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Bay of Naples with Vesuvius in the background

Last Saturday we decided to take a day trip to Naples.  Naples is only about 45 minutes away yet we hadn’t been there yet.  Why?  Because Naples gets a lot of bad press so we haven’t been eager to go.  All you hear of are the Cammora (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camorra), the garbage problem and petty theft.     We were ready for the short drive to Naples after we removed our watches and jewelry, left my purse at home and took only the small camera.      Throughout history, Naples had many different rulers (Roman, Byzantine, Aragonese, Spanish, Bourbon) resulting in many different types of architecture and some pretty cool castles.    The bay of Naples is stunning with Vesuvius looming in the distance.   

We took a nice walk through the center mostly in the Via Toledo area seeing the restaurant where the famous Pizza Margherita was created.     

via Toledo

Restaurante Brandi

We also stopped at the gigantic Piazza del Plebiscito to give the kids a “break”.  Russell indulged in his favorite city pass time of chasing pigeons.   

Piazza del Plebiscito

Russell & Duilio in Piazza del Plebiscito

Russell chasing pigeons

Russell's camera face

Duilio - what a little man

 

For me, the highlight of the trip was seeing “The Veiled Christ”. (http://www.museosansevero.it/inglese/cappellasansevero/cristovelato.html)  It’s a truly amazing sculpture.

I’m sure we’ll take many more trips to Naples.  There is so much to see.  Of course, we’ll leave our watches at home.


I received a comment on my blog from a woman named Ashley who is an R.N.  She is considering moving to Salerno and is looking for information about living and working here.

I stopped for a moment and really assessed what I think about living in Salerno.  This is my reply to Ashley.

Ciao Ashley,

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to assess what I really think about living in Salerno.   It has not always been an easy road for me.   I believe that speaking Italian is essential or you will feel isolated. Most people do not speak English well.   However, it is possible to learn the language and I have found that the most people are very supportive of foreigners’ attempts to speak Italian.  Some people will even very politely correct you.  I have run into the odd grump here and there but I don’t worry myself about it.   There is also an excellent Italian language school which I attended called Academia Italiana (http://www.accademia-italiana.it/?lang=en).  

I can’t speak to the job market.  There are several hospitals around and a large population so I would think that you would be able to find work.   If you seriously consider moving, I can get the names of the hospitals to give you a start.

Salerno is a nice city with a good sized historic center.  The city isn’t large but it is big enough to have theater, a wide range of restaurants and a night life.   It runs along the sea with a well kept lungomare (promenade) which is a busy place when the weather is nice.   The government seems progressive and the city is kept clean.  (In the South of Italy, people feel free to throw garbage everywhere.  It’s disgusting.)    Apartments cost more than we expected but there is a wide range of housing.  You can live in the historic center close to everything but parking is difficult.  We chose to live in a more residential area since we have small children.    I can still walk to the center within ½ hour. 

The weather is great, especially when you come from a climate like New England.   It’s rainy in late fall and early spring but beautiful other than that.  You have easy access to the Amalfi Coast and other beautiful and historic places.    There is a small airport outside Salerno and one in Naples, about an hour away. 

Food is cheap, delicious and fresh.

The people here are generally friendly and kind, except when they drive.  Traffic is annoying and constant.  Driving is terrible.  In my opinion, it ranks up there with South American cities.    Scooters are a good option if you like to live dangerously. 

For me, the negatives have more to do with raising a family and missing my family in the US.  I’m not impressed with the schools, at least not yet.    In any case, I will supplement the boys’ education at home so they learn to read and write English properly.  Also, I would like them to learn about their American heritage.   I find there are less family related activities here such as playgrounds, museums and libraries.  Also, organization is not a strong part of the southern Italian culture and governmental bureaucracy is a nightmare.    

In summary, I would recommend living in Salerno.  Life is an adventure.  Nothing ventured; nothing gained. 

Regards,

Coulette


Last weekend we went skiing in Roccaraso in the Abruzzo region of Italy. It’s still considered the south of Italy.  By car, it’s about 2 ½ hours from Salerno.  It was hard for me to imagine that anywhere in the south of Italy would actually have enough snow to ski.   Roccaraso was definitely high enough to have snow.  I am used to skiing in New England where Killington Summit is considered a respectable mountain. Killington Summit is 4,241 feet (1,293 meters) while Toppe del Tesoro at Roccaraso is 7,027 feet (2,142 meters).  I was impressed.  It was my first time skiing outside of New England but I figured if I can those icy slopes, I can ski anywhere. 

