Archive | October, 2010

(I’m going to be a witch for Halloween)

31 Oct

An extra hour of sleep and Halloween? Oh, happy day!

Happy Halloween, friends! Check back tomorrow for costume photos.


Foto Friday: Sun seekers

29 Oct

Dozens of Italians enjoy their lunch in the patch of sun edging across Piazza Santo Stefano. Temperature highs have been hovering around 50 degrees this week, and we've only had sun for the last few days.

Tasty fish

29 Oct

It’s been a delicious week here at Via Santo Stefano 53, meaning the Food Network web site has been open just about every day. Lemony artichoke dip on Saturday, vegetarian chili and cornbread on Monday, rosemary bread when I had nothing else going on, squash lasagna, sweet and sour eggplant dip, and that’s all just what I made at home.

Last night's dinner: the eggplant dip mixed with ricotta and fusilli.

On Wednesday, Melody had the Others over so Jane could show us how to make pie. We made four apple pies, and I baked mine last night. I want another go at it; my crust tasted great but wasn’t so effective at keeping the juices in.

"Oh, I should take a picture of it..."

Pie wasn’t enough for Wednesday; the four of us went to a cooking class offered by Taste of Italy. The instructor spoke Italian, but everyone else’s first language was English. The primi was linguini with clams, for secondi we had octopus with a pesto breading, and dessert was pear cooked in wine with chocolate fondant and vanilla sauce. Magic.

Pears simmering away in the front pot, octopus in the back.

Jane was the only one who wanted to chop up the octopus.

Pint-sized milestones

23 Oct

Ludovica took her first steps by herself on Thursday near the sandbox at Matilde’s school. She even bent down to pick up a green sand mold and, tottering a bit, stood back up. I think I must have been the first to witness it since her mom got so excited when I pointed it out.

When her dad saw her do it again on Friday night, he called Federica in to watch and we all clapped. Matilde then pointed out that she, too, could solo caminare, so we all clapped for her as well as she bounded across the room.

Matilde does get points though. Nicola took her toy shopping for her birthday (because they need more toys), and in addition to the surprisingly basic bouncy ball she chose for herself, she picked out a plastic toucan that whistles for Ludo.

Foto Friday: Fancy

22 Oct

The historic city center of Bologna has 38 km (24 miles) of portici running along its streets, but this portico on Via Farini is one of the fanciest. The mosaic tiling mirrors the upscale stores the portico covers.

The portici, the “people’s umbrella,” protect pedestrians from sun and rain, as well as giving them a bit of distance from traffic. That wasn’t the original intent, but it makes for a pretty good sales pitch. When the University of Bologna opened, the city was flooded with students with no place to live. The city leaders mandated all buildings would be extended on the second floor and above to provide additional housing for these wealthy students, thus creating the marvelous pedestrian passageways on the ground level.

Life’s funny that way

21 Oct

If someone had told me back in 2007 that in three years’ time, a woman with views that I passionately oppose would be a “feminist” (I like this link better), and that I would be over-the-moon excited to pull my first loaf of homemade bread out of the oven, I probably would have laughed out loud.


Under Jane's watchful eye, Melody and Leah mix their dough.



Leah takes notes while our braided loaves rest.



My first bread baby paired with curried squash soup.


Roman Holiday

18 Oct

When I got back from Rome and had a half-second to look at Facebook, I wanted to write a little one liner about my trip, and I was sort of stumped. Though I’d had an enjoyable time, I’d tried to catch an earlier train home than I’d anticipated: I was done about five hours earlier than I thought I’d be.

And you can’t just write: Valerie Tidwell enjoyed Rome. That’s not nearly exciting enough for the heart of one of the world’s original empires. Facebook offers little room for details about traveling on my own for the first time or being thrust into such a tourist mecca and everything that comes with that.

Rome was everything I expected it to be.

I was there to do the tourist thing: the Colosseum, the Forum, Vatican City, etc. Going alone meant I made a few careless mistakes like not noting English tours only run on the weekend and backtracking across town to make it to a tour that wasn’t being offered.

Early morning shadows stretch across the Colloseum

The Forum

Hail Caesar, and bring him flowers!

Remus and Romulus with the she-wolf

Fountain from the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. Closest is the Nile, whose head is veiled because they didn't know the source of the river.

The crowds at the Trevi Fountain

On the whole, traveling by myself was OK. I got to be in charge of the money, the guide book, and the map; I got to decide what I wanted to eat and when. Sure, there aren’t as many pictures with me in them on the first day, but how many of those do I really need?

I did meet another solo traveler at my hostel that first evening, and she and I paired up for the second day.

The Vatican Basilica

It's hard to see, but this is a map of Bologna in the Hall of Maps in the Vatican Museum. Even the iconic Due Torres were painted in.

I’d like to go back to Rome. I didn’t get to see any museums except those in the Vatican, and I somehow missed the Raphael rooms there. Since my hostel was a far walk from most of the touristy stuff and I was trying to avoid too much walking around at night, I didn’t get to see anything lit up. Also, I’d like to go around and recreate images of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in “Roman Holiday,” possibly in period clothing. Colin doesn’t know this yet.