Friday, February 26, 2010

Opera Adriana

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nerina's Recital and Greve in Chianti

I arrived at Nerina's recital early because I was told seats were filling up fast. I found a nice standing space on the wall near Ginevra and Nerina's father Andrea, who came from Rome to see his little girl perform. But just before the performance, which, typical Italian syle, started 30 minutes late, I was charged with grandma duty. Nerina's nonna had not arrived and Ginevra asked me to keep an eye out for her. I was not upset by this, though I didn't want to miss the recital. Luckily, just as the recital was about to begin, Nerina's nonna came marching up the steps (the woman knows no other gait--she's 83 years old and is more independent and domineering than her daughter, my boss). She never remembers me, so when I told her where her seat was in Italian, she looked at me as if to say, "What is this American, trying to speak Italian, doing at my granddaughter’s reciatal? " Well nonna found her place and I got wedged in behind the entrance door and a row of seats, which proved ideal for picture taking, but inconvenient if anyone wanted to get in or out--which happened throughout the entire performance. Regardless, the recital was adorable, as the children are still at the age where they think that the louder they yell, the better actors they are. Under this criterion, we have at least a dozen rising stars in our midst. Nerina had a small part as a narrator in a Grimm tale about a golden goose. I wasn't really focused on the plot to be honest. I was very proud of her and have some nice videos to share with anyone interested in seeing them. After the recital there was a school-family party with treats and small talk. I didn't stay long after I gave Nerina her congratulatory Valentine, because I felt very much out of place and didn't want my boss to feel she had to entertain me or introduce me to everyone. So, I went to pick up some wine at my favorite Enoteca where they call me Bellina and then went home to read and chat with my roommates.
On Sunday, Rachel and I got up early (8am) in order to join the small group going to Greve in Chianti, organized by Father Bruno. He's a sweet old man with a wry sense of humor and, I hate to say it, some disturbingly blue eyes. I don't trust Italians with blue eyes. I did, however, discover that he is from Verona. Those northern Italians tend to share the traits of their bordering neighbors. After a few hours with him as our tour guide in Chianti, I forgot about the unnatural eyes and simply enjoyed the beautiful countryside. Padre Bruno bought us all a glass of Chianti after our brief hike and then we headed back to Florence, which is only about 30 min away. It was a quick trip, but I'm glad I did something nice on San Valentino day and also got back in time to work on my presentation for my Literature of the Grand Tour of Italy class. (It went very well by the way. My professoressa, Simonetta, says I always do more than she expects--I think that's a compliment--and it made me happy.) I would do whatever that woman told me to; she's my idol.
In other news, Nerina is leaving me for a whole week to go on a skiing trip with her dad and cousin. Apparently her other grandmother owns a hotel in the mountains; the child is spoiled rotten. I have no idea what I am going to do for a whole week without her. I am going to a Fiorentina soccer game on Sunday, my host brother Tommaso just invited me to breakfast with him on Monday, and we are going to the opera again on Wednesday, so I guess I have plenty to do, but I will miss that girl. If I ever have a daughter, I pray (prego) that she is like Nerina. I might even swipe her name. Ci vediamo, we'll see. Oh, and Saturday I am having Japanese dinner with Rita, who has become my best Italian friend. We went to aperetivo on Wednesday and it was a really nice place. Rita also wants to go on a trip to Croatia with me. Croatia was not on my original destination list, but for only 100 euros, I will definitely go. Also, we're going to that club in Pisa again soon. I will spend the night at Rita's house again, and then we want to go to Siena together . All of you who are coming to visit me will have to meet her. Ok, that's enough for now. As soon as I get ready, I am going to the Florence Natural History Museum. I love taxidermy... Ciao tutti! I miss you.

