martedì 25 dicembre 2007

Buon Natale!

I keep having to say to myself that it is Nah-TAL-eh, not Nat-a-LEH. Well have a good one to each and everyone of you within my reach, which may not be far.
We are having a quiet, sunny Christmas. No snow, but the winter chill is in the air. As far as I can tell, all the snow has been falling in Southern Italy, boo hoo. I realize there are many people cursing the snow back in the U.S., but I would really like a little here. It's winter after all.
Scott gave me a huge piece of copper for Christmas, and a can of pressurized air. I gave him a big copper pot to make polenta for me. At least we kept within the same copper theme. Just in case you think he's a big heel, I actually liked getting the huge piece of copper. I'll use it for making jewelry, one of these days. The can-o-air is great too. Lord knows what is lurking beneath my keyboard.
December has been uneventful. I will be posting some pictures and a travelogue of a trip we made to Cittadella. I have a long list of things to begin, and I'm not waiting until the new year, although eating better will have to wait until after today. There is no way I'm not enjoying onion-dip and potato chips on Christmas!
Wishing everyone a peaceful and fulfilling 2008, as well a lovely, hopefully snowy, Christmas.

martedì 27 novembre 2007

Naval Wives

Last week Scott and I took a trip to Venice. It is about a 3 hour train ride from our house, so it is an easy day trip. We've been several times, but there is so much to see I'm sure that we could visit another half a dozen times and still not run out of new things to see.

It was the last week for the Venice Biennale, a modern art exhibition, which lasts from June to November. We saw one of the exhibits when we were there this summer and let's just say well it is modern art. However, no matter how weird, it is usually interesting, provided it isn't too disturbing. Many of the exhibits are free to see. Well if we were supposed to buy a ticket, we didn't. There are dozens of exhibits scattered across the city, but we managed to see four of them. Half were strange (naturally) video pieces (one from Ireland and the other was a collection from Central Asia). The Latvian exhibit was a collection of objects that used optical effects which the viewer could interact with, and the other was a collection of hang-on-the-wall really cool geometric designs.

We didn't just see the Biennale however. We visited possibly the most economical museum in Venice. Some of you may be aware of Scott's, let's just say abiding, interest in World War I era battleships. I have visited many a military museum in various countries. One of my favorites was the museum in Vienna for many reasons, but mostly because the snack bar was full of Austrian soldiers smoking heavily. The whole first floor smelled, well like a bar. The exhibits were interesting, and they have a whole wing dedicated to Austria's former status as a naval power. Scott was happy. But back to Venice. There is a naval museum in the Arsenale part of the city. The Arsenale, as Scott explained it, was originally used to have ships not quite finished, that could be quickly constructed in times of war. An arsenal of ships, instead of just munitions. Most of the area surrounding the museum is still used in a military capacity and is closed to the public, but the area is really interesting to see, and I would recommend a stroll through the area if you happen to be in Venice.

The entrance fee to the museum is 1,55 Euro. In a town where it costs 2,5o to see a church and 6,00 for 1 hour on the vaporetto (the Venice boat equivalent to a bus), this is beyond a bargain. It's practically free. At first I wasn't too hopeful. The ground floor is filled with cannons, arquebuses, swords, and various equipment left over from WW II. It had a vaguely musty smell, and I remember thinking, "thank god it's only open for another 2 hours." It was populated, as many of these types of museums are, with the enthusiast and his wife. This is not to malign any readers out there with an equally abiding interest in all things naval. However, out of the two dozen or so people we crossed paths with, most of them were couples. There were two guys taking dozens of photos, surprisingly a group of three middle-aged women, a grandfather out with his grandson, and six or eight couples, the men staring intently at the exhibits while there wives wandered slightly ahead (or maybe that was just me wandering ahead of Scott). I joked with him that at least I appeared to be the youngest naval wife there. Many of the other couples appeared to be British, but we were careful to keep our mouths shut when we were around them. I always find people speak more freely when they think you can't understand what they are saying.

