soggiorno con i mcdermotts

Friday. Finally Friday! McDermott's were planning to meet me at Piazza Bologna at 5:30, I haven't seen many people I know and love in a while (besides the Nonni). As a result, I was pretty darn excited to finally be seeing them after the week of knowing they were so close to me! Waking up I knew that the day had to be a good one...

Work went well Friday. I woke up early to take the raccomandate to the PosteItaliane in Piazza Bologna. Francesca told me not to worry about being late, but I still got up early as to not take advantage of how lenient my boss and colleagues were! I got to the Post Office at 5 minutes of 8 (opening time), lucky me, there was already a queue lined up along the steps. I stepped into place/into the jumble of people and watched my watch as the hand ticked toward 8. At 8:00 the doors opened, and I managed to be the 12th or 13th person into the building. I hadn't been to the post office in Bologna before, so I was happily surprised to see that the transactions I need to make had their own section and there were very few people in line. The catch was I still needed to get forms to fill out to sending letters abroad, and I had no idea who/where to get them, so I stood awkwardly in line knowing I would get yelled at once I got to the front and still had to fill out a Raccomandata l'estero but I didn't know what else to do. Luckily, I saw a guy who was working the floor, I asked him, he gave me one to fill out, I filled it out, stole a few more forms so I wouldnt have to ask next time, quickly got to the front of the line, paid for the postage then walked to my Cafe dell'Arte to get a cappuccino before heading into work.

Getting off the metro B at Laurentina I ran into Giuseppe. We walked to the 776 departure area, the bus wasn't there yet and he needed to get due tramezzini for lunch and get a coffee and cornetto before heading in. I accompanied him, hoping we wouldn't miss the next bus, luckily the bus was on Giuseppes schedule and it gave us time for him to get his tramezzini and drink a caffe latte. Then we rode the bus to Tor Pagnotta together having decent conversation in Italian... I felt like I was making process :D We arrived at work and got settled in, lunch and caffe breaks were successful, me engaging in conversation more a little more confident after making it through the bus ride with Giuseppe. I asked Francesca and Valeria for recomendations on where to eat with my cousins that night, after a few minutes of brain farts, they finally came up with a decent list of places in Trastevere and Testaccio, also trying to stray away from telling me delcious places that weren't in the center (which secretly I really wanted to know about). I spent the day doing the tedious work of copying RF Engineer candidates resumes for a new position into an Aircom resume format, and by 4:05 I was out the door ready to be on time to meet the McDermotts!

Once I stepped out of the office, holy cow it was HOT. I went to the bus stop hoping the bus would arrive, but obviously it was late today and I waited 30 minutes outside in the hot sun, pavement burning hot making its way through my shoes to the soles of my feet, and me growing anxious about not making it to Piazza Bologna in time for my 5:30 meeting with the McDermotts! The 776 arrived at 4:35, I got on thankful for the burst of aria condizionata that hit me, and took a seat hoping the bus wouldn't fill up quite like it had the past few days. It was too hot to deal with a packed bus or metro right then. Tired as heck I dozed in and out on the bus as it filled up, as I worried about being on time for the McDermotts and as I BBMed Lindsay updating her with my recent adventures. I got to Laurentina a few minutes past 5:00 and ran down the stairs to catch the train I heard approaching...PACKED with people already, it was going to be a hot ride home.

I exited the train at Piazza Bologna at 5:30 on the dot. I hoped they hadn't caught the train before me, and I was pretty certain they wouldn't be right on time, so I ran outside to get service to check if I had any messages, no messages found, I went back down into the station to wait by the exit turnstile where they would surely have to show up eventually. 10 minutes later I see Juliana, Michael, Zizi Linda and Uncle John looking uncomfortable and hot and on a side of the station that they theoretically shouldn't have apppeared from, so I was confused as to how they got there... obviously Zizi Linda said the crossed over to the other side and went out the way you weren't supposed to so that is how they avoided me seeing them come out... but not on purpose. Ha. Those americani, certainly dressed like them! I hugged them all and then we started walking toward my apartment. I asked them how their day had been and I got very few responses and Zizi Linda said she had to sit before she told me anything about their day or their trip thus far. So we walked to my apartment, stopping at the fountain to refresh, then all sat down at the table to eat what little food I had in the fridge, an apple and some salami hehe, then they began to talk.

