Friday, May 28, 2004

Making Cheese in Front of the Duomo (by Steve)

SIENA (#63)

We were in front of the Cathedral or davanti al Duomo of Siena.  It was 1979, perhaps the third week of our 10-week Language Study Abroad program in Siena, Italy.  I was a Sophomore, completely overwhelmed with the expectations that one could really become fluent in a foreign language in 20 weeks (10 of which were here in Italy).  I was particularly concerned with so much depending on linguistic proficiency.  I really couldn't imagine how I could get credit for College-level Art History and Italian Literature Classes conducted completely in Italian, including the oral and written exams.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Local Heroes (by Shari Zimble)


I am excited to read your postings and to finally (I hope!) have subscribed to your newsletter.  This has been an extraordinary week throughout Massachusetts, but certainly in Cambridge.  It's as if the whole city is aglow.  There are flowers and balloons and signs of celebration on a grand scale as the first gay and lesbian couples are married.  We were not among the hundreds of people at the courthouse when the clock struck midnight and forms for marriage licenses were distributed (how was it that we did stay up for the last Harry Potter book but missed this?  was it just that the book was released on a Sat and history changed on a Sunday night?!).  For the first time in years, it seems, I was eager to listen to and read the news.  I kept crying -- when is the last time that happiness was so palpable?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

My Field Trip to Parco Regionale della Maremma (by Sarah)

SIENA (#60)

This past Tuesday, my class and I went on our long awaited field trip to the Parco Regionale della Maremma. We hiked for three hours and stayed at a beach for two hours, and then hiked the three hours back. We were all so exhausted when we got home, but we all had a very memorable time! See pictures and don't forget to read on!!! We had been talking about this field trip for the past two weeks in science class. And when I say we talk about it in science class, we only talk about the trip and that's it during class! We were going for a walk in a park in maremma to see science and biology at its best.

7:55 am

I arrived at the parking lot and found most of the rest of my class waiting for the bus. Of course, the first thing we talked about was what everyone brought to eat. "Looks like another 'food-o-centric' field trip!" I thought to myself. The other class that was coming with us on the trip started to arrive. The bus came a few minutes after almost everyone was there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Antonio's Liberation Story (by Steve)

SIENA (#59)

Liberation Day, April 25th and the 2nd of July are National Holidays in Italy.  They celebrate the founding of the 2nd Republic of Italy, not unlike our 4th of July in the United States.  I was surprised to find so little interest, however. Political leaders and journalists spoke and wrote about the urgent need to remember something, as if there were danger of forgetting it altogether and turning this holiday into an excuse for a picnic (gasp!).

It’s no wonder: most of the demonstrations of National unity we saw seemed ritualized, isolated from daily life and rather cold. I kept thinking about how different “official stories” are from the personal accounts of individual Italians, like Antonio Ducci’s. Later that same day while visiting the old Public Hospital of Siena, I was able to relate some of the larger story and the abstract ideas of Liberation to the personal stories of Antonio Ducci through this incredible monument.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Paying for the Gita Scolastica (by Alex)

SIENA (#54)

Paying for le gite scolastiche or field trips here is much different than it is in the United States.  These differences are similar to those of the rest of the education system. Here's an example:


The trip costs 50 euro. There are 20 kids in a class and there are five payments of 10 euro (IN CASH). One kid is chosen (a responsible one) to give the 200 euro to the selected teacher on the selected date. It is entirely up to the kids to keep track of who has payed and who needs change and all of that.  In Italian "CASINO" (the word means what it implies crazyness).  If the kid counts the money and there's 5 euro missing you hear sudden eruptions, "What the HELL are you talking about I ALREADY payed!!!"  even though the remark was directed towards no one in particular.  In general, things are left totally up to the kids to figure out (or not) for themselves.

Paying for the Field Trip (by Alex)

SIENA (#62)

Paying for field trips here in Italy is totally different than in the United States.  Here the paying process is left entirely up to the kids.  As you can imagine, things get much more complicated and also much more disorganized.