On the first floor (the second floor for my fellow Americans), my outlook on the whole experience altered. The rest of the museum was filled with ship models, decorative objects salvaged from long-departed ships, instruments, and the odd uniform or two (if you've seen two naval uniforms, you've seen them all). Best of all, there was a rather pleasant smell of linseed oil. I began taking photos and really enjoyed visiting the remaining three floors. One of my favorite models was the one above of the galley ship, complete with oarsmen. Each one of them had a different aspect. Some had beards, others were clean-shaven. There was another really fantastic model (to the right) of a oversized gondola. The actual boat had been used for a ceremony in which the city of Venice was married to the sea (At least that's what Scott told me. The explanation was just too long to read. I took photos instead), and later destroyed by the conquering French. It was really cool inside, with parquet flooring and gilded statues.

There is a final floor with a Swedish exhibit, which links Venice to Sweden. The exhibit states that the lion statue that stands in front of the entrance to the Arsenale has runes inscribed on his shoulder. On the same level there is also a wonderfully presented collection of seashells, corals, and starfish. There is also a building further down the Fondamenta dell'Arsenale that houses a collection of boats, and a few small ships. The website says you can, upon request, also visit the chapel San Biagio ai Forni, which is a chapel for mariners, with the same ticket. So my recommendation for those of you heading to Venice in the near future is not to skip arguably one of the best museums for its price in Italy. There is plenty to enjoy, not just for the naval buff and his wife, but for your average interested tourist.

venerdì 16 novembre 2007


It was four years ago today that my wonderful sister passed from this mortal coil. I could tell you all of the really great things about her, which would all be true, but I'll tell you a few of the more wicked aspects of her sense of humor. Now both of these tales occurred when we were both very young, and as such may be colored by a little sister's pique, but as the storyteller I am allowed to remain the virtuous injured party.
Kris had this book by A.A. Milne, "And Now We are Six," and I being of a somewhat romantic nature, had decided that I must wait until I was six before I read this particular book. I must have talked about it quite a bit, because on my 6th birthday Kris performed one of her best practical jokes. While we were waiting at the babysitter's house for my mother to pick us up after work, Kris told me that I was a special girl and that I wasn't going to turn six, but instead was skipping directly to seven. Now this was coming from someone who taught me how to tie my shoelaces, and how to whistle. She was an authority. I was alarmed, and panicked thinking that she might be right. I went to the babysitter for reassurance, but instead Joan confirmed my sister's version of the story. I was beside myself. Joan and Kris kept up the charade for the whole afternoon, which when you are six, seems like a lifetime. By the time my mother arrived I was in tears and told her my sad tale. She had to get them to tell me it was just a joke, but as you see I've never quite recovered from the shock. The book itself was a disappointment, and I don't think I ever finished reading it.
The second story is not one of misdeeds, but of how Kris and I managed to work together. Those of you who know me well, may remember that I have a scar across the top of my nose. I received said scar when I was 1 1/2. My mother, sister and I were lunching at the house of my mother's friend Sue. After lunch, Kris and I remained inside while Sue washed the dishes. I have a fairly clear memory of the events, as it was probably the most traumatic thing that happened during this period of my life. I was crawling around on the floor and I decided that it would be a great idea to place my feet against the base of the table, which was one of those pedestal style tables with bench seating. At some point the table began to fall. I remember the ketchup bottle sliding towards me, and my mother's friend turning to stop the table from falling. After that all I remember was my mother soothing my tears. Years later when I was recalling this story with my sister, she happened to mention that while I was crawling on the floor she was sitting at the table kicking the the tabletop from underneath. Since that time I've always believed that between the two of us we created the perfect fulcrum. We always accomplished great deeds together.

domenica 11 novembre 2007

Lo Smoking

An interesting facet to living in another country is seeing how they use, and sometimes abuse, words from your language. I'm sure this happens in English too, but since I'm a part of the whole process it hasn't occurred to me to find it funny. I have that luxury here. I first came across this phenomenon in Germany. They call cell phones "handys," which sounds deceptively like an English word, but even the British call them "mobiles." I guess they are handy. Germans also use the word hand for hand, but adding a "y" to the end of the word I don't think is typical ( They also used the word "beamer," not to describe a Bavarian auto, but rather it is a name for a video projector The great part is that when you tell them these aren't real words in English a look of genuine confusion passes across their faces. Apparently there is a word for this, pseudo-anglicism ( I did once have a French person tell me that she was confused by English speakers use of "deja vu," as in French it has the more literal meaning of actually seeing something for a second time, not the sensation that you have. I won't even go into what another friend told me about the French verb "to kiss." It has given me an entirely different concept of the word "french kiss."

