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In Love with Italy

 
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rmgreen15



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 40
Location: Aviano, Italy

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:48 pm    Post subject: In Love with Italy Reply with quote

July 1, 2009

I am in love with this country!! I am writing on what I am calling my “first” experience or taste of Italy since arriving on June 25th. I have actually been off base a total of 2 times prior to this, and while both experiences were wonderful, neither of those times were to acquaint myself with Italy.

Jesse and I have been participating in a program given by the military, on base, called “Right Start”- the military’s way of trying to prepare us for the various differences we are expected to encounter when becoming submerged into Italian culture. This week-long class is mandatory for Jesse, and while useful for me as well, I am able to come and go from it as I please, following the schedule. This has allowed me to get much accomplished. And incidentally, my husband has recognized, and appreciated me two times in one day!- for that which I am taking care of while he is in class. This may not seem impressive to any of you, but for Jesse to openly appreciate my efforts withOUT me fishing or indicating that I need his gratitude, is huge, and only makes this experience that much more rewarding.

Very soon after arriving in Italy, even before our luggage arrived, Jesse had found a very cheap, “beater” car for purchase as a very practical way for us to get around while waiting on my car to arrive by boat (sometime in August). It is not required to buy a car immediately upon arrival, as the military takes care of each other, and we had received several offers of spouses and sponsors willing to shuttle us to-and-fro housing appointments, events, etc. And, actually, it’s somewhat difficult to purchase a car initially, as you MUST already have your Italian license, as well as overseas insurance on the car you wish to purchase. While Jesse had already tested for his license, he could not receive the actual paper until he applied in person and waited another day from the first day of Right Start (which is actually a considerably speedy process for becoming licensed in Italy, considering how incredibly scary and seemingly dangerous it is to drive here). So, while he tended to that, I diligently worked on getting insurance for this car. Normally, stateside, this process is pretty easy to do online, especially if you already have a policy. My current policy is with GEICO, which is a military preferred company, and in fact is one of the two that allow Americans to have insurance overseas (the other is USAA). However, while extremely easy to navigate changes to your policy online with stateside GEICO, this is not the case once you leave the country. I had such a time, and battle with GEICO just finding someone to talk to who understood that there is a difference in TIME ZONES. Additionally, we had some time constraints of closing the deal before July 1, simply because the guy we were purchasing the car from would be PCSing (transferring) back stateside on that day. There was much telephone battling and waiting for the correct time zone to talk to someone who knew what they were doing, but amazingly enough I was able to purchase our insurance in time (yesterday) to get to the registration office where the bill-of-sale and processing was to take place with the previous owner. There’s not much to be said for that guy either- for an officer he seemed pretty clueless about common intelligence, although nice enough and understanding about the difficulties on our end.

So, now we have a car, which opens us up to finally getting a taste of Italy- figuratively, and literally. Jesse isn’t at all phased by the crazy drivers here (ok, you think wherever you live has the craziest drivers- I don’t want to hear it, just come here), and surprisingly, having a borrowed GPS helps tremendously. I still maintain that I’m in NO hurry to get behind the wheel here, although, I too, obtained my Italian license at the same time Jesse did, and theoretically understand all the signs and laws. Anyway, we got to do some exploring and house hunting on our own yesterday in our “new” 1994 VW Golf, which sounds like my mother’s old Colt-E that I remember from my childhood; loud and clunky for it’s small size, but certainly efficient, economical, and practical for us.

The first place we went to look at was…OK. We liked it “eh-” had plenty of room, and an interesting lay-out that I believe is common of Italian houses, but in spite of our “boring American eye” seemed a bit bland, and well, unsafe. It was as far away from base as we believed we wanted to be, approx 30min or so, but it just didn’t excite us, so on to the next place.

The second place was TOTALLY different, and we both took and instant liking to it. Located in the heart of Aviano, it’s only 5 minutes from base, which initially seemed like a not-so-great thing. I mean, if you talk to other military members, being close to base is a good thing, because you are encompassed by more Americans. But, we both agreed, we wanted to submerge ourselves into this experience as much as possible- live, eat, breathe, BE apart of Italian life and culture. This particular apartment seems to be mostly consistent with this desire, which is excellent, but is also economical for us as gas is even MORE expensive than it is in the states, and is rationed. Oy!

