Tagged italy

What Nino Read, September 2014

the princess and her great-great-grandmother (from The Princess and the Goblin)
the princess and her great-great-grandmother (from The Princess and the Goblin)

Corduroy Makes a Cake

It’s Milking Time (didn’t like this one that much — maybe he can’t relate since we hardly ever drink cow’s milk here)

Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Carnival Prize

The Best Kind of Kiss by Margaret Allum ***

The Little Piggy’s Book of Manners (a fun way for kids to learn manners/reinforce what we’ve taught them) *****

Little Bo Peep Can’t Get to Sleep (Little Bo Peep plus other familiar characters from traditional nursery rhymes and stories incorporated) ****

A Photo for Greta by Anna Alter – on photography and father/daughter relationship. Cute. **

Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter — cute book on hiding in plain sight and on being “seen”. **

A Gift of Gracias — on Our Lady of Altagracia — HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ***** Dominican Republic culture , faith, cultivating a spirit of gratitude, January 21

Best Little Wingman – long-time family favorite on father-child relationship, wintertime, how snow plows work ****

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – **** – Africa, electricity, power & energy, Malawi, drought, poverty, windmills.

Nino’s thoughts when we read this: This reminds me of The Wizard of Menlo Park, Mommy!
Me: Who’s that?
Nino: Thomas Edison! (LOL, I had forgotten – we read about Thomas Edison in My Book House)

Three Scoops and a Fig – Italy, Italian flag, figs, cooking and baking, about being “too little” to do things — this book made Nino want to eat gelato. 😀 ****

The Babe and I – baseball, Great Depression, 20th century, Babe Ruth, Yankees, New York, newspaper boy ****

Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox – cute rhyming book on — what else — chicken pox ***

Miss Nelson is Back — funny, silly story on substitute teachers (and their tricks). ***

My Friend by Beatrice Alemagna – pictures are fabric/thread collages. simple book on friendship ***

Also read this past month:

Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers — which Nino asked me to read (got it on Kindle) — he had been introduced to Shakespeare via Jim Weiss — we loved most of them except King Lear — that was just tragic and bizarre.


The Wizard of Oz – ** – Meh.

The Princess and the Goblin — absolutely wonderful book!!

The Princess and Curdie — sequel to Princess and the Goblin

both by George MacDonald, a Tolkien favorite. Wish I had read these books to the kids when they were little. Lots of little nuggets on faith, adventure, staying true to oneself, bravery, honesty, integrity, etc. Wow. Nino and I had LOTS of fun with these books and I’d love to get them on hardcover so we can have them on the shelf and he can reread them anytime and re-learn these character lessons when he does.

Using a GPS in Italy

Hooray! Right now we are being told that there’s a 95% chance EB & kids will be sent to Italy soon. For a while there it was iffy and I didn’t want to encourage false hope — knowing that our dh’s company specializes in emotional roller coasters ;P . Our own trip is still up in the air, but I’m leaving that in God’s hands. But I do have LOTS of tips for using a GPS in Italy, including Rome.

First things first. This is the GPS we got:

Right after Christmas last year the price went down to $276, and then it steadily rose from there; we ended up getting it at $335. So if you’re looking to purchase something like this and you have time to wait, right after Christmas is an excellent time to do so.

What I love about this GPS:
– really easy to use, once you get the basics down. Our children, down to the 7-year-old, can use it, with only a bit of guidance.
– Europe is built in, so you don’t have to buy additional software, etc.
– The screen is 4.3″ — one of the larger ones available.

Now my personal tips, in no particular order… if I start sensing a theme maybe I’ll do sections, but for now I’ll give you a list!

– Sometimes the GPS will say turn left or right at a roundabout — it doesn’t “see” the roundabout. As long as you follow the general direction it’s telling you to go, you should be fine.
– OTOH, sometimes a street that branches out in different directions is called a roundabout, even when there is no actual roundabout. Again, as long as you follow the general direction, you should be fine.
– Sometimes the roundabout is SO negligible so you’ll really be going in a straight line with just the tiniest bit of a swerve, but GPS will still tell you “take the second exit at the roundabout”, instead of just “keep driving” or “go straight”. Again, just pay attention to general direction.
– We have our GPS set to 3D, but if it helps you there are two other views (destination up or North up, I believe) that you can switch to if you’re more comfortable with and want to mimic a regular map.
– Make sure, before starting out on a journey, that you’ve got your settings exactly as they need to be. I do a lot of pre-planning at home before we go, so I regularly switch between simulated and non-simulated. If I forget to switch to non-simulated before we go, that messes us up.
– I also did a lot of pre-planning our walking routes, so I set the navigation option to “Pedestrian” instead of “Automobile”. A couple of times I forgot to switch it back, and approaching Rome the GPS kept on telling us to go to secondary roads — very frustrating, and cost us at least 30 minutes additional time trying to figure out exactly where we’re going.
– The GPS’ battery only lasts so long, so when we take it walking we still have a paper map with us and use it more, and then switch to the GPS when in dire need or when trying to find food/places not on the map.

