed to us for only 3 euros a piece. We took our pizzas and headed back to the hostel. We sat outside on the deck, listening to a italian music play from a bar down the street and ate the best pizza we’ve ever had. The next morning I headed back to Trevignano.

The last few weeks have been mild here. The usual: lake, movie, roam around town, eat at the restaurant. Two nights ago we went to a festival called San Fellippo. We parked on a side street, went up a hill through a bunch of apartments till we came to a clearing in the middle of a bunch of houses. There were about 400 people sitting around on picnic tables and under terraces, dancing, karaokeing, and chatting and tables set up filled with all you can eat pasta. Men were carrying around shots and bottle of tequila. Everything was so lively and exactly like you would imagine a festival in Italy to be like.

Italy has been so good to me. It is a completely different culture than what I am used to (completely open, laid back, very “free” if you will but still full of tradition and history) and I’ve loved every second of it.

It’s my last weekend here and I plan to enjoy it. Tuesday I am London bound. I’ll update when I get on the road. Ciao!

PS: GO CATS!!!!! Kick some hilltopper butt tonight.
Photo

Went walking with the kids the other day while waiting for dinner and tucked back in the town was this old church. After googling it, turns out it is the Church of Saint Catherine, built in the 15th century and “houses a deteriorated 16th century fresco, a 17th century polychrome statue of St. Anthony Abbot and the tomb of Abbot Tommaso Silvestri, educator of the deaf and dumb and inventor of the phonic method.” The things you stumble upon here.

Text

"But my friend took me to the most amazing place the other day, it’s called the Augusteum. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came, they trashed it along with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome’s first true great Emperor, how could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would one day be in ruins?

It’s one of the quietest and loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up, around it over centuries, feels like a precious womb, like a heartache you won’t let go of…as it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same, David. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins.

Then I looked around this place, at the chaos it’s endured, the way it’s been adapted, burnt, pillaged then found a way to build itself back up again and I was reassured. Maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic, it’s just the world that is and the only real trap is getting attached to any of it.

Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.

Even in this eternal city, the Augusteum showed me that we must always be prepared for endless waves of transformation.”

- Eat, Pray, Love

image

(Looking at this picture, I remembered this quote.  Come to find out it was the same place she was talking about in the book! This picture is taken from where Augustus’ palace once stood, overlooking ruins of the forum.)

Text

So it’s been a good chunk of time since I’ve written a post, so bear with me here cuz it’s going to be a long one.


My memory sucks and last week kind of all ran together until Friday when my weekend off started. The family had to go to a sailing competition in Tuscany so I was able to have friday through sunday off. One of my aphi sisters Kaitlin is studying in Milan through UK with her friend Marissa. We decided to meet up in Rome and my god was it a weekend to remember.

I took the bus in around 7pm friday which takes approximately 50 minutes and it was the scariest 50 minutes of my life. For one, the bus driver was TEXTING the entire way, with headphones in and smoking an electronic cigarette, driving on roads that barely two cars can fit through let alone a bus. The girl in front of me was talking to herself while also having nervous twitches and holding on to the railing for dear life as we went around curves. The guy behind me had 4 bandanas on, dreads and a joint behind his ear. Here I was in a maxi dress with a monogrammed overnight bag and listening to Taylor Swift. Needless to say I was out of my element.

After waiting for two more trains, almost getting trampled on the metro and being harassed by multiple taxi drivers to drive me 3 blocks for 50 euro, I made my way to The Yellow hostel. Side note: If you ever stay in Rome under the age of 25, it is the place to be. The staff spoke english, were extremely helpful and their main objective is to get you drunk and for you to have a damn good time there. But I’ll get to that.

I was lead to an adjoining building with giant wooden doors with brass handles and took a lift (max: 2 people, terrifying) up to the 3rd floor where I found Kaitlin and Marissa in our private 4 bed suite. We, not being too fond of staying with 10 strangers in a dorm room with all our belongings, opted for this room and paid for the fourth person because it was totally worth it to have a bathroom to ourselves.