The first on my Italian list is "lo smoking." At first I thought it was just a way to say smoking jacket, as any sport that we commonly refer to with "ball," i.e. basketball, volleyball, they generally lose the ball part. In this way the sports are "basket" and "volley." However, after watching TV (tee vu) last night I realized "lo smoking" actually means a tuxedo.

Another great experience was the use of the word "playback." Last summer they had a tour of Italian pop-stars give a concert in the main square of Trento. It became apparent that the singers were not really singing, but merely lip-syncing the songs. The Europeans that were with me all looked at each other and said in disgust, "playback!" I had to ask what they meant, and they were genuinely confused that we used a completely different word.

Once I had a very long conversation in my Italian class about the word "stage." They use it to mean either a workshop, or an internship, although I think internship is the more common usage. They haven't really borrowed this from English, but from French. I'm sure the English borrowed it from French ages before it was used in French to mean internship, as it also has the same meaning in French as it does in English. After trying to explain in Italian what we use the word in English for, the teacher seized on one part of what I was saying, the part about "stage" meaning a period of time, a phase, and seemed to conclude that it did mean internship after-all. Apparently, the Germans use it for internship too. It must be part of this whole euro-speak concept.

The last part of my diatribe has to do with using English phrases on clothing. It often resembles the headers on the email that ends up in my spam folder, meaning they are words strung together that make no sense at all. Here is a picture of one of my favorites that I found in a flyer for a local shopping mall. In case you can't read it all is says "Runaway Biker For Rebel."

venerdì 9 novembre 2007

La piscina

Several months ago, June to be exact, I went to a physiotherapist for a problem I was having with my shoulder. My neck and shoulder had been causing me pain for more than 8 months, so I had finally relented and went to a doctor. She advised 10 sessions of electro-therapy and suggested I start swimming. I could go on about the electro-therapy, but I won't. I think the most useful outcome of my 10 sessions with, what seem to me a very 19th century approach to medicine, was the daily bike ride to the rehabilitation hospital. It is on top of a fairly steep hill and there is no longer a suttle bus from Pergine. My options were to go by bike or on foot. After two weeks my stamina on the bike had improved tremendously. I was going to continue to bike daily up a steep hill, there are plenty around, but you know what they say about the road to hell.
Today, November 9th, four months after being advised to do so, I took up swimming. I keep meaning to do it, but the terror of the new that grips me whenever I do something here was strong enough to keep me from acting on my doctor's orders. I didn't know if I needed a bathing cap, or where on earth I would buy one. I'd even quizzed my 9-year-old neighbor about the swim cap issue with no clear results. Well I have a thousand excuses, I should get to use some of them. What finally pushed me over the edge was my aunt. We were talking last night about how good swimming was, especially for people with back problems, and I told her how I had been delaying my trips to the pool. She told me not to think about it anymore and take myself to the pool today.
I arrived at the pool with my suit and my towel, paid my entrance fee and walked on in. I told the woman at the desk this was my first time there, and she made no mention of swim caps so I thought I was in the clear. As luck would have it I ran into someone I knew right away. This really isn't a difficult feat in Pergine. I asked her if there were lockers inside and she said yes, but I needed a lock. Lucky for me she was kind enough to lend me hers. This was to be the first kindness bestowed upon hapless, perennially unprepared Kate. The second came from the lifeguard, who upon informing me that I needed a bathing cap (as I had feared), found one for me to use when I replied that I had none. Really what I said was "I don't have," when I could have more elegantly said "I don't have one of those." After surviving these traumas (I omitted the first trauma, which was knocking over someone else's bike, as well as my own, while trying to secure my bike to the bike rack), I slipped into the very nice pool.
I haven't swum laps in years. As a child I took many a swim class, but I was never very good. I flunked beginner swimming 4 times, as I was unable to float on my back. My sister, of course, was much better than me. She even took a lifesaving course. As with most things I am unable to instantly excel in, I did the best I could and vowed to just ignore it whenever possible. Don't get me wrong, I can swim, but it's not pretty. I just concentrated on my favorite strokes, the breaststroke, the elementary backstroke, and the sidestroke, and avoided the hated crawl. I love the sidestroke the best, but was dismayed to find out that I had tremendous difficulty doing it with my left arm on the bottom. After two or three laps I started to feel the work in my arm muscles and I was getting a bit fatigued. I stuck it out for about 25 minutes to half hour and figured I was good for the first day. By this time it was close to 11am, and it was starting to get a bit busy.
Back in the dressing room, I started to notice all the signs that were posted about this and that rule, and realized that I had broken just about every one. There was the sign that told me it was not only obligatory to use a swim cap, but I was also supposed to shower before I entered the pool. Oops. I rinsed off afterwards just to make a good show of it. On my way out as I sat down to put my socks and shoes back on I noticed the sign that said is was forbidden to wear your street shoes into the locker room. Oops. Good thing nobody noticed. They did have a huge bank of hair dryers to use, and I only had to switch once to find one I could manage to turn on successfully.
Since I wasn't yelled at by an angry employee and my acquaintance suggested I go with her to the water aerobics classes on Monday, I think I might just go back, as long as I can swim in silence, and I don't piss off the personnel with my strange foreign ways.

