Monday, September 15, 2014

the one where we drove to Abruzzo

We drove to Abruzzo this weekend to hike to the Corno Grande, the highest peak in the Apennine Mountains. I had never been to that part of Italy (the northernmost part of Southern Italy--I'm guessing that's like Maryland is the northernmost part of the American South) and I was struck anew at the amazing variation in Italian terrain that can be found within a two hour drive in any direction. Italy is just stupid beautiful. It's unreal. This particular trip looked like we were in Middle Earth. Sometimes it was Middle Earth with a quick little quintessential Italian village thrown in: older women hanging out windows; laundry blowing in the wind; olive trees and overflowing flower boxes; and sometimes it was Middle Earth with the type of sharply winding narrow roads found on the Amalfi coast--the kind that make your toes hurt as you stare fixedly out the window to the  side of the road that doesn't plunge to your death--but it was soaring mountains covered in green and hobbits all the same. And truly, you can really only marvel at the people of yore who managed to cram a town into any place that was a jutting side of the mountain. It defies all logic. I'm not Isaac Newton, but I do know that when a town is built into the side of a mountain there is no reason why it should stay there. If I put a paper clip against a wall, it falls to the floor. It does not somehow superglue itself against the wall and become a place where people can drink coffee and eat panini and go about their day.

My husband's had hiked the Corno Grande while I was in America (I was probably eating Mexican food and shopping at Target) and his photos were gorgeous. So you can imagine how bummed we were when we emerged from a very long tunnel and the sky was no longer blue and the mountain peaks were wreathed in clouds. We went to the top anyway, but it was like being in Cloud City. We couldn't see a darn thing and so it's entirely possible Lando Calrissian had betrayed us all. We'll have to head back in the spring. It's on, Lando.

one of the many Pee-Wee's Big Adventure winding road maps

we did not see any cows, but on the way home from the beach last weekend we DID see a  wild boar and two boar-lettes  (scientific term) chowing down on the side of the road,which was very exciting. They had tusks and everything. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

the one with all the pictures.

random wall in siena. maybe it's not random. maybe it's very purposeful and an important work of art. i don't really know. i just pretend i do.

there have been many stencil graffiti faces as of late. i like them. i believe this one to be edgar allen poe. if it is actually  a horrible dictator, please don't tell me. 

so many pretty sunsets here. it's probably the pollution.

not me.

you probably think this is a picture of the trees in the early sunlight. and it is. 

upon first glance, i thought this was a figure made of poo.  and i really don't have any evidence to suggest otherwise.

insert clever caption here.

the furniture here is always being swapped out. although currently there is a chandelier and chair from ikea, some days there is a dining room table with matching chairs; other days there is an old fashioned dial-telephone and loft bed.

creepy peeking mannequin. if that was my house i would be worried about it killing me in my sleep.


view from tore del mangia

lazy pants people on much lower tower

400 steps to ring the bell. not that you are supposed to ring the bell.

i love that italy really looks like it's supposed to-women hanging out of windows and all.

there is always a parade with people in medieval costumes somewhere. always. 

 i never like fruit until i ate it in italy. it's filled with fruit flavor.

as i come from farm country, seeing the perfectly formed rolls of hay never ceases to make me happy. 

rest stop off the highway. i didn't check out the shower. but i really really really wanted to check out the shower. what's going on with the shower?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The one where I come back

  Just as I was sinking into the take-it-for-grantedness of central air and parking lots of my native land, I returned to my adopted home where we keep the rooms shuttered and darkened against the sun and trade car keys for walking shoes.  (The walking shoes part is not necessarily a bad thing as I brought back three 49.8 lb suitcases filled with bagels and Cheez-its.)

The heat and humidity is certainly not any worse than it is in America; it just feels worse because I am walking and living in it as opposed to dashing from my air conditioned car to my air conditioned house.  I know that I sound like a princess. I know. But I do love me some central air. I do. I love it so much.  And I wouldn't mind washing dishes by hand or having no place to put all my stuff if I hadn't just had two months of a dishwasher and for real closets.

And I forgot that I can't buy mouthwash in the grocery store and so I have to head to the pharmacy where I forgot that the pharmacy is closed until September, so too bad so sad, yuck mouth. I forgot that dressing in my what-will-show-my-pools-of-sweat-the-least style means that I will be mistaken for a gypsy because I am not swinging off a motorcycle in slow motion while wearing an immaculate white lace shirt under a white backless tank top with white skinny jeans and high heeled white sandals, frizz-free hair cascading down my not-at-all-sweaty back.

I forgot that signs warning all dogs must be leashed are not so much rules as they are rectangular metal places to hang your dog leash while your dog romps and plays or that standing in line instead of pushing your way to the front will only confuse everyone around you.

But then I also forgot that going to a park is like entering a tented canopy of lush green where it is 10 degrees cooler and everyone is enjoying the beautiful day, sitting peacefully on benches, lying on blankets, and eating lunch with their grandchildren.

I forgot that when you are outside with your dogs, the very sight of them doing nothing more exciting than sniffing in the grass will spark delight in all who pass by. I forgot the amazing taste of proper gelato and fresh mozzarella .

And today I was reminded that I had forgotten one of the very best things: if your son has a nose bleed in the grocery store and is calmly pressing a giant wad of kleenex that you carry for this very reason to his face and said nosebleed is fully contained, everyone will still be overcome with genuine concern. And even the very intimidating neck-tattooed and gun-toting security guard with whom you normally avoid eye contact at all costs will cluck with great sympathy and bring over a roll of paper towels, insisting that you take them to supplement the kleenex.  Because most of the time, that's the kind of place it is here.