Anyways, after settling in, we went down to the bar/restaurant at our hostel and dominated some American food (Cheeseburger, chicken fingers, fries, Caesar salad) and got some yummy drinks called Blue Hawaiians and Sex on the beach. After scoping out the other guests who were mostly American, Australian, Canadian, etc. and trying desperately to get a few of the very attractive foreign men to sit at the open table next to us (to no avail), we were approached by 3 very drunk and slap happy french guys who looked like they had just entered puberty not even 2 hours before. Through their slurred, broken english they asked Marissa to put on lipstick and kiss a passport type book and sign her name. They then tried very hard to have us all do the same, then to kiss their cheeks and at one point asked if they could come to our rooms. After a round of free shots and being very annoyed by their antics, I asked how old they were and they replied with “18”. Once I said I was 22, they said “too old”, and called Kaitlin what we believe was a “cock block” in french and lost interest in us, all of their attention turned to Marissa again. Finally, after another round of shots and us obviously trying to get them to leave, they obliged. But not after we got a chance to write “We love the shots” and “KFC” in their book. After this we chalked our night up to a failure in the “We are single girls from Kentucky, come sit and flirt with us” department, and headed to our room.

After a few hours of convo and the security guard asking us to keep it down, we went to bed ready to see what Saturday had in store for us.

We woke up early, and after a breakfast of Bacon and egg sandwiches (the best!) we hopped on a double decker sight seeing bus.
We toured all the ruins, the pantheon, fountain di trevi, all the main tourist stuff. We had lunch and wine at a little place down a side street, and after a few more hours of wandering around, we headed back to the hostel for naptime and to get ready for our night out.

For dinner, we went to a fantastic place across from us called Mama Angela’s. It was wine heaven and the food was amazing. After 3 hours of dinner convo and drinks, we headed back to our hostel to ask where the best clubs/bars were. They said it would take roughly 20 minutes to get there and by this time it was 11 pm, we’d already been drinking and were just ready to party. They told us the party started at our hostel at midnight and to just grab a drink at the upstairs bar and enjoy. So a few redbull vodkas and we began to chat with the other guests. I met a guy from New Brunswick (before I die I will go just to meet more men with his accent), some navy guys stationed in Naples, a small asian man who was the best dancer ever and a couple of frat guys from JMU. Some shots and another drink later (absynth shots was readily available but I’d learned my lesson in Berlin when it comes to that) we made our way down into the dungeon of a room downstairs that resembled nearly every frat party basement in Lexington, but with a fully stocked bar, a light show and DJ and no tubs of natty lying around. No one was dancing so we thought hey, why not us. Being the only 3 on the dance floor, dancing to some silly 90s rap music might have been intimidating had we been anywhere else, but by this point anything was fair game. Soon enough we were joined by about 30 others. The bartender (PEDRO, he was the best!) served us up a few more rounds on the house and we all danced and chatted with new people and partied the night away until we crawled into our room while the sun was coming up (4 am to be exact).

After nursing hangovers from hell with more bacon and cheese and coffee, we headed to Vatican city.

We got about a half mile away from the entrance when we were approached by an italian man asking if we wanted to skip the line and go with this tour. Now there are many of these kinds of people around and the tour of the colosseum that I went on was through a guy doing the exact same thing. He said for 20 euros we would cut the line, and get a tour of the sistine chapel and the vatican. We began following him to a side road and to a little shop. Once we arrived, there was a man yelling at the people taking the money, in italian. Kaitlin said “This seems sketchy. I think they took his money.” I just said no no, it’s sketchy but this is how they all are….stupid me. 20 euros and 10 minutes later, we began following our group back to the Vatican. There were around 15 of us, all non italian speaking tourist. The “guide” brought us to the side of the building, proceeded to put the group directly in the middle of the line for the museum, cutting some 200 people and behind another 100, and then took off. As he is leaving, someone yells after him “Where are you going? I thought this was a tour!?” to which he shakes his head, and runs off toward the shop. Someone turns around says “We just got scammed.” Come to find out, the vatican is free on sundays and this was no tour group. We paid 20 euro each for him to place us in line. We fudged up.

This put a slight damper on the day, but getting to tour the sistine chapel (breathtaking, I teared up looking at it) and the rest of the city was an amazing experience. We all bought matching (on accident) rosary bracelets.


