May 27, 2010

Sea, Sun and Tango! Sardegna here we come!

Imagine that....it's been raining. And today, we are going to pack up the big bike and head off to Sardegna...in rain. Who'da guessed the end of May would be so wet.

Well, the weekend jaunt includes lots of sunshine on Sardenian beaches, tango only for me as A doesn't dance and a brief tour of the island. Nice...for me...as I look around and absorb the island beauty. For A, I'm told he'll have to be using an eagle eye to watch out for the million potholes that pucker the road and the occasional sheep that thinks asphalt is edible.

And then there will be Paolo, an online acquaintance that has become a friendship and who will also be there to twirl me around the dance floor and I am sure...to make me laugh. Paolo don't forget to tell me the story of your Argentinian dance shoes.

This weekend plans are certainly a great way to end the May madness. So glad it's finally arrived. Rain or not, it's going to be a BLAST!!!!!

May 26, 2010

Sticks, Stones, Biscuits and Bones

May has been unbelievably busy and I haven't written or visited anyone for practically the entire month. This post is one of the reasons why I have been occupied. The time I usually spent online, I am now spending with this little one.

Why does she look like a scrawny little rat? Because we went for a walk with Argo and as A took hold of Argo to toss him into a pond, Argo's protesting legs gathered up the little one and took her over the edge with him. It was her first flight and her first bath. But we know now that she is a very good swimmer.

Choosing a name was not easy and I got a lot of good suggestions. In the end, I used Lee's idea of the hat full of names I liked and out of it came "Tala". It is a two syllable word so it's easy to yell out when she is eating my plants. It's Native American for 'wolf' which has been one of my favorite wild animals and appropriate as she "wolfs" down her food. And since A's nickname for me is Pocahontes, it seems right the lot fell to a Sioux name. I like that the wolf represents our instinctive nature that is wild and natural. We'll see if she lives up to her name. Oh, if you read this Bob, as cute as Piy would be, I couldn't think of her living up to her name and becoming dessert.

Gone are the days of sleeping in a little late. Now I am out for walks in the woods, crossing streams and scrambling up hills before it's even 7:30am. And in the evenings, when I could be sitting comfortably on the sofa with my computer, I'm out playing tug o'war with an insistent adversary.

And the title refers to all the things she eats or tries to eat.

Before I go tonight, Tala sends a "woof, woof, sniff, sniff" to Simi in Sicily.

May 17, 2010

These soccer loving Italians...

It was the first day of real sunshine with little to no threat of dark clouds or rain and we decided to go to the piazza for icecream. On the way, a small call passed quietly, but with a huge flag held out the window. My first thought was that a school team had won their match and these were on on the way back from the field. 

At the square, I saw more flags being waved madly around so, I had to ask what the hullaballoo was all about. Typical, of course from an idiot foreigner. Any Italian male, female, child and perhaps dog, would have been able to tell me that fans of the soccer team Inter, were celebrating their national victory over Siena in the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup)...and that the games have only been going on for months and months. 

Our little square was packed, the Duomo's piazza transformed itself into black and blue as bodies crammed into the area to celebrate. So many people were out to mark this moment...everywhere...all over Italy. And this is just because a percentage of the population were happy their team won. I can only imagine the pandemonium in 2006 when Italy won the World Cup!!!

May 12, 2010

It was raining a little during the day, what we call drizzle, but it was enough to keep Sunday strollers out of the town center. We threw on our rain jackets and headed out because there was to be a motorbike exhibition at 6pm in the main square.

We were disappointed to see that the show was already underway and after a mere 20 minutes or so, they wrapped it up. The culprit? This blasted weather. They decided to begin sooner than advertised as they feared the unstable weather would scare off the few people who turned out.

Here's a couple of shots of what some sick people can do on a bike.

I had no idea what was coming so I wasn't ready for him. Look up in the trees for the flying red.

And when not catching major air...they are slowly "walking" down stairs and hopping back up while on their bike. If you notice, there is no seat, so no "worries".

If I ever figure out why I can't download my videos, I'll post one of those later. And no, I don't endeavor to do any of these things. I am happy to have both wheels on the ground at the same time.

