19 February, 2008

I Miei Genitori

(My Parents)

Mom and Dad were here all weekend. They arrived safely and on time Friday morning in Rome. I met them around midday at their hotel, we had a nice lunch, and then I went to school to study while they took a short nap.

We met up again for dinner with my friend Sara at a trattoria near the Spanish Steps, called Trattoria Otello alla Concordia. Our reservation was for 7:30 but we got there a little early, and the place wasn't even open yet! So we walked around for a while and did some window shopping. After dinner mom and dad went to the hotel again to catch up on some ZZZ's because neither had slept well on the plane and they were extremely jet-lagged. Sara and I went to Art Cafe for some late-night dancing.

The next morning mom and dad woke up early for a tour of Rome which lasted until the evening. I did some studying for midterms. We met up again for dinner at a pizza place recommended by a magazine called Where Rome. It was really good pizza but very slow service. We wondered whether they had forgotten about us! In actuality, that's just the way it is here. No one got their pizza very quickly; it is probably made fresh to order.

I took a cab home and attempted to do some more studying.

On Sunday at 11,00 mom and dad met me at the Ottaviano metro stop where we walked to the Vatican city together. Arianna also met us at St. Peter's, and we all listened to the Pope's address at 12,00. Being German, his Italian accent was a little more difficult to understand, and his English as well! But it was a great experience to be in the piazza for this Catholic/Italian tradition and I was glad they had met Arianna.

In the afternoon, I took mom and dad on a bus to my school. Dad was happy to finally see the Sycamore trees lining the streets on the way over, hehe. I showed them my quasi-campus and my printmaking studio. Then we walked towards Piazza del Popolo and stopped for lunch on the way. It turned out to be a sunny day so we ate on the tables outside. We shared chicken, rice with mushrooms in a white wine sauce, meatballs with peas, bread, and Coca Cola. After lunch we headed into the Piazza, and then into Villa Borghese. Mom and dad got Gelatto and I headed back to school.

Yesterday, mom and dad did a half-day tour of a hill town where the Pope stays on vacation. They said it seemed as though the bus wasn't going to make it over the small bridges and narrow streets. The place was not tourist-y at all, and the shopowners barely spoke English. They did a wine tasting and bought some pastries from a bakery.

After class at 18,00 I met them at their hotel again, where we exchanged much-needed items from home for my heavy sweaters and winter things. Then we went to a bancomat so I could give dad a short-term loan, since another bancomat had eaten his credit card the day before! When this was done, we ventured over to Casa Mia (my house) for dinner with Arianna and the kids.

Gifts were exchanged, and Italian words. Mom did very well! Maybe better than me as far as comprehension :-/

We had dinner of tortellini soup, my favorite bread with nuts, bread with olives, polpetone (like a meatloaf), meat with a "salsa verde" (green sauce), and dessert of fragole from Spain (strawberries) and homemade panna (whipped cream). And wine to compliment the dishes. Arianna is a great host :-)

My parents really enjoyed the dinner. We talked about a lot of different things like food (of course), colleges in the United States, taxes, previous homestay students, Iraq and the war, customs, family, and much more - in Italian and broken Italian. It lasted for a few hours and then Arianna graciously drove us back to the hotel. My parents have now experienced pretty much every mode of transportation possible in Rome... airplane, cab, metro, bus, car, and on foot! We said goodnight and goodbye, and Arianna and I went back home.

Today my parents are in Firenze (Florence) and I have a midterm at 18,00. Poo. I will be updating this post with pictures later tonight.

13 February, 2008

Play, Play, Pray

Carnevale is officially over now, but I posted some Venice photos - stolen from Facebook, courtesy of Denise - in my Picasa album.


From La Dolce Vita: Month Two

The Chinese New Year was this weekend, so on Sunday there was a celebration in Piazza del Popolo. Pictures also posted from that.

From La Dolce Vita: Month Two

For Ash Wednesday (exactly one week ago), a few of us attended service at a cathedral called Chiesa Pontificia di San Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello. Yep, that's the whole name. It was all in Italian but I understood a great deal of the sermon, which was predictably about the meaning of Lent and that it is a time to return to the Lord, not just to give up a bad habit.

The cathedral was beautiful and "la cenere" (the ashes) were placed on our hair, accompanied by the traditional phrase: "Ricordati che sei polvere e in polvere tornerai" (Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return).

