Arrivederci, Italia!

I’m at the airport and don’t have a lot of time, so I’m going to load some photos while I have wifi.

I had this strong feeling of sadness and nostalgia as I walked around Trastevere this morning. I don’t understand what it is about this country, but it fills my heart. Yesterday was funny because two Italian men tried to pick me up. One helped me with my troppo pesante bagaglio in treno. We started talking all in Italian, and he laughed and corrected my mistakes, then asked me for coffee. When I said no, he insisted on giving me his name and number so I will call him next time I’m here. The other older gentleman, Mauro, struck up a conversation with me near the Trevi Fountain. He accompanied me all around Rome last night, from the Trevi Fountian to Piazza Colonna, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, Piazza Farnese, but I told him I had to tell him goodbye at the Ponte Sisto. He was very polite, and it was enjoyable visiting with him in Italian. I think they find it unusual to hear an American trying to speak their language. They seem to find my mistakes “charming.” Who knows? Or maybe it’s just that they find it strange for a woman to be alone.

One thing I haven’t been doing much at all is eating at restaurants da sola. I don’t mind it at home, but here it makes me feel rather sad and lonely. So most of my dinners I fixed at home in my apartment, and of course I had great meals when I went out with my classmates and Maria. Sandra, I didn’t even make it to my favorite restaurant, La Pentolaccia. I didn’t even stop in to visit with Cristina. Oh well, la prossima volta.

Voglio tornare l’anno prossimo con tutta la mia famiglia. I want to return next year with all my family. I’d love to take two weeks of classes at Il Sasso, and this time I’m going to study more at home before I leave so I can be in the alta classe and impress my teachers.

My friend of a week last summer, Sara di Czech Republic, or piccola Sara, as we called her in class, arrives in Montepulciano for a week of classes today. Europeans don’t have Spring Break but a week off for Pasqua (Easter), which is why so many people were wandering around Rome last night. Also, because Fabrizia said the weather has been terrible here as well. I gave piccola Sara Remigio’s contact info because he’s so friendly and charges less as a driver. I hope she sends photos so I can vicariously enjoy her trip. I will be envious because she’ll be intermedio again.

I’m flying 11 hours to Atlanta soon, then on to Austin. I’ll get in around 9 pm and am going to work tomorrow! I hope I can sleep on the plane.

Ciao, tutti! Arrivederci. Grazie per hanno letto il blog.


Santa Cecilia in Trastevere


Check out this organist! Che medievale!



Santa Cecilia di Trastevere


Piazza Navona


My “guide” ieri sera, Mauro, told me what this is, but I’ve forgotten.



For Palm Sunday they use olive branches



Palazzo Farnese


Even the receipts are bello in Italia

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L’ultima mattina a Montepulciano

I can’t believe how beautiful the weather is on the day I have to leave! This morning it started out cold, but now it’s 48 and going to be in the mid-50s in Rome. I went for the most beautiful two-hour passeggiata this morning. I was the only one on the white roads with the most beautiful views of the hills, farmhouses, and the two hill towns: Montepulciano and Montefollonico.

After saying goodbye to Giovanna and Maria, Remigio, my autista, who drove me to Chiusi. He’s funny, and we talked in Italian the whole way with him correcting me. I love trains. Rode the train to Rome, and the man who helped me with my bag began a conversation with me all in Italian. He asked me for coffee, and when I said no, he gave me his name and number and said to call next time I’m in Montepulciano. He also called me bella. When I told him it was very difficult for me to learn Italian, he laughed and said that it’s difficult for Italians to learn Italian. I think Italians find it charming/funny to hear English speakers try to speak their language. My taxi driver in Rome said I spoke Italian well for an American. I think I have a fairly good accent from listening to my native speaker teachers.

Tonight I’m back in my favorite part of Rome, Trastevere, at the same Airbnb with Fabrizia as my hostess. She laughed that my bag had gotten even heavier. She also said the weather has been really brutto (ugly) in Rome for the past two weeks, so I couldn’t have escaped it.

Soon you can look at the photos, but first I want to say that one of the things I love about traveling is that not only do you discover new people and places, but you also discover new parts of yourself. For instance, on our hike dopo ieri (day before yesterday), I didn’t talk much but walked along with the others in a comfortable silence. At lunch, they teased me for asking questions, but it’s easier for me to ask questions and listen than it is for me to speak in Italian. I’m introverso in Italian. Well, not in class. I still ask too many questions. But my teachers like that.  Arrivederci. Time to plan my return. Grazie per tutti che hanno letto il blog.



Street Shrine


L’ultimo colazione


Approaching San Biagio



Fallen down farmhouse awaits your repair if you want to live under the Tuscan sun.


I Polli


Gli alberi d’olive e Montefollonico


Brutto plus Bello


This house with a great view is for sale


L’ultima vista


I love all the attention to details. This is my drawer paper with the symbol of Florence.

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L’ultimo giorno a Montepulciano

Oggi è il ultimo giorno. Dope le classe, abbiamo pranzato alla Trattoria di Cagnano. Our group had lunch together at a Trattoria that Alberto used to run and own. Reinhardt, the 70-year-old German man in my class,  just shared these photos with me, some from today’s lunch and some from yesterday’s passeggiata. Now I must pack and prepare to leave tomorrow.

