Saturday, May 08, 2004

Just hear those bells...

Many congratulations and all the best wishes to Antonello and Jackie!

Just like all your loved ones in this corner of the globe can hear your Italian wedding bells, if you listen closely I just bet you can hear all the glasses "cin cin" as we toast you and one of the luckiest guys on earth (all corners included!).

Thinking of you,

Friday, May 07, 2004

Wedding Bells

It's horrible that I have yet to even post about this, since it is the most important thing going on right now for me and Antonello here in Italy, but, as most of you know already...tomorrow is the big day. Yes, at 5 pm Macerata time, I will be saying Italian wedding vows and Antonello will be wearing a light blue tie and a grey suit: we're getting married!

So this week has been a time of running around in a rush, preparing for the wedding, making desserts for the wedding dinner, fitting into dresses and shoes, and, in my free time, thinking about how lucky I am to have found such a wonderful person: Antonello.

While tomorrow I may not be able to blog, I will be thinking about my family and friends back home in America. I miss you all so much. Thanks for everyone's support and love!


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Italian Apartment

Macerata's university attracts students from all over Italy due to its strong Law program. The busy school keeps Macerata kind of young and open-minded, with students filling the streets during day to study and at night to, well, socialize at the local bars. In the summer, you really notice the lack of students, as bars close down and the quiet of the afternoon slows the city streets to a crawl.

But its not only Italian students that are drawn to the programs at Macerata's university. The number of international students seems to be rising, and you wouldn't be surprised to see young people of all nationalities chatting in their respective languages on any given day. The European Erasmus program is especially strong here, a sort of exchange program among Italian students and students from other EU countries. Also, there are, of course, us Americans, and that program, the American Heritage Association, brings in some 20+ students into Macerata's sleepy viccole every semester.

My friend Lori, who was one of those Americans to study here, sent me this link to some photos of University life in Macerata. It's got some great photos of Macerata, this being one of my favorites (I have a think for window photos). Also interesting are the photos of a festival in Perugia, the provincial capital of the region of Umbria.


I Want a Typewriter and Two Tin Cans

I am having bad luck with electronics lately. A couple of days ago, my sweet little ibook of 1 and a half years stopped working. Actually, the computer itself seems to be fine--that little white light on it that shows it snoozing is still working, but the adapter cord (which acts as a charger) fizzled out on May 1st. (I know that it was labor day in Italy, but I didn't think that meant computers could pack up their bags and go on vacation!) Anyway, it all happened right in the middle of preparing for The Long Trip Home updates--a new London article, a travelblog, other various maintenance works. Needless-to-say, I was a little frustrated.

Then on Monday my cell phone decided not to work anymore. Okay, I must admit that it's been going through phases lately--one day the battery won't turn on and the phone will only make beeping noises when I set it in its little battery-charging cradle. Other days it will shut off in the middle of a phone call. But I have had patience, and I have waited for the good days, when I can have complete conversations and the phone stays charged all day long.

But Monday ended all of that. Antonello called me twice, and as I answered, I could hear nothing--his voice was completely absent. Then I noticed that even if the phone rang, it made no sound--I only knew there was a call because it vibrated and the screen lit up. I fiddled around with it to see if I could up the volume, change the ringing sounds, anything--but it was useless. My phone had lost all audio ability.

I tend to wait until the last minute on these electronic things, always hoping that miraculously the phone (or computer cord) will awaken from its long state of confusion and work again. And so it comes to those deathbed moments when I realize: "Okay, I guess I do need a new cell phone."

I bought it yesterday. The people at the telephone store know me well now. I go there once every couple of months to recharge Antonello's phone, plus I have helped numerous people buy phones there, as well as bought a phone myself. They must wonder what this American girl is doing buying phones every few months in Italy, but they ask no questions. When I say "I need a new phone!" they never ask, "Well what happened to the old one?" No, they are patient with me.

Anyway, slowly my electronic problems are resolving themselves. I have a new phone now--a little blue one who makes audible noises when it rings and whose battery is completely charged. It's amazing. Plus, my mother (thank you mom!) is sending me a new charger for the ibook, so hopefully I will get that within the next week or so, and The Long Trip Home can be updated and life can go on as planned.

But, as I think about all of this electronic stuff--how I spend so much time sitting in front of a computer each day, rain or shine, and how my phone has become a basic need these days (along with food and water)--it is kind of depressing. I'd love to have a typewriter and click away, a cappuccino nearby and a comfortable chair to lean back on, look over my writing, and continue. I could look out the window and see Macerata around me, its beautiful sunsets and church bells, and I would feel like a real writer. Ahh.

But then there would be no delete key, erasing words like magic, and I wouldn't be able to send instant messages and write letters that arrive to their destinations in minutes. And my cell phone wouldn't play Verdi music when it rang, and I wouldn't receive text messages, and...


Monday, May 03, 2004

Country Life in May

It's finally May, one of my favorite months in Italy, when the red dots of poppies line country roads and the grass is just the right shade of green. The sun is not too hot, and the beach beckons from its perch 30 minutes away (a train ride to Civitanova), opening the season of summer.

Yesterday we had a family reunion of sorts with uncles and aunts and cousins at the family's country home about ten minutes from the city. From there, you can see Macerata in the distance, high upon its hill. There are olive trees lining the drive in, and roosters wander around the lot with confused eyes, squawking every once in a while in the quiet country air.

It was supposed to rain yesterday, but luckily it was sunny and warm, bringing in the first days of May and the comfort of family and friends around a dining table. We ate well. I had vincisgrassi vegetarian style--a typical Macerata lasagna-like dish (normally made with meat) that was fixed especially for me (my own little aluminum tin) with mushrooms and spinach. It was delicious. Next to me, Antonello's cousin Daniele drained me of information about America--where to go, what to do, etc. while I could barely focus--all around me Italian accents were thickly Maceratese--the typical "o" becoming a long "oo" instead, people cutting off the last syllable of their words. It was a family gathering, for sure, and we were as "in Italy" as I could imagine.

But little things remind me of home even when we're dining among his relatives--the way his aunt's mannerisms and kindness reminds me of my own aunt's back home, the way his cousins talk and laugh like my own cousins do. In the end families share these things, these small traits like the sound of laughter or the considerable comfort in gathering together for a meal.

And as the dinner ended, two hours later, I looked out the window of the country home. All around me were the rolling hills of the province, stretches where you could only see one or two other farm houses in the vastness of this untouched land. It was beautiful there. Far from home, but beautiful, and comforting, none-the-less.