Friday, October 26, 2007

Good Karma

Last weekend I ran the Race-for-Food in Rome. Though some insist, because of my financial situation, I should be a recipient rather than a donor, I like to run, I like to give back and I love Rome. We had a nice group from the three US embassies in Rome (Italy, Vatican City and the U.N./FAO) and we all braved the frigid temps for a good cause...and we ended up on the cover of the weekly newsletter...can you find me??

And it was such a cool route...past the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, the Terme di Caracalla ancient Roman baths...

Afterwards, we were invited to the Ambassdor-to-the-UN's house for refreshments. That's right! I'm on a first name basis with the Ambassador! And let me tell's a nice place.

Think I'll become an Ambassador.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Come here often?

Hello hello!

My apologies, friends, for the hiatus. You all are aware of the reasons so I shall not bore you with excuses. If any of you are even checking this that is. I am going to try to get back into the blog thing, though it's not guaranteed. I still don't have internet access at home, so it's a big undertaking, but I miss keeping in touch with everyone this way and I continue to get requests to update this thing so I want to oblige my friends and family.

I bit of what I've been up to since...April is it? Well most importantly, Elyse and Patrick finally got married! The shower and bachelorette parties were big hits, and the wedding was a joyful, peacful and inspiring day, one of the ones you remember forever and that makes a smile always come to your face. I went home to the states for the wedding and also got in some (not enough!) bonding time with the family and local friends...lobster dinner, boat rides, was a true Maine vacation and I loved every minute of it!

I've also taken a couple of trips - to Barcelona once to visit a friend (it was still nice enough to go to the beach, in October!), and to the Dolomites again - where I went porcini mushroom hunting with Carlotta's glorious family.

We found 2 kilos worth! Over 2 days.........among 5 people.....

Mom just came to visit as well!

She stayed a week in Rome, with her good friend Sara. We have a lovely time catching up and exploring Rome together. I got so used to having her here, now it feels like I've lost something without her. But she'll be back I'm sure, and I will be home hopefully sometime around Christmas, so I'll be ok!
Otherwise, it's just business as usual... my job continues to bore, though the commissary family is quite cute. I eat, I sleep, I go out, I have fun...drama ensues! But it's all good! I will post pics soon, now that the updating is out of the way.

So, until next time...which will be soon, I promise, take care and arrivederci!!!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'm a genius...or are I?

I got me some culture this weekend. In lieu of photos, I'll include links so you can still get a visual.

It was 70 degrees out and sunny and I walked and I saw and I conquered. You see, I've been on an even tighter budget than usual (about 3.50 per day) and so I've been seeing a whole other side of Rome - the cheapo/free side. This has opened my eyes to so much! Free jazz concerts in villas, sit-down gourmet dinner for 5 euro, the unexpected site Oscar Wilde calls "the holiest place in Rome" (also free), and seeing Rodin's "The Thinker", a Tiziano painting, a Turner painting and a 5,000 year old statue in the same AND within walking distance.

I discovered the "Casa del Jazz", near Piramide (the approximately 20,000 year old Pyramid about 4 blocks from my house) last weekend and found that they have free concerts/lectures once a week. The current series is the relationship between Jazz and Tango!

Because it was full by the time we got there, we decided to have an aperitivo at nearby Caffe' Emporio . I was freaking at the prospect of spending the 5 euros necessary for a glass of wine but this was no ordinary aperitivo (Italian Happy Hour where a drink usually gets you a trip to a buffet of breads, veggies and chips). Here, you get first a round of fresh veggies and olive oil and also a few plates of individual savory tarts - all brought to your table. This, I was used to from past visits. This time however, they then brought us a dinner portion of one of three choices available from their dinner menu! Polpettone (meatloaf) with roasted potatoes, Pasta with Shrimp and Artichoke or Spinach & Cheese Frittata. It was incredible - I ate and drank for 5 euros, without ever standing up. Then I walked the 30 seconds home.

Friday night I watched Team America. If you haven't seen it, go to your nearest video rental place and rent it - STAT.

Yesterday I took a walk back to the Pyramid but got a new view of it - from the Non-Catholic Cemetery located right behind it. It is a donation-only entry, and once you are inside you are transported to this lush garden of poetry-inscribed stones and cypress trees. Normally cemeteries are creepy, but even Shelley wrote about it "It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place," not long before he drowned in the Italian Riviera and was buried here.

John Keats is also buried here, along with Antonio Gramsci, Goethe's only son, and dozens of diplomats, artists and other VIPs.

Afterwards, I walked to the Palazzo Quirinale to meet Carlotta for the "Masterpieces of European Art" exhibit. Italy's President Napolitano lives here, and in recognition of the EU's 50th anniversary last week, established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, requested that each of the EU's 27 countries contribute one masterpiece to a show that would "remind Europeans of the cultural values that unite them rather than the political ­disputes that sometimes divide them." This is how I saw such a unique collection of pieces in one, glorious room. Where else could you see a 3,000 BC Maltese sculpture together with paintings by Tiziano and J.M.W. Turner, or Rodin's "The Thinker" together with a 4th Century Greek vase rescued from traffickers just last year?

