Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snowy Day

It's snowing today in southern Italy. 
Snow is such a rare event here that it's always special.

This orange tree was certainly caught by surprise.

As were the flowers in my garden.

My sons tried to convince us that snow = no school, but that argument didn't stick any more than this snow will!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Higher Education

I just found out today what course I will be teaching in this academic year at the University...the same course as last year. I'm happy to hear that, because I enjoy teaching second year writing and, as I have been doing it for a while, I feel quite confident that I know what I'm going on about in the classroom.

Every year my course is a bit different, because I like to experiment with a variety of approaches and materials, and also because the students are different and, so, create a different dynamic each time. I have chosen new books for this year and I'm looking forward to seeing how I can best use them in class.

I just wish that for once, we could have gotten started on time. Every year something happens to set back the start of the academic year. Classes "should" start at the beginning of October, yet here we are on the 14th and I just found out what I'll be teaching... I still don't know which professor I'll be collaborating with because they haven't gotten around to deciding that little detail just yet. Without the professor, the course can't start... I've got students emailing me asking when lessons will begin and I don't know what to tell them!

This year's delay is linked to a strike by the researchers who, at least in the English department, teach most of the course hours, but actually don't have teaching contracts. Last year we started a month late because they "forgot" to assign us's always something!

Hi, ho, hi, ho!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Canne della Battaglia

My parents are visiting from the States and we took them to visit Canne della Battaglia Sunday afternoon.

I knew that this was the site of Hannibal's great victory over the Romans in 216 B.C.

I also knew that his battle plan is still studied by military strategists today. 

I even knew the guy brought an elephant into Italy by way of the Alps!

What I didn't realise is that Canne is a site that was inhabited from Neolithic times through the Middle Ages.

And, I had no idea that it was set on a high bluff with spectacular views down into the surrounding valleys.

There is a museum, the walls of the ancient village and lots of inscribed Roman columns lying around.

So many things to take pictures of!

The archeological park is open all day and entry is only €2 for visitors ages 18-65, free of charge for those older or younger.

Beautiful stonework abounds.

It's all mine, as far as the eye can see!

I highly recommend this site for an educational and enjoyable day trip for anyone visiting Puglia!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blues Man

My husband has a thing for the blues. He loves to listen to it, dance to it and will always (guaranteed) pull out his harmonica and play along. Last winter he discovered that an old high school classmate had formed a blues band and was playing gigs in our area. We bumped into them by chance at the birthday party of a friend and, to my husband's delight, they even let him play along with them on his harmonica!

Since then he has been dreaming of having these guys, the Deville Blues Band, play at a party here at our house. The main problem was the cost because live bands don't come cheap. So, we thought about it and thought about it and decided that if we asked our friends to chip in a little bit, we could pull it off.

So last night my husband's dream came true. The Deville Blues Band played in our yard and we danced the night away with about 60 friends (plus kids)! Everyone brought something to drink and although we had been quite clear that we would provide the food, being Italians they just couldn't help themselves and they almost all brought something to eat, too.

People were shy about dancing at first, but after a few drinks they loosened up and got moving. I love to dance and had a great time.

It seemed like a good time was had by all. One thing is sure: we have a spectacular quantity of leftovers. We can live for a week on the focaccia and mozzarella and I counted ten (yes 10!) bottles of wine, another huge jug of wine, lots of beer and an infinite number of bottles of water. 

Enough goodies to have another party!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dried Oregano

Every so often, Lina gives us some food item. 
(If you want to know who Lina is, read here).
This time it was a giant bag of fresh dried oregano.

This morning I started cleaning it, separating the leaves and flowers from the stems.

It took me over half an hour to clean this small jar-full. But I think having the fresh herb for cooking is worth the trouble. Actually, I think I'll give this jar to a friend . . . I like to share unexpected abundance!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Relaxation

Wherever you happen to be today,

whoever you happen to be with,

even if you're all alone,

I wish you a peaceful and relaxing day,

doing the things you love and that bring you joy.

