Tag Archives: holidays and festivals

Wrapping Up: Part II

16 May

On Friday I had two gelati within two hours of each other (rose and pomegranate (Colin: Fail) and watermelon and lemon).

Mom and the gang left that afternoon. Everyone seemed to have a really nice time. They took with them one of my suitcases to ease my journey. I worried briefly about not having enough left to fill my remaining backpack, but somehow I’ve managed.

Venezia, my favorite.

On Friday night I threw Colin a surprise birthday party. I’m missing his actual birthday next week, and I’m racked with guilt about it, so this was a way to make up for that. He was totally surprised, and super pleased that so many of his friends came in the middle of paper-writing season.

I think at this point, with six hours left inBologna, I’ve said all the farewells I’m going to—some of them twice. It feels so epic, but it’s just summer vacation. See you later! HAGS!

Advertisements

Too much of a good thing

19 Mar

Speaking of diminishing marginal returns, this is a terrible photo of the delicious antipasti at our Bolognese dinner at Il 15 the second night. Tragically, I left almost an entire plate of pasta uneaten. Meal fail.

Noel and I have had a bit of a traveling fail. We need to rewind all the way to Thursday, when we were supposedly on our way to Florence to enjoy the free museums. Well, as Noel’s boyfriend put it when he heard the story: “Florence is so cool it sells out.”

Taking the sold-out morning train as a sign of overwhelming crowds on the Florence end, we opted not to take the slightly later train and to save Florence for another day, as originally planned. Instead we bought tickets for a noon train to nearby Ferrara and power walked back to the main square to catch Bologna’s parade for Unification Day.

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting all the military action, but it was neat to see the flags everywhere. I was almost sorry we were leaving Bologna, actually, because everyone seemed to be in a festive mood and enjoying the sunny morning.

With still a couple hours before the train, we climbed Bologna’s tallest tower. Coming in at a remarkable 97 meters, almost double the height of Pisa’s tower, the Torre Asinelli offers a fantastic view for those able to get up all 498 of the steep, worn wooden steps.

We eventually made our way to Ferrara, only 30 minutes away on the train, and it turns out they were celebrating Unification Day with free entrance to museums too! So we explored their castle (one of the few in Italy with a functioning moat—“functioning” in the sense that there’s still water, not that it keeps out invading enemies). We peeked in their duomo (the first time I’ve been caught touring a church when a service started). We shared a gelato (strawberry and some yummy white chocolate and fudge flavor).

I think every Italian city I’ve visited has felt less claustrophobic than Bologna because they don’t have the portici covering the sidewalks and hiding the sky. I have been grateful on so many occasions for the portici (I think they’re ruining my instinct to grab an umbrella when going out on a rainy day), but it’s a nice change to stroll without them, especially through Ferrara’s many pedestrian-only walkways.

OK but the plan for the next day, yesterday, was to try again for Florence. We didn’t have tickets, but figured if we arrived when the museums opened the lines wouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately that meant catching a 6:45 train. Well, that didn’t happen. Noel met me in the kitchen at 5:30 looking like an absolute zombie: jetlag had struck again—she’d only slept for two hours. Today was not a day for touring museums.

"I don't trust them."

Venice, however, doesn’t require the intense focus of appreciating Renaissance art, nor does it require as early a start. We left for Venice around 10 and had a lovely sunny day strolling around the canals and listening to Rick Steves.

"I'm on a boat!"

But we should make it a fairly early night, we reasoned; we’ve got Cinque Terre tomorrow. Well…

I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this if we’d made it, but I’m kind of glad I am. I feel a little bad: I’ll have another shot at Cinque Terre before I leave, but Noel definitely won’t. We are both bone-tired already, and that’s not the way we want to start our week in Rome and Sorrento on Monday. I think we need this weekend to regroup a little, rest these weary feet.

We will be leaving for Rome before the sun even comes up on Monday for six days down south—that’s the plan, at least.

Happy 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy!

17 Mar

So here is the skinny since I’m hopping on a train soon. Last night I found out I don’t have to work today, so Noel and I are heading off to Florence. As part of the celebrations, Florence has made all of it’s museums free today! Excellent way to save a few euros or an entire day spent waiting in lines? We shall see.

Birthday post

26 Feb

Dinner at Pane e Panelle

I haven’t got much time to write, as we’re catching a train to Venice to experience Carnevale in just about an hour, but I wanted to assure everyone that I had a wonderful day yesterday. Colin took me out for a fun seafood dinner, and then a few friends met us back at the apartment for way too much cake and just enough proscecco. Colin found time to decorate the apartment with streamers and balloons and cute signs and to make me a delicious chocolate zucchini cake. I’ll post a picture or two tomorrow while I’m recovering for the madness of Venice.

Inferno cake

Where are my candy hearts?

16 Feb

Last night while I was trying to fall asleep with visions of Willy Wonka’s Candy Room in my head (thanks, Jon), it occurred to me that this Valentine’s Day was completely devoid of all the silly candy that is normally associated with the holiday.

That’s a good thing. I prefer to spend my sugar and fat credit on just about anything else. Most Valentine chocolate is pretty cheap, and I don’t care for the chalky candy hearts. Have they updated those since I last got them, by the way? I definitely had a “Fax me” in the last box I opened, which suggest that those specific hearts were at least ten years old and that this candy may be the only thing for the cockroaches to live on after a nuclear holocaust.

Now the creative team somehow has to find a way to fit “Friend me on Facebook” on the hearts. Double-sided printing?

I discussed with my Italian conversation partner the Valentine’s Day traditions in American classrooms, and she definitely thought there was some meaning lost in translation. Besides a few extra vendors carrying bushels of roses instead of trays of obnoxious keychains, there was nothing noticeably Valentine-y about Monday. Apparently Italy, a land filled with arguably the most lust-filled men in the world, gets enough loving the other 364 days out of the year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

Chocolate Zucchini Cake adapted from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kahlua (or vanilla)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream or yogurt
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounce) Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)

2 cups shredded zucchini (about one 10″ zucchini, about 12 ounces)

Preheat oven to 325 F. Lighlty grease a bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, Kahlua, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the eggs.

Stir in the sour cream or yogurt alternately with the flour. Then add the cocoa and espresso powder, mixing until smooth. Finally, fold in the zucchini.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

New Year’s resolution

10 Jan

I know myself very well, and I am not the type of person to stick to things without some external motivation like a team or a class. Somehow related to this personality trait is the fact that my New Year’s resolutions tend to be forgotten before the Valentine’s Day candy hits the shelves. I’d forgotten to even think about making a New Year’s resolution this year until around 11 p.m. on Dec. 31 when someone asked the group about them.

Anyway, I finally thought of one, appropriately over a week late: Be on time for things.

Any New Year’s resolutions out there, readers?