Thursday, November 1, 2012

So I'm in Italy, part deux

Deux is french, not italian, but 'part due' (doo-ay) just reads funny.

I intended to add more to my last entry, since I posted on Tuesday and had written all but a few words on Sunday, but by the time we'd hit the internet café I was tired and not thinking too clearly. I chalked it up to jet lag and possibly having spent part of the morning driving up in the mountains, so when we got back to the apartment I took a nap before dinner.

I woke up feeling a little off, a bit dizzy, little nauseous, and the feeling slowly worsened, until I was quite sure that no, that wasn't hunger pangs (my stomach is very, very annoying in that it likes to flash the 'SICK' flag when actually I'm just hungry), I was actually feeling sick. Mom promptly put on water for tea and then went to get me soup, which she stayed and made for me while Alex went out for dinner.

I felt better after curling up on the couch while the soup cooked, ate a couple bowls, and then headed off to bed. By morning I felt quite fine.

Still, suppose I should take this opportunity to talk a bit more about Italy. Cutting this entry for length, but no pictures, as Lucio doesn't want pictures of the baby on Facebook and I assume that extends to blogs as well. I don't blame him.

First I have to explain one thing: I have two stepfathers. One of them is the guy who pretty much raised me since I was three. I refer to him as my stepdad, stepfather, etc, but he's the person I consider my father figure. The other one is my mother's husband. While he and I get along alright, our relationship is more of acquaintanceship than familial, hence why I generally refer to him as my mother's husband rather than as my stepfather.

Mom's husband -- whose name is Alex, for the sake of brevity -- is a native of Bologna and has a couple of kids in Italy from his previous marriage. Both of them are older than I by several years, and as I'm given to understand it, were mostly raised by their mother. While I've met them both on occasion (and we stayed with the son on my first trip to Italy some years ago), I'm even less familiar with them than with Alex. Still, the son, Lucio, recently had a kid with his commonlaw not-wife, Elena, so part of the reason for this trip was to meet the new grandson/step-nephew.

 Mom and Alex had already been in for almost a week when I arrived on Saturday -- they would have been happy to have me in earlier, but I had work on Thursday and I really can't afford to miss any of it before my move. We were driven from the airport by a young man who was introduced to me as the driver (I've forgotten his name), later amended as Lucio's assistant. He was only around for that day and didn't make much of an impression, despite joining us for lunch.

We stopped at the hotel first to get my room and drop off my luggage. I was confused when I had to turn over my passport; apparently a number of European hotels have a rule to take their guests' passport information. Mom mentioned that it was something Americans tend to make a fuss about and are very strongly against. Personally I don't understand it well enough to know if it's something to rebel against. (Considering that the last few U.S. hotels I've stayed in required credit card information just to book a room, much less to actually stay there... Also, yes, I did get my passport back shortly.)

Speaking of practices I don't quite understand, this hotel also made you hand in your room key when you left the premises, and you had to ask for it back when you returned. The keys were actual keys attached to little etched plates, too, rather than the key cards that I'm used to.

Once I'd dropped my things off and gotten my computer plugged into the squid in Mom's room, we headed out to a local pizzeria. I had no concept whatsoever of the time, so my mind read the meal as 'dinner', although actually it was just about lunchtime. The pizzeria was quite small and perhaps the worst of the heating offenders, partly due to the open kitchen I'm sure, but it was a nice sort of neighborhood place. There I met Edoardo, the aforementioned step-nephew, who is about five months old now and is adorable and squishy, though he doesn't do much other than demand attention and fuss if he's not being carried around. He's not content to just be held, no, he wants to be walked around. Fortunately he fell asleep fairly early and so wasn't a problem.

Conversation was interesting, since four of the people at the table were native Italians, Mom speaks it but can't follow it too quickly, and I don't think Elena or the driver really spoke English. I know just enough Spanish that I can sometimes follow what Mom says, since the romance languages have some overlap, but I'm definitely not conversant.

