Giovedi pomeriggio e sera, we got some rain. Mere sprinkles, really. Sara and Patrizio told me that it rained a lot when the Meredith students were here from mid-May to mid-June, but that it really hasn’t pioveva since.
Patrizio has been bemoaning the slow death of his guardino, and the rest of us are longing for the cooler temperatures a good, hard rain would bring. Sfortunatamente, all the little sprinkle brought us was more humidity than we had previously – granted, it is nothing like the humidity we face on a regular basis in North Carolina, but when one becomes accustomed to the lack of it, an increase is quite noticeable!
When I got back from the internet point that afternoon, I had the house to myself for a while because Sara was still out with Leo and Gigia visiting the great aunt and Patrizio was biking or something. I enjoy the stillness, though I prefer it in small doses because, in the end, I love the bustle and energy that comes when the kids are home. Patrizio got back first, so I sat in the kitchen while he started dinner and we tried our best to talk in our respective second languages without the help of Sara, which was good, but hard – she helps so much! As a result, we had to break into the Italiano-Inglese dictionario quite frequently. Then, before long, the rest of the family was back and the dull roar of “LO-LO!” and “basta!” returned. I wish I could film one of our dinners and post it for you to witness, because it really is one of the most entertaining ordeals sometimes!
After dinner the noisy pair went on a bike ride with their babbo, so Sara and I had little Veronica and a quiet house. The rest of the quiet period consisted of bathing and changing the bambina, putting her to bed, starting the laundry, folding the laundry, straightening up, etc. And then when Patrizio returned with Leonardo and Ginevra and the bedtime rituals of bathing, reading, buona notte-ing, and so on took place, along with the usual exclamations of “No, no, NO!” and unintelligible Italian squawking from Ginevra. So as you see, bedtime can be highly amusing too (well, for me anyway … I can tell it gets old sometimes for Sara and Patrizio!).
Venerdi brought August along, and with it another molto caldo giorno. That morning Ginevra got her haircut (although, both Sara and I commented that it looked like they hardly took any off at all – probably because she was squirming), and I played with Leonardo and Veronica in the backyard while Sara made a quick run to the supermercato. Leonardo brought a cd player outside and played the same song over and over and over until I at long last truly empathized with my parents (I did the same as a child … and preteen … and teenager). Sometimes it takes firsthand experience to truly bring about heart change!
After about ten o’clock or so the heat really set in and so Sara and I kept the kids indoors and tried to keep them happily engaged until Patrizio came home around 13:00. To our relief, Patrizio made us more delicious panesanella – a cold salad-like dish (refer back to my first Italy post for a picture), which was followed by full, juicy uve verde (green grapes) and then sliced formaggio with honey drizzled on top. Perfetto.
After Sara and I had cleaned up and the kids were all sleeping, Patrizio took me over to visit the Bankers (Maureen and Jim), particularly so I could see their delightful house and yard. The Bankers live in what was Sara and Patrizio’s first house, so there are a lot of memories in that place for the two of them. It was probably the sweetest little home I have ever seen. Here is how I described it in a recent email:
“[The house is settled] among the Tuscan hills with a cows and horses for neighbors – and all I can say is, [the Bankers] live as I live in my happiest dreams! Their house is made up of three small rooms (it used to be a barn), and was actually the house that Patrizio and Sara lived in when they were first married. Before the wedding, Patrizio and his father worked to convert the barn into a home, and his uncle helped build the indoor cabinetry, etc. The result of their labor is the loveliest little house, the kind that makes you feel you are at home the moment you walk through the door. And, to add to its overall appeal, the surrounding land is equally enchanting. During the preparation of the house, Patrizio also cultivated the outdoors into a garden … and what a garden it is! There are all sorts of fruit trees (cherry, plum, nectarine, persimmon, pear), walnut trees (two of them support a hammock in between), vegetables like squash, eggplant, tomatoes (and more) that grow on the side of a sloping hill out back, and a view that rivaled all I have ever thought beautiful [… b]asically it seemed an embodiment of absolute perfection!”
When Leo was about a year old, Sara e Patrizio had to leave it and move into their current house because they knew they wanted to expand their family – and expanding a structure of any kind in Tuscany is about as complicated as getting a visa to live there. All I could think about as Maureen showed me around was how idyllic it all was, and how much I wanted to live in a place like it someday. It was like something out of a novel, but so down to earth and modest at the same time – no “marble halls” or anything of extreme monetary value. Just life. It was so full of life, life and beauty. And, of course, Jim, Patrizio, Maureen, and I had a wonderful time talking as well, all the while eating walnuts and plums from the trees outside. I loved it!
