Thursday, April 29, 2004

A Thousand Words

With The Long Trip Home up, I have been doing some web-surfing to explore other travel sites, see what all is out there, etc. I go through stages of this--sometimes returning to old favorites (I love Kinetic Travel and Travel Intelligence for good, well-written stuff about travel), and sometimes discovering sites I had never seen. What I love about travel sites is that they absorb you, and you may be sitting in front of your computer for an hour, reading or gazing at pictures, without even hearing the clock tick away.

I found this site today, and it has a series of great photos of Italy, even if it doesn't include Corrie's and my little region of Le Marche. I was shuffling through photos of Pavia, a city near Milan where I visited a year back, and the images of the Certosa (which, I unfortunately didn't get to see...I don't think you can reach it by train) are enchanting. Also, for you Eric there is a whole series of Lucca photos which accurately capture the quaint city's Tuscan charm and old-world authenticity.

Okay, back to browsing. I'm going to go see what other worlds I can discover.


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

"Television Can Be Dangerous."

My idea of Italian television has always been rather bad: gaudy game shows with extremely hyper, terrible-looking hosts and skinny girls dancing around in very skimpy outfits. It's as if they took the very worst of American television and modeled their programs after those.

But lately I've unfortunately been glued to the T.V. every Tuesday night. And Antonello, as much as he wants to deny it, is hooked as well. The show is even worse than sleezy game shows.

It's a reality show.

Reality is relative, I guess, and it's definitely not like Survivor, but nonetheless I am not proud to admit my recent television addiction. Okay, so it's not really an addiction, yet, but the last two weeks we have tuned-in to Adesso Sposami (Marry Me Now), the television program where a hopeful groom- or bride-to-be gathers up all of his or her nerve and heads to Rome, where their unknowing significant other is waiting backstage to be scared out of their wits in front of a live audience as they are asked "Please marry me now."

It's actually a serious show, but I think Antonello and my main attraction is that it can be fall-out-of-your-seat funny. The faces of the significant others--who, after a long train ride to Rome, little sleep, and a lot of confusion, step out of a dark room into complete silence, where their boyfriend/girlfriend is unexpectedly dressed head-to-toe in wedding clothing--can range from utter happiness to complete shock. Then, the show's hostess lets the tension linger a minute and steps out of her spotlight to tell the confused "contestants" that they have arrived on the show "Adesso Sposami" (and not onto the set of a bad/good dream.) Then they are suddenly asked, by that hopeful bride/groom to be, "Marry me now."

They have a few minutes to decide, though. They get a phone call from a friend (where they either ask "should I get married?" or "is this some sort of joke?"), a moment to talk with the show's hostess, and then they are out on stage again, dressed in wedding clothing as well, and asked for a second time if they would like to get married. This is where they say yes or no.

The funniest episodes so far have always been yeses, but the way of getting to that final answer has involved serious heart-wrenching decisions. One guy, who was probably expecting that his trip to Rome involved the collecting of some sort of prize, walked out on stage and his eyes opened wide. After an initial mouthing of the words "What is going on?" he began, immediately, to bite his lip and, from that point on, never quite stopped. His girlfriend, smiling calmly, wanted him to agree to move in with her and her family. They had been together seven years, and she felt it was time for the next step.

The guy, taken into a back office for his phone call, was filmed as saying how out-of-the-blue this all was. After seven years together, however! He told his friend on the phone that he thought it was a joke and he didn't know what was going on. Meanwhile his girlfriend, who could see all of this, began to frown. It was looking like the answer would be "no."

But, to the surprise of us viewers, he agreed to marry her if they could compromise on one thing. "You have to get a driver's license," he said. All of that lip-biting for a drivers license! And still, as the show closed and all of the brides and grooms were holding each other and celebrating, this guy was still biting his lip, his bride pulling furiously on his arm as he leaned dangerously to one side, as if he had lost some sort of support.

As the camera spanned the row of happy brides and grooms, colorful confetti paper falling from the ceiling, there stood red-faced lip-biting guy, wondering if a driver's license would be enough.