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