We relaxed in the kitchen chatting for an hour or so, they all got on the internet, very happy to check their email and facebook, then the genitori left, I told Linda and John how to get back to Anagnina, then Juliana and Michael got settled in my room, I started formulating a plan for the evening, we all got ready, then by 7:30 we were off to meet up with Helena and add a few more km of walking to Michael and Juliana's feet!

We took the B line to Circo Massimo, where I ran into my colleague Giuseppe again! We passed each other crossing in a cross walk and we said hello, did the kiss on each cheek then went our separate ways. Juliana noticed two ragazzi street performers juggling in the middle of the street outside the metro when the light turned red. They were pretty decent and rather entertaining!  After the small spetacolo nella strada we headed off walking down Via di Circo Massimo (This was my new favorite way to get into trastevere), but we didn't cross over to Trastevere, and instead walked through the Jewish Ghetto to go to Argentina to meet up with Helena outside the Feltrinelli.  I needed to use a bathroom so I tried to go in the Feltrinelli, but obviously it was only for the Bar customers, so I was denied, and waited to go to the bathroom at the restaurant. 

Helena found us around 9:00, our stomachs growling, and Juliana and Michael ready to eat some more delcious food.  We walked down across the river and started wandering to find trattoria that I had eaten at with Lexi and Angela in march and that Francesca had also recommended to me.  It was called Cassetta di Trastevere and had nice outdoor seating, but also a very cute inside room that was modeled like the outside of a house with a terracotta shingled roof and laundry hanging across the room. Che carino! Stomachs grumbling... and the stomachs grumbling just refers to the people related to each other, Helena only ordered a pizza marinara (pizza with sauce), but we, we started with a bruschetta con pomodori e rughetta,insalata caprese e un bottiglia di vino bianco della casaPoi, ho scelto rigatoni alla amatriciano, Michele a scelto una pizza con funghi e prosciutto, e Giuliana ha scelto lasagna ed anche Michele e Giuliana hanno condiviso un secondi di abbachio :) I honestly had never had a bruschetta so good, the bread was baked to a perfect crunch, covered in the perfect mixture of salt and tasteful olive oil.  I could have eaten a whole plate of bruschetta for dinner and I would have been perfectly content!

My original plan was to eat there, then go to Dar Poeta to get a dessert calzone stuffed with Nutella and Ricotta, just like Lexi, Angela and I had done, but by the time we were finished we were too full to put anything else in our mouths.  Instead we had made plans to meet Cornelius at the Isola Tiberina at 11:00, so we paid, and headed toward the Tevere to walk along it since Juliana and Michael hadn't yet, and we slowly made our way to the island, stopping frequently at the stalls to look at food and clothing, and by 11:10 we made it to the Island where we saw Cornelius waiting (we were late, bad, bad ,bad!).  We contemplated our options, then decided clubbing was in the itinerary for the night, and Testaccio was the place for that, but none of us had been, so we started walking in hopes of finding the Testaccio and the night life that everyone you ask will rave of.

We made it in to the quartiere of Testaccio, but were a little nervous because there seemed to be not a soul around, besides a family and two seemingly lost americans behind us (probably searching for the same thing we were!). As the navigator I decided we should turn left, in towards the center of the Testaccio neighborhood and we parted ways with the only people we could see in sight, and soon enough stumbled upon a fairly populated bar.  We stopped in to get water and for Michael to get a Caffe Latte, they looked at him funny when he ordered as it was 11:30pm and the only drink appropriate at that hour was either liquor or caffè (espresso), but they served him anyways, yelled at us for getting water from the fridge for some reason, and then we sat down for a few minutes to relax and discuss the plan of action.  Helena went up to the cassa to ask the woman for directions to the club area of Testaccio, she claimed all the clubs were closed because it was summer and there were only Karaoke places around, but she pointed us in the direction toward the Karaoke bars, and low and behold we soon enough found a street with one club after another.  There the Americans who were walking behind us before we split off to the right recognized us and striked up conversation.  They were from California and just graduated and were in Rome with their families separately, but were friends from home so had met up with each other and googled where to go out in Rome and had found 'Coyote' and that's what they had been searching for.  Coyote was the club Angela had told me and Lexi about, so we said we would go with them there, and off we went.

