Thursday, February 24, 2011

A bit of Thursday randomness...

1. In the past couple of weeks I've been in more official offices than I have in the previous 8 years living here combined. Ok, that's probably an exaggeration but, well, it FEELS like that. Anyway, after every new visit I leave the just visited office feeling shocked, amazed, dumbfounded, frustrated, excited, confused, amused, and I'm invariably laughing. I've come to realize that Italy and my husband have a lot in common - I don't understand how either of them function but I'm frequently awed and always entertained and I love them both.

2. I have just one thing to say...crayon rings.

These little beauties are still in their incubation phase, but I know they've got potential!

Perhaps my need to break, melt, and carve perfectly good children's drawing materals into fashion accessories has something to do with number 1.

Monday, February 14, 2011


So, Saturday night was the festa of San Benedetto in Taggia. I'm sure I've posted before about San's when they set the town of Taggia on fire.

Folklore has it that when groups of warriors were making their way around the Riviera, raping and pillaging, they skipped the town of Taggia. Ya know why? Because the clever Taggiaschi (people of Taggia) knew that the bastards wouldn't waste their time sacking a town that had already been these ingenious Taggiaschi set the town on fire on their own! They destroyed their own damn town so the invaders couldn't! Damn clever.

In celebration of their brilliant forefathers, current Taggiaschi annually set their city aflame.

This year we were invited to a pre-festival dinner at the parents of one of my friends. We had tripe with beans and pork with, well, I don't know what but it was delicious. Halfway through the dinner we realized that the woman sitting across from us was our insurance agent. It wasn't until we heard her name, Maria Pia, that we figured out who she was. One just doesn't meet too many Maria Pia's floating around...even in Italy. Here's my friend and her parents.

And here's Maria Pia.

Here's Maria Pia's husband, who had kind of taken David under his wing by the end of dinner.

Then, the festivities began. The way the festival works is that anyone with a cantina (a cellar) opens their doors for friends and family to come in to celebrate. People without cantina's wander the streets going from one huge bonfire to the next, on the way they stop in every open cantina for a glass of wine and something to eat (as if the tripe hadn't been enough). Think of a city wide pub crawl but with good wine and even better food and it's free. Ok, forget the pub crawl thing...San Benedetto is nothing like a pub crawl.

Anyway, since everyone in Taggia has lived in Taggia their whole life, and is probably related some how to the original Taggaschi who fought off the invaders pretty much every cantina is open to everybody. Or so it seemed to me and the group we were traveling with. But then again, the open doors to us could have had something to do with the fact that the vice mayor was in our group.

Meet Ivan.

We started first at his mother's cantina. Here's Ivan's mom.

Then, as one does we wandered the streets of Taggia...actually I saw parts of Taggia that I never knew existed. Taggia is a big town! Who knew? We were with a group, so we travelled in a group. If one person stayed longer to chat at one cantina, the whole group stayed. This got a bit tough for the people in our group when David and I started running into everyone we've ever met from Taggia -- parents of former students, neighbors, friends, friends of friends, the lady who sells me garden supplies....

And then David really put us at risk of losing our group for good when we stumbled across the cantina of BARBA ROSSA. He was so shocked and happy to see the Americans he sold the turkey to that before I knew it David had two plates piled high with hot meat and an overflowing glass of wine.

"I thought you guys lived in Carpasio or something! NOT Taggia! Here have some more pork." Carpasio is like 15 km up the valley - it's home to many foreigners who, obviously, never come to San Benedetto.

To which David promptly responded, "We live in Maberga! You need to come over for a cook out! We have an awesome grill! This pork is outstanding." Now, I think that's nice of David to think that that piece of shit pile of rocks that I made is really awesome but I doubt the best butcher in the area with see its beauty. When I finally pulled David away to join our increasingly impatient group they were setting a date for this grill out.

Back on the road with the group I found myself apologizing to Ivan, "I'm sorry we were so long. He's our butcher."

"I hope we don't run into your baker" was Ivan's response.

The night ended for us at this cantina, which has the reputation as being the best one. It was pretty festive...what with the music and the singing and all.

It was 1.30 when we told our hosts that we needed to head back to Maberga. "But you'll miss the hot chocolate and pastaccini in OUR cantina!"

"When do you do that?!"


We couldn't make it. For all the warm welcomes we had in every cantina from friends and locals and butchers, in the end we showed our true colors...we are not real Taggiaschi. Had we lived in Taggia at the times of the raping and pillaging, we wouldn't have been with our fellow towns people burning...we would have been sleeping.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Hypocritcal Collection

Is it hypocrisy to be really proud to be from Wisconsin seeing the Packers win the Superbowl when I also am really glad I don't live there? Can I do that?

I mean, can I post here a bunch of green and gold stuff that I collected to show my team spirit?

And can I brag to you how freakin' awesome the Green Bay Packers are as an NFL team? And brag that all the players and coaches and staff were saying, "We're bringing the trophy home!"...HOME. Yeah, because Wisconsin is so awesome that we had Lombardy?

Can I do that when, just 3 days after the big game, a morning in February, I spent the morning in shirt sleeves cleaning the terraces and harvesting veggies from my garden -- all the while praising God that I live where I do? Is that hypocritical?

Yeah, probably. So, I'd like to present the hypocritical winter collection:

The "Go Packers" earrings

which, if you'd like buy yourself a treat for being such a great GB fan, can be found in my Etsy shop.

And the Winter Orto collection...

which I will share the recipes I use with you, just after I do a google search to find out what all those veggies are.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

So, I've recently been sent two videos that I feel the need to share and compare. One is French and the other Italian. Thank you Ambra and Uncle Mike (you guys who don't know Ambra and Uncle Mike can guess who sent me what).

Before you watch these videos I'd like to interject that there is a huge rivalry between the French and the Italian, particularly in the region where I live. For the Italians the French are the "bastard cousins". Ok, yeah, every country seems to have a rivalry with France...or maybe most every country just doesn't like the French. In our area it's heightened by the fact that the French, in close proximity, used to be Italian. It was a WWII deal that gave a bunch of Italian land (and people) to the French. A more learned historian than I could explain the reasons for this, I just know it as fact. So the Italians hate the do the Belgians, the English, the Americans, and well, it seems everyone.

Please don't get me wrong, I personally don't hate the French. I'm really not prejudice, some of my best friends are French.

So, what can we glean about the French and the Italian people from these two parallel videos?



Really all I can see is that Italians seem to have more rhythm. But I'm open to other observations.

PS: Wayne, two posts in one day! How about that! Yes, David is on the road.

Snow Day 2011

So I was talking with my family in the American midwest last night. They were all home...both my parents, my niece, nephew, sister and brother-in-law. All of them house bound because of the monster snow that's fallen.

Here in Liguria monster illness has been falling. Every little english learner I've seen in the past 2 weeks has been home sick with fever. Great. I wonder if their moms think that my American immune system is big and strong and plentiful, like my home land. Well, it's not. Now I too am feeling a little under the weather, so to speak.

In an act of family solidarity I declared today a snow day in Maberga, too. You know, just to be supportive.

Snow Day 2011 activities in Maberga included opening every door and window for a massive spring cleaning, washing every bit of cloth that is worn, sat on or slept in, playing with the doggies on our (almost) clean land, and picking flowers. It's about 50 degrees here with brilliant blue skies and a wonderfully warm sun.

Snow days are great.