My Italian Family

Trip Start Aug 08, 2008
Trip End Aug 17, 2008

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Monday, August 11, 2008

I am sitting in the living room with the family Le Rose watching fencing on the olympics with papa luigi and his granddaughter Giovanna. I feel like I am a long way from sitting in meetings just a few days ago.  Yesterday I took the bus from Florence to Greve.  The bus driver was a chain-smoking guy who was discreetly chair dancing to Shakira's 'hips don't lie' song.  It was quite funny.  The bus dropped me off in Greve, where there was a little Italian guy in an Orange shirt and brown pants waiting for me.  He had a small piece of paper he showed me that had my name on it.  He then handed me a longer note from Paola and Simonetta who run the cooking school.  The note explained that the driver is Michelle, that he doesn't speak English, but he is capable, nice and bright.  He looked like a mix between Robert Dinero and Joe Pesci if you can imagne that combination.  I rode through the countryside of CHianti with Michelle for about 30 minutes.  It was GORGEOUS. 

When I arrived, I immediately met Paola & Simonetta, and they showed me my room.  It is on the 3rd floor of the house, and it has a wonderful view over the vineyards and olive trees.  THe house has no air conditioning.  While it is not super hot, it is also not super cool if you know what i mean.  They are keeping the lights out in the house during the day to keep it cool. It has been in the mid 90's. After I was settled I went down to the kitchen while Paola worked on our dinner and her daughter Maggi (pronounced like a 'j' not a 'g') was setting the table.  Paoloa is about 50 years old, but she has an 11 year old and 7 year old daughter.  They are super cute, but very shy around me, the American stranger.  At about 8pm I sat down with their whole family including papa luigi (paola & simonetta's father), maggi, giovanna, simonetta, paola, and paola's husband who I don't know his name.  We had a first course of pasta, second was veal scallopini in lemon and fresh green beans.  Then we had fried zuchini flowers and homemade gelato for dessert.  It was superb, but very filling.  The whole family eats dinner together every night.

I was quite surprised when I met Paola's husband as he is not what I expected. He seriously looks kind of like a homeless drifter or grifter or something like that. She is attractive and cultured.  This may sound a bit strange,  but he is looking older than papa luigi even though he is probably 50 years old or something. He has long gray hair, and a long gray beard, and his face is very very wrinkly.  And he dresses in work clothes all of the time.  He is kind of a strange guy, but more so, he is simply not what I was expecting if that makes sense.
                Immediately when we sat down for dinner Maggi & Giovanna started arguing.  It was very funny because although I can't understand most of what they are saying, I can easily guess what the situation is.  They were fighting because they both wanted to sit by their mama.  Some things are the same across all cultures.  I went to bed pretty early last night, and the sleeping situation was ok.  The bed isn't too comfy, and it was a little bit warm for my preference, but it was decent.  For those of you wondering, I did get some mosquito bites.  I was kind of upset when I woke up with bites because everyone warned me to take repellent this time around.  But I thought to myself, well at least I can't hear them buzzing in my ears like the time in Florence.  But then a few minutes later they were buzzing in my ear.  So at about 2am I got up, and I used my one OFF wipe that I brought with me (leftover from the ones that Sam & Jeannie brought me in Florence 3 years ago!!)  Unfortunately that was my only one, so we'll see how the next 4 nights go.  The view makes up for everything.  I am now sitting in my room right by the window.  There is a great breeze and I am looking out over the countryside.  Bellissimo!!!
                Sorry this is so long.  Please don't feel guilty if you don't want to finish this entry.  I have met a lot of new people and whatnot over the last 24 hours so I am full of thoughts an dinformation.  I had my first cooking class today. First I must preface this all by saying I am the only student staying in the family's home. Everyone else stays at villas, b&bs or hotels.  Only people without cars or traveling alone stay at the house.  I will eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with the family, the whole family!  So today for the lesson there were 6 other people.  It will be a whole other group tomorrow for the cooking class, none of the same people.  Today it was a mother and daughter from Boston.  The mother is a psychologist and the daughter is 24 and has been teaching English to a family in Ravenna for the summer before starting grad school in Paris in September.  She will be there for 2 years.  I AM SO JEALOUS!!!!!  But then she started talking about student loans, so then I didn't feel quite so jealous.  They were really nice, but definitely upper-middle class or higher. Then there was 2 brothers from Toronto, with one of the brother's twin daughters.  The twins were a little crazy, especially one of them.  The one was pretty much rude and was acting like a baby most of the time.  It was an interesting dynamic.  One of the brothers is a top chef in Canada, so he was interesting to have around asking a whole new set of questions from what I generally would ask. So I cooked with all of these people this morning until about 1:30pm. Then we all ate and drank wine together.  WE had a summer spaghetti with tomatos and other fresh vegetables mixed in, miniature pizzas with tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella, turkey scallopini in a sauce of capers, tomatos, olives, and anchovies.  Don't be nastied out by the anchovies, you really couldn't taste them.  We also had beans ala fiasco. That is really what they were called.  They were boiled in a flask for 1 hour, and they were mixed with olive oil, salt, rosemary and sage.  I don't generally like those mushy types of beans, but these were really tasty.  I think I could eat those at home.  Everything was very simple to make and with fresh ingredients from the garden.  Yum.....  So just a bit ago everyone else left, so I am relazing this afternoon.  Maybe napping, reading, etc.  When it cools down I will hopefully take a walk to one of the nearby villages.  Maybe I can find a farmacia or somewhere where I can buy bug repellent, because I don't want to live surrounding by mosquitos all week.  Ok, now I am off to take a nap.  This is the good life!!!
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chorsman on


I am reading this at 11:15 p.m. and am getting hungry!

You need to try to find some of the citronella bracelets that Mary Ann gave me in Alaska. They seemed to work for me and they are not as nasty as rubbing chemicals all over your body. Hope you found something, though, so you don't suffer from bites all week long.

Love your blog--keep it up.

Love ya forever, Mom & Dad

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