We have viewed two more places after this second place, just to say we weren’t being too hasty with our decision, but we none of the others, no matter how far from base, have measured up. With that being said, we have our contracts all filled out and approved by the military housing office (for housing allowance purposes), and have “slept on it” and are ready to tell the appropriate people tomorrow that this will be our new home. Our lease officially starts on July 15 (delayed due to anticipation of the slower pace the Italian city officials are expected to take turning our electricity and gas on), and we can move in at that time, simply because the military, in taking care of their own, provides temporary loaner furniture and appliances, delivered to the home, until your own belongings arrive (ours are due mid-August at the latest).

The apartment… simply gorgeous! It is newly renovated, very spacious, taking up the second floor (which is considered the “first floor” in Italy- the ground floor is 0) of the building, with our landlord’s office located on the level below us. The landlord is very friendly, and seems very available to help with any concerns or problems we could have. We had been told that most of the landlords know absolutely no English, and that most of the Americans get by w/gestures and pointing. Our landlord has a very good grasp on our language, though, and while at times I had difficulty understanding what he was trying to say, he is kind and patient enough to repeat himself until I do understand. I can only hope to become as proficient in his native language as well, not only to communicate with him, of course, but because I want to really be apart of the life here. I don’t believe you can do that if you insist that everyone around you speak only YOUR language. I intend to try, fail, and try again, which I did plenty of yesterday, and while it gained a few chuckles, seemed to be appreciated by my landlord (and later our waiter).

Anyway, back to the description of our new home- there is plenty of room, even in the kitchen, which is commonly sparse on space in Italian homes. The floor is either tile or wood, which I think is wonderful (perhaps more sanitary) and seems elegant. Both bathrooms have a bidet, which totally excites me! Ever since I got to try a bidet in Vegas last year, I have been all about them (which is probably more than you cared to know about me?). Jesse thinks it’s gross, but I think it’s actually more sanitary… so long as you’re a good hand-washer EVERY time you use the facilities (as I am). I’m just sayin’… yes, I’m excited about the bidets. The lay out of the apartment is pretty cool, too, although I’m not sure how to describe it here. Will post pictures after we get closer to moving in. Also, excited about how secure the place seems. We are in town, right in the middle of everything happening (extremely delicious gelato shop right around the corner, which I will mention again here soon), yet there is a lovely park across the street, and a gate enclosing our parking area and garage, as well as a buzz-call system that allows us to screen solicitors (like you see in the shows featuring big cities), so you have to call up to us in order to gain entry. No JW’s, no unwanted magazine subscription pushers… although, we would still let the Girl Scouts come by, if they are in Italy, too; just friends, family, and the pizza delivery guy. Also, another character trait of this apt and most of the homes in Italy, is the use of the skeleton key within the house to lock doors to bedrooms, or bathroom, or the patio… I just think it’s really classy and cute.

Ok, so yesterday, in addition to getting a car, and finding an apartment we would love to live in, we also did a little sampling of real Italian cuisine (finally!!!). The first was while waiting to meet the landlord of the apartment I just went on and on about. We took a short walk to a café that had a gelato shop attached to it, and I about squealed like a five year-old when I saw there is such thing as Nutella-flavored ice cream!!! OMG, that is probably THE best ice cream I’ve ever had, and with this place being so close to our new home, may very well be what turns me into an even larger woman. Then, after we were done touring the apartment, we took a drive to a town called Sacile (pronounced sah-chee-lay), which is a very quaint happening place to be. Jesse remembered this pizzeria from one of his TDY’s here, and mentioned that it was one of those places that he had hoped to bring me back with him to someday… OH YUM!! I finally got to taste some authentic Italian wine while dining next to a canal and enjoying some exquisite pizza w/proscuiotto and fungi (ham and mushroom). It was absolutely delicious and perfect- I cannot believe I get to enjoy this whenever I want to for the next three or so years!!

Lucky? Yes! Grateful? Absolutely! In love? Like you wouldn’t believe…[img][/img]
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emelle



Joined: 27 May 2007
Posts: 463
Location: Hollywood, BABY!

