Italy vs. America – Coffee

In an effort to let go of my reverse culture shock,  I have decided to start a series entitled: Italy vs. America. The first post is in regards to coffee. Italy wins. Hands down.

Italy: 1

America: 0

Quality, quantity, sustainability, and customer service.

 

My Italian family gave me one of their espresso makers (you get something similar at Target) and a homemade contraption to properly pack the grinds. Every morning I fill the lower pod with fresh water to the bolt, pack the espresso in the middle portion and throw it on the stove. The smell of freshly brewed cafe paired with the sound of boiling water almost brings me back to the foothills of the Italian Alps.

You would think as Fireball lovin’ Americans the idea of a quick shot would get the heart racing. But, bigger is better. Starbucks makes me want to vomit (other than the turkey bacon breakfast sandwich) with the excessive of choices and special “two pumps only” patrons.

Customer service is better when it’s honest. The experience of handing your ticket to a lovely dressed barista, amongst 20 other chattering Italians, is one of its own. They tear your ticket, sprint to the machine and return only to slide your hot cup across the bar. It always lands right in front of you. 

A grande latte now feels like a meal. When will they add a plastic knife and fork to the side of the cup?  And then, and then and then and then and then you have the hip coffee bars with weak coffee and baristas with even weaker people skills. Stop trying to make fetch happen. 

I intend to limit my coffee take away cups to 4 a month. I’d say zero but that’s unrealistic. Check out Get the Facts on Carry Your Cup in regards to America’s consumption: The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year. 

And remember, beautiful cups make room for beautiful coffee.

 

Daily ritual: this cup makes me smile and was a gift from the teachers I worked with in Italy.

Nonna’s china

 

Lara’s china

One night in a Castle

Emiglia-Romagna, Italy – One morning I woke up in a Medicean Castle. It is probably still one of my most favorite memories of spending 3 months in Italy. The castle is in Terre del Sole just outside Forli. I’m slightly obsessed with castles, queens, and everything in between.

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Luggage lift + touring car

The beds are draped with what I believe are passed down royal linens from Catherine d’Medici. The water closet is literally a water closet. The pool table which takes up most of the living room is rumored to have seen action from Mussolini himself.

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This tale can be heard in most cities in Italy. The history is addicting. I imagined being a Queen for a day (yes, I just binged watched Reign on Netflix) and I loved every second. Wait…it was the castle of the Captain of the Artillery. Ehhh….a girl can dream. Or maybe I led an army at some point. Highly likely.

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The wooden ceiling below was just uncovered in the now privately owned Castello Del Capitano della Artiglierie (Noble Residence of the Capitan). If you look closely you can see 1587 and the Medici family emblem (five red balls and one blue). The same year Francesco d’Medici was poisoned along with his wife…coincidence. We may never know.

img_0468The castle is beautiful and a hidden gem. The surrounding roads are perfect for a motorcycle trip or a beautiful drive in an owned/rented Ferrari (sounds like the Italian experience to me!). The owner offers a beautiful traditional Italian breakfast (cafe, breads, jam).

Check out their website and stay there if ever in Terre del Sole. It is worth every penny.

 

Excerpt from: Altra RomagnaScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 16.48.38

THE NOBLE RESIDENCE OF THE CAPITANO. The castle is an integral part of the fortified town of Terra del Sole and is located at one of the entrances of the town. It has an original star and angled shape and is topped by a protruding walkway which used to be used by the guards during the rounds; the walkway is supported by stone layers and cotto arches. The Quarters of the Capitano are on the last floor. Next to the Castle there is the English style Park with herb garden and orchard with trees of times gone by. The Castle, of private property, represents a refine location for events.

 

For more information head to their website.

Contact Info

That one night in Levico Terme – Trento, Italia 

As I sit at the top of the steps overlooking the center of the city, it hits me. Hits me like the strong Italian coffee I have 6 times a day. Time, is of the utmost importance but it should never be rushed. There will always be things to worry about, people to please, deadlines to be meet and lessons to learn. But, the most important is THE NOW.

 

Low quality photo, high quality moment

I’m perched next to chiesa di santa something overlooking 91 Italian students. They have their whole lives in front of them. They are full of life and energy. As I scan the scene I realize they are all characters in an important play: my life.

One group is in love. The next is running sprints up the steps.  I look to the left and spot the kid with the old soul talking to the teachers.  In front of me is my shadow who won’t leave my side and is nervous to talk to me.  Just to the left of the old soul are the kids who look like they are up to no good. Somewhere between the teachers and lovebirds you’ve got the highly intelligent group. And then there is me.

I will never have this time or space again. I may return to Italy, to teaching, to life but it will not be the same. This experience is unique. I have been welcomed here with open arms. I have learned so much about Italian culture, life and art. My heart is warm and my brain is full. And I’m changing. Everyday. Evolution of the mind, body and soul. Viva la bella vita.

x,

T

 

MART

 

Fortunato Depero

 

Outside MART

 

Song Writing 

Students in Italy love American music. They all sing Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and whatever else the kids are listening to these days. I feel very fortunate to be paired up with such a progressive teacher, Lara Ferrari. Together we helped her students write a song about their school…all in English!!! The music department is writing the music and we will all work together to produce a song. I will post the lesson plan as soon as I write it. Teaching is exhausting and wonderful all at the same time.   