martedì 6 novembre 2007

The Saga Continues . . .

Thinking the bicycle seat thing was just a Halloween prank, I decided to ride my bike to the train station yesterday. The first problem was, having walked my bike home last Wednesday, I hadn't noticed that the little punk had let the air out of my back tire. Time being of the essence, as always, I decided to take Scott's bike instead. The seat on his bike is clamped on and doesn't have the convenient little lever that mine does. I had some misgivings, but I decided to be trusting.
Upon returning from my Italian lesson, I alighted from the train and noticed right away that someone had taken the plastic "raincoat" that the seat usually wears and stuck it under the rack over the rear tire. Ha, ha, very funny. As a bonus, they flattened the front tire. Another walk home with a bike.
I'm now entertaining fantasies of staking out the train station. I figured I could bring my folding chair and camp out sometime before two and wait for the little darling to show up. I of course was going to bring a bike as bait. Today I've ruled out making this little fantasy reality, due to relative intertia on my part. The other problem would be telling them what for in Italian. Maybe I could just cuss the charming little prankster out in English. That might just confuse him enough, and he would have the benefit of telling everyone about the crazy foreigner.
You must realize that the train station is not some hub of activity with endless streams of people coming and going. During rush hour, the usual crowd that gets off in S. Cristoforo consists of at most six people. I've counted, as I have some strange obsession with counting the number of people in most situations, provided that it is under 20 people. In D.C. I used to count the number of people in the elevator at the Metro stations, and sometimes I would further subdivide it into the number of men and women. As an aside to my aside, there were always more women in the later part of the rush hour. If I left work at 4pm I was usually the only woman on the ride up. Yesterday, I counted the number of students in my Italian class, and I noticed that I do this everytime. I wonder what that says about my personality. Back to our regularly scheduled train station. The building itself was built in the later half of the 1800's when Trentino was part of Austria. I've seen period postcards and the building hasn't changed a bit. What has changed is that the station building is in part used to store items needed to stock the ticket automat, and various other sundries. The other larger part of the station is a home for a employee of the railway. My neighbor informs me that sometime in the 1980's the trains stopped stopping in S. Cristoforo and only resumed within the past 3 or 4 years. The point is that this is neither a big city station nor even a well-used commuter station, and I'm really pissed that I can't ride my bike there anymore unless I want to risk having a flat tire.
Thankfully my tire was not slashed, just emptied. The real pisser is that when I tried to ride it yesterday for all of 2 feet, the tire became unsealed from the rim and I'll have to take it to be repaired anyway. I thank God everyday that I am no longer a teenager, but too bad someone else has to be one.