For example, let's say there is a trip that costs €200 per kid (my trip cost about that much). The kids are asked to manage their own trip money. This includes collecting and keeping track of all money collected. So they designate one responsible kid out of the class for the lofty task. If there are 20 kids in a class that means that the one kid would be handling €4,000 (or $4,400). And to add to it all, the kids pay in cash!

Packing for Verona (by Alex)

SIENA (#56)

While packing for the class trip to Verona I was thinking about how many clothes to bring.  I thought, "well, this is Europe, so the kids will probably have a little tiny backpacks with clothes, and they will wear the clothes for like 2 days in a row."  I managed to fit the full 3 days worth of clothes in by backpack, and I stepped back for a moment.  The backpack was exploding.  I thought of what the situation would look like everybody with their little backpacks and me with my huge one, but at least I didn't have two bags, right?

Happy Birthday, Alex (by Grandpa Karoll)

ST LOUIS (#58)

We can tell that time has passed by looking at your name.
Alexander, Allie, Alex, you're called, but none the same!

One formal; one - early on, perhaps childish or playful;
Your latest choice, more mature, developed, thoughtful.

As a grandparent fortunate for short exposures over time,
My thoughts about you tend to the happy and sublime.

Happy Birthday, Alex! (by Bubbie Barbi)


Dear Alex,

I hope the fun you are having, turning fourteen in Italy, would fill more suitcases than all the ragazzi carried on the Verona trip.  Someday when your son turns 14, you can compare his day w/ your special Italian experiences.  It is a really good present, no?

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Cena with Bread Gnocchi at Pieve Asciata (by Steve)


Carla Ducci is from Torino in the North of Italy. Although she does not make them all the time at home for Antonio (who is totally Tuscan), she does know a lot of very unusual recipes from the North in general and from Torino specifically. This is the first draft of a recipe for bread dumplings or bread gnocchi.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Which 25th of April (by Stefano Folli, translated by Steve)

With June 2nd, the Nexus of Our National Identity (#53)

Published originally in the Corriere Della Sera, April 25, 2004, page 1

Fifty-nine years later, there are still a thousand ways to remember the 25th of April, 1945: as many ways as there were ideals, hopes, and aspirations in those years.

The best way to remember it would be for each of us to look back on our own personal memories of that day. They are personal precisely because they belong to a person, a group and a culture and therefore they can never truly be shared. And such personal memories would never be replaced by anything common unless it were actually embraced by every Italian. Basically, there are as many memories as there are personal experiences of April 25th according to who celebrates it, who judges it, and who inherits it whether they are Catholic, Communist, Socialist, or stock-holders [owner-class]. And why not include anti-fascists and even those who are simply neutral: the “grey zone” described by Renzo Di Felice, whose new studies would be a mistake to underestimate.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Cell Phone Crisis (by Alex)

SIENA (#51)

The teachers thinking reasonably decided that it might not be so great if the kids stayed up all night messaging their friends, so they made a very aggressive decision (at least according to my friends). They decided to take the kids' cellphones at 8:00 and give them back when they get up in the morning.The kids were outraged.  And they were all like, "I'm not giving THEM my CELL phone.""

They each independently said to the teacher, "I won't bring it."

And a few minutes later then you see them whisper to the person siting next to them, "Of course I'm bringing my cellphone!"

Click here to read more about my trip to Verona.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Pici con Sugo di Carne con Finocchio e Rucola (by Steve)

SIENA (#48)

We’ve tried this a few times and it is rapidly becoming a family favorite. Rucola -- they call it ROO-ho-la in Siena -- is a very delicate, small leafy green that is eaten raw as a salad. It has a wonderful bitter flavor that goes well with meat. For example, it is typically served with carpaccio, a raw, thinly sliced beef sprinkled with olive oil and shaved parmesan cheese.

The pici (pronounced PEE-chee) are the perfect pasta for this sauce: the big, chewy noodles are a lot of work to eat. Together with the rich and savory flavors, it makes for a thoroughly satisfying dish in every way, wonderful with a big red wine.