Thursday, August 07, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Rome: Locally owned cafes with any kind of coffee you would ever want for less than $1 on every corner.
Home: The poop-streak(s) left by the last person in the lav.
Rome: Plastic toilet brushes left next to EVERY toilet so you can clean up your own mess and spare your neighbor.
Home: Feminine deodorant spray.
Home: Low-carb diets.
Rome: Eating bread, pasta and wine yet still being in shape.
Home: Mini-vans and SUVs.
Rome: Vast and easy to use public transportation system,s Vespa and SmartCars.
Home: Thinking Boston is old.
Rome: Walking in the footsteps of Caesar.
Home: Buying bottled water.
Rome: Carrying a bottle and refilling it from fountains flowing with fresh spring water.
Rome: Daily walks.
Rome: Red wine.
Home: Hating people who don't speak "the" language.
Rome: Helping people practice when they try to learn your language.
Home: Stiff handshakes or uncomfortable hugs.
Rome: A hug AND a kiss on both cheeks.
Home: Ginormous portions and doggie-bags full of leftovers that more often than not get thrown away.
Rome: Portions that are the exact size you can eat. The translation for "doggie-bag" is "sacco di cane," or "sack of dog." You can only imagine what the Italian waiter thinks you are ordering.
Home: The workday's 20-minute lunch which includes getting and eating your food as well as doing any personal hygiene.
Rome: The workday's 3-hour lunch including two courses with wine and a siesta.
We had an additional lab day on Tuesday to make up for not being in the lab over the weekend. In the morning we learned a lot of Mac stuff which, being a PC owner, didn't mean that much to me other than it was cool and made me wish I had a Mac. For example, creating MP3 files and making 'songs' on GarageBand. Then Rob Latousek, one of the course organizers, talked about different software that is available for classicists. I knew about a lot of it, but some of it was new so that was interesting. After a lunch of ziti carbonara made with guiancale (pig's cheek) instead of pancetta, we learned an animation creation tool called SwishMax. I really had fun with that and see how it could be a great attention-grabber in the classroom. And it's actually pretty easy! Tuesday evening the six ladies in the apartment below us hosted an Italian soiree. They had gone to the famous Roman outdoor market the Campo di Fiori to buy supplies earlier that morning and bought cheeses, fruits, meats, breads and wines. We had a beautiful feast and enjoyed being able to mingle on their large balcony. Afterwards, Kathy, Karl and I went to a local ristorante for a little pasta and dessert. We were missing Chris and Ramona because they had gone to see a concert in the ancient amphitheater at Ostia. Some crazy rock/alternative band called The Mars Volta. Anyway, the ristorante was air-conditioned which was a huge plus until, just as they delivered our steaming plates of pasta, the power went out. Luckily, it came on again a few minutes later. I had pasta bolognese and shared a fruit platter with Karl who had veggie risotto. Kathy won, though. She had a cheese/honey/pear purse of phyllo dough that was amazing, and followed that with a chocolate lava cake. Holy yumminess! And that was Tuesday!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday we began the day by climbing Mount Vesuvius, which is not an easy undertaking, but I survived. At one point, rocks started falling from above me like an avalanche and for a second I thought we were all going to die. But we didn't. We took the requisite shots of the crater, us in front of the crater, the Bay of Naples from the volcano, etc. I have to say that I'm always amazed that people live there (right there, and lots of people!!) beneath one of the most volatile volcanoes in the world. I guess that's why they are so passionate about everything in a "carpe diem" sort of way. When we had finished, we enjoyed some lemon granita (aka slushy) and had an hour and a half bus ride down the mountain and to Oplontis. While riding through the city, I noticed that many of the shops and restaurants were closed because it was Sunday, but there were men selling mussels and clams from coolers on the sidewalk. I wished I could have had some! The site we were visiting (Oplontis) is a large villa that was likely the summer getaway for a rich Roman family. It has been fully excavated and is most known for its beautiful frescoes. We spent an hour there and headed to Herculaneum. Kathy, Ramona, Chris and I decided that we were sick of pizza and panini, and we really wanted to SIT, so we walked to a Neapolitan trattoria called Tubba Catubba (haven't found out what that means yet) for a great lunch. We weren't given menus, just a choice of pasta or meat. We chose pasta and hoped for the best, which is what we got - freshly made pasta tossed with cherry tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese. Delicious! But about Herculaneum...Herculaneum is smaller but more fully excavated than Pompeii. Also, many people were able to escape from Herculaneum because of how the volcano lava, ash and mud flowed. However, recently they are finding bodies in caverns on the edge of town. The caverns would have been close to the bay back then and it was believed that these people died while waiting for boats to take them to safety. One of bodies they found was a woman who was protecting her two small childen with her bent knees. It gives a real human face to the whole thing that is very moving. Three hours back to Rome and we all got a good nap in on the bus. Finally, our dinner gang went to Station again since it was close and we were completely exhausted. I had my fried zucchini flowers, shared some crawfish tossed in lemon juice with Kathy, shared some wine with Karl, and had spaghetti cacio e pepe for dinner (again). We then went for gelato and I had stracciatella (chocolate chip) and fiori di latte (not sure what that flavor would be at home, but it's basically just ice milk). Got home and basically passed out from complete exhaustion, but since I had started the day by climbing up a volcano, I think I'm allowed. Ciao!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Leaving for Pompeii area for the wknd and still have to pack. Will write about the skit and dinner when I return. Appreciate the comments and emails very much. Will fix the links and post pictures on Monday/Tuesday when we have two lab days. Hope all is well with everyone...all is perfetto with me (the wanna-be Roman).