Roma in a Day

I wouldn’t recommend it. However, it can be done. The past week and a half my beautiful cousin, Kayla, came to visit me in Italy. We had little sleep, loads of fun, and stories we will never tell. She is actually more like my sister. I don’t have a sister but if I did she would be the only person I’d choose. Ok back to Roma!!! Here is our itinerary…

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WAKE UP: 4:00 AM almost miss our flight with rental car return + terminal transfer

FLIGHT: EasyJet It’s not my favourite airline (I’ll save the why for another post) but it’s cheap and was part of our Expedia bundle deal. We arrived early and scooped up Kayla’s bag in a quick 5 mins. Barely enough time for an Italian coffee right by baggage claim.

7:00 am Milan Malpensa (MXP)
8:20 am Roma Fuimicino (FCO)

Transportation to Hotel (15 min) – 25€  (there is a hotel shuttle for 6€ but we couldn’t find it and didn’t have access to a phone loss of 13€)

8:45-9:45am Drop off bags and freshin up. Shuttle back to airport.

Hotel Tiber Fiumicino
Good: clean, new, rooftop pool & bar
Bad: service staff, proximity to airport

9:53-10:25 Train to Rome (Tickets 14€ each)
Trenitalia Regionale Veloce – Fiumicino to Roma Termini

30 min and you’re in the heart of the city! Easy to find as well. Below is a map of the Metro.Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.08.22 AM

10:30-11:00 Coliseum Exit train station and change to Metro Linea B (blue on the map) 1.50€ per ticket or you can purchase a 7.00€ all day pass. Take two stops towards Laurentina to COLLOSSEO.

As soon as you exit, or actually before, you see the Coliseum in all its glory. It is truly spettacolare.

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Kayla took this photo while being harassed by a selfie stick vendor. Also, I’m channeling my inner Susie Q with my wild hair.

To our surprise, all of the streets were closed in preparation for the Roma marathon (I should have done more research and participated) so we walked to the bus station at Piazza Venezia in front of Via dei Fori Imperiali.

11:00-11:45 Bus to Another Country (getting hungry) we hopped on the 46  (I’m not 100% on the line but just ask a bus driver and they will help. Most people in Italy are more than happy to help you if you ask them. In fact, the will attempt to lead you. Oh, and take the bus so you can see the city!) to the VATICAN.

LUNCHDuecento Gradi (1,000 thumbs up for delicious panini’s)

13:30-16:30 Vatican Tour with a private tour guide (tickets + tour 200 euros, pricey but I believe worth every penny. You can try a big group (which I’ve done) with audio devices but the personal experience is worth the price tag. And our tour guide was able to get us into mass when it was full. IMG_9624

16:45-17:45 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica – UNFORGETABLE

17:45-20:30 Madish Dash Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, Fontana di Trevi by car and foot. My host mom set us up with her cousin who lives in Rome. They picked us up from the Vatican and gave us a mini tour of the city. We left them shortly after the Spanish steps and walked the rest of the way. You can also take the metro.

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Fontana di Trevi

We stopped to have gelato at the most famous shop to the left of the fountain. One of my best friends from college, Whitney, told me I couldn’t leave Rome without tasting the best.  And it is the best.

Dinner: Recafe – Pizza, Clams, wine, and lots of laughs. Exit.

Quick stop to ask a construction worker “ahhh dove proximo statzione…spagna?” We walked too far because I am stubborn and hit the Flaminio station. Three stops and back to Roma Termini.

22:05-22:47 Train back to Airport

Taxi to Hotel (20€ we were told because it was late at night there was less of a fee) In reality, they will charge tourists whatever they want. My advice is to barter with everyone. And I mean everyone.

It was a whirlwind of a trip but for some reason we didn’t feel rushed at all. I think when you’re with good company it doesn’t really matter what you do. So, thank you Kayla Jean for flying 6000 miles to make me feel a little more at home. Cant wait for our next adventure.

x T

 

 

What’s the hurry?

What am I going to eat? Where do I need to be? What is happening tomorrow, next week, next year? I’m quickly approaching the one month mark living in Italy and I’ve had quite the revelation: family first.

Work hard play hard. I dont agree. The concept will eventually break you down.      Moderation is key.

Back at home in America, we are constantly in a hurry to get to the next task. We work all day, eat at our desks, rarely have a break, and forget to stop. There is this constant FOMO (mom this means fear of missing out…) as we are glued to our cellular devices during an entire meal. Fueled by Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest…we forget the ones who are sitting across from us. The ones we love. We forget to look them in the eyes.

No FOMO. Capturing your first day in the dirt should be celebrated. But, excessive self promotion or the perception you are happy is exhausting. 

Italy is different or maybe I just won the lottery. The family I am living with is so full of life. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is shared with one another. It isn’t a choice, it is a lifestyle. During these 3-5 hours we laugh, talk, and I attempt (still working on my Italian) to understand what they are so passionate about.

No selfies or Sunday Funday ads. Good company and good wine.

It makes me miss my family and Sunday dinners. It makes me want to be better. Better at life and better for my family. To be present and kind to all people. To let negative energy bounce off of me and to breathe life into others. I’m making a promise to myself to live in truth and to love with all my being. Happiness starts within.

x T