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:35 pm    Post subject: Re: In Love with Italy Reply with quote

rmgreen15 wrote:
Lucky? Yes! Grateful? Absolutely! In love? Like you wouldn’t believe…[img][/img]

aw, I'm SO happy for you! but what was the image you were trying to post? hmm...
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rmgreen15



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 40
Location: Aviano, Italy

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ah yes, sorry. i was trying to post the same pics i posted to facebook with the same blog, but my battery was just about dead, and i'm not as familiar w/posting pictures over here. just clicking on the "img" button, i expected a browse option to come up that would allow me to post a picture saved on my computer. this did not happen, and as i said, no time to figure it out before my computer died.

taking another look, i'm not seeing such an option on here. the pictures weren't anything terribly special- just one of me at the restaurant in sacile, and one of jesse at same.
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rmgreen15



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 40
Location: Aviano, Italy

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

July 2, 2009

As I finished the exhaustively long blog I posted last night, and was shutting down my dying laptop (just the battery), I kept thinking of other little tid-bits I wish I had remembered to include. Truly little things that I am appreciating… like the view of the huge and gorgeous mountain range from the window of our temporary lodging. These mountains are less than 20 minutes to the north of us, and reportedly have an excellent variety of winter and summer activities. Jesse is totally stoked about snowboarding frequently in the winter, and tooling around the mountain on his motorcycle (I’m actually for the first time, worried about his bike usage when it does arrive…). I’m pretty excited about learning to ski, myself, and in these warmer months, taking advantage of the gorgeous hiking trails.

Also, the tap water, I think as a result of being so close to the pure mountain springs, is pretty delicious on its own. I can’t believe I think that, actually, as I usually cannot tell much differences in taste in water. But, it does taste clean, I suppose is the best way to describe it- no taste of sulfur or chlorine. I may still filter it when we move into our home, but more for keeping a pitcher cold in the refrigerator, and not so much for the cleanliness of it.

The coffee served here is actually pretty drinkable fresh from the coffee machines, rather than being scalding hot. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced being able to drink hot and truly fresh coffee or espresso without having to wait a while for the beverage to cool (unless iced, of course), and even after I think I’ve waited long enough, I would still manage to burn my upper lip or tongue. I still sip cautiously, but I really don’t have to wait. No wonder the Italians commonly take actual coffee breaks- meaning they actually stand at a coffee bar and drink their beverages while on break. They do not take it to-go and wait forever for it to cool so they can enjoy it while back at work… although to-go is still an option.

The last “little thing” that came to mind while I was heading up from the lobby of our temporary lodging, is how mindful the Italians are of not being so wasteful, and recycling. Recycling is made easy, and is pretty common practice everywhere here. There are tri-sectioned trash bins, just about everywhere, that designate “wet waste, paper waste, and plastic waste.” They aren’t any more bulky that your typical trash can, and this is also just in all your public places. I’m not sure how the system for recycling within the home, just yet, but it too is probably also made very simple (not to say it’s not easy in America, but if it’s not made incredibly convenient or mandatory, then not everyone is on board). And from what I understand, a majority of places to shop in Italy require you to purchase plastic shopping bags if you need them- otherwise, it is customary to bring your own reusable shopping bags or grocery sacs. I know this trend is catching on in America, although the only place I’ve seen that charges you for disposable plastic bags is IKEA (which, on another side note, I’m pretty excited that we have one relatively close to us here in Italy, since the closest one to me in FL was in Orlando or Round Rock, TX… yay!!).
As an update to the blog I posted yesterday, we got the final approval from military housing that we can live in the apartment that we chose in Aviano- the lease is signed, everything is a go!! We get to move in July 10th, which is incredible given the amount of time it takes to get the electricity and city gas hooked up (even longer than what I mentioned in my previous blog). We have a very generous and wonderful landlord who has re-routed the gas from the vacant apartment he owns above us to our home (he had done this to ensure everything worked before even showing the place), and has simply asked that we let him know when the city gives us an appointment to come over and actually turn on our gas, so that he can re-route it back to it’s proper position. This is a pretty fabulous thing he is doing for us, because now I’m finding out that it can take three weeks or even longer for the city to turn on our gas. Instead of having to live in the temporary lodging on base for 3-4 more weeks, and then paying rent AND lodging fees, we get to move in to our beautiful new home in ONE week! Woo-hoo!!!

We had more orientation classes today, this one being my favorite so far because it was hosted by English-speaking Italians, and was probably the most informative so far. As Jesse said, it would have been nice to have this class first, for all the helpful tips and phrases we learned today. I also learned of where to take free Italian classes in town (very close to where we’ll be living, as a matter of fact), so that I can give my best effort at learning the language. Another bonus, is supposedly we have access to (also, free) Rosetta Stone, somehow accessible online after you get permission at the library, or something. It makes me SO glad that I held off purchasing that extremely expensive language program, although, I did come close a few times due to popular opinion.