There were 3 or 4 clubs blaring music in what appeared to be old farmhouses. I thought to myself, hmm, we could turn Via Muto into a raging discoteca, haha.  Some were playing Salsa which I wanted to go into, but I have no idea how to salsa but I assumed it would be fun, and the last one on the left read Coyote, and American tunes were blasting from inside.  We lined up in the queue, we all chuckled as we read the sign on the door "Free Woman", then the bouncer looked at me, and I told him siamo sette, we were 7 people, and he responded saying the ladies could get in free hence "Free Woman", and the men would have to pay 10 euro, but they would get a free drink, so the men paid up, and we walked up to stairs into Coyote!

Scoping out the place and all the Italian men, we walked over to the bar, me keeping a close eye on Juliana :)  Helena and I checked out the drink list and decided we had to get the Viva Italia shooter which was Sambuca and Limoncello... I was nervous about it, but how could I pass up a drink with that name when in italy? even if it would be that disgusting... sambuca and limoncello... so italian, ha!  I got the bartenders attention and ordered two Viva Italias and a Belini for Juliana, our drinks came, we cheers, Helena and I threw back our shots, and I stole a big gulp of Juliana's Belini to wash down the horrid liquorice taste, yuck.  Then we went to dance!  Juliana had a few sips of the Belini then handed it off to Helena and I to finish, then the Californians (Mya and Neil), Cornelius, Juliana, Michael, Helena and I danced, avoiding sketchy Italians, and had jokes and fun until 3:00am.  Too many good looking italiani.  Juliana and Michael seemed to enjoy themselves, and as Juliana's first club experience, I would say we had success!

Legs hurting, eyes tired, we left Coyote and headed to figure out the night buses because we didn't want to spend 30+ euro on a cab ride back home. We said good bye to the Mya and Neil, and made sure they knew how to get home, then we walked off to find a bus stop. At the bus stop Helena went off her own way toward the Vatican, and then we searched the bus lines to find which one we wanted. I noticed a Bell'Italia poster on the fence across the road, so I went and pulled it down so I could give it to my mom, and then we decided we needed to take the N9 to termini, and from there we could get the N1 or N2 to Bologna.  On the bus we met a nice american, can't remember his name, but he was from Indiana (?) and was on a term abroad with his school (Butler) in England, and was in Rome with a group for the week.  It was rather entertaining because I heard him speaking english, so I asked where he was from and he said "America", and in a way that was like "America.. you know that place?"  And I so responded rather sarcastically... umm... ya... WHERE in America? (I'm clearly american too fool).  I found that rather entertaining. Anyways we successfully got home, we all got ready for bed, I set my alarm for 8:15 so I could pack, told J & M I would wake them at 9:00, we'd leave at 9:15, go get a coffee, then head to Termini, grab the train to Frosinone and we would see Linda and John there at 11:53 when the train would arrive.

Ricotta filled pastry of wonder and cappuccino
8:15 I woke up, packed up, woke the cousins up, and did exactly what we planned.  Went to Mizzica, Juliana and I were brave and went to order... it was almost a disaster, the man at the counter told us to ask for something that I had no idea what it meant (it meant a tray, cause we were taking the goods outside) and he also told me I owed the cassa 70 cents because I told them I was getting a tre cornetti and the one I ended up picking clearly wasn't a cornetto, woops! Instead I got a baked triangle of delectable flaky dough filled with ricotta, the pastry literally weighed pounds, no joke.  After we ate our breakfast we continued on with the plan as I had stated, only adjusting it briefly to stop at a bancarella we passed where I bought a skirt I had been eying all week :)  Two hours later we were walking down the platform in Frosinone to catch up with Uncle John and Zizi Linda, 40 more minutes and we were kissing the Nonni and preparing our stomachs for whatever they had coming our way.
Michael and Juliana Sleeping

We ate lunch, a tortellini soup that nonna had made, along with a variety of sides, fagioli, bread etc.  We cleared the table and then went to do what you do between the ours of 1 - 4, sleep.   I had spent 20 minutes sitting on the floor with Zizi Linda staring at the washing machine to try and figure out a better method to wash the clothes because it was taking over 2 hours to do one load and the water in the machine was literally scalding hot, so when everyone went to nap, my wash was done, so I hung everything on the line, found my old sneakers I left at the house, then went on a run in the dead heat of the day.  Nearly died.  Poor idea.  But it felt good to sweat out the food.