This was the map we used in 2003, and again this year,

but I left it accidentally at a bookstore so if we go back, we’re getting this:

Back to the GPS.

– If you drive through tree-lined streets, the GPS might get confused and will tell you to drive again from a previous spot you’ve already been. My suggestion is to look at all the directions prior to driving so that if while on a street the GPS goes insane on you you still have a pretty good idea which direction you should be going. When you’re “found” by the GPS again you’ll at least be nearer to the goal. Stopping in the middle of a route (when possible) sometimes helps; sometimes not.
– Same thing will happen when driving through tunnels, esp. long ones.

I’m sure you already know this, but yes, we consider a GPS an essential when driving in Europe, and ESPECIALLY Italy. If we had a GPS in ’03 when we went to Florence and Assisi we would have been spared a lot of headache and frustration and stress. Just the feature that recalculates directions is priceless — that alone has saved us a tremendous amount of time.

– One thing that we found useful in Rome: when you turn on the GPS it doesn’t automatically find you, and sometimes you’ll sit there, and sit there, and sit there — waiting for it to find you. It helps to just drive; the satellite will find you eventually. Of course, be prepared for any mishaps, but I think that’s an exciting part of the adventure. I’m one of those people who actually ENJOYS getting lost and trying to find my way out of a maze. DH hates being lost, but he is an awesome driver (the Manila training helps :D) . Together we make a good team. I tell him what to do and where to turn and he just follows. We saw many sights in Rome that we probably wouldn’t have if we had not gotten lost.

DS needs computer now. Will be back later, either to add to this or to make a Part II!

Vasto Excursion

just a few notes from the lovely weekend:

visited Lanciano: Santuario del Miracolo Eucaristico — 48 minutes from here.

Had a picnic at a small plaza near our parking lot. Wanted to visit the Santa Maria del Ponte but it was closed… so we just walked around and decided to drive to Vasto… (more info about Vasto here)

Beautiful views of the Mediterranean! I’ll try to update this post with pics at some point… I’m still working on March! Uffa. (That’s “argh” in Italian.)

So we wandered aimlessly… and found a really nice playground — all 4 kids had great fun riding this see-saw-swing thing. I promise to upload a video… again, when I’m done with the pics!

Walked to Cattedrale San Giuseppe — beautiful, old church — this is what it looks like in the winter. They had the sanctuary off to the side where the Blessed Sacrament is and a statue of Jesus and His Sacred Heart — with a wide open window and a kneeler for one. There was also a curious wooden structure in what I suspect is the Baptistery on top of what looked like a marble font, but I couldn’t tell for sure. The other reason I think that’s the Baptistery is because there’s also a painting of Jesus being baptized by St. John the Baptist.

In that picture, you can see the plaza to the right (your right if you’re facing the church) — and there’s a little brown door right beside the church (it’s actually across the street, but not apparent from this angle. That’s one of the best gelaterias in the area — their gelato comes from Gelateria di Noto. Yum yum! Ds-12’s favorite Limone comes from there. I got a combination cioccolato/frutti di bosco (wild berries). DD-18 got an awesome Limoncello. Lina, however, says, there’s an even better gelato on the left side… we’ll have to go back to try that one!

From there we again wandered aimlessly, and came across a street where artisan ceramicists were working. They do custom-made stuff, so when we get back in the fall we’re ordering a family plaque, or something… I’m getting a creamer/sugar set ’cause mine at home are too small for a family of 7. Prices are very reasonable, depending on how complicated the design you choose is. They also hold classes for kids as well as adults.

We got really lucky and stumbled into St. Mary Major, where one of the Holy Thorns — Sacra Spina is. Wikipedia doesn’t have it included in their “Holy Thorn” entry.

Got home and had leftover porchetta (the Italian version of Filipino lechon 🙂 ) for dinner. No, we refuse to worry about the swine flu 🙂

Italy Tips, for EB&Kids, Part II

Part 1 is here.

The Condo, cont’d.

The Living Room

The living room has 2 leather couches and 2 divans that fold out into beds — so you can have sleep-over guests if you want. Signora Farina also bought a new TV for the place; however, it only delivers local channels. Surprisingly, and as E has already noted, Spongebob Squarepants and Simpsons (neither of which do we ever watch in the US) are acceptable when in the Italian… while you don’t understand a whole lot of Italian. I have no idea if they’re still okay once you can instantly translate in your head.