giovedì 1 novembre 2007

Bicycle Seat

Yesterday when I got off the train in San Cristoforo (pictured here during the big snow of 2006), I went to get my bike and my seat was gone. There sat my wonderful bike, looking a bit like I imagine the headless horseman looked like to Icabod Crane. Now I know that you might not think that a seatless bike is a horrifying sight, but I would beg to differ. It is horrifying because of what it represents to me. Most likely it was some idiot kid who took it because he could. However, I live in a community of less than 1,000 people, not in some bigger place where you get used to the invasions of everyday life. When I told my husband he said, "what!! In San Cristoforo." I felt it destroyed my happiness here just a little, not a lot, but just a little.
I won't be able to get a new one today, as it's a holiday here. Friday will have to do. I'm afraid of the expense. Often the cost of these type of parts can be a large percentage of what you originally paid for the bike. I'll also now have to worry about how to secure the seat so it won't happen again. These aren't huge insurmountable problems, but it makes me sad that I have to consider them.
I have in mind that I should put up a sign at the train station thanking the culprit for improving the comfort of my ride. I've been formulating how to say this in Italian for many hours. It was the last thought I had before I went to sleep and the first one I had when I woke up. I'm surprised I didn't dream about the whole incident. I guess I hope that some sarcastic sign will instill a little guilt in the creatin, but I'm sure he (yes, I am assuming it was some pimply teenage male with an overabundance of homones) won't even think twice. I hope he at least uses it. I'd hate to think he just tossed it away.
The weird part was that I didn't know what to do. I wanted to call the police, but I was sure they wouldn't be interested. Then how would I say it all. These aren't conversations I've already had with someone. The most difficult things to talk about in any language are the ones you've never talked about before. Here, each novel situation brings the horror of unlearned words and sentence constructions. I think I will report it to the train authorities in Trento, but I am prepared for indifference and outright hostility. The folks that work for Trenitalia seem generally harrassed, and are often hostile if you present them with a problem that is not easily solved.
Well, it's a beautiful day here. I think I'll walk to the station and take a look around. Maybe my teenage friend left the seat in the trash.
I took the walk and found the seat. The precocious little imp had hid it behind the ticket machine. What a great laugh, ha ha! I'm not sure if it has restored my faith in humanity though. At least I don't have to buy a new seat.

domenica 28 ottobre 2007

Business Sense?

Today I went to the Roncegno for the annual Chestnut Festival. It was very similar to last year, but the stalls I really wanted to see weren't there -- into each life a little rain must fall. Last year there was one particular antique stand that had some vintage postcards of the Trentino region. The cards were in plastics sleeves in a notebook. Scott started to flip through the book and the guy said something to us, which I didn't really understand. Scott started to look again and the guy finally said "no touch." We both felt a bit scolded and it put a bit of a damper on the afternoon. We both thought he was lacking a bit of business sense, and manners, as he didn't offer to show us the cards, and didn't seem to have an interest in selling the cards.
The incident brought to mind another experience we had with an "astute" business man. Once when we were living in Missouri we stopped into a used record store in Sedalia. This was in the early 90's when most of these stores were starting to go through a crisis. There were several huge used record stores near the Westport area in Kansas City. At this point they didn't seem to realize that the days of vinyl were ending. The prices were still high and there were no customers. The shop in Sedalia didn't have quite the same air of desperation, but it did have its own peculiarities.
We spent time looking through the racks and picked out several we were interested in. The records weren't priced so the owner spent the next ten minutes or so flipping through the pricing guides. During this time, we were treated to many diatribes. One of which had to to with sales tax. He didn't want to have to deal with prices that weren't round numbers so he spent time figuring out the price minus the tax. Everything was priced with very unround numbers so he would have a magically even number after tax was added. I wondered why he just didn't post a sign that the price included tax, and just take it off his bottom line at the end of the month. He proceeded to list all the albums at the highest "blue-book" value. When he would come across one not in his books, he'd make sure to give it a high price anyway. Scott had picked out an old record of some obscure jazz trumpeter. Scott had no idea who the guy was, but he likes jazz and if the price was right he would have bought it just out of curiosity. The proprietor fixed his long-haired, bearded visage at Scott and began to quiz him about why he'd picked out this particular album, and suggested perhaps Scott had some special knowledge and was trying to screw him out of a vast vinyl fortune. He priced the album at the princely sum of $9.43. We left empty handed.
Our friend in Roncegno reminded me of our music mogul in Sedalia. When it was apparent that most of the booths were the same this year, down to the merchandise, a visit to our antique dealer was in order. There was a ton of people in the way, but I managed to hear him chastize a woman for trying to see if there was a postcard for Strigno in his book of Trentino postcards. When she explained this to him he told her she had to ask him to show her the pages, but as he was busy with someone else she would just have to wait. She walked away without looking back. Another satisfied customer.