Sabato, ieri, was another hot day, but a nice, slow one. Patrizio had worked a night shift and wasn’t coming back until mid-morning, so Sara and I took the kids to il parco around 9:30 or so to enjoy the outdoors while it was still bearable.
On the way to the park Sara stopped in to buy bread at a local bakery, so I waited outside on the cobblestone streets with two strollers and an antsy little Leo wanting to take off on his bike. While we waited, and older Italian woman came up to me and started rattling off in italiano, which took me by surprise, but thankfully I was still able to respond with a laugh and say, “Sono americana – io parlo inglese!” (“I’m an American – I speak English!”). I wish I could proudly tell you that I answered her in flawless Italian, but I am not quite there yet! However, I was immensely flattered that she had mistaken me for a native. That means I’m not sticking out like an awkward foreigner anymore!
Later that afternoon I went out on my own to make a few necessary purchases, mainly the long elusive stamps and some more tank tops to defy the incredibly hot weather. As I was walking around Sansepolcro, I couldn’t help but notice (and laugh) at the difference among the response to me when I am out with Sara and the kids versus when I am out by myself. See, before leaving I thought dyeing my hair brown would be the best way to avoid calling unnecessary attention to my person, but this has not proved as affective a technique as that of the stroller and/or baby-on-the-hip method. When I am pushing a stroller I can tell that I am practically nonexistent/invisible to the opposite sex, but when I am both stroller- and child-less, the response is quite the opposite. It seems I misjudged when it came to what changing my hair color would be good for, because while I undoubted blend in better, it seems that attention from the male sex is generated not by the color of my hair or my country of origin but rather from my status as a living, breathing female. However, the good news is that my “don’t even think about messing with me” facial expression has so far proved unilingual and extremely affective – it seems to work every bit as well in Italia as in the States. And honestly, while Italian men in general may be more blatant with their eyes, they are not aggressive (here, anyway) and I never feel in any way threatened – just annoyed.
In other news, life without AC has been interesting for me, but for the most part I appear to have adjusted quite well. I had a dizzy spell after dinner last night, but after drinking more water and laying down for a while felt just fine. Sara and Patrizio think it was probably just a mix of being in sun a lot that day, still getting used to not having AC, and general tiredness – and the wine at dinner didn’t help either. They were telling me that if you are already dehydrated, hot, or tired even a half glass of wine (which is about all I had) can make you dizzy.
Mom and Dad, you will like this: now that they know I need to drink more water, Sara and Patrizio are both always asking if I need more water (and I am consistently accepting the offers, so I should be good now). They said it is even very hot for them right now, and they aren’t used to AC, so they are being so considerate of me and trying to make my survival of the heat minus the luxury I am used to as easy as possible. I can’t stop saying how wonderful they are!
Today I met one of their neighbors that had been on vacanze, and yet again the lovely sensation of being told that I looked so much younger than my age. Now, this is a frequent enough occurence in the U.S., so being confused for a younger girl is nothing new to me, but the number of times it has happened over here has surprised me. "Almost twenty-one? Miseracordia ("mercy!"), I thought you were much younger than that. No, really, I thought you were considerably younger." Hmmmmm ... grazie? I can't quite figure it out - I mean, it could be considered more of a compliment here, or maybe I just look younger than most 20-somethings here. Who knows?
Tonight we are all heading over to Sara’s parents’ house to celebrate her mother’s birthday. I am very excited about going because I love being around that entire family and, to top it off, I know that there will be loads of amazing food involved as well! Talk about a winning combination, right?
Then, to close off the evening, Sara, Patrizio, and I decided that we would put the kids to bed early tonight (early for them being 21:30 – 9:30 p.m.!) and then start watching Orgoglio e Pregiudizio, the Italian-dubbed version of the one we just watched in English. So now the roles are to be reversed, and I will be relying on quick listening and/or subtitles. I might even just ask them to put on Italiano subtitles, because I know the movie so well and, being a visual learner, I think it would help me to see the sentences written out. I think it’s going to be terrific – great for my Italian and fun for them to watch it in their language!
That’s all I have for now. From here on out I will be posting on Sunday afternoons (midday-ish for you) only to cut down on Internet point costs … so I am afraid they will be both infrequent and long, like the last one. Bear with me until Siena – I think I will be able to post more often and in smaller chunks then.
Until next Sunday! Have a wonderful week wherever you are and whatever you are doing, and never hesitate to email me if you get the chance because I can check my email daily on Sara’s home computer.