May 9, 2010

Parade of the Italian Alpine Troops

The mountain militia or "Gli Alpini" are celebrating today in a parade through Bergamo streets, a celebration that is likely to last all day. It's not the best weather for an outdoor celebration but from coverage on TV, it hasn't stopped the crowds from jamming the "sidewalks". 

I am fascinated with war stories, both for the men on the front lines and also the stories of the women left behind. So I wanted to know more about these people sporting their strange hats adorned with a feather. 

(The "Capello Alpino" or Alpine hat is decorated with a black raven feather, which gave the soldiers the nickname of "Le Penne Nere" or the Black Feathers.) 

Way, way back, when Italy extended its borders and needed to defend them, someone was clever enough to recruit the mountain men to form brigades to protect the area. It made sense, as these men already were intimately acquainted with the mountainous terrain and well versed to survive the harsh climate. 

The brigades fought mainly in the mountainous regions of the north, around where I live, across the head of Italy, through towards Aquila, which became unfortunately well-known for it's devastating earthquake a year ago. In WW2, forces were sent out of the country to Africa and to Russia to fight. Today, there is a brigade stationed in Afghanistan. 

Back to the coverage of the parade though. You know how you feel an allegiance to the country you are living in?...well, if you like living where you are. In the States, I read so many accounts of the Allies against the Axis, that I identify with the Allied side of things. Watching the parade, I can feel my mind grating against the whole idea of the Italians celebrating their victories. Because in my head, they were never on the winning side. Allies landed in Sicily and fought Italians and paved a bloody story up Italy's boot. Of course I conveniently forget they have been around since 1872.

And then I realize that Italians as individuals need to be proud of their accomplishments. They too were fighting for their country...they did what they were ordered to do. I know too that this doesn't mean they were in agreement with their leader at the time. Almost everyone who has talked about WW2 with me hate what their country stood for and Mussolini. 

But forgetting all that, this parade today is about celebrating pride in a military specialty, in continuing a tradition that is slowly being faded out, about remembering national as well as personal triumphs and about working together as a team. It's important.


May 7, 2010

Interviewed by Italy online Magazine

Like many people who love Italy and absorb anything Italian, whether wine, food or movies, I found fulfillment with a dose of the online magazine Italy. It covers so many topics it becomes a springboard for further exploration into other areas all about Italy.

I didn't expect to one day find myself IN it. Thanks to Pat Eggleton from Sicily Scene, who writes for Italy Magazine, Romancing Italy has been included in a series that covers various blogs about Italy. Check out the article here and then take a moment to surf around their site. I am sure you will enjoy it.

And thanks again, Pat for the interview.

May 3, 2010

Solar panels for shade at Italian rest-stops.

Today there is glorious sunshine and that makes me happy. It's going to be a good day!

And that made me think of happy things, like travel. Which made me think of this pic that I took on one of our trips some time ago. How clever is this... Solar panels used to provide shade in the parking lots.

What a great way to "kill two birds with one stone".


May 1, 2010

Italian law and your dog.

Some time ago we made arrangements to add a new puppy to our household...a black lab. Seeing it was only 10 days old at the time, I understood I would have to wait until it was the right time for it to leave its mamma. By the way, don't know if I mentioned that black labs are not popular over here. The light color labs are "it".

I just asked about it (haven't seen it, and don't know if it will be a male or female) because, well, I'd like to have it before it gets too big. Puppies are adorable and I'd like to enjoy the puppyhood and train it myself.

Well, I just learned that over here, they have to put a microchip in each and every dog. And then when someone buys or takes possession of the dog, they have to do a transfer of ownership...which I am sure you have to pay for. Why do things have to become complicated?

Before the microchip solution, Italian law required that dogs were tattooed on their bodies and on their ear. Instead of this method, they can now have the microchip injected by a vet, who issues ID papers which then allows one to register the pet. A dog has to be registered 45 days after birth or 10 days after getting it. This applies to all dogs, pure breeds and mixes alike.

So I continue to wait....