giovedì 25 ottobre 2007

The Wonderful World of Blogging

Okay. I already have a blog elsewhere, but I thought I'd try something else. Not much new here except this wicked headache, but that's not really new either. I'm ready for acupuncture, or whatever will work. Maybe just a new mattress.
The cat and I are here trying to keep warm. The skies have decided that it's late autumn and it is now time for cold weather, but even as I say that I see that the clouds are lifting. I'll write more when I have an interesting story to tell, but nothing outstanding has happened yet today. I'm off to write my resume in Italian. Wish me luck.

mercoledì 24 ottobre 2007

Dreams and Jim Jarmusch

Recently I developed a theory about dreams. I don't sleep all that well so I'm constantly aware of my crazy dreams. For a time I used to get all worried about the significance of this and that, but I've finally decided that there is no need to worry. Dreams don't necessarily show you meaning in life that you couldn't figure out during your waking hours. They really are just a conversation with yourself.My latest theory is that dreams are a form of mental entertainment to keep your brain amused while your sleeping. I noticed that while I have dreams that include myself and people I know, I also have dreams that are similar to movies or television shows. In these dreams not only am I not the main protagonist, but I also have the sensation of watching the action.I have also noticed that the reverse is also true. If for some reason I have some pressing need to get up early, or I have to make that middle-of-the-night trip to the water closet, I'll dream something that is sure to wake me up -- something too violent or scary (usually a discussion of serious medical conditions). Often these topics are introduced inexplicably into the normal flow of the dream. I see it as my brain saying: "Enough of this entertainment! You NEED to be awake."Okay. Now that I have the theory explicated, let's move on to the topic at hand, which would be Jim Jarmusch. This morning I had a mixture of a personal dream with a movie dream. The part about me I don't remember all that well, except it included all the usual moving around and staying in familiar unfamiliar rooms (meaning I've dreamed about these places, but I've no idea where they are, except in my head). My father was there and my friend Tiph, and there was travelling involved. The great part was that in the dream I had watched a Jim Jarmusch movie, which of course didn't really have much of a plot, and involved different groups of people doing similar, mundane activities. This is a particular movie that Mr. Jarmusch has yet to produce, so if it comes out on video soon, I'll have to revise my dream theory to include trips to another dimension to enable clarvoyance. On of the elements that kept repeating was everyone kept ordering some kind of "melt" (I'm not sure if it was the tuna melt which is my favorite.). I don't know if I would strictly classify this as a Jarmuschian element. It is possibly more of a David Lynchian theme, but the dream specified Jarmusch. The really great part was that throughout the rest of the dream I discussed and criticized the film with almost everyone I met. We were all a little critical and felt the "melt" connection between the characters was a bit trite and overdone. I wish I remembered the plots in more detail. I could start a new career as a scriptwriter!