The walls are painted a nice sunny yellow and there are a few pieces of artwork (framed prints).

The Dining Room

I really should just call it the dining area since it’s still part of the living room really. There’s a dining table with 4 chairs, similar in make to ours (and your) dining table back in Ohio. It extends, but we haven’t been able to find the inset leaves in the garage. We bought a vinyl tablecloth to protect the wood and I’ve covered up the seats with cut up 1 Euro pillowcases so the kids don’t accidentally stain them if they happen to spill something.

There’s also a huge sideboard with a marble top and glass shelves (with doors) — this is what we use right now to hold our homeschooling books and supplies.

Oh, and there is also a bureau in the foyer which you could use to store homeschooling supplies, though we’ve only used it as a catchall for keys, mail, etc.

The Kitchen

The eat-in kitchen is small but adequate. The fridge is about half the size of our (very American) fridge in the US; however I find that to be an advantage since I see everything that we still have more easily than I used to with our humongous fridge… which means less waste and that can only be a good thing. The cooktop (gas) and oven (electric) are both new (Electrolux) though you may have to adjust cooking habits a bit as they are considerably smaller than their American counterparts. Signora Farina bought new pots and pans, but they are all the flimsy Teflon-coated ones, so I bought a couple of stainless steel pieces that we plan to leave, at least until our last trip here. She also gifted us (or rather, the apartment) with a new pasta pot — obviously, extremely useful here in Italy 🙂 . She also bought new flatware and kitchen utensils (the basics — pancake turner, long-handled spoon, pasta server, several ladles — all stainless steel). There’s a space-efficient Miele dishwasher which we will dearly miss when we go back home. The house comes equipped with lots of lightweight plates and bowls (Arcopal’s Veronica pattern), plus small coffee cups with matching saucers, and Bormioli tumblers (plus a few Nutella ones). There is also a large (hee) 3-cup capacity Mokapot + a solo Mokapot. No kettle so we use our skillet to heat up water for tea, and no microwave (microonde). Which is just as well since we’re trying to get away from that. Also in the cupboards you’ll find plastic dinnerware — which (whoops) the children have appropriated (some of them anyway) for beach play — yikes. S.ra Farina also provided bakeware (probably for lasagne) but I don’t know if you plan to do any baking — they’re Teflon coated, like the pots and pans. I got a package of those coated Italian bakepans instead.

I brought my Wusthof chef’s and paring knives (“have knives, will travel” is my motto) and bought a cutting board here. Three more items rounded out my batterie de cuisine: a peeler (so the kids can help me with peeling potatoes and apples), a whisk (the easier to beat eggs for tiramisu with, my dear), and a corkscrew — can you believe it, a house in Italy with NO corkscrew!? Oh, wait, one more. A salad spinner. The first couple of weeks I was rinsing out and drying the lettuce leaves by hand, it was crazy.

Next time, the laundry room, bathroom, bedrooms and balcony.

Italy Tips, for EB&Kids

Since dh has work colleagues coming over the next few months, I thought I’d do a series on living here to help them out a bit. I’ll start out with a random list of tips, and refine them and break up into posts as I go along, and as Internet access permits. I’ll include tips for others as well so this can be used as a general reference guide.

Getting to Pescara

The guys have been flying to Rome and then driving 2 to 2 1/2 hours to Pescara. There is an airport here but it’s cheaper to fly into Rome, plus the drive over is beautiful, with views of snow-capped mountains, olive groves, towns situated on hillsides/cliffs, etc. There are also trains and buses to Pescara from Rome but I won’t include detailed instructions here as they can be found elsewhere. Just google “Rome to Pescara” +bus or +train — this will usually involve getting a train from Rome Fiumicino Airport to the Tiburtina station where you can get the train or bus.

The Weather Here

Well, we got here in March and have been pretty much wearing our sweaters and coats most days, except for the kids who often find themselves warmer than I am — probably because they run around and all. It’s only really in the past week that we’ve been able to just walk without sweaters and go to the beach daily. The water is still pretty cold but the kids don’t mind taking a dip (so far, up to their waists) in between castle-building and just playing in the sand. The only other time we were in Italy was in November, so we were also wearing our winter coats save for sunny days. According to Lina the best months here are May and June.

One thing we’ve stopped doing here is checking the weather online — for one thing ‘net access has been tricky. For another it really is much wiser to just step outside and check how it feels, the way our grandfathers did it :).

Rome tends to be warmer than Pescara because it’s “more city” — but if you go early morning I still would recommend taking a sweater.

The condo

Hopefully I won’t be writing this in vain and you’ll get to stay here as well. The floors are all tile, so keep that in mind as you’ll have kids that will want to run around, etc. There is no dehumidifier so we open the windows whenever possible, just not at night because of mosquitoes. Yes, there are mosquitoes — not a lot though. There are also the larger mosquitoes that we only used to see in Texas!! But you probably won’t see them in the house.