Around 4:30, Uncle John, Zizi Linda, Juliana and I drove into Sora to do some shopping and get a cake for Michael.  Not much seemed to be open in Sora and we didn't have that much luck clothes shopping, and with enough asking we were able to find a pasticceria where we could get Michael a cake.  Lucky for us remembered to pay the parking meter.... NOT... When we walked back to the car a meter maid was standing their writing us up a ticket, and Zizi Linda went right up to her and pretended to be a dumb american and to get her to stop writing the ticket, but she wouldn't give in.  All Zizi Linda managed was for her to write the infraction as an expired ticket as opposed to no ticket at all (we had completely forgotten about getting a ticket, really though, it wasn't intentional at all), and she only ended up having to pay 24 euro as opposed to 50 euro.  Finding the Polizia di stato was another adventure.  The woman had explained PRECISELY where to go, but nevertheless, the street she pointed us toward only had a Polizia Locale, so we were confused, but Zizi Linda finally went to check it out after we were sure there wasn't a Polizia di Stato to be seen, and Juliana and I went off to the 5th tobaccaio that we passed that day to see if they had stamps.  Finally a success from the trip, we met Uncle John back at the car with 5 stamps and a paid parking ticket, then went to pick up Michael's cake (or what Italians call a cake... not their forte) and headed back to Muto.

At Muto all was calm. Nonna was getting the abbacchio out ready to cook when Maria came down with another kilo of it to add to the batch.  These ladies were always giving each other food.  And literally every meal I've eaten has been the bickering back and forth of who needs to eat more food between Maria and Nonna saying "Magna!", eat!, back and forth to each other, the occasionally interjecting "Magna"  at one of us kids sitting at the table.  At dinner that night we ate the delicious lamb along with greens, potatoes and roasted peppers, it was delcious, and after Maria and Nonna were done screaming "MAGNA" at one another we actually got some stories out of Nonna and Nonno.  She went on a tangent about her little chicks the pulcini and how alex must have killed them and that's why he hasn't been calling her.  The way that Nonna and Nonno tell stories is just pricesless between their half spoken english and half spoke italian, its just something amazing that we've now just started to notice, so we have been trying to video tape all the stories. So entertaining.  Little bits of angry conversation about the wall and garage situation that Pop was inducing occurred when Toni rang and Zizi Linda took the phone call.  Then once it got dark and we had cleared the dinner plates we proceeded to sing the nasty rum cake to Michael.  Cake, Cake is the only thing Italy needs to improve on, American cakes are just better, there is NO doubt in my mind.

After dinner we washed up and then Michael, Jujie and I went into Sora to see what was going on.  We did a passegiata down the corso then heard music and walked toward it.  In a newly built/renovated piazza there was a large stage and a techno rock band playing, so we sat down at a bar, enjoyed a drink and an ice cream and listened to the band play.  Tired from our previous night out we retired back to Muto around 12 then fell fast asleep.

Sunday I woke up early because morning time at Muto is my favorite time.  Nonna would make me a cappuccino.  Me with sleepy eyes would take it outside to the table and try and not be blinded by the rising sun, and I would enjoy the cool of the day while I could, because after that sun rose high in the sky the temperature would sky rocket into uncomfortable.  So that's exactly what I did.  Zizi Linda and I enjoyed cappuccinos, then soon after everyone else descended from their beds, we all finished our cappuccino, ate the melon and the chocolate croissants Nonna had gotten from il forno the day before, then we went to get dressed for church. 

Nonna laughed at me cause she said if I come to Muto I always have to go to church with her, but I really didn't mind.  Church at Santa Ristitutta in Sora lasted no longer than 35 minutes.  It was amazing how fast the mass went! That sounds bad now that I write it, but really quickest mass every, and I don't mind being in church with the nonni also being in side a gorgeous stone building that is also the coolest escape in a hot summer is not pain at all. I enjoy it.

After church we headed back to Muto, but I remembered there was the mercato in Casalvieri, so we drove past Fontechiari and into the mountain to see if we could find anything good at the tiny market. I almost bought a pair of shoes, but then decided against it, and we returned to Muto with only fruit and vegetables from the market.  We hung around until Nonna started to cook the pasta for lunch.  Macaroni and meat was always sunday's dinner menu and I didn't mind it one bit :)  We ate lunch together then went to take naps, and when we woke around 3:00 we headed up to Arpino to use the pool at the suncrest hotel.  Now this was entertainment.  Packed with Italians our group looked a tad but odd... but we didn't care.  90% of the people there had a cigarette in hand and were ready to go swimming with it.  People kept pushing each other in jumping on each other etc. and I heard the lifeguard whistle once over 3 hours of pool time.  There were two diving boards, and a DJ that was making our pool time pleasant, and who initiated a diving competition among whomever wanted to join.  Now this was entertainment.  The winner of the competition was named Puppi, and he was a not so slim dude, who wooed the crowd, funny thing was he had the best technique of everyone, he rightly deserved the win.  He did a back lay out, not over rotating off of 3 meter, and everyone else did pathetic jumps or dives.  The runner up however attempted to do a few flips and landed at like 1.25 flips off of 3 meter. HIGHLY ENTERTAINING DAY AT THE PISCINA!  There was also a group of guys who thought they were quite attractive (and some of them were), but this one guy started doing push ups on the grass with his friend on his back, and I don't think any of the group ever went in the water... just laid out tanning their beautiful bods. HA!