    Taken from the bulletin:
  • La cenere ricorda che siamo niente, siamo polvere, siamo creature; è simbolo di caducità e di penitenza. L'uscire dai nostri posti per ricevere te ceneri esprime la nostra volontà di impegnarci in questi quaranta giorni nell'ascolto della parola del Signore e nella conversione.

  • My (fairly literal) translation:
  • The ashes remind us that we are nothing, we are dust, we are creatures; it is symbolic of our falling and of penitence (of sins and penitence). The going out of our place (out of our way) to receive ashes expresses our desire of undertaking in these 40 days in listening to the word of the Lord and in the conversion.

  • My (interpretive) translation:
  • The ashes remind us that we are nothing, we are dust, we are but creatures; it is symbolic of sins and of penitence. By going out of our way to receive ashes, we express our desire to undertake in these 40 days of Lent the listening to the word of the Lord and self-conversion.

Aided by Webster, now I can see the problem professional translators have in keeping the fidelity of the words versus expressing their meaning as un-clumsily as possible. Nevertheless, you get the point.

12 February, 2008

Italian Keyboards

Interesting to note that the Italian keyboard differs slightly from its American counterpart. Punctuation marks are in different locations, so I keep making weird typos, and the @ key is impossibly hard to find when attempting to send e-mails. I still hesitate for a good 6 seconds every time I go to send something before I find it again - which, by my book, is molto lento (very slow). You have to hit the "Alt+Gr" key in order to type it. Whatever that means. Alt+Gr, you're crampin' my style!!

Also included in this fascinating keyboard are shortcuts for € (Alt+Gr+E) and àèìòù near the Enter key, plus éç°§ accessible with the Shift key. And a host of other pecularities which make me very conscious of my fingers while typing, such as a minuscule Shift key on the left.

I'm just glad I didn't study abroad in Temple Tokyo. Imagine how lost I'd be on THAT keyboard...

10 February, 2008

This Weekend, and Last Week

Since my past two weeks were quite eventful, now that I think about it, here is a second post for your reading pleasure...

So this Friday (two days ago), we all met at school to buy tickets for Saturday night's soccer game at the Stadio Olympico. You need a passport when buying the tickets, according to a new law. So we waited in a long line to pay our £25 each. Some of us were too hungover to wait on line and sat in the sun instead?

After that, I went shopping, since we were already out on Via Del Corso. I ended up buying sunglasses for £8, a Sandro Ferrone shirt for £15, a purple necklace from Rossa Fish for £15, and a black dress from United Colors of Benetton for £15. It was a great day to go shopping because the period of Saldi, or winter sales, was ending so everything was marked down even more than it had been during the month of January. Of course it wasn't the cream of the crop selection-wise, and the dress and shirt need minor repairs (I bargained for an additional £5 off the dress because of this, in broken Italian yay!) but overall, I am very happy with my purchases and the fact that I restrained myself up to this point shopping-wise. Arianna was also very happy to see my Sandro Ferrone shirt, and showed me the jackets she owns by him in her own closet.

Friday night, no one was answering their phones so I didn't have dinner plans and I rushed to the GS Supermercati which closes at 20,00 (8 o'clock), to buy some fettucine and tomato sauce. Probably not the best combination but I was desperate and pressed for time. The fettuccine was dough-like, made with eggs but not cooked all the way through, and instructed me to cook it for 4 minutes. It sounded good. It tasted good. But the next day, it didn't sit too good in my stomach.

Anyway, that night we went to a lounge/bar/club called Radio Cafè which, in all honesty, I thought was called Radio City when we arrived because of the distracting blue neon lights. You go in, pay the £8 entrance fee, and descend a stone staircase. Down below you find a space which might be best described as dungeon-turned-runway. On either side of the glowing runway are low tables and many cusions and ottomans, which lend it that NYC lounge-y feeling. A little further down the runway, passing underneath stone archways, is a dance floor with a DJ booth for the apse. We grabbed two tables and many pillows, and had ourselves a seat. We talked, danced, drank, and went home around 3 am. A good time was had by all.

Until I woke up Saturday with the worst stomach ache / nausea ever. Not hungover. Just "mal di pancia" which caused me to not even hold water down until later that night. However, I did force myself to go to the partita di calcio (soccer game) which I had already bought tickets for. I didn't even stay for the halftime show, but was able to catch the end on TV with the kids. Roma won!

Lo Stadio Olympico

I drank some tea. I ate some crackers.