Amo, Melissa

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Carnivale Foti

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Buongiorno ragazzi

Solo guardare, ma non comprare. My language exchange partner, Rita, taught me this little line that is not only fun to say, but applicable to every moment of my life here in Italy. It translates to "Only looking, but not buying." It is so nice to have a regular income with my job so I can see and do things I would otherwise have been too poor to afford, but it is still a tricky business just getting to class and not poking my head into one of the dozens of bookstores and binderies here in Florence. Two days ago I bought a dual language edition of Pinocchio (written by a Florentine) that was published in Florence and is illustrated by children. It is the most beautiful book I have ever bought, and that includes the hundreds of dollars I spent on leather-bound vanity books, which, let's be honest, I am too scared to open. And then yesterday I bought an Italian book of idioms and expressions. It's more of a workbook really, but I have had a crossword itch for months now and this is a nice way to cure it. But I am saving money, Mom!
So, back to Rita: She invited me to dinner with her family this Friday and a night out in Pisa at some classy disco club. I don't know how classy disco clubs are in Italy. In Germany, the one I went to was clean and people gave you your space, but for some reason, I don't think that will happen here. I think the Italian man stereotype, for the most part, is true. Per esempio, when passing Italian men (of all ages) on the street, if you express any sort of interest, such as a smile or what would be considered a felicitous greeting in America, you will most likely have a tag-along for the next few minutes, saying things like "Ciao bella," "You have beautiful eyes," or "Sei Americana?" But, I have learned to just look determined/pissed at the world while I am walking and they leave me be. My roommate Jennifer, a thin blonde, has a tough time, but she'll figure it out. She's a smart girl.
I think after class, if I don't have to pick Nerina up from school, I will go see a film at the Odeon. It has been a while since I have been to the cinema (I am still bummed about missing the Middle Eastern film festival) and An Education is playing. It looks decent. A young woman wants to go to Yale (or maybe Harvard) and falls in love with an older man...we'll see. If not, Nerina and I will have fun with her 3-D puzzle she got for Carnivale and I will teach her Dean Martin's "That's Amore," because she has apparently never heard it. Oh, and Nerina's recital is on Saturday. I am really looking forward to it. I am even skipping out on the ISA trip to Sienna, which everyone says is a big mistake. Yes, I have already payed for it, and yes Sienna is supposed to be gorgeous, but I want to see my little Nerina dressed like a duck and singing in Italian with the rest of her second grade class!! To prove a point, I am going to Sienna by myself on Sunday. Happy San Valentino's day to me. I'm off to Italian class now. Buonagiornata e a presto.

Friday, February 5, 2010


It is Carnivale here in Italia and to celebrate Nerina's mother is throwing a party for her daughter and 50 other children, at their house, and I'm chaperone. Because I am insensitive to this tradition, I would describe Carnivale as a classy Halloween. In Vencie it used to last 6 months of the year! Now it is only a week and a half during the month of Febuary and is really more for the children than an excuse for adults to be drunk and wanton. At Nerina's party there will be helium balloons everywhere, paper on the walls for the children to draw on, professional entertainers, popcorn, paninis, and costumes! Little Nerina will be an elf she insists that I be her ladybug a.k.a her mode of party transportation. Ginevra bought me a black and red sequined mask to wear and the rest of the costume I will have to come up with before 10:30 a.m. tomorrow when I am to report for duty, though the party doesn't begin until 3:30. Ginevra basically told the parents to just drop their kids off--it's going to be a mad house, but boy am I excited.
Tonight, instead of doing my homework, I am going to a Middle Eastern film festival which lasts until Sunday. The movies playing tonight are Iranian with English and Italian subtitles. My roommates may join me, but we shall see how they are feeling. I forget how tiring it is to adjust to living in a new country. I forgot how lost I felt in Florence my first few weeks and how overwhelmed I felt trying to avoid all the Italian faux pas, meeting so many new people, learning a new language. I still feel that way sometimes. I'm off to the movies now. Ciao ragazzi!

Pisa Pictures

Monday, February 1, 2010


C.J. was a sweetheart and bought us tickets to climb the tower. I am so glad he did, beacause I never would have realized how beautiful Pisa's not quite as discenerable from the ground. Grazie fratello di mio.