Love and miss you! Ciao! A
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The pizza was a hit. Kathy and I had three other joiners and we walked down the street (in Italy that's about 1 1/2 miles) to the pizza place. Although we could see the marble tables and the pizza cooks flipping dough, we ate al fresco out on the sidewalk tables. I'll only speak for my own meal, which was fabulous: uno fiora di zucchini (a fried zucchini flower stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies, battered and fried) e una pizza margherita (with basil this time!), and of course, vino rosso della casa (the house red wine). All of which was very tasty and accompanied by a husband-and-wife accordionist and cello team. The check was hand-written, prices only without any description as to what was what) on a pocket-sized graph paper pad. Interesting...
But it was, in fact, pretty cheap, and when we asked where the best gelateria was, he informed a happy group that it was only 30 meters down the block. I had a small cone of cocomelo...watermelon...now, you know when you have Friendly's watermelon sherbet or a watermelon Jolly Rancher and it doesn't really taste anything like watermelon??? Well, this was like watermelon on a cone. It really is an amazing thing. Deliziosa. Next block I spotted an open flower stand and decided some Gerbera daisies would spruce up our dining room table (yes, we have a dining room table...it seats 6!). The "vendi di fiore" was a man who, although he understood English, was happy to assist me in practicing my Italian. I have this thing about trying to talk to them in their own language, even though most of them speak English, and I even ask them to help me practice, which, happily, they are most eager to do. While the two Kathies waited outside, I had light conversation in Italiano for about 20 minutes, then, with a kiss-kiss and promise to return in a few days, we strolled off to the tram back to our apartment. Not sure if I've mentioned the weather, but let's just say we have gorgeous blue skies, white puffy clouds (not even Photoshopped in!), an amazingly cool breeze and I've never experienced Rome with weather quite as perfetto! A productive, successful and happy day was had by all and I'm now off to dreamland. Ciao!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Lab Day One started with free breakfast at the local Cafe Peppe - either a cornetto (Italian croissant) or yogurt AND either cappuccino or juice. They have a list of our names and we sign it. If we want extra, we pay. At least it's not a softball roll (see 2004). Tram...bus...EUR. We started at 9:30 for our first "lab day." The morning (9:30-12:30) consisted of...no lie..."learning" how to cut and paste, and how to re-size pictures you "borrow" from the internet. I almost poked my eye out with my new EUR pen. 12:30 brought a decent (read: free) lunch with wine and dessert. They gave us an hour for lunch (way too long) and an additional 1/2 hour to "check email," which is totally stupid since everyone has a computer in their apartment and most of us brought laptops. But we also got our 200-euro meal refund that we are supposed to spend on lunches and dinners that are not included in the "tour." That was a good bribe, since the next TWO hours were spent with the assignment of making a 500-word (minimum) searchable database of Latin words on Excel so that we could use those same words to create crossword puzzles that were, in the instructor's words, "rotationally symmetrical." At one point, someone asked what the heck that meant. Me, being a big fan of symmetry as many of you know, knew what it meant but not necessarily what it might entail in creating a Latin-word-based crossword puzzle. At the end of the day, I had a 1/2 finished crossword puzzle and a huge headache, and I didn't really see A) the point of it all OR 2) the educational value it would have in my classroom teaching. To sum up...I didn't learn very much even though the entire day, from 9:30 to 5:30 was spent in a computer lab. In Rome. Can ANYONE feel my frustration?!?!? I think I may feel a stomach bug coming up on a lab day...soon. Enough complaining since I'm sure you all are like, "You're in Rome...stop your b**ching..." Okay then. Next: Went to the discount-beyond-convenience-store-but-not-quite-supermarket that is under our apartment building. For 11.55 euro I got: a nice size melon, a packet of prosciutto, a box of tea, 1/2 pound of sugar, 10 rolls of TP, a pack of dinner napkins, two boxes of tissues, a bottle of red wine (and that was 1.59 euro, btw), a 6-pack of 1-liter bottles of water, and a dozen cornetto (that's croissants in case you weren't paying attention yesterday...). Oh, and one plastic bag to carry it in (they charge for that here, and I really believe that's coming to the US). I was worried about the dollar/euro thing until that outing. Now I know I can survive, lolol. A little rest from 6:30 to 7:30 and eight of us met for a dinner outing. Somehow I've become a bit of a leader/expert on the area although I'm trying very hard to downplay my experiences. Either way, seven other people were relying on me for their evening plans and I had in mind to go to the Piazza at Santa Maria in Trastevere because it's relatively close (one tram ride, no transfers) and it has character. Some of you reading were on the EHS Rome/Paris trip and perhaps remember the piazza with the fountain and the guys throwing torches and most of the adults had a fabulous dinner mostly involving seafood??? Well, that's the piazza. We had a pretty good dinner at Sabatini (although the dinner on the EHS trip was WAY better...). The waiter offered us a "special" typical Roman antipasto which five of us ordered. It was a few slices of prosciutto, a Jewish-style artichoke, a fried stuffed zucchini flower, and a slice of grilled bruschetta with tomatoes. I was thinking 10 euro tops. No one bothered to ask...well, we got taken for 21 euro each, and that was just the app! Luckily for entrees we all went modest with just pasta. Mine was spaghetti con vongole (with clams) for 17 euro.. Others ordered fisherman's risotto, amatriciana, roasted chicken, carbonara, and linguine with pesto. Add in the bread, wine, water and service charge and the seven of us who ate (one was just there for company) spent 327 plus tip. So it's looking like I may plan a dinner party and shop at that discount market one night, which I think may be much appreciated, lol. But it was fun, and we had a great time people-watching in our new neighborhood. We were home by midnight (we all agreed we needed an early night after last night's outing) and that's that. Love the fact that I am writing this on my bed with my shiny new laptop and don't have to deal with the Italian keyboard. Hope all is well in the US and ciao for now. Love, A