Today I felt better, and had pesto and pasta with the family for lunch around 14,00. Then I went to school, made another print, worked on some Spring Break plans with Sara. We went to dinner near the metro stop by school - thanking goodness something was open at 20,00 on Sunday - and had a great chicken with rice for £7 each, while sitting outside of the Piazza del Popolo. I also learned how to correctly pronounce rice ("riso" with a rolled "r").

Outdoor Dining with Sara

Came back home, Arianna wasn't here but the kids were watching another soccer game on TV. A little after midnight, she came home all decked out and perhaps a little ubriaca (intoxicated) because she said she'd been at a feste (party) for Acquario because it had been her birthday on the 3rd, and a few of her friends were also Aquarius(es?). She looked great and didn't stop smiling - it is so nice to see her healthy again, since she has been recovering from her two eye surgeries for the past few weeks. She scampered off to bed and on that note, I must do the same.

Last Weekend, of Last Week

Okay so I'm a little late on updating, but I have had an interesting 2 weeks... and soon to be an interesting 2 more because mom and dad are coming to visit, and after that we have Spring Break!

Last Friday (not 2 days ago, but before that), I had a class trip to the Printing Museum on the "Via del Stampa" - literally, the Street of Printing. It was easy to get to, located right next to the Trevi Fountain. We spent a few hours reviewing many beautiful prints from famous people such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Then we all got cappuccino compliments of our professor Mario ("And you ask me, 'Why, Mario, must we do this?' and I tell you, 'Because you must always keep your tools clean so that we get a nice print.'" Allora, I digress). We also sampled some Carnevale treats. Then 4 of us explored the Jewish Ghetto, made our way into a museum in the basement of a Synagogue, and got some falafel before going home. That night, I went to a pizza place in Trastevere called Dar Poeta. At first, they didn't understand the concept that we wanted two salads and one pizza for two of us to share... so we got one salad and one pizza. Perhaps our "due" was not clear enough? The pizza was fabulous, though.

Dinner at Dar Poeta

After dinner, we ran to a chocolate shop nearby in the pouring rain, and everyone had a Bailey's shot in a chocolate cup, topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. The woman was explaining how to take them...

How to Eat/Drink a Chocolate Shot

After the rain died down and our stomachs were settled (When in Rome, Drink as the Romans Do, right?) we made our way to a bar called Stairs which was remarkably close by. It's as though we had planned it. But we didn't. I think this was one of the first nights where dinner and after-dinner festivities continued within walking distance of each other. Yay :-)

The next day, I had another class trip for Anthropology to a smaller city called Rocglione, which is utterly difficult to pronounce correctly. It's just outside of Rome, and we got there by metro, train, and then bus, which took in total just over an hour. Maybe two, with the waiting. Before our bus ride we grabbed some pizza, and my friend Caroline was belittled in Italian for not having the correct change. They are not a fan of £50 bills here. No one ever wants to break them for you. In Venice, we each wanted to pay separately for our cappuccino one afternoon, and the cashier was very upset with me, being the last one to pay, thus hurling all the change left in the drawer onto the counter and telling me that it would just have to be good enough.

Anyway, after the pizza incident we made it to Ronciglione for a horse race, Carnevale-style. Like the Palio races of Sienna, which only happen 2x a year, this was kind of a big deal for the town. Pictures, and a video, tell all...

Carnevale Dust

New Desktop Background

The marching was slightly more risque than what we had in High School, haha.

So although I understood little of what the announcer was saying in Italian, except "Do not use flash photography," and "Hold onto your kids," the atmosphere was great and the race was exciting albeit very short! We'd had to give up our "illegal" spots about 3 times although Italians ended up crowding there anyway closer to the start of the race, and we couldn't see what was going on until the horses turned the corner. Apparently the bare-backed horses sometimes do not want to go into their pens, or start at all. There were 3 heats of 6 horses each, and a few horses fell on their way around the corners, which is why everyone had to hold onto their kids, haha. The race was almost called off a few weeks before as some animal rights groups were hassling the town. However, the horses were fitted with orthopedic horseshoes and all was well in the world. Following the race, I had the best cup of hot cocoa EVER made, pretty much pure chocolate topped with pure cream, hehe. I also bought £8 worth of Carnevale candy (nuts and dried bananas and such), unintentionally of course. After we had walked around a bit, basking in all the decor and atmosphere of Ronciglione, it was time to catch the last bus back to Rome.

(For more info on the Ronciglione Carnevale, in terrible English, click here).