Tomorrow, promises to be the best of the Right Start orientation program, with an actual tour of various surrounding areas of Italy, and submersion into the culture. We will learn how to shop, use the train system, even dine as the Italians do (believe it or not, those seemingly basic things are quite a different experience for the first time, from what we are told, and necessary to be taught to us again). I’m not complaining one bit… Sure, you can teach me how to shop and eat- I won’t be the least bit offended!! The true Italian dining experience alone is expected to take greater than two hours….

Yeah, I’m excited!
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rmgreen15



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 40
Location: Aviano, Italy

PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

July 4, 2009

Before I start over-blogging about fun adventures of yesterday, I thought I would start out by saying that I miss you guys. I am having THE most fabulous time here, and even have thoughts of wanting to stay here for the rest of our lives (it’s still early, I know), but you should know that with every move I’ve made, I’ve kept my good friends close to my heart, and have made honest efforts to stay in touch. I know that I am an ocean away this time, but I have very good intentions of keeping up communications and staying in touch with you, and I hope that (especially with Facebook making it so easy) you all will stay in touch with me… tell me about what is going on with YOU! I don’t find your lives boring, ever, and I miss certain aspects of the life I left behind, so you have to keep me posted.

I am actively thinking of certain people this Fourth of July weekend (and it’s not necessarily our forefathers), and it became an active thinking with a strange dream I had that has me out of bed particularly early this Saturday morning (6:30a.m. w/no plans starting until 12noon!). I had what I call a stress-dream, about a job I don’t do anymore at a place I don’t work at anymore. The details aren’t important, except to say I had three admissions going at once in the ER, and could not get things done efficiently or quickly, was making people mad, and stressing about what signs and symptoms meant in relation to the patient’s condition. The particular aspects of stress in the dream aren’t different from what I usually stress about with any work-related dream, but I did wake up thinking “why am I dreaming about being stressed working at Sacred Heart ER, when I don’t even work there anymore!!” What’s more, is the ER job was the only job I’ve ever had where I DIDN’T have stress dreams. I used to have them frequently when I worked in the restaurant business, and when I worked on Med-Surg, but they became VERY infrequent once I started working in the ER.

Anyway, I came down to the lobby to tool around on the internet, and eventually realized that my stress dream must have come from a subconscious guilt. Guilt that I’m not in Florida, working on this busiest of busy ER holidays (for that area, anyway). I was on the schedule to work if I was still in town, so I guess, mentally I was prepared and ready to work this weekend. I am totally enjoying Italy (as you all have seen from my previous posts), and I don’t THINK I feel guilty that I’m not able to work the crazy-busy ER with the 7-8hr wait times (unusual for this particular ER on any other day), being 15 deep in triage, and having the seemingly slowest docs on the schedule (I‘m sure…). I can’t imagine who WOULD be idiotic enough to even subconsciously miss that! But, leave it to me, I guess…

So, happy Fourth of July, folks… And keep my dear friends at the Sacred Heart ER in your thoughts this weekend as they attempt to keep their sanity and perspective while helping all the drunk n’ stupids, all the children who get sick ONLY on vacation, and all the other vacationers who hurt themselves doing those *fun* beach activities (I’m sure I’m leaving plenty of other fun categories of people that will show themselves in the ER). To those who are not working- have a great time celebrating, and BE SAFE!
Moving on to yesterday’s adventures…

We did our scheduled touring and learning, and had a marvelous time at that (although, Jesse and I both felt like there were two too many STUPID people on our tour!). We were taken to a few really great places, shown how to use the train system here, and of course well-fed. I am glad we had how to take a train demonstrated, as of course the instructions are completely in Italian, and it’s not all the same as taking a train in America or even England. We were also taken to a local vineyard for a tour and tasting (of course!), and was surprised at how insanely cheap wine is here (think, cheaper than buying a large bottle of water!). Although there is some tasty, cheaper wines in America, generally I’ve found that the cheap wines tend to be the ones that are more likely to give a you headache (all the sulfites and additives and whatnot). The most expensive bottle of wine we could have bought yesterday was 3.50 Euro ($4.89), and was simply delicious (and without the headaches)!! I knew I was coming to the true wine country, but between the wine and coffee… YES!

