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Just an ordinary week here in the Lioce household…school, work, errands, blah, blah, blah.   The weather was rainy on the weekend so no new adventures to report.    I can’t complain after what I’ve heard about weather on the East Coast.  My heart goes out to you (snicker, snicker).   

The good news is we (the boys and I) are making new friends.  We’ve had a couple playdates in the last couple weeks.   Meeting woman friends does feel like dating sometimes.   I wonder, “How will I meet someone nice?  How do I ask her if she wants to do something?  Will we have anything in common?  What will she think of me….and the kids?”  Thankfully, the people I have met are friendly and interesting.

After a visit this afternoon, I realized I have an Ikea problem.  After discussing setting up house and our recent furniture additions, it became clear that everything was purchased at Ikea.    Do you think they have a support group?  Perhaps I should contact Ikea and suggest they take catalog pictures here.  Well, I suppose it’s not so bad; easier on the wallet than a Pottery Barn addiction.  (You know who I’m talking to out there.) 

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Everyone knows that Italian food rocks.  We’ve been eating well.  The beauty of it is I’ve lost around 8 pounds without even trying.  I think it’s a combination of the food and extra walking I do as a matter of course.  Go Mediterranean cuisine!  A dish I made recently was from a Jamie Oliver (http://www.jamieoliver.com/) recipe but definitely Italian.  It was called Pappardelle with Dried Porcini and Thyme, Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce.   I even made the fresh pasta.  Delicious.   Try this at home, kids!

Preparing the "funghi"

The finished product

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Last random thought for this post.  What do you think of my new sewing box?  I love it!

Sewing box for today's woman!


Seeing as I’m totally hopped up on caffeine today, I thought it was a good day to talk about the phenomena of coffee in Italy. “Taking a coffee” is an important part of Italian culture. It is a delicious and endlessly charming experience. Did you know that the success of Starbucks was inspired by the Italian coffee culture but there aren’t any Starbucks in Italy? From personal experience, I can tell you Italian coffee is much better and cheaper, too! An Italian person would choke if the barista charged 4€ for what passes as a cappuccino in the US. Coffee is taken in bars at all times of the day. The word “bar” does not the same meaning as it does in the U.S. Some do sell alcohol but it is not the sole focus. Bars in Italy always have the long, high counter and will sometimes have seating. It is more common to stand and drink your coffee. It isn’t like a US coffee shop where you hang out for hours using the wireless network. You drink your coffee and go. Most have some snack-like food with pastries in the morning and sandwiches and pizzetta in the afternoon. You may stop at a bar and prendo un caffè several times through out the day. I generally stop at least once a morning when I’m out running errands.

If you’re ever in Italy, it’s important to know:

  • You drink coffee in cups not plastic or paper
  • There is no such thing as take-away coffee; you don’t drink it while walking or driving
  • You should only drink cappuccino only in the morning; macchiato is okay in the afternoon (only has a little milk)
  • Caffè Americano bears little resemblance to American coffee. It really is expresso with extra hot water added. I wouldn’t touch the stuff!

If you’re a dedicated coffee drinker, you may have an expresso machine at home. We, like many Italians, prepare coffee at home in a “Moka”. We heat milk and take it with our Moka in the morning. Once you get used to this, it’s almost impossible to drink American coffee!

Our beloved "Moka"

I thought you might be interested in what homes look like in Italy.  Here are a couple pictures of our kitchen. We’ve almost gotten it to where we like it. Of course, our house has an American flair considering our belongings. The Italian homes I’ve been in so far have a distinctly modern and spartan flair. They have so much less “stuff” cluttering up their homes. I don’t know how they do it. I’m totally jealous!

La nostra cucina

La nostra cucina

 

Sitting area of kitchen


Russell on the swing

I am truly beginning to appreciate the mild climate in South Italy.  Yesterday, January 16th, we went for a day trip to a little town called Giffoni sei Casali.   We wore only fleece pullovers and we were actually a bit hot.   The sun was bright as we took a short hike through a park which is a part of a long trail system called  G.A.L. Colline Salernitane  (http://www.galcollinesalernitane.it/itinerari/Default.asp).   We intend to return for a longer hike; yesterday was a scouting mission.  The kids had a great time.  Duilio used a compass to help us with maintain our direction and Russell took notes like his favorite character, Jack, in the Magic Tree House books. 

Duilio on the swing

Giffoni is an adorable town famous for its children’s film festival (http://www.giffoniff.it/en/index.php).  You would have never known it yesterday.   On a Sunday afternoon around 1:00 pm, it is deserted as all decent Italians are inside eating their Sunday lunch.  Stores are closed; only a few tweens and teenagers were outside chatting it up in the piazza. 

We ended our outing with a delicious lunch at “Il Vecchio Refuge”.  The four of us had a primo piatto; Luca and I also had a secondo piatto and wine – all for €42.   Gotta love Italy.

Il Vecchio Refuge


2010 was an eventful year for us.   Of course, moving to Italy was our biggest event.  We spent months preparing to go and months on the other side getting settled.  Despite that, we managed to fit in a lot of fun and travel.  We went camping in the U.S. before we left.  I’ve yet to see anything that beats the natural beauty in the US.   We also visited beautiful and fascinating places in Italy once we moved.  (It seemed like the right thing to do since we didn’t have a place to live yet!)   We stayed in a castle in Umbria and visited cities like Assisi, Perugia and Bevagna.  In our own area, we’ve visited Paestum, Amalfi and Sorrento.  So many places to explore.    

We’ll also remember 2010 as the year Luca became a U.S. citizen and the year I left the Air National Guard after 23 years.    I’ll experience a new world in the AF Reserves. 

We’re settled now and adjusting to our new life.  The boys are picking up Italian like sponges and making friends at school.  I’m also getting the hang of things here.  Luca is enjoying his new position.  2011 is going to be a good year.  I can feel it.  It has to be when it started out with a new baby in the family.  Luca’s brother and his wife had a baby girl on the 1st!   

May you all be happy and prosperous in this wonderful New Year.

Our Year in Review…