(all photos courtesy of WeHeartIt)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Double Cool, Double Groove

How to avoid losing your mind when doing a particularly tedious translation? I listen to the radio on my computer with earphones and it seems to help me find the mental strength to push on through with the work when every cell in my brain is screaming out "oh my God, how can anyone write such dull material?!?!"

Not just any station will do, however. If the music is too involving or loud I'll lose my concentration. Through trial and error I've discovered that Radio Montecarlo 2 is my ideal dull translation soundtrack. It offers 24 hour, nonstop soft jazzy versions of every song you can imagine...without commercials! That means there's nothing really that catches my attention or needs extra mental effort, it just provides a seamless rhythmic background that somehow makes the grind less painful.

It's cool, international "atmosphere" music, ideal for your next cocktail party or book club meeting...or dreadful translation!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Dear friends, I have not been ignoring you over the past few days. Or rather, ok, maybe I have been ignoring you just a little bit...but I think about you all the time! I just haven't had time to sit down and write a post. 

You see, even when I'm on my lovely, luxuriously two-month long vacation from my job teaching EFL at the University of Bari...I am never *really* on vacation because I do free-lance translation work. So, while I should be lazing about, relaxing and drinking mojitos (because that's what everyone does all summer long, right?) instead I am wrestling with unwieldy tracts on "fascinating" subjects like Securities and Investment Contracts in Italian Law” or a complete, detailed history of the Italian Navy.... 

I feel like the kitty in the photo below...a bit bug-eyed, with my tongue hanging out...yikes!

(photo courtesy of We Heart It)

Hope to finish soon and have more time for the good stuff, like blogging and leaving comments on your blogs!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Battiti Live Concert

Had a great evening with friends in the next town up the Adriatic Coast last night. We made corn tortillas from scratch and then had a great do-it-yourself taco buffet on the roof of their house. Mexican food is a rare treat here in southern Italy, so my taste-buds were *so* happy!

After dinner we took a walk down the seafront into the center of town to hear the Battiti Live concert in the town's main piazza. It was the last show in a summer pop-rock series held around the region of Puglia.

Take a listen to some of groups we enjoyed to get a sense of what's happening in popular Italian music these days...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lullaby Design

Yesterday was my niece's 26th birthday and we wanted to get her a little gift.

Whenever I'm looking for a gift for a female friend or relative, there's only one place I turn to anymore...

Lullaby Design (click on the name to see the shop's site)

This small shop, located in my town's historic center, offers some of the most colorful and creative costume jewelry I have ever seen.

The necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, key rings and more, are made from metals, stones, glass beads and handmade ceramic beads.

Each piece is a one-of-a-kind original piece of art.

The jewelry designer and shop owner is Grazia, a friendly and professional young woman who has clients who come to her shop from all over our region.

We ended up choosing a key ring for my niece, and, of course, she loved it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Roman Beach House

We spent a long weekend at my sister-in-law's summer house just north of Rome. They have a beautiful historic villa right on the beach.

Imagine staying at a luxury 5-star hotel where everyone loves you and bends over backwards to make you and your children feel special, comfortable and happy. That's how we were treated last weekend.

Their garden is spectacular, so well-cared for and full of bright flowers.

The perfect place to relax at siesta time.

This is the view from the back patio down to the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Their backyard gazebo is completely covered with ivy growing on its trellised walls.

A fish out of water...

Another view down to the sea from the patio.

This is the patio where we ate all our meals. Except on a few occasions when we were invaded by wasps. Proof that even paradise can have its imperfections!

A nice corner for relaxing.

My lovely sister-in-law spent far too much time in the kitchen, cooking us delicious lunches and dinners every day. She was so good about preparing special dishes for me (since I am gluten and lactose intolerant), I really felt spoiled.

Cooking would seem like more fun with a window like this to look out of.

At work again in the kitchen, that woman never stopped!

This painting is by my brother-in-law, Gaetano Grillo.

Another lovely corner of their beautiful beach home.