There’s no air conditioning (not necessary) and no screens on the windows. I love the grates/blinds though because they can completely shut out light. Bad idea though if you forget to open them and you take a nap — you might wake up disoriented and think it’s night — this happened to us quite a bit our first few days, so now we leave them open about a foot from the ground.

Aesthetically speaking, the woodwork and glass insets are just beautiful. The doorknobs and fixtures are old-world and there’s art everywhere. The kitchen tiles are 70’s-ish but that’s okay — cobalt blue and yellow in a kitchen is just perfect. One word of caution: the keys are antique (Paco calls them analog keys 🙂 ) and not interchangeable. We just leave the doors unlocked to be safe. There’s one incident with the bathroom door that we need to tell you about — so remind us :).

The main door is opened with a crazy multi-bit (?) key that works 4 upper and 1 lower bolt. A bit heavy handed so A sometimes chooses to just turn the key once.

to be continued…

Pics, March 2009 Part II

Really affordable mozzarella — the kind we buy at Jungle Jim’s for $9-10 a PIECE. This here container has 10 balls, at 4.50 Euro (it was on sale — regular price is 6.10). – March 19

Aisa having fun with the mirrors at home (the blue-looking area in the very back is the laundry room). – March 20

and then with Nino… – March 20

the gang at La Rusticana – March 20

and Paco and Migi

my foccacia — eggplant, artichokes, corn (!), tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, zucchini and potatoes. La Rusticana’s foccacia is similar to cracker crust pizza, but no sauce and no cheese, and simply topped with fresh veggies. Drizzle olive oil on top and you’re all set.

and my dessert — gelato amarena, 3 layers of delish

Aisa with the pizza oven, and the pizzaiolo

March 2009

found a Town and Country here (and same color as our van in the US!) — an Italian version, approx. the same size as the Fiat Ulysse we’re renting, thought that was pretty funny — this was taken at the apt. complex where our condo is – March 10

Nino’s smile – March 11

Yena and Nino – March 12

roast broccoli – March 13


Toss broccoli florets (as dry as possible)
and sliced-up stems
with olive oil,
salt and freshly ground black pepper,
a large pinch of red pepper flakes,
the zest and the juice from one lemon.

Spread in one layer on a baking sheet, and roast at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until just beginning to crisp on the edges.
Finish off with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, or Grana Padano.

the family minus Aisa, hotel balcony before we moved to the condo – March 14

Aisa practicing her violin which she opted to bring instead of her guitar — view from her room and balcony – March 16

Pork belly, from locally raised “mountain pigs”, marinated in balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper — I would have grilled this had we a grill, had to pan-fry it… but no complaints! – March 16

Aisa and Nino, March 17

Look at that hair! Nino after his bath – March 17

Some Pics

trying to take advantage of fast internet this morning — hope this goes through — 974 kbps!!

flying into Rome, March 8

in the microvan — hey, we fit!

driving to Pescara

sleeping Nino… cried for 10 minutes on the plane, jet lagged 1 day, then he was fine!

on the beach

sorry for the low quality pics — we’re still getting the hang of GIMP.

Abruzzo Rentals

Compiling for next year:

Agriturismo Le Cicale, in Spoltore, 13 minutes from work — don’t know if this takes long-term renters – another of their ads

in Pianella, 22 minutes — may be too isolated???

4 Bedroom in Loreto Aprutino, 28 minutes from work ***
Long stay discount!! 20% discount if booking length is more than 4 weeks.
Early Bird stay discount!! 10% discount if booking start date is greater than 6 months away.

another one in Loreto Aprutino

in Ortona, 28 minutes, supposedly has facilities for longer stays

in San Vito Chietino, 31 minutes, no pictures

Torre Mannella, 32 minutes
this one’s in the same area, but the pricing information is confusing and no interior pictures — okay i found their website

in Serramonacesca, 33 minutes – amazing how similar it is to our house! the pergola outside with seating, the U-shaped kitchen… ***

in Penne, 38 minutes – nice children’s play area
another in Penne, though maybe a bit too modern for us – the kids want this!
Penne again – looks really nice!

in Lanciano, 40 minutes away

in Torino di Sangro, 45 minutes from work – beach for daddy!

in Comune de Cavone in Torino di Sangro

in Contrada Ranco, 44 minutes from work

Agriturismo: (may be able to work out a deal)

Montupoli, 23 minutes away
La Capezzagna, 20 minutes away in Ripa Teatina, their other ad
Il Quadrifoglio, in Colle Marcone, 14 minutes away
in Miglianico, 23 minutes away
also in Miglianico

*** my personal favorites