Around 6:00 we descended back down the hairpin turns of Arpino, somehow managing to get back to Fontechiari a completely different way than we came up.  I refused to listen to Uncle Johns GPS directions, both Linda and I adamant that we knew the way throughout the hills of Frosinone better than "Nancy" did!  When we got back to Muto we told Nonna that we would be going out to dinner and that we wanted her and Nonno to come, likewise they both refused, and criticized us for wanting to go out to eat when she had all this food in the house, she also said restaurants put too much salt on the food, so it wasn't good for them to eat out anymore.  We didn't put up a big fight, we all showered, and then I made the McDermotts wait till 8:00 at least to go eat, they wanted to eat before 8:00 (so not italian). Then we drove off to Gianfranco's Tapa Wine Bar of Fontechiari. 

Excited to eat I perused one of the two menus we were given for the five of us (another thing that is bothersome here) and my mouth couldn't decide what kind of food it wanted to have.  It's so hard to choose what to eat when EVERYTHING is good.  Here in Italy you can't go wrong with what you choose, EVERYTHING is good, but if you pick just right, you can have EXCEPTIONAL food, and that's what I look for, but its hard to make the right decisions!  We wanted an antipasti so we ordered that before we decided on our main courses, the waitress asked how many portions, we said 5 because we were 5 people... that makes sense right?  She looked at us like we were crazy and then asked if we had ever eaten there before, then explained that there was a LOT of food included in the antipasti, so she suggested we get fewer portions, we settled on 3 portions, when in reality, 1 or 2 would have been PLENTY!

The antipasti just kept rolling out.  First she brought a tray of prosciutto and a kind of cheese. Then another board of various salumi e formaggio along with olives and little pickels.  A pizza of foccacia next emerged from the kitchen.  Followed by grilled vegetables, bowls of cannelloni beans, and chick peas.  A platter with bread balls, and an egg and ham baked bread concoction. At this point we looked up at her with faces questioning if there could possibly more, she read our expressions and said c'è ancora! Scalopped potatoes that were to die for, another tray of potatoes cooked differently, bruschetta, a rice plate with olives and tuna in it and a basket of bread soon followed, and she finally said basta.  Holy shit. I'd never seen so much food for an Antipasto, and now we realized why she advised us to order our meals after we had eaten the antipasto. Holy shit!

Antipasti... for 17?
We dug in.  Struggling to finish the antipasto Juliana and Uncle John were still craving a main meal what they had hoped for even though they weren't hungry anyways.  So as we worked our way through the antipasto, we ordered a pasta al ragù for Jujie and a pizza margherita for Uncle John which we would all nibble at. The grandoise proportion of the Antipasto was still shocking me, and even when we ordered drinks we had been surprised to be given a liter of cola, when only Michael had asked for coke, and a very large beer, when only Uncle John had asked for a beer, and the ladies had planned on drinking water.  All in all, the dinner was delicious and we had quite the lovely evening at the Tapa Wine bar, and we left knowing the next time we would order 1 portion of the antipasto.  But boy o boy, was that the most delicious thing I'd ever had, it had a little bit of everything, so it was the perfect meal.

When we got back I packed up my things and said good bye to the McDermotts because I would be waking up at 4:45 to go into Sora to get the COLTRAL pullman at 5:20 to make it to work on time.  Maria said she would be up at that point, so she offered to drive me in, so nice of her!  I fell fast asleep on the click clack by 11:00, and before I knew it I was up in the cool morning air, climbing in Maria's FIAT Panda, and on my way back to Roma for the week.  I had friends now, and mom would be coming saturday, so I was excited to be going back, but happy I got to spend some time with the McDermotts and relax a little at Muto.  Muto was beginning to be the perfect escape from the hot, busy, casino, Roma was :)