We had lunch down the street with a beautiful view of St. Peters where we met some women traveling from Virginia. They proceeded to tell us that the Pope actually came out and spoke that day (while we were inside touring of course) and blessed everything and everyone there. Pretty badass. The rest of the day consisted of a few more Blue Hawaiians back at the hostel and then a very long train/bus ride back to Trevignano.

Monday was my host mom’s birthday and the return of her husband from New York (he’s there for 3 months or so to open their restaurant) so we had a big lunch with her parents at the house, and then they had a night out in Rome. Tuesday I found out that we will be traveling to some water sport village for 9 days in August so the kids can sail. Yesterday, I decided to cut my hair off. I went to my host mom’s salon, where no one spoke english (thank goodness she had already went in and told them to expect me). After the best scalp massage and hair treatment I’ve ever had, I showed my hair dresser pictures of a cut and with hand gestures directed her how I wanted it cut. 5 inches later, I told her it was perfect and left a happy customer, only paying 23 euros.


Last night, I walked out to find a gentleman named Francesco cooking a 4 course meal in the kitchen. Turns out he was trying out to be the new lunch chef at my host family’s restaurant. We had fish with salsa, pistachio pasta and a filet seared in whiskey stuffed with ricotta and wrapped in bacon. I hate meat cooked anything other than well done, but because my family doesn’t eat meat and the only things available at restaurants are veal and fish, I devoured a medium rare steak without a problem.

Today, my host parents headed to Greece for the weekend for a wedding so I am left in charge until then. It shall be interesting to say the least. Wish me luck!

Quote

"Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult but not more difficult than remaining in a situation which is not nurturing to the whole woman."

- Maya Angelou
Text

I’ve heard this line a million times and thought nothing of it. But yesterday morning, Viivi turned to me during our 8 am bus ride and said “You know that saying is true. Trevignano (our town), Bracciano & Anguilera’s roads all lead to Rome, no matter which way you take.” Makes sense.

Here is the summary (see: novel) of our day.
At around 630 am, I rode my adorable Brook’s bike to Viivi’s place. The sun was rising, I was wearing my favorite dress and was excited beyond words. We walked to the town square where the bus picks up. As we were loading the bus at 7:25, the driver started saying that we had to have a ticket and then continued to yell at us in Italian and shooed us off the bus. As buses only run every hour, we weren’t happy. TO make matters worse there were a plethora of people around who watched the whole scene and I’m sure had a few laughs at our expense. Luckily, a bus going to the neighboring town of Bracciano arrived a few minutes after. We got on the bus and asked where to get tickets since the other driver wasn’t so helpful. He told us we had to go to the bar (a gelato/breakfast place) about 500 feet away and buy tickets. There was no one on the bus so he motioned for us to run and buy tickets and come back. So here we are sprinting past 20 people sitting outside enjoying their early morning espresso to the place, where we frantically asked for tickets to which the man didn’t understand. Finally a woman stepped in and translated. 3 euros and a mad dash back to the bus later, we were on our way.

We arrived in Bracciano which is the town directly across the lake. It has a beautiful medieval castle on top of a hill and then outside of it is the cutest town. We caught the train there 30 minutes later, and 45 minutes later we were in Rome.


First we stopped outside of Vatican City, where the line was approx 2 hours long for tickets and to get in. You also had to get a scarf and a skirt to cover your knees and shoulders to be able to even enter. We decided to save that for another day. The first place we actually visited was Mcdonalds…Yes, we went to Rome and got Mcdonald’s. Honestly, we were starving and chicken nuggets sounded perfect as there are no chain restaurants in Trevignano. So after a quick stop there, and a conversation with a woman from Wisconsin, we went to the Pantheon. It was originally comissioned by Augustus as a temple to all of the greek gods and was rebuilt in 126 AD. It was beautiful and the ceiling contained an open circle which let in light and told the time of day.

Then we went a baroque church and then to the spanish steps, after making a wish in Trevi Fountain. We walked along the busy little side streets that were just as beautiful if not more than the main ones. It was a Tuesday morning and there were at least a 100,000 people out walking yesterday. It was insane. We went to the main shopping street, which was lined with stores like Gucci, Prada, Armani, every high end retailer you could imagine, all with guards standing in the entrances.