martedì 23 ottobre 2007

Salzburg, Innsbruck and Ikea

Just took a whirlwind trip to Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart, in case you didn't know. Well, not so much whirlwind. Salzburg is only 3 1/2 hours from Trento, so in U.S. terms it's a Sunday drive (I am exaggerating a bit). What a pretty town. We were treated to our first winter snow, on the road there, and decorating the trees. My friend Om from my Italian class invited Scott and I to tag along with her and her husband. She works part time, but six days a week, which sounds like my first job in television. I hope she make more money than I did. Her one and only day off is Monday, and naturally her husband has a Monday - Friday type job. He was able to trade a day and have Monday off, so we left Sunday after she finished work at 12.30pm.We drove up through the Brenner pass into Austria, which is where we first saw the snow. We actually had to drive through rainy snow in Germany. The worst weather was in Germany and by the time we arrived in Salzburg and found our Guesthouse, the day, while not beautiful and sunny, was at least not too cold and wet.The Guesthouse turned out to be a good find. I had searched on the internet for days for a double room for less than 50 Euros with not too much luck. I finally found Haus am Moos, where we had an apartment in an old farmhouse with two bedrooms, a small kitchen, and a gigantic bathroom. They had a great breakfast buffet in the morning the the main house. All the other guests, oddly enough seemed to be from Asia or Australia. Paolo had wanted just to go to the tourist office and find a room, which probably would have been just fine, but might have been a bit difficult since we needed two rooms. We had a great time traveling with Om and Paolo. They seem to like to visit a city the same way Scott and I always manage to. I'm not sure if we are just too cheap to spend money on musuems, but we prefer to wander around the streets. Sometimes we get a bite to eat, but we generally steer clear of musuems, especially ones that cost a lot of money. The great part was that they wanted to go to Ikea since there is one in Salzburg, and the ones in Italy are in Brescia and Padova, which are about equidisant from Trento, and a two hour drive east or west. I think they weren't sure if we would be interested, but of course we wanted to go. I've now been to Ikea in four different countries! We managed to spend less than 25 Euros, which was quite and accomplishment.Salzburg itself is in the midst of several mountains with a lovely river that bisects the town. There are fortresses/castles on the surrounding hills that give you a great view of the town. We actually parked inside the mountain which has tunnels reminiscent of bunkers which funnel you out into the Alt Stadt. The first place we visted was the cemetery, which is inside a chuch yard. It was really lovely and peaceful, and all the more melancholy with the gray, mistly skies. We then walked up to the main fortress overlooking the city, and quite predictably looked over the city. A great view and I'm sure even more spectacular on the clear day when you can see the mountains, which were all shrouded in mist.We ate dinner at a restaurant near the house that was cosy and the food was tasty and well presented. I also had a good pils. It's hard to find a tasty beer in Italy and I usually stick the the house wine, which usually costs less than a coke for a half litre.Monday we toured the city again before heading for Ikea. The Dom is spectacular inside. The vaults and ceilings have some painted decoration, but are mainly carved designs in white stone. It is really impressive. The church was reconstruced in the 1600's, but I'm not sure if the original church, which was built in the 700's, was destroyed. The "new" 1600's plan shifted the footprint about 45 degrees.On our way home we stopped in Innsbruck. Paolo and Om offered to stop as Scott and I had not yet been there. It is also very lovely with winding streets and interestingly decorated buildings. It reminded me a lot of Konstanz in Germany.We spoke almost exclusively in Italian. Everytime I tried to speak German, half the words would come out in Italian. It was quite embarrassing. At least I could still understand the German. Poor Paolo had three people speaking varying levels of Italian, but he was very helpful with our mispronunciations, and was a good instructor.Great trip and two beautiful cities, and oh yeah, the Ikea is nice, but the one is Brescia is bigger.

venerdì 5 ottobre 2007


Okay, the other day I was running errands in Trento before my first day of language class for the year and I had my sunglasses case (portaocchiali) in my pocket. Since I constantly lose things, I kept checking every-so-often to make sure I still had it. Well, as you might suspect, by the time I got to class the case was gone. After my few minutes of reunion time with my fellow students and teachers after our long summer break, I started looking in the classroom and eventually in the hallway, but to no avail. When Om asked me what I was doing, I told her I'd lost the case. It just so happened that one of my new classmates said on his way to class he saw one of the clerks at the Diesel store in piazza Battisti pick one up off the ground. I thought, this is great, how often it is that someone can tell you exactly where you lost something. So after class Om and I went to the Diesel store and the woman there said no Danielle at the Benetton Kids store had found it. Of course we went to the Benetton store and the woman there said she had left it at the bar on the corner, Bar Citta'. The guy at the bar said he had no idea what we were talking about, and proceeded to talk to us in English, which was funny too because I don't think his English was better than our Italian. So we ran back to the Benetton store and the woman stuck her head out the door and pointed to the planter in front of the bar where she had left it. Thankfully it was still there, although it doesn't surprise me at all. There has been a brown sweater at the train station for several weeks and no one had taken that, not even the person who lost it. But the whole incident is fairly typical of Trento. As everyone says here, Trento is really a small town.