Friday, October 31, 2008

A Tour of Our Casa

Ciao! I'm happy to devote this post to providing our devotees with an all-access pass to our apartment. I spend much more time here than Martello does, as he is either in or traveling to/from the office 12 hours a day during the work week. Our favorite time of day, of course, is when he returns and we prepare dinner together.

But before I get to the culinary delights, let me guide you through our home. First, take a look at our elegant street sign—it’s quite an upgrade from the green aluminum and white block lettering in New York City! We live on Via Michelangelo Buonarroti, he of sculpting and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fame.

Just off Via Dante Alighieri (ah, the Italians and their beautiful names...), we are the second house from the top of the street.

Conveniently located across the way are the recycling and trash cans (note, if you can squint, the handy, sanitary foot pump on the far right bin); the locals take their recycling very seriously.

Our steps are composed of a lovely marble. However, they do get a little slippery when it rains, which it does a lot here… (Martello says the forecast is rain through next Friday, November 7! Pacific Northwest, eat your heart out!)

After passing the mailboxes (not pictured), which are eagerly awaiting your postcards, it’s time to step into our elevator.

This picture is not quite illustrative, but visualize inside this plain white door a set of green swinging doors leading to a tight squeeze.

When you disembark from the elevator, a quick right turn leads to our front door with its crazy locks. The locks look even nuttier from the inside! I think we have four; the main one and three additional deadbolts! We are quite secure! (But from what we can gather thus far, this town isn’t a hotbed of criminal activity.)

The doorway leads immediately into the hallway, where we keep our outer garments (including Trofie Wife’s infamous bomber (aka Nanook) hats.

Adjacent to the front door is our guest bedroom, which is eager to welcome visitors!

Note how the retro orange décor coordinates beautifully with the bedspreads (how we wish we could take credit…).

Our favorite room is our cucina Italiana! It’s really the cutest kitchen ever.

The red checkered tablecloth is straight out of Lady and the Tramp and just screams “pasta! vino!”
There’s plenty of storage space (and interesting appliances—a juicer!— left behind by prior tenants) in our overhead cabinets.

Dishwashers are not common here, so we do our scrubbing in the sink and drying on the side.
Our small appliances exquisitely pick up on the cute theme. Here is our adorable fridge.

For those of you familiar with the original latte-colored refrigerator at the Jackson Place apartment, it too has those amazingly helpful (hysterical?) drawings that outline how long you can store (presumably dead) fuzzy animals: bunny rabbit—six months, Rudolph, 12.

The bathroom contains a trove of treasures.

Note the hot pink bathmat, which Trofie Wife scored on sale at the housewares shop at the “mall” (a true New Jerseyan wouldn’t even deign to call our dinky local “shopping center” that)!

Our freshly washed clothes get hung on this amazing contraption that rests above the hybrid shower–tub.

Below you will see our infamous hot water boiler.

In our town, hot water is only guaranteed when the central heating is turned on, a momentous event that will occur on November 15. Between March (when it turns off) and November 14, the only way to take a warm shower–bath (you kind of a have to sit in the tub as if you were taking a bath but then use the handheld shower nozzle to moisten your soap and yourself) is to turn on the electric water boiler, which is supposedly quite expensive (we’ll let you know when the bill arrives). Martello forgot to unplug it earlier this week, so Trofie Wife had quite a nice warm shower that afternoon! (It consequently may turn out to be the most expensive shower ever; we’ll be sure to update you.)

This is our dining room, which Trofie Wife repeatedly refers to as the living room (even though it’s really her “office” (used loosely, since as of yet no actual work is being done) during the day).

This is our curio cabinet and some sorta comfy chairs.

We don’t have a couch, and it does not appear that there will be room for one (and we’ll be less likely to turn into little gnocchi that way…).

Our shutters (located on all doors and windows) open and close with this cool device. This is the view from our dining room terraza.

