Monday, October 31, 2011

La Dolce Vita Series: La Fedina

I've really been wanting to participate in the Dolce Vita series the last few weeks, but it's been difficult finding time. Between getting the worst fever I've ever had, job hunting, furnishing our home, etc. it's been exhausting since I've moved to Terni just over three weeks ago.

I have to say, it isn't easy adjusting to a new life in a new country. I definitely have my ups, but I can't deny that there are downs. I miss my family immensely, I miss my calling up my friends to go eat soup dumplings and fried rice, I miss sitting at a table with friends understanding the entire conversation, I miss being able to drive my car knowing what street I'm on, I miss being able to express myself without having to think about how to get the words out of my get the picture right?

But at midnight on my birthday, something happened that made me put all those things that I miss aside and remember why moving here was worth missing my life back in Toronto. I was given the most beautiful gift I have ever received. La fedina. It's basically a "promise ring". In Italy, you might notice that many Italian couples who are not married, wear rings on their wedding ring fingers. This is la fedina. It is a symbol to show that they are committed to eachother and that they are in love. If the couple eventually gets married, at the ceremony, they exchange la fede --wedding band (hold your horses people, we ain't there....yet =P). 

Without getting into too much detail about this very intimate moment for us, all I can say right now is.... Sono fortunata --I am lucky.


Toronto, November 2009

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


This past Monday was my birthday. I've never really been a fan of celebrating my own birthday. I don't like all the attention and making a huge deal out of it. However, last weekend, I didn't really have a choice....and I have to admit, celebrating "Italian" style was fantastic. It was exactly what I would've wanted if I planned it myself. No fancy dinners, no crowded night clubs. No muss, no fuss. 

Friday night began with the usual aperitivo. I'm still learning how to stop myself from pigging out at aperitivo before dinner. Seriously, I don't know how Italians manage to control themselves by having only a few little bites here and there. By 8:30pm my stomach is having a full conversation with me. All I can do is eyeball the spread of mini salami sandwiches and breadsticks wrapped in prosciutto. After helping myself to a few bits and bites (and a couple extra before my last sip of spumante) we make our way to dinner. We had a table waiting for us at a charming little rustic restaurant literally in the middle of no where with about 16 of our closest friends. Maybe I should have held back at aperitivo? How was I to finish the enormous platter of antipasti, the mouth-watering gnocchetti with cinghiale and the assorted selection of roasted meats? To top it all off, a huge birthday cake (sporting the Canadian colours and all) stuffed with yes, Nutella. Thank God I wore pants with a stretchy waist!

Picture a bunch of loud Italians celebrating anything. That's exactly how the night was. Bottles and bottles of spumante & wine, never ending servings of food, friends singing and clanking on bottles with their forks and banging on the tables, chanting things about "To-rrrron-tooo" and making every effort to embarrass me. Forcing me to say a short speech in Italian topped the was absolutely fantastic.

mamma in the kitchen
Sunday was dinner with la famiglia. After spending a whole day at Ikea in Rome picking out kitchenware, it was a great way to relax and end the night. Honestly, I don't know how mamma Masci manages to whip up a 4 course meal without even breaking a sweat. The best part? Her tiramisu. It is to die for. (Wow, now that I'm realizing everything I ate this past weekend, I really need to hit the gym)

I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people around me. I'm a total stranger from another place, yet everyone embraces me as if I were their own. I was even showered with gifts which was totally unexpected. But for me, the best gift of all was the the company around me. It really couldn't get any better.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Florentine memories

So what have I been up to the last month? Has it already been that long? Well, I finished up my 4-week TEFL certificate in Florence. I am pleased to say that I finished at the top of my class with an advanced certificate! I know, I know, it wasn't rocket science, but it was definitely much more intense and time consuming than I expected. Let me just say that I have a new appreciation for teaching English. If it's something you want to take seriously, I learned that you have to put a ton of effort into it. It isn't easy and it's not for everyone. Nevertheless, I am excited to see what opportunities open up and am hoping I can figure out just how good at this I can be.