Sport Village Hotel

We arrived Friday and got settled in at the Sports Village Hotel.  It is a nice skiers’ hotel; not fancy but clean and functional.  They have big family rooms with a bed for the parents and a couple of twins for the kids.  They even have a “mini club” where they arrange activities for kids in the afternoon and evening so parents can kick back and relax.  We then took a ride up to the mountain to check it out.  The kids had some playtime sliding down a slope.  Duilio wanted to go higher like the big kids (who were totally out of control coming down).   Aaah, I remember what it’s like to have no fear. 

Duilio - Xtreme slider

 

Russell sliding

Saturday was a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  The kids had their first ski lesson.   A big moment for us as Luca and I are really hoping the kids like the same sports we do.   The weather was so nice that people were hanging around at the bottom of the slope.  A DJ was playing music while people sunbathed and kids ran around playing.  It was una grande festa! 

Our little skiers

Luca at the summit

Coulette at the Summit

 

This is the easy slope!

You have to be careful with the sun at that altitude.  We saw many people with sunburns.  Dedicated sunbathers had this weird dark brown/orange tan.  I saw one older woman with this bizarre leather looking, dark orange tan that actually startled me.  Weird to WANT to look like that!

Unfortunately, Sunday was a different story.  It started to rain just about the time the boys went to their ski lessons.  Luca and I decided to attempt a run down the mountain.  As we went up the lift, the rain turned to rain/snow/ice with a strong wind.  Now, the problem was Luca had sacrificed his goggles so that the boys and I could have goggles.  We only had 3 pairs.  He also did not have his sunglasses with him.  As we commenced the run, Luca couldn’t see a thing with the wind and ice whipping into his eyes.  Fortunately, I found Russell’s sunglasses in my pocket which Luca wore and made it down.  He was looking pretty cool in those glasses. 🙂 After that, we rescued our wet little troopers from the ski lesson and headed home.    That’s how it goes.  Still a great weekend!


I’ve started a branch off blog called “Eating in Salerno” because I love food and I love talking about it.  I plan to post Italian recipes, local restaurants or any other food topic that strikes my fancy.  Take a peak at:

http://eatinginsalerno.wordpress.com/

Happy eating!


We are feeling some winter now.  The weather has been cold and rainy.  The kind of cold you get by the sea.  It gets into your bones.  I’ve determined that November and February are the worst months here for weather.  It rains and rains.  In November, it rained for 15 days straight.  (In Rome, it rained for 30 days!)  We’ve been hiding inside without much to report.  Hence, no blog post for a week.  I also realized that I needed to reprioritize how I’ve been using my precious quiet time.  

Secondo me (according to me), the most difficult challenge of living in a different country is not speaking the language.  Doing the most normal things can be difficult and stressful (and comical).  You are isolated from normal human interaction.  Not to mention that the possibility of friendships is severely inhibited.  It is also impossible to truly appreciate a culture if you don’t understand the language and its nuances.  Therefore, I decided that my first priority for use of free time MUST be improving my Italian.  A combination of reading, writing, podcasts, speaking and tv is beginning to reap some improvement. 

The boys have recommenced their swimming lessons at a grande palestra (gym) in a nearby city.  There aren’t many gyms of this quality around so the drive is worth the extra time.  They love the lessons and are improving rapidly.  Lessons twice per week help.  We’ll be ready for swimming in the sea (or the puddles if the rain doesn’t stop).

la piscina

This is the boys’ school.  

Scuola - (You just missed the janitor smoking at the door.)

Scuola - (You just missed the janitor smoking at the door.)

 

Scuola

They say it is the best scuola materna in Salerno.  When we first visited the school, I was, well, not impressed.  The outside is shabby and there is no outdoor play space.  We arrived for this visit while some classes were dancing and it was LOUD and chaotic.  Culturally, very different from the calm class atmosphere we experienced in the U.S.  It has taken me a long time to appreciate this school.  The teachers do seem good and caring.  The kids do some work with letters and numbers.  I believe the academics truly begin in 1st grade.  The boy’s school in the U.S. was definitely better.  However, First Congregational Nursery School was exceptional even by U.S. standards. 

Today they had a party for Carnevale.  The kids were adorable.

Duilio & Russell’s class dressed for Carnevale

My favorite topic – Food 

On yet another topic, my sweet Aunt Roxy has mentioned to me that she may try to cook Italian style.  Soon, I’ll post some simple and authentic recipes to try.  I’ve learned Italian cooking from Luca and his mother so the recipes are generally southern Italian.

Can you guess what’s funny about this picture?

What's funny about this picture?

 The scariest part of my morning 🙂

This is the street leading to the boys' school...I call it Viale del "Gauntlet". Yes, it is a 2 way.