Sunday, December 25, 2016

Buon Natale 2016

Images of Christmas from Verona:

May all of you be safe, healthy and surrounded by people and animals who love you.

California through Italian eyes

The month of November, the Stoic One and I were in California and Arizona on a trip with the Florentines. We started out in Pasadena, the high school town of the Stoic One, where we rented an adorable craftsmand style cottage from VRBO. I think it was the favourite of the Florentines. The house was small enough for them, that they did not feel intimidated by the space, and I think it matched their idea of an "American house." We all loved Pasadena and can imagine living there if the circumstances were right.

It was Halloween, and our friends were quite interested in how Americans celebrated this holiday. We were with the Stoic One's family, and went off to a local haunted house that was decorated by the owners and attracted hundreds of people. They had cops monitoring traffic and had closed the streets. Unbelievable. I had forgotten how much people in southern California got into this holiday. They even decorated their mail boxes to get into the spirit.

After visits to the Botanical Gardens of the Huntington Library, which they loved, we headed east to stay at Flagstaff in order to get to the Grand Canyon. Crossing the Mojave Desert our friends kept saying "enorme" or enormous. They also came to understand the English expression "in the middle of nowhere." As Ms. Florentine said, "In Italy every where is somewhere. There is no nowhere in Italy."

Another lovely house rental through VRBO, but it was a little too large for the Florentines. I think they felt uncomfortable in the house and nervouse about following all of the many rules that the owners had laid out for us.
The next day we had a guided trip to the Grand Canyon, one of the main stops of our trip. The weather was magnificent and the scope of the Canyon is breath taking. According to our guide you could see all the way to Utah on this clearest of clear days. The Canyon is 277 miles long and at its widest point it is 18 miles across.

That is Mr. Florentine in red standing on the edge of the canyon. What you can't hear is all of us yelling at him to come down and not fall off!

If you look closely, you can see the river down there that created all of this on the right hand side of the photo about half way up.

We then went to Palm Desert to stay with our good friends Dorothee and Mike. The desert was sunny and warm and the friends were the same.  The weather was perfect mid 70's and sunny. Another place we could live if the circumstances were right. Sunny in November. We loved it.

We then traveled to San Diego and again had perfect weather. Then on up the coast to the Bay Area to visit with friends and then down the coast.

Some observations by the Florentines:
They found Americans to be open, friendly, and down to earth.
The food, which they had heard terrible stories about, was delicious. They particularly enjoyed guacamole and chips, which they had never eaten before! They also loved mole and hand made tortillas, as well as American steaks.
The found American spaces to be huge, or "enorme". The people, the houses, the portion sizes were all a little over the top for them.
Finally they absolutely loved California and understood the American dream in a totally different way.

Buon Natale a tutti!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Voting Italian Style

We are now coming to the end of this year 2016. It has been a memorable year for us in many ways. As an Italian citizen, I was eligible to vote in this country, once I attained citizenship. In prior elections, I did not vote, feeling that I was not informed enough to make thoughtful decisions. This year I read a lot about the referendum, talked to my other Italian friends, read both Italian and English newspapers and finally made my decision. I went to the commune to get my Tessera Elettorale, which gave my voting location and I went to the voting polls and voted for the first time. It was actually quite exhilerating, and I very much felt part of this community. I received a stamped booklet that marked that I voted. I need to keep this booklet for future elections to show my eligibility. I will be issued a new card once I pass my 16th election!

Otherwise the voting process is quite similar to that in the U.S. The Renzi referendum was clearly not popular with the Italians. They thought he put too many things in one amendment and did not trust him not to turn into another Mussolini. They have experience with this so I appreciate their point of view. As you can imagine, the Italians are riveted by the American elections. Trying to explain Trump to them is as impossible as trying to explain it to myself. Democracy is a messy thing.