Lunch was preceded by quite a few 'antipasti', or appetizers, including some form of small clams in a slightly spicy oil, which I ate quite a few of. I don't recall what else was ordered except that there were a few too many antipasti, so by the time the pizzas arrived, I only had room for a little bit of mine. Lucio had insisted that the pizzas were quite small, as well, but while they were reasonably small for pizzas, they were hardly what I would consider 'individual'-sized. We ended up getting a to-go box for mine and a bit of Alex's as well.

Sometime during lunch I made a comment about my quest for a green hat, so once we were done there, Mom took me out to an open-air market on the piazza. On the way there I remember seeing 'Rache' among the graffiti and was quite tickled. There were a number of hats, including a few top hats that I was tempted by, but it took finding a proper haberdashery to find the sort of hat I'd been looking for. It was quite a bit more steeply priced than I'd expected, as well, but we agreed it would be an early Yule present, and so now I have a green hat. (Now I just need a blue one, and a brown one, and a straight black one, and a checkered one, and one with a rainbow band, and maybe a fuchsia one, and a top hat, and... shutupIlikehats.)

After the haberdashery we returned to the hotel, where I crashed hard and slept until 7-ish the next morning. I thought after sleeping so long that I'd equalized, but further crashes proved otherwise.

The next day I was awoken by Mom tapping on my door on her way out, though I'd been half-awake for some time before that. I showered, dressed, and had some of the continental breakfast offered by the hotel. Like the hotel in Billings, the continental breakfast offered was fruit, baked goods, and yoghurt, but unlike the Hilltop, the baked goods weren't teeny muffins, donuts, and bagels, but some much more substantial Italian pastries, most of which had a creamy fruity filling, possibly lemon, maybe peach or apricot. I have a particular fondness for sweet pastries, and this was one of the things I remembered fondly from my first trip.

Since it was Sunday, and apparently there's an Italian thing about closing all but the absolute essentials on Sundays, we took a walk down a ways to the nearest newspaper place, picked up a newspaper for Alex, and hit up a café for coffee and some juice. Because in Italy, newspapers and coffee are essential. Grocery shopping, not so much.

On the way, Alex mentioned that the area we were in was the 'Cassel Maggiore', or the Big Castle, which was silly considering that Bologna had no castles, big or otherwise.

As mentioned before, Mom and Alex had been in for about a week by this point, so Mom packed up a bunch of laundry and we carted that across the way to the villa Lucio and Elena are living in. The villa is friggin' huge, full of some very cool furnishings, although it's one of those places where the space doesn't really feel filled or lived-in, so you feel awkward speaking at anything louder than a hush. They need some more animals or more stuff or something, since it's way too big for two people, a baby, and a cat, even if said cat may be the fattest I've ever seen. They also have live-in help, but he lives in another building on the grounds, so that doesn't help so much with the atmosphere.

The laundry took forever. For some reason the machine there worked really slowly, with a small load of whites taking 90 minutes, and the dryer being outright broken. It didn't help that neither of them actually knew how to work the machines, since said live-in help apparently does their laundry as well.

Eventually we went out to lunch again, and once again Lucio ordered a whole lot of antipasti and I had a bit too much of it so that I didn't have much room by the main course. Lucio commented on the fact that he only eats one meal a day, hence why he orders and eats so much, although this time he had trouble with the main course too. I personally didn't mind so much this time around -- due to my still not being entirely clear-headed and the fact that the menus are all in Italian, I'd ordered a gorgonzola-and-walnut dish that I wasn't too sad to not have room for. The ricotta-filled pastas weren't too bad, but yeah, not a fan of either gorgonzola or walnuts.

I'll continue later, as I have internet at the moment and I'm not sure when I'll have it again, so I'll post what I have now.

To come: Mountains, Pontremoli, and lots of pretty landscapes for me to fail to describe.

Edit: So apparently I misheard, and the baby is five weeks old, not five months.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments that are not obviously spam will be authorized, but this way I can read all of them.