Monday, October 02, 2006

Something Old, Something New

Trieste, from this summer's trip

I'm finally starting to post some stuff about our summer trip to Friuli, Slovenia, and Trentino, and I wanted to start by linking to some of my photos of elegant Trieste (or Trst in Slovene--that's right, no vowels, but we'll discuss that later), the first real stop on our journey up north. Trieste was a great starting point and a true, Italian city. We had our fill of good food (despite our guidebook warning that cuisine in Friuli is less than spectacular), beautiful Austrian-style architecture, and a piazza that brings your eye straight to the sea. Trieste is a gem.

Also, Friday was great fun visiting Cyndi in Bologna for shopping and lunch. We also got to meet up with another expat and fellow midwesterner, Cathy, at lunch. I am of the opinion that great company, good conversation, shopping, and excellent Bologna chocolate are the best ways to spend a Friday, or any day for that matter, so of course we had a fantastic time. Thanks, you two, for such a fun day! I'm up for another one like it whenever you are!

And then there was this weekend. Antonello and I spent it camping overnight with our other spelunkin' friends. Saturday we set up the climbing course for the new caving students (Sunday was spent outside a cave, not inside one, teaching our new corsisti how to do the ropes), which meant Sunday night we set up campfire and cooked over it--plenty of non-vegetarian, Italian-style specialties, while I endulged in Feta and veggies, cooked in foil over the coals (it was delicious! who knew?).

from left: Paola, with her newly-burnt marshmallow; Claudio and Giacomo, with marshmallows over the campfire

The real cherry-on-top, though, was the s'mores. What's a campfire without s'mores, right? Antonello brought our supply of marshmallows and, as the idea of dessert popped into the heads of our fellow spelunkers, Antonello announced the evening's dolce: do-it-yourself-s'mores. The Italians went crazy. I'm not kidding--I've never seen the Italians so weirdly happy about an American idea. They had seen s'mores in various movies and, more famously, on the Simpsons, so their faces lit up--smiles everywhere--at the idea of this quintessentially American campfire treat. I couldn't help but be impressed, and a bit flattered, by this excitement as they lined up for their piece of chocolate and cracker sandwiches with a burnt-to-the-crisp marshmallow on their stick: it beat out their awe over peanut butter, even!

Antonello, ready for a nap after a tough morning of instructing new cavers

It's been a great few days, really. Between a Friday in Bologna with friends and a weekend of spelunking-practice, watching new cavers learn the ropes, s'mores, and the smell of campfire that permeated everything the next morning, I've felt very close to home. Nostalgic, yes--for campfires, old friends, summertime in general--but even better, I keep on finding that all of those precious things that I held to be truly American and truly "home" can co-exist here, even happily. And, finally discovering myself at home amidst good Italian friends and good American ones, as one day fades into the next--maybe the lines of our borders really are beginning to blur.

Just one thing to add: Eric and Corrie are coming to visit SOON (!!), and, just added from Cyndi and my trip to mini-Italy are these photos of places to visit for the upcoming trip (of course we can visit the life-sized versions instead of these mini-ones): Lucca, Genova, and bella Firenze! Can't wait to see you guys!

Dreaming in miniature: Lucca's duomo, Genova's Porta Soprano, Firenze's duomo and me



At 9:10 PM, Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Holy Moly, Jackie! You did it! You introduced marshmallows to Italians and lived to tell the story! What was your trick, how'd you do it? My friends just cringe at the idea. They hate peanut butter as well.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

not sure how I did it either, susan! Beforehand, wine had flowed freely, so perhaps they were a little tipsy? Anyway, it was truly amazing to see how excited they got! I'd never seen them like this in my life, not even after the introduction of Reeses cups!

At 2:41 AM, Blogger Texas Espresso said...

Im shocked! about the smores and the reeses! i cant even get my Italian to try them yet and hes living in America.hehe I will remember that wine trick *wink*

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

stacy: no reeses? strange! what DOES he like of our American cuisine if not those two things? huh. anyway, good luck! grappa works too!

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous rowena said...

I just broke out into the biggest grin when I read the part about the s'mores! I introduced them to my husband for the first time at a bonfire on the beach when we were in the islands. He just LOVED them and whenever we go back, it's always s'mores, hotdogs, sushi, and beer at a big roaring fire on the sand.

On the other hand, he's very choosy should we decide to go out and eat pizza. American pizza is junk. They put too many things on it, he says. Only italians know how to do it!

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

What is it with Italians, that somehow, whenever a marshmallow comes into play, they make a reference to The Simpsons? Note also hot chocolate, which merits an entire post of its own for how different it is here in Italy!
Sounds like you had a great time, thanks for sharing!

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Shirley said...

Ah ha, now I know what sperlunking is! I had been wondering, is it the same as pot-holeing? My parents used to do this.
Seems like you had an awesome time.
Also love your black and white Trieste photos.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

rowena: yay, another italian who loves marshmallows! getting Antonello to like sushi would be a big step, but he tries anything once. You're right though: even Antonello is choosy about his pizza and anything we'd think to be italian food--he will try almost anything in the states, but he would never claim American versions of Italian food to be 'Italian.' I actually kinda agree with him there, though!

Shelley: I've noticed that the Simpsons are brought up ANYTIME I'm discussing anything remotely 'American,' but yeah, they all agreed that they'd seen marshmallows on The Simpsons yet didn't actually believe they existed! (those mythical marshmallows...) I didn't bring up hot chocolate with them (despite the fact that we've got a ton of mini-marshmallows here at home just for that), but you're right--that merits it's own post entirely!

Shirley: I've noticed a lot of people don't know what spelunking is, but it's basically just caving. What is pot-holeing? Anyway, glad you liked the photos of Trieste! It's a beautiful city! Have you been?


At 12:16 PM, Blogger Shirley said...

Potholing (sorry was spelt wrong before) is what they call caving in the UK,I think it must be the same as spelunking.
Unfortunately I haven't been to Trieste yet, though its on my list with other northern towns.

At 10:58 PM, Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Jackie, (can't find your e-mail, so I'll leave this message to you here) I've just tagged you for a fantasy dinner-party meme. You certainly don't have to do it if you don't want to but I'd love to know what you'd make!

More info here:

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

susan: yay--thanks, yeah, i'd be glad to do a meme! i've already got ideas for the menu... :)

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

Had a great time with you in Bologna. It was so nice to meet Cathy and to eat a Greek lunch!

Too bad I didn't have any luck in the stores, but my sweet Danilo ran me to Ferrara the next day where I found a bunch of new clothes! Yea! Now I am back in the States and spending a small pile of money on new fall outfits!

Love the pictures from your trip. You will have to get some up, we are waiting to hear about your holiday.

Last but not least, loved the story about the smores. We made some for Danilo a couple of years of ago. It was so much fun watching him try them for the first time. He LOVED them. I will have to bring a supply back when I come.

Hope all is well. Fall is in full swing here in Indiana. Went to a fall feast yesterday, it was great! Apple cider, apple everything! Will take lots of pictures so you can share in my Iniana fall.


At 5:01 PM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

That should have been Indiana NOT Iniana... hehehehe.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...


sounds like the fall festival was wonderful! apple cider! my lord, i miss that stuff! i'm looking forward to fall-related things in november, but i think it's gonna be kinda late to endulge in fall, although thanksgiving will be a real treat i think. we made an apple pie last week for the caving people, and they were all like, "this is just like strudel." i was very defensive and said that it was not strudel at all, it was apple pie! apple american pie, for goodness sake! :)

more pictures from the trip soon. have a great time back home in Indiana!


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