Florence was a very interesting experience. I know I wasn't there for very long, but it was a sort of a roller coaster ride. When I first arrived, I kind of already wanted to go back to Terni. It was extremely hot, touristy and all my classmates were young American kids, fresh out of college wanting to find the closest bar. My priorities were totally different and I felt sort of like the odd man out. Assignments and teaching planning got so intense, I felt myself getting burnt out. Half way through, I realized that I needed to make the best of my time in this wonderful city. I mean, I was in Florence for God's sake! I lived in the most fabulous apartment in the most perfect location, had an awesome roommate (who was also a classmate) and turns out hanging out with young kids made me feel, well...not so old! I eventually made it to a YAWN (Young Anglo Womens Network) event where I met a new friend from Montreal (and eventually her hubby from Sicily) and I also finally met Christy! I managed to hit up a kareoke bar in Santa Croce to watch my roommate sing Bon Jovi on stage, make an attempt at going a club (but after 10 minutes of being squeezed into a crowd of sleazy dudes I had to leave!), eat late night kebabs, go listen to live music at some "secret" bar, have amazing aperitivo on the weekends, and climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo to see the most amazing view of Florence at night.


1am: waiting for the "secret" bakery to open to get a late night fresh-out-of-the-oven cornetto (croissant).  

Chillin' out at Piazza Santa Maria Novella after class
I had fun discovering places to eat and places to stroll around, but the best part was the little street that we lived on. Via del Sole is such a lovely and quiet street. Oddly quiet, since it is a street that has the beautiful and busy Piazza Santa Maria Novella on one end, and the famous Piazza Repubblica not far from the other end of it. My roomie and I took advantage of the crazy hot September weather in Florence and parked our butts in the grass at Piazza SMN to make an attempt to study, but really, just people watched. 

On Via dei Neri. My classmates meeting new people, waiting for their lunch. Cheap eats, generous portions and self-serve wine. Can't get better than that.
It was fun living in the city, but it was also nice to spend time in our apartment. A fully renovated pad in an 18th century old building...imagine that. Some nights, we would pop in a Sex and the City dvd (I know, can you believe I ended up rooming with someone who brought the entire set? I couldn't fit mine in my luggage!) and enjoy a home cooked meal. This was usually followed by an evening stroll to Ponte alla Carraia to the most amazing gelateria ever.  
My roasted rosemary chicken with a pear & arugula salad

Having had the chance to live in Florence is something I will always cherish. The last day of class was a bitter sweet ending --I was so excited to hop on my train back to Terni, but it was difficult to say good-bye to new friends and to a city that I had only begun to discover. I will definitely be returning hopefully some time in the winter when the tourists have migrated back home and the Christmas decorations are plenty.

Places I will miss (and that you should check out):

via del moro, 48r
First night in Florence, my roomie and walked over to the famous "Il Latini" restaurant down the street from our place. The wait was too long, so we decided to check out Garga around the corner. Neither of us heard of the place. Thank God we walked in. We had to wait about 10 minutes, but they gave us two glasses of refreshing prosecco to keep us company. When we saw the girl at the front cutting avacados, we knew we were in the right place (I have yet to find avacado in a supermarket here). Without a doubt, we ordered the veal smothered with avacado...heavenly. Oh and I can't forget to thank the waiter who knocked 10 off the bill when he found out we were students! Ottimo!

via de' benci, 23r  
Best mojitos! Delicious aperitivo, made for a great celebration drink spot after school was out!

Chinatown Restaurant 
Think it's on via degli strozzi (around the corner from Piazza Repubblica)
Original name, I know. Whatever. You can't even imagine how happy my roomie and I were when we found a decent place to get shrimp fried rice. The prices were good, they offer take-out and they have hot sauce! Definitely killed our craving for something other than Italian. 

La Carraia Gelateria
Right at the south end of Ponte alla Carraia   
The place where we spent way too much money, even though each visit only cost us 1.50 each. Just do it. I forget the name, but the creamy lemon flavour with cookies inside, oh mio dio....

via del sole, 23r
Unique and beautiful bronze pieces made by Patrick. Every day I would walk by his shop and drool over the pieces in the window on my way to school when finally, I couldn't resist it any longer. I spent over one hour in there trying to decide on a few out of the hundreds of beautiful rings! He was super friendly and you can even watch him working on his craft. With my broken French and Italian, I soon found out he moved to Italy 30 years ago and has been making jewelry since. He told me stories and showed me pictures of his beautiful wife and children which made my frequent visits that much more special. Grazie Patrick!

via dei Neri, 49r
5 for an eyebrow wax! Ridiculous. Ask for Emanuela, she's great. They offer 20% student discounts too.

Things I won't miss:
Having to walk our stinky garbage to Piazza SNM to dump it out.
Having to walk up 76 stairs to get to my apartment on the 4th floor, especially on a humid day.
With the constant walking, not being able to find a cheap place to get a good pedicure!

How's that for an update friends? My Terni update to come very soon....
(ps. sorry for the poor quality pictures, most were taken on my phone)
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