We have a lovely snapshot of the Santuario e Seminario di Gesù Bambino, the major duomo in the town. It’s actually a noted Catholic pilgrimage site and many of the faithful pass through Arenzano to visit. Additionally, this year is its centennial; we were lucky enough to wander into one of the celebrations during Trofie (Almost) Wife’s September visit. I should also add here that our house is filled with Catholic iconography (courtesy of the owner), so between that and our own religious contributions, we should hopefully be pretty covered in the God department! This is the sea view from the terraza in the kitchen and this is the mountainside view. On warm days (months from now) Trofie Wife can sit outside with an espresso and inhale the view and salty air.

Finally, here is our master bedroom. It’s sizeable, though sadly we could not bring our lovely new bedding with us (except for one blanket), so pardon the clashing.

Well, that concludes our tour. As I used to say at each stop on College Walk (after bracing myself to start walking backwards again), “any questions?” We hope you enjoyed your first “visit” to our home!

Next up: More news from around the house.

Baci e gelato,
Martello e Trofie Wife

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Herbie gets ready to take on Arenzano

When you’re a talkative New Yorker set asunder in one of the world’s most notoriously talky cultures and you don’t speak the language, it’s a challenge. Thus the need for a way to express myself, keep in contact with friends and family, and find a way to pass our year on the Italian Riviera (known locally as the Liguria region).

First, some history on the blog’s nomenclature: “Martello” is translated as “hammer,” my husband’s nickname (and no, he is not Tom DeLay). Kudos to those of you who guessed this one. Now the second portion of the name is a double entendre. And before anyone thinks that I’ve abandoned feminism after less than a month of marriage, rest assured. “Trofie” is actually a delectable Ligurian specialty, a thin, rolled pasta of light consistency best served in a luscious pesto sauce teeming with haricots verts. Of course those who know me well know that I am anything but a trophy wife, and throughout this year I will likely struggle with my new identity, which while exciting and an avenue to new opportunities, has also placed my career on hold at a crucial juncture. Nevertheless, I hope the pun makes readers chuckle.

So how did these two New Yorkers end up in Liguria? The prelude to this adventure begins back in the Summer of ’07 when Martello (then my long-term boyfriend) and I started discussing our life plan post-grad school (design for him, nonprofit management for me). He, ever the dreamer, expressed a fleeting interest in “living and working in Europe.” I, ever the planner, wanted to know the particulars immediately: “Where exactly (city, postal code, census tract) would we live? What would I do (full schedule, each of 24 hours)? How do the visas work? Would there be health insurance?”

“Details, details; not the point,” said Martello, as he would then table the discussion to stop me from asking any more questions of a fiscal, tax, or real estate nature. This passive–aggressive repartee would go on for an hour or two every few months, but the discussion basically faded away as semester deadlines approached.

Flash forward to June 2008. On an eight-hour layover between travels through South America and a family trip to Italy, Martello received a phone call; he was being invited to interview for a post in, of all places, Italy, where neither he nor I spoke the language! Since circumstances were favorable, Martello scheduled the interview to coincide with his travels. Not yet having heard of “trofie,” nor yet a “wife,” the soon-to-be christened Trofie Wife started doing what she always did when a new circumstance arose—research! I found out everything I could about Liguria, how to pull off a quickie wedding, and how to become an American expat (of course this was all fully documented prior to Martello even stepping foot in Liguria). Needless to say, the interview went well, Martello was offered a job in July, and he offered his hand in marriage in August. Trofie Wife duly earned her moniker in early October, and the duo arrived in Liguria just as Daylight Savings Time ended in Italy.

We will try our best to post new information several times a week so that you can fully capture the flavor of our adventures. Trofie Wife will be the blog’s primary author but Martello will (somewhat) regularly submit guest commentary— his schedule pending—and bring his unique voice and observations to our dispatches. (He will also likely be responsible for any noteworthy photography, although I do have my moments.)

So benvenuto to our site! We hope you visit often.

Coming up next: A tour of the apartment and a visit to Voltri.

Baci e gelato,
Martello e Trofie Wife