The palace is located on the highest of the 7 hills of Rome. I happened to have taken these pictures from there just last fall:

And put a smile on someone's face, a photo of me and my favorite Italy-travel companion taken in Todi:

Sofia, ti voglio bene!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

She did it her way.

Don't be shy Katy!

We'll miss you for the good times at Karaoke ("I am NOT singing you guys..."):

The endless laughter and interesting prizes won together at Pub Quiz:

...and so much more!

A se vedei

That's how the mountain people say "Arrivederci"! It was sooooooooooo hard to leave our little oasis in the mountains.

Thank you so much Carlotta, Tiziana and Domenico for one of the best weekends ever!!

And thanks to Katy for all the photos.

Something about that mountain air...

...makes you really, really hungry. We'd just had a breakfast that was about 18 times the size of the normal breakfast any of us ever has, when Domenico stopped the car in front of a cozy little restaurant near the top.

I for one thought we were stopping for, perhaps, some hot cocoa; I mean, I couldn't eat another bite. But then the polenta arrived with its melted cheese and its mushrooms...

...and then the dishes so local you can only get them here (which also means you HAVE to eat them). Clockwise from the top you have your Canederli, your Spatzle, and your multigrain risotto with crispy speck. In a word, unbelievable...I made Tiziana give me her recipes later on.

Carlotta gets her sweetness from her parents:

...and from these delicious traditional desserts...there were 5 of them. And we finished them all.

I think you can actually see the additional 5 kilos I've gained while here, riiight about...NOW:

Amazing, I think, that I remember the names of the foods but not the mountains. Anyways, it's all worth it. Check out the view:

And finally, the summit:

Buona notte!

Days 2 in the Alps are going to think these are photos of movie sets, but I assure you they are real.

Ok, the gnome's not real, but aren't they cute together?

Day 1 in the Italian Alps

Our arrival up north was highlighted by some quality puppy-time with Carlotta's beagle Trudy, a gorgeous speck, robiola and arugula sandwich at the Autogrill (one of my Top 10 Sites in Italy), and a lovely, scenic drive to the Val di Badia.

Carlotta's cookie-cutter parents greeted us with smiles, warmth and snackies (more speck, salami, cheese, breads, jam, sweets...all local of course) before we hit the road again with Domenico at the wheel. He was our absolutely PERFECT driver / dad / tour guide. I'm sure he told us what this particular peak was called but I was in a food coma so...

Smile, quick, I'm freezing! "Formaggio!"

We reached a summit at dusk. There was a bar in an igloo. When you see a bar in an igloo, you go in it. So we did. And we had some warm-your-bones Mulled Wine that hit the spot.

Back at the cabin, which Tiziana designed herself, we had an exquisite dinner of homemade pumpkin ravioli in a butter sage sauce, followed by chicken and mushrooms (picked by Domenico...but you knew that) and more local sweets and tea.

I asked if they are adopting...they are not, BUT they will treat you as one of their own. Really special people.

Then we settled into our beds for the kind of sleep you can only get on vacation in the middle of nowhere...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

White Flag

I give up! I am sorry I haven't posted in some time. I will try to get back on the wagon very soon. I was pretty sick with a freak health issue for about 3 weeks, and that, taken together with an unfortunate meeting between my camera and a packet of to-go soy sauce in my purse, has made it impossible to put anything interesting up here. And I want only the best for you folks!!

Coming soon, hopefully....the 'Month of Katy' (including karaoke, pub quiz, ridiculous movies, and a trip to Carlotta's fabulous pad in the Italian Alps!). Miss you Katy!

For's 60 degrees and sunny here in the Eternal City - I'm off to the roof!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Superbowl Fiesta

I hadn't pulled an all-nighter since college, until Charley hosted a Tex-Mex themed Superbowl party at his pad on Sunday night. The game started at 12:30am local time and by the time it ended it was almost light out and I was too wired to sleep for the 2 hrs. I had before needing to wake up again to go to "work."

Here are some highlights from the beginning:

...the middle...

...and the end:

Sunday, January 28, 2007

And Now Back to Our Program

My apologies for the interruption in regular programming. In order to thank you for your patience (some of you anyways), some photos of a few of the things I've been up to since Christmas:

Said a sad goodbye to the fam before my flight back to Rome on New Year's Eve:
(Ben's doing that on purpose so I have no better picture)

Checked out the life-sized Nativity Scene at St. Peter's:

Celebrated my birthday over pretty pink flowers and scrumptious brownies and cookies by Chef Cancemi...

...before skipping off to Barcelona to spend a well-timed long weekend with a friend. Most of the things we saw I'd already seen so I didn't take many photos. These ones are of a hospital that looks (on purpose) like a fairy-tale land:

Took some preliminary shots of my co-workers in preparation for the AE Commissary 2007 calendar:

Will - "Blue Steel"

Maria - "It's a Walk-Off"

Margaret & Will - "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"

yours truly - "Oh it's IN the computer..."

Karaoke with Carlotta and new friend Charley - need I say more...?

Carlotta: "this is silly, i'm embarrassed!"

2 seconds later: "It must have been love...but it's oooooooooooooover nooooooooow....."