We then walked to the area where the ruins were. And there it was; The Colosseum. It was MASSIVE. Pictures don’t do it justice. Each ring or section was 30 feet high and in total there were seven layers, each one a different section depending on the spectator’s ranking. The highest area was where the slaves and the women watched while the lowest were the seats for the emperor’s and his court. It was built in 8 years and is held together without mortar. Approximately 1 million people have died there and 5000 animals. The guide told us that there were man on man fights (gladiators), man versus animal (tigers, bears, etc), animals against animals (hippos versus rhinos, tigers versus lions, dog versus porcupine), hunting games, reenactments of famous battles, and public executions of criminals. He showed us where the entrance and exit doors were for the winners and for the losers (whose bodies were dragged through a tunnel to the outside where their families would be waiting), and since the floor has since been destroyed, you can look directly into the chambers that were below, where slaves and animals were kept in stone cages.

We walked through the Roman Forum, which was the marketplace type area where ancient Romans congregated there when it was first founded on Palatine hill aprox. 1000 BC.  Palatine hill overlooks the Roman Forum and contained the Flavian Palace where Rome’s first emperor, Augustus lived. He even had his own personal chariot race track inside of his house. We toured the palace’s ruins and also saw the summer house where  according to Roman Mythology, Palatine hill is said to be on top of the cave where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf. Later on, Romulus and Remus battled for control of a new city, where Romulus killed Remus and thus, the city was named “Rome”. Another myth is that Hercules defeated Cacus on this hill.


After this, we were utterly exhausted. We went to a small pub and grabbed some food. Then we continued on to a small convent where Viivi knew a family friend that lived there. After a quick stop, we caught a cab to the Metro and took a train (got lost of course and tried to take a subway first and then had to reroute). Then we caught a bus back to Trevignano at 730 pm.

After 12 hours of traveling and being around hoards of people, it was good to return to our quiet lakeside town.We took our shoes off, and waded in the lake as the sun set and it was the perfect ending to our day.

Text

So from what I can tell, I am getting to paid to drink wine, lay on the beach all day, and sometimes cook. I could get used to this.


Yesterday, I went into town for the first time. Its a mile and a half walk into the main center but the route is a path along the beach and lake, where people are laying out, eating at little pier restaurants and about 20 old men are playing some odd game with giant billiard balls.

I wandered around town for a few hours and sat by the water. It’s exactly like you would picture a medieval italian town. There is even parts a castle from that time period on the hill above the city! Then I met up with the family and we went to the beach where we laid out for a few hours. The water is so cool and clean. The lake is actually the main supply for Vatican city.

We then came home and got cleaned up, and then headed to meet Guendalina’s friend for a few drinks next to the lake. She also has a new au pair, a girl from Finland who is 19.  She was very sweet and she will be going to all the sailing races as well, as one of her kids sails with Mia. Following that, we went to dinner at the family’s restaurant and of course, wine. Then we went home.

I’m still a bit jet lagged, so my sleep schedule has been off. Doesn’t help that I’m also mid season one of Game of Thrones and I can’t quit watching. I’m regretting staying up so late now as I am exhausted. However, I have off until 5 pm today as the children went to the hotel with their mother and then the lake.


We are going to Rome next week and Tuscany at the end of June. But right now I am going to the beach and to lunch with Viivi, the other au pair. I’ll update after this weekend!

Ciao!

Text

I can’t even begin to describe all the things that I’ve seen/done/heard on the first day of my arrival in Italy.

Let’s start with the process of getting here. I was the last person to board my plane in Chicago due to a delayed flight from Louisville, which wasn’t too bad minus the fact that it was nerve racking and that I didn’t get a chance to eat anything before the 7 hour flight because I was running from shuttle to shuttle in O’Hare and my stomach was already in knots. The flight wasn’t as bad as I expected (downloading Game of Thrones Season 1 was the best decision I could have made). Once in dublin, (which by the way is a very LARGE airport despite what the flight attendants tell you), I was held back at security because apparently a 5’2 American girl carrying copious amounts of body wash, shampoo and perfume is somehow suspicious. I was still repacking my stuff from the bins from where the TSA officer had ransacked my carryon, as the last worker left to go on lunch and I was left completely alone in security of the Dublin airport. Great hospitality guys. After running to yet another flight, I finally had enough time to grab a GIANT coffee at the gate before loading and what do ya know…I couldn’t bring it on board. Ugh. 3 hours later I touched down in Rome, and it was perfect. I had this fear that I wouldn’t make it through customs, and printed out multiple documents to show proof of everything they could ever want to know…they barely even looked at my passport. Guendalina, my host mother, picked me up promptly a the airport with a “Ciao Kenzie” and a kiss on each cheek. Yes, they don’t just do it in the movies.