So, the tour ended around 2:30pm, and with the large lunch we had, we were ready for a little siesta. Well, ok, I napped all of maybe 10min before getting up to work on getting all of our important stuff in America changed to our new address (drivers license, nursing license, bank accounts, etc). But then, Jesse had the brilliant idea of driving up the mountain to the north of us…

Driving up was fun- scary, but fun. The roads are narrow, the curves are frequent, and the drivers on the other side of the road are still fast and crazy and don’t always stay on their side. I took a few pictures (I really don’t like taking pictures without people in them… boring for you to look at!) and even a video (we’ll see if I post it… it’s kinda bumpy), but what I REALLY should have gotten shots of was the way down (and the top of course). The road that goes ALL the way to the top is currently closed (and incidentally is the one that has areas to park and take pictures), and the road we were on didn’t have anywhere to stop at the “top” to take pictures. I promise to get more of the beauty caught on film, though… really! The ride down was so much worse that going up, though, and I was too busy concentrating on putting all my trust in Jesse’s driving ability to get it caught on film. He was having fun… me, not so much. And I don’t chicken easily. Really, Jesse is the person I trust the most behind the wheel (I’m not just saying that because he’s my husband, either)- he has excellent common sense on the road, and is quite the safe driver (being a passenger on the other hand isn’t so easy for him… he SUCKS at being a good passenger). But I really had to focus on not having an accident in my pants. Part of the problem is that Jesse had an Italian driver following him, which intimidated him into going faster (actually, it was within posted speed limits, which seem insane for that particular road!), and it wasn’t until Jesse glanced at me and saw I was not enjoying the ride, that he pulled to the side to let the driver pass. I wasn’t saying a thing, but he says I looked like I was going to cry and my face was whiter than usual… so, I guess he decided I wasn’t being dramatic or funny about being scared (as I was goofing about on the way up). He slowed down a little after that, but it was still quite scary, and still not in a dramatic funny way.
I plan to make out a will soon, because I simply refuse to let fear keep me at the bottom of the mountain while we live here. We just live too close to this beauty to not take advantage of everything I’m willing to do! I want to learn to ski in the winter (can’t imagine how much worse THAT drive will be when there is ice and snow to worry about), and I’m all about hiking in the mountains in the summer, maybe even some rock climbing. Let’s not even begin talking about Jesse’s desire to take his motorcycle on the mountain… I’m pretty sure I won’t be joining him as a passenger there (and I’m sure my mother is sighing in relief after reading that last statement). But I’ve *joked* with him that he’s not allowed to make me a widow because that will mean I’ll have to go back to America sooner than planned.

**(Please re-read the third word in that last sentence for all of you that think this is a mean, un-loving statement for me to make to my husband!! He takes it as such, and knows I love him very much and have other reasons I do not want to lose him…)

As an addition to what I do want to do while I’m here, I also want to learn to turn my black thumb, green. People here have flowers growing from boxes in just about all their windows, which is just beautiful and classy and quaint. I would love to have better luck keeping plant life alive and do the same for our home. I believe non-silk plants add better character than faux trees I had in our old apartment, so we’ll see how I do. Also, not only do I want to learn to speak Italian, I’d like to become fluent in Italian… it is a gorgeous language, and would sound so much better coming from my lips if I could somehow program my brain to think in Italian, too, instead of having to consider every syllable and sound in each word before I make it come out of my mouth. We’ll see how that goes, too.

Today’s plans include being social with some of our new American friends (some of Jesse’s new co-workers and their spouses). We’ll have lunch and hang out, and enjoy what is promised to be a spectacular fireworks show on base (apparently this base doesn’t fool around when it comes to pyrotechnical stuff). We are considering that the fireworks might be even more fantastic to watch from the mountainside, looking down on the show… Will let you know how all that goes.
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JBMason
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Joined: 27 May 2007
Posts: 387
Location: Lexington KY

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a test to see if Facebook notes and note comments are visible to non-Facebook people:
http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=209180010709
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rmgreen15



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 40
Location: Aviano, Italy

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i've tried this test, too, myself, but facebook automatically logs me in when i click the link, so i am unsure if it is accurate or not...
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JBMason
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Posts: 387
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had one browser (Firefox) logged into Facebook, and I opened the link in a different browser (IE) that was not logged into Facebook, and I got redirected to a login screen. So the answer appears to be that these Italy notes are private. It's probably possible to open them up to non-Facebook folks. I know photo albums can do that; why not Notes?
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rmgreen15



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 40
Location: Aviano, Italy

PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I agree... ought to be able to link auntie facebook notes, too (and auntie carole for that matter). However, on the photo albums it tells you where to find this magical linking ability, but the same place on notes does not show a similar thing.

Hmmm... maybe facebook needs a letter?
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JBMason
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone who wants more Italy adventures can go here:
http://facebook.com/RMBailey
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