That night, I went to Art Cafè a.k.a. Babel, which proved to be very trendy and un-American on Saturdays, unlike the Fridays I'd been hearing about. When they play American pop and "Commercial" music, drawing swarms of American students and non-natives.


Soooo after all this, you would think I'd be tired. But then came Super Bowl Sunday and since the GIANTS made it, why shouldn't I? Even if the game started at midnight here...

Ok, Abbey.
(at Abbey's Irish Pub)


Ohmigosh we WON!!!
(Don't scream)

A fabulous ending to a fabulous weekend.

07 February, 2008

Verba volant, Scripta manent

(Not Italian, teehee)

My homestay family was talking about this expression a few weeks ago. They explained it to me with gestures, and Italian words, because it is in Latin. The kids study Latin, Greek, and English classes at school... English least of all.

The translation goes something like:
Spoken words fly away /
While written ones stay

So here's to the written word...!

And speaking about the, well, spoken word, tonight was particularly interesting because I was trying to explain to Arianna the concept of "hanging out." Slang is realllllly hard to translate. Our conversation went like this:

  • Arianna: Esci stasera? (Are you going out tonight?)
  • Me: No, non esco. Voglio andare alla Residenza, ma purtroppo, i "guests" non vanno dopo l'undici. Dopo le venti-tre.
    (No, I'm not going out. I want to go to the Residence, but unfortunately, guests cannot go after 11 o'clock. After 23 o'clock -- notice how I corrected myself!)
  • *Arianna makes some comments, she understands what I am saying, yes this is Italian law for Residences, etc.*
  • Me: Sì, devo incontrare le amiche che vivano negli appartamenti!
    (Yes, I need to meet girl friends who live in apartments!)
  • *Arianna makes some inquiries about the other homestay girls, thinking I must be talking about them, and remarks yet again at the fact that there are only 4 of us. She says that in the other program, Italidea, there are more homestay students.*
  • *I tell here in more broken Italian that yes, most of the students from Temple are in the Residence, and that I don't really know any with independent housing (i.e. appartamento indipendente). Then I make a big mistake in trying to describe that I just want to "hang out" or "chill" tonight somewhere, but that it is very difficult with the Residence rule.*
  • Perché non? In Roma, devi andare alla Colosseo, alla cinema. Forse vedi un film inglese!
    (Why not? In Rome, there is so much to do at night... you can go to the Colosseum, to the cinema. Maybe you would like to see a film in English!)

So now my host mom thinks that we are all lazy Americans who do not want to see Rome at night. All I was trying to say is that we've had a long week and would like to do something calm now!

ALLORA, how do you describe "chill" or "hang out" to an Italian?
Restiamo a casa? (We are staying home)
Facciamo chiacchiera? (We are making small-talk, chit-chat)
Non usciamo? (We are not going out)
Sai-tu? (Do you know)
Capito? (Have you understood)
Ummm? (Self-explanatory)

You don't.

06 February, 2008

Fare le spese: the Necessities

(To do shopping)

Today, I finally found some useful necessities which I have been lacking for the past few weeks. Balsamo (conditioner), for example, which is very hard to come by because most of what they sell is shampoo. I had been running off of my travel-sized samples and/or washing my hair less frequently, like the Romans do. Now, my hair feels so silky smooth! Deodorant, also a necessity but hard to come by. Q-tips, a small mirror for my room, and face wipes were also included in the €18 purchase. Cosmetics and medicines may be the only things cheaper in Italy than in the States. Less demand = lower prices, hehe.

By the way, I am calling it “the States” now.

Still to find: face wash, nail polish remover, band-aids.
E devo fare la spesa (And I need to do grocery shopping)!
Then my life will be complete.

03 February, 2008


This post is for GIANTS fans! And my dad :-)

In honor of the Super Bowl, I thought I'd post a few older pictures which demonstrate my true fanhood of the New York Giants. This was before they had made it to the playoffs, during one of the coldest games ever versus the Redskins, when no one even wanted their season tickets. And what a poor game it was. But look at them now. Eli Manning all grown up!!! To the Giants and Giants fans, tonight I tell you "In Buocca al Lupa!" (i.e. "Break a Leg!") I will be watching from the Hard Rock Cafe here in Italy, beginning at midnight!

Giants Football

Giants 2007

Update: This post sums up our late night of Super Bowl spectating with pictures taken at 6 a.m. when the game ended in the Central European Time zone!

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