A 30 minute drive later and I was in the beautiful little lakeside town of Trevignano Romano. We stopped on the way in at the hotel they own in town (Albergo Borgo Vistalago) which is situated directly across from the lake. It’s amazing. I was greeted by Guendalina’s assistant who served me a shot of expresso (obviously I looked like hell from 15 hours of flying). After a drive through this quintessential italian town, we arrived at the family’s villa, approximately a quarter mile from the Lakeside beach. I have a very small but quaint room, with a bathroom and my own entrance from the garden. After unpacking, Guendalina made spaghetti for lunch and we sat underneath the trellis and enjoyed the 80 degree weather. Then I took a much needed nap and hopefully kicked the jet lag that hit me around 4pm. I played volleyball with the children while Guendalina sunbathed and then we had dinner made up of a grain similar to cuscus, toasted bread soaked in egg batter and salad fresh from their garden. The one thing I have found challenging is that the children’s english is not what I expected, so communication has been very slow and usually I just sit back while they speak in Italian to their mother and catch a few words every now and again. I usually can tell the tone of the conversation from the wild hand gestures and the trills of their voices. It’s an odd sensation to not understand a conversation that everyone is so enthralled in. Watching italians speak is like a ping pong tournament; back and forth back and forth, quicker and louder until one of them reaches the breaking point and yells something (whether in arguments or when they are excited) and the other just stops, and then returns to normal pace and begins a new conversation. It’s mesmerizing. 

Following dinner, we went into town and got gelato. The part of town we went to looked like something from a post card; Vespas set against vine covered fences along cobblestone streets, the lake on one side, and behind the town, a giant hill scattered with red and yellow stucco villas. On our way back, we just happened to pass a party going on for the S.S. Lazio football club (one of the two Italian professional soccer teams in Rome). Needless to say, I had a mini heart attack. (here’s why: http://english.cctv.com/20090809/images/1249784044664_1249784044664_r.jpg ) Tomorrow, I am getting up early to go into town and explore. Once the children are out of school, we are all heading to the lake to enjoy the 100 degree weather (yikes) and then going into Rome to eat at the family’s restaurant.  All in all it has been an exciting, overwhelming, exhausting and liberating day here, and the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life. 

And as I’m sitting in my room typing this, with a big, very old lab mix named Rosco laying on my floor, and a cat whose name I can’t pronounce in Italian, so I call it Gattolina (one of the only like 4 words I know), there are fireworks going off overtop of the lake that I can watch out my window. I don’t think there is a better way to end a perfect first day here. I think I could get used this. 

And sorry for those that read this very long post, which I’m sure you skipped over 75 percent of, (because I would. Except for the soccer team pic; don’t skip that). I’m mostly keeping this for myself as a reminder of what my time spent here was, but for those that have taken an interest in what I’m doing, thanks so much! You all are best.

Ciao! 

Text

In a little over 12 hours, I will be on a plane bound for Italy. The mix of emotions I’m feeling is indescribable. It’s a cross between over the moon excitement and being absolutely petrified.

As of two days ago, I will now be gone a total of 9 months (as of this moment). I will be heading to London for a duration of 6 months and then I’m not sure where after that. To say that I have procrastinated getting ready for this trip is an understatement. I still have to finish packing, and run a million little errands in the AM before takeoff at 1:30.
I’ll be arriving in Rome at 11 am Italian time (roughly 5 am US time.)


The best way to contact me will be via Facebook as I’ll have internet at home, and I’ll have extremely limited texting unless imessage is available.
I’ll try to update this more instead of blowing up people’s fb timelines. If you want me to send a postcard, message me your address!


Next time I’ll post on here, I’ll be 4000 miles away! Ciao!

Photo

The little lakeside village of Trevignano. 21 days my friends!