Monday, April 22, 2013
On yet ANOTHER beautiful day, we went to the town of Monza, which is very close to Desio. Here, there is a massive park that used to be the grounds of a king's summer palace. This park is HUGE!!!! We walked for over and hour and probably saw about 5% of it! There is even a Formula 1 racetrack INSIDE the park....which we could hear, but not see. We were just minding our own business and all of a sudden we saw a caravan of about 20 horse-drawn carriages go by! They were on their way to the racetrack, we think. Really neat!
This competition was leading up to an event that they have in this area in the summer, called the Palio. The Palio is when neighborhoods and towns compete in several tournaments. The most famous of these is a horse race in the town of Siena, but here in Asti, they have a horse race, too.
While we were at the piazza cattedrale, we heard some trumpets playing. James and the kids went to investigate, but couldn't find where they were coming from. We started walking back toward the center of town, and we stumbled upon a traditional flag-throwing competition! We ended up staying and watching for about an hour. It was great. I don't know if you can tell, but this guy here is handling 5 flags at once. He was pretty good!
We did hang out for a little while in the deserted piazza flanking the church. I used a bench to change the kids' diapers, and fed Susannah. Italy is great, but one thing it lacks is changing stations for people with toddlers/infants. We have changed diapers in some strange places: church steps, benches, back of our car, walls near fountains, the grass, the stroller (that was interesting), and more!
See Chiara and the kids in this pic? The cathedral in Asti was large and in charge, but unfortunately, not open when we were in the vicinity. We would have had to wait around for another hour to see the inside, so we decided to move on...
We took another day trip to Asti. Asti is where Asti Spumante, an Italian sparkling wine, comes from. Also Barbera and Barolo (red) wines comes from this region. It's known for its food and the city itself is on a hilly site with lots of old towers. There used to be something like 150 towers, but now there are only 15 left.
Here are Norah and Luke resting in a cute little park we found with seats shaped like leaves. Leaves with graffiti on them, but that's another story...
Norah and Luke enjoyed running around in this little piazza in Modena, complete with a fountain for them to look at! A guy was sitting here all alone, drinking a beer, minding his own business when we showed up. While I fed Susannah, our kids ran around like wild things, but he didn't leave. I think he enjoyed the show!
submit this to an online "cutest kid" contest? I thought I would catch him off guard, so I called his name when he was looking at Norah in order to get a candid photo. He turned around and this is what I got! This kid makes it REALLY DIFFICULT to take a decent picture!
Modena also has a UNESCO world heritage site: the Cathedral. It was built in 1099 and consecrated in 1184. It is really really beautiful in a different way on the inside. It has little alcoves and chapels that have carved scenes from the Bible. Another cool thing about this church is that you can walk almost anywhere inside--many churches here in Italy keep the altar and the whole front area off-limits. But here, you could walk behind the altar, and above the altar where the priest would stand and give his homily. It was really neat.
Outside are some typical Romanesque lions guarding the entrance to the church.
Luke went with options A, B, and C in this photo. If you don't understand, read a couple of posts earlier and all will be made clear...
Norah has lost her 4 front teeth (2 on top, 2 on the bottom)! She's got quite the gaping hole in her smile!
Here she is standing behind Torino's cathedral, where there are remains of an old Roman amphitheater. It was pretty cool to see that and imagine what sorts of "entertainment" the Romans experienced here. Gladiators? Plays? Music?
Luke's latest and greatest trick is that whenever we try to take a nice picture of him, or him and his sister(s), he either:
a) starts shaking his booty at us
b) starts "dancing" and looking like he is punching the ground, or
c) sticks out his tongue.
This time he went with option C.
We went to Torino to scout it out and see if it's a place we would want to spend a few days later this year. All in all, it was a fun day. There are numerous massive piazzas all through the downtown area of the city. This one is in front of one of the king's old palaces. The first thing our kids ask when we arrive at any destination is: "Can we run around?" This means they run around like feral children while James and I and Susannah try to enjoy the vistas of the place we are in. One great thing about Torino is that there were lots of places for them to run around without running into people!
Thursday, April 4, 2013
We got the kiddos all gussied up for Easter mass at the Basilica. They looked pretty darn cute!
At the end of the mass, the priest chided the congregation for chatting and talking the whole way through the service. I hadn't noticed it, but we were sitting in the back and I was concentrating on keeping our kids from being "THOSE KIDS." He told them that they might as well not have come if they were not going to listen to the young people in the choir singing their hearts out to the Lord, or listening to the wonderful story of Easter. Everyone was quiet after that!
We had Grandma Patti get decorating kits and send them back to Italy with James on his last trip to the USA. Then, Easter-time came and Nonna reminded me that all eggs in Italy are brown! Oops!
Well, we tried to dye them anyway, and they actually turned out pretty well. There is a date stamp on each egg that boiled off (luckily)--then we just dipped the eggs as usual and got some interesting colors.
Norah and I printed off lots of Easter Eggs for her and the boys to color. I thought they might color them for 10 minutes and then be on to the next activity. However, they sat there for about 2 hours and colored every last one! Nonna even got to color a few!
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
We went to Varazze, near Genoa, for a few days last week. Nonna wanted to show Ethan the sea, and he absolutely LOVED it! The kids played on the seashore morning and night, and at the end of the day, they were always exhausted. The weather was a little chilly, but at least there was sunshine and not rain! As a matter of fact, it was raining when we arrived on Sunday night, and it didn't rain again until Thursday morning when we had finally loaded all the kids and our stuff in the van to come home! What good weather!
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
We spent one Saturday in Bergamo Alta, which is the old town of Bergamo. To get there, you can drive a car, or you can hike up a STEEP set of roads and stairs. Nonna remembered it being "not that bad," so we hiked it...with a stroller! We were winded once we got to the top!
On a side note, Susannah rode in the stroller for most of the day. Luca walked all the way up this hill, plus all around Bergamo Alta, and only rode in the stroller at the end of the day. He was a trooper!