Dopo pranzo, sono andata al Centrofiori, the hundred flowers bookstore just outside the town walls. I bought a couple of Italian books, one a comic, one for young adults, thinking they might not be too hard. The shopkeeper and I began talking in Italian. When he asked me about Il Sasso, he mentioned Alberto and how much he changed the town. He said that twenty, even twelve years ago Montepulciano was a sleepy little town with few tourists. The only shops on the Corso were for the inhabitants. But then Alberto started the language school, the music school in Palazzo Ricci, the exchange program with  Kennesaw University in Georgia, and served on the city council. The whole town knows and loves him.


Il nostro gruppo senza Reinhardt


San Biagio





Il gruppo dopo la passeggiata




Con Alberto


La nostra pranza


I try to understand Italian sign language.

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Un bel giorno per una passeggiata in campagna a Montecchiello





Il nostro gruppo meno me!





EF8B11B5-57E6-430E-B163-DDD717ABAEE0Questo pomeriggio il mio gruppo ha fatto una passeggiata nella campagna a Montecchiello. This afternoon my group went on a trek in the country to Montecchiello, a little medieval town about 7 miles away. Oggi è molto bello ma freddo. Today was very beautiful but cold. Era molto divertente e tranquillo. It was very fun and tranquil. Montecchiello is a town of only 300 inhabitants. Until 1960 it was a ghost town because all the young people had moved away. A priest got the idea to start a summer theater production and called it Teatro Povere (Poor theater). Everyone in the town got involved, and now it is world famous. Still, for most of the year the town has only 300 inhabitants.

We were going to have an aperitivo after our hike while we waited for our driver, Remigio, but the one restaurant and the one bar were closed. Still, Alberto found a way to buy a bottle of white wine, some plastic cups, and some potato chips and nuts for us to eat outside on the park benches overlooking the beautiful Valle d’Orcia, a UNESCO heritage site. That’s the Renaissance town of Pienza in the distance.  If we’d walked seven more miles, we would have ended up in Pienza.

Our driver was Rimagio, my driver from the other day. He’s taking me to the train station on Saturday. I said, “A dopo domani,” which means: I’ll see you day after tomorrow, and he kept teasing me: “A domenica?” Which would be a day too late.


Il vicolo a Montecchiello


La porta a Montecchiello


Il torre del Cassero, now privately owned by a Finlandese scuptor


Nella chiesa di San Cristoforo


Pienza in the distance


Il muro a Montecchiello

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Il sole torna! The sun returns (updated)

Ieri sera Maria e io abbiamo cenato all Bottega Matta a Sant’ Albino. Abbiamo cenato i antipasti e i pici cacao e pepe. Era molto buona!

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Facciamo la pizza!

Oggi è freddo e piove, naturalmente! Today it’s cold and it rains, naturally. Abbastanza il tempo. Enough about the weather!

Dopo la classe il gruppo del Sasso andiamo alla pizzeria di Linda per cucinare una pizza. After class a group of us from the school went to pizza making class at Linda’s pizzeria. I thought Linda looked just like Maria, the sous chef from the other night, and it ends up Linda is Maria’s sister! E il piccolo mundo. It’s a small world.

We made the dough and kneaded it (scacciare is the verb). The dough balls we made have to sit for over twenty-four hours, so we then used other dough balls to make our pizzas. I went a bit overboard on mine, including carciofi (artichokes), pancetta (bacon), and anchovies (acciughe). We also made tiramisu and a crostata con marmalade di le prugne (prunes). But by then I couldn’t eat anymore. I asked Linda, “Come si dice non posso mangiare più?” She said, “Ecco.” In other words, I’d said it: I can’t eat anymore!


La parte nel nostro gruppo


Linda schiaccia l’impasto


Il nostre palle di pizza


Bridget schiaccia l’impasto


Nel forno


Nel forno


Mangiamo le pizze


Linda aggiunge oregano alla mia pizza

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Lunedì in due lingue

Va bene, I will write in both languages.

Oggi era il primo giorno ho avuto un conversazione in inglese in otto giorni. Today is the first day in eight days that I have had a conversation in English. All I could think was how fast I was talking. Unlike the other students who speak English, Bobby, the new student, began to chat it up in English during the pausa. He works in private equity and is living here with his wife and two children, ages nine and eleven. He’s from Portland, so he approved of Austin, naturally.

Oggi e freddo e piove. Mi manca il sole. Today is cold, and it rains. I miss the sun. Questo pomeriggio abbiamo visto un film, Il Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, con sottotitoli in italiano. We watched The New Cinema Paradiso with Italian subtitles. The subtitles helped so much in my understanding this time. Such a beautiful, nostalgic movie.

Dopo il film, ho visto un tramonto da la finestra. Non lo so la città sopra la collina, ma domani chiederò. (Più tardi: la città è Castiglione del Lago, dove Eleanora viva). After the film, I saw a sunset from the window. I don’t know the town over the hill, but tomorrow I will ask. Quindi ho comprato dieci bottiglie di aceto balsamico per Ricardo. È stato interessante assaggiare i due tipi aceti. Naturalmente, preferisco il aceto più caro. Then I bought ten bottles of balsamic vinegar for Richard. It was interesting to taste the two types. Naturally, I preferred the more expensive one.

I don’t know where the time goes. It’s 8 pm, and I haven’t done my homework for tomorrow. At least snow is no longer forecast, and Thursday will be cold but sunny for our hike to Montefollonico.

Questa mattina, Vincenzo ha portato i suoi nuovi occhiali. Ho detto: sembri molto intelligente. Vincenzo comencia cantare “Sara” di Venditti quando entro Caffe Poliziano. This morning Vincenzo wore his new glasses, and I told him he looked very intelligent. Vincenzo begins to sing “Sara” by Vendetti when I enter Caffe Poliziano and then plays it on the sound system.

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