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I think the pictures can speak for themselves…more later…enjoy!

Studying another language is hard work for sure, but there are some very funny things that can happen when you are trying to translate  using a minimal vocabulary and a sentence structure that is different as well.  I’ve heard about someone (I’m not naming names…) who went into a restaurant in Mexico and said “tengo mucho hombres”, which translates to I have many men.  She had intended to say “tengo tanta hambre” which is I am so hungry.  When the waiter laughed she meekly said “estoy mucho embarazada!”  This only made the waiter laugh more because embarzada means pregnant, not embarrassed.  So far I haven’t gone quite that wrong that I know of but during an exercise in this afternoons class I wrote a word in Italian but spelled it as if it were Spanish, que/che, they sound the same when pronounced, but it got us all laughing quite a bit.  There have been many funny moments, the people in my class are an interesting and entertaining bunch.  I’d love to continue studying here but we will be moving on this Saturday.  Time to test out my newly acquired skills in some small towns where few will speak English.  Wish me buona fortuna per favore!

just another pretty face

Apparently huge things are not just a mid-western fascination.  Here in San Giovanni Valdarno, Arezzo province, Italy there is a festa going on.  It is a celebration of many things, food predominantly, all kinds of local salamis, porchetta, paninni, local cheeses, cookies, nuts as well as handmade items, antiques, some general flea market stuff, a small midway with cotton candy and bumper cars.  Amidst it all there are a few big things I thought you would enjoy seeing.  Oh yeah, the religious reason for this celebration is so people can ask forgiveness for their sins…gluttony perhaps???   Check out a couple more photos of BIG stuff on my flickr.  Buonanotte!!!

If anyone knows a foot reflexologist qui vicino di Firenze, please let me know.  We took the train there again today and it was a beautiful crowded( though not as much as I expected) Saturday.  There was a lot of activity in the streets from the train station to the duomo, fruit and vegetables , clothes, scarves, toys, drawings, paintings, snack foods and (my personal favorite) the plant vendors.  Flowering plants large and small were arranged so beautifully I could hardly walk on.  Going back this Friday to see Michelangelo’s David…very exciting! Check out the squares of  ‘plastic grass’ with the yellow and white flowers under the squash in the bottom photo!

It is no surprise to anyone that Italy has no shortage of art, but I was reminded walking through the streets of towns both large and small that these ancient places are alive and vibrant and the contemporary has always co-existed with the ancient.  Here are a few of the great works I have seen and was able to capture on…I almost just said film!  You know what I mean!

I studenti rode the train to Florence the other afternoon accompanied by Oracio, the father of one of the insegnante from our school.  He is a lovely and knowledgeable gentleman and speaks no English at all so we really wanted to pay attention when he talked.  We took a bus up to piazzale Michaelangelo and enjoyed the amazing panorama of the city.  On the bus ride up to the piazza, the Transportation cops boarded and started checking tickets.  One of the women in our group had forgotten (italian word for forget…dimenticare) to validate her ticket upon boarding.  The cops were about to write her a ticket when Oracio came to the rescue and though it took him about five minutes of discussion, (lots of hand gestures and head shaking) he talked them down.  It would have been a very expensive mistake but, buona fortuna, it all ended well and gave us a truly Italian experience.  Our next stop was a walk up the hill to Basilica de San Miniato where I sketched this little gargoyle, he is much cuter than his pict’cha!  I just couldn’t get a good photo in the bright sunlight…such a problem!

We have been working on adjectives in class and playing games to learn them.  In a group of people from Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Japan, England, Canada, and the states whose common language is one they are barely familiar with it can get pretty funny.  We have a good range in age which also adds to the contextual confusion, 20 to 65.  We are learning a lot but man, I wish I had learned this in a bi-lingual home!  Studying is not as easy as it used to be.  Some of the people are so nice, some learning Italian for pleasure, some for work, some for the mental challenge, all of them interesting.  Attached is a photo of my most serious compadres!  Buonanotte, Marianna.

Both my sister Lou and I made it to Italy without a hitch, no flight delays, no air traffic control strike, just buona fortuna!  Mille grazie San Antonio (patron saint of travellers for you who are not up on the lives of the saints)!  We spent a couple days in Rome at the apartment of our cousin Marina and her kids Manu (15) and Giulia (24) getting caught up, shopping a bit and an afternoon walking around Rome with a friend from Minneapolis who got to town the same day.  Giulia and Manu were great tour guides, both love their city and know a lot about its history.  Giulia made us dinner and we sat, ate, talked, drank wine and stayed up too late.   Marina’s friend Alice joined us and offered to take us on a road trip and visit a few villages on the way up to San Giovanni Valdarno on Sunday.  More on that later, 6 people in a little Alfa Romeo (stick shift) zooming through the Tuscan countryside all talking at once…

Check out my sister Lou’s blog Ten Weeks in Italy for a more literate look at our trip too!

We are back from the Minnesota Iron Range and a wonderful weekend at the Valentini family cabin with a gang of our friends.  We relaxed, biked, ate, visited and sauna’d and now I am revived for my upcoming trip.  Got some running around to do and then I am off to the airport!  My friend Marty, filmmaker and photographer extraordinaire, did quick shots of some of the nature and junk yard “portraits” I made up north.  I’ll leave you with this one, more to follow… Arriverderci kids!

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September 2010