Monday, July 21, 2008

4 Wonderful Days with Romina and family

We flew into Milano late, took a bus to the Metro, then met Romina at her Metro stop. She drove us to her house and we collapsed into bed. The next morning, Anna and Colin couldn't wait to meet their new friends, Leonida (age 3) and Martino (age 1). Despite the language barrier, the kids got along really well. Leo especially loved Anna, and wanted to hold her hand everywhere we went.

The first morning we just walked into town, then came back for a beautiful lunch Romina made. It was a beautiful day to eat in the garden. We had pasta salad - with tomatoes, basil, arugula, and mozzarella - as well as a PLATTER of prosciutto and fresh juicy sweet cantaloupe.

Since we were there with kids, again we visited the playgrounds. This one had a zip cord that was a huge hit. Anna wants Anthony to build her one in the backyard.
Romina and her family and friends were so generous and kind to us. One day her extended family - her mom and husband, her brother and fiance, as well Romina and Corrado and the kids - planned a big day for us to all caravan to some historic sites together. First we went to a medieval town that had been restored and was full of little artisan shops.
One of the shops had local meats, and they treated us to an appertivo of proscuitto and salami - it was incredible.

Later we had another amazing lunch that they had all prepared for us - torta di vedura (like a spinach quiche in a pastry crust), pasta salad, chicken salad, bread, fresh fruit. I am very sorry we did not get a photo of it. They also opened, no kidding, 4 different bottles of local wines for us to try. Then, the masterpiece - Romina's mom had made a crostada di marmelada (cherry jam tart).

It was fantastic! We really admired how these people lived and enjoyed life - not just all this wonderful food, but how easy they were in each other's company, how they all just pitched in and had no expectations of being entertained. After the medieval town, we drove to a nearby castle.It was great, but the tour was in rapid Italian. Ironically, while Romina was out with her rambunctious boys, her mother would turn and explain the tour to me - in Italian - and I could understand her just fine. She would speak slowly and simply and repeat herself a lot, so that helped. Also, she is extremely expressive.
Anna was still bored.

We also had a wonderful bike ride through the Lombardy countryside - lots of flat roads through fields of rice, corn, and wheat. Romina would cook for us at night or we would order amazing thin crust pizzas from her local pizzeria.

The last full day we went to Lago di Como.

It was so much cooler up in the mountains, and very beautiful. Sadly, we did not see George. (Clooney has a villa there.) We did make use of the many water fountains - this one looked like an ornate dragon with clear, fresh, mountain water spewing from his mouth.
Italy is "drowning"in water, and much of it is either fresh from the mountain snows or bubbling up from mineral rich aquifers. Everywhere are fountains for drinking, washing your hands, and the water is cold and delicious. Italians empty their plastic water bottles with the dregs that remain that they paid for, then hold it under the tap for fresca, fredda acqua.

Across the lake, we saw a diagonal train track stepping up the mountain. A funiculare!
Funiculi, funicula! We got on at the bottom of the hill:
On the way up we could see all of the beautiful town of Como, and the huge cathedral.
We got off at the top and walked for some more incredible views.
You could see hundreds of miles - all the little towns, the huge lake, the snow covered alps in the distance. An amphibious plane droned below us.
We rode back down, had some gelato, then toured the cathedral.
The altar - looks small in this photo but was massive with all its marble.
Here is HALF of the pipe organ, located at the transept of the church. The other half faced it in a mirror image on the other side. Luckily for us, the organist was practicing. Colin especially liked it. "I can hear those big pipes, Mommy!" he'd say on an especially low note.

Of course, beautiful art everywhere - paintings, tapestries, scultures...
And, more dead people.
Our friends were so kind to let us crash into their lives for a few days. They had to get back to work and we had to get to the sea, so we said a sad farewell as we left to get on the trains. Anna and Colin wanted to stay with them forever, and Leo didn't want us to leave - even cried when we left. Too bad its not that simple. I'm sure we'll all be getting together again in a few years. Until then, grazie per tutti, ci vidiamo alla prossima volta, ciao, ciao, ciao!

Italy, to be continued....


Joey said...

Wow. Just amazing. I totally see everyone sitting around a table, laid back and enjoying everyone's company (just like they do in "Under the Tuscan Sun"). We Americans need to learn to relax and enjoy one another. What a fantastic vacation. Italy is definitely one of my dream vacations.

Anonymous said...

Wow,Jennifer,you have taken some wonderful pictures and captured it all so beautifully..really makes me want to visit that lovely place..I think Anna and Colin will remember that visit! Aunty Norma. x

get2eric said...

When you said George, I thought for a moment you were looking for 43.

Anonymous said...

Wow, again, so beautiful. I have started going through ALL of the photos of Italy, and they are awesome. The one that stood out to me was the picture of the fruit tort - yummy! The kids truly have a wonderful memory to look back on.
Love, M

Anonymous said...

OOPS, tart!

peevish said...

Ahhh, refreshing. I especially like the photo of bored Anna. How could anyone be bored surrounded by such beauty?

Can't wait for part 2.


EdamameMommy said...

Wow I missed a lot of your blog. What a summer! Seems like you made quantum leaps in exposing your children to the world since we last hugged.

mainlyclearskies said...

After visiting Italy, I decided I couldn't use the word 'awesome' in normal conversation anymore. It's just truly awesome. Your pictures are great and it sounds like a fabulous time - even with no George. :)

Emily said...

I want to go!
I, too, loved the picture of bored Anna. I remember being bored as a child, and now I long for such stretches of idleness.

Anonymous said...

Hey,Bev! who ya callin' a Tart?? :o) best pictures ever,Jennifer..A.Norma.x