Tuesday, September 8, 2009


It’s hard to believe that it was just one year ago today (or yesterday or tomorrow; rough estimate here) when Martello e (almost) Trofie Wife first set foot in Arenzano—only 48 hours or so after mailing their wedding invitations from the all-night post office near Madison Square Garden. After surviving two flights and emerging from the airport with lots of baggage (and this was only for the trial run!) we were whisked away by car and driver to our first apartment here—the loud, buggy studio just above the marina, which if we had ultimately selected it, would have made accepting visitors quite difficult (Murphy bunk beds) and probably would have driven Trofie Wife crazy, given the comparatively small space. (Actually, the flat’s finest feature was its (foam-stuffed) couch, a rare furniture item around these parts.)
As Trofie Wife marvels at the huge, early September waves, I think back to all that has happened since that first awkward week and remember some of my first battles: hunting down a reliable Internet connection (still a struggle) and my first grocery store trip, which nearly resulted in my squashing, since I had not yet discovered the pedestrian walkway (nor the shortcut leading to the goat pen, for that matter) nor figured out that I was walking along a major thoroughfare linking town to highway. It was during that first week, also while overlooking the beach, that I first had the inspiration for this blog and its title.
The sights along the coast are familiar now yet still foreign in so many ways. Year Two (if you haven’t yet heard, we’re staying!) gives us a second chance at this adventure, which we hope will prove to be less helter-skelter. Our first year here was broken up in many ways, notably by our impending wedding just a month after our arrival. (I left after that first September week, and Martello stayed until a week before the wedding. We returned together at the end of October.) The last 11 months have been dually devoted to adjusting to being in the same ZIP code for more than a couple of days at a time along with dealing with the many challenges of living abroad. Now that Martello and I know how to function in the same space (more or less), we can focus on taking in more of the language and culture of this great country (we’re doing quite well in the “taking in the food” department). Martello continues to work on an exciting project in an idyllic atmosphere while Trofie Wife tries her best to not get sucked into her computer while relishing being busy and constantly seeking new opportunities and adventures to pile on my plate (apparently our acquaintances here still don’t get the whole telecommuting thing and believe that I must be deathly bored…).
We’ve spent the summer far from bored, which is why you haven’t heard much from us. July and August were quite the party, so over the next group of posts, we will recount where we’ve been and what we’ve seen. Beginning with hosting our first apartment party!
As June crept into July, several departures (mostly of the semester’s interns) were nearing for Martello’s colleagues. Parties were hosted by and for those leaving, and we wanted to make sure that we debuted on the social scene prior to the departure of several of our new pals. About a week before the impending gathering, Martello e Trofie Wife had just whipped up an herby spinach lasagna, their first Garfield-approved pasta dish. Perhaps it was the mixture of rosemary and wine which lead Martello to ask (aloud), “I wonder if anyone’s ever made chocolate lasagna... .” With that bit of inspiration, Trofie Wife was off and Googling, adapting American recipes to fit with the ingredients on offer here. And before we knew it, Martello had invited over a dozen-plus people to taste this experiment (accompanied by Trofie Wife’s bagels, baguettes, and assorted other delicacies, including those contributed by our guests). We were amazed that the recipe (mostly) worked and that everyone seemed to enjoy our hospitality (well, that part wasn’t so surprising…). Perhaps one of the funniest moments of the evening came early on when a German guest noted how he thought he was entering a German (instead of an Italian) apartment when he saw our two last names posted on the buzzer. That lead to a discussion of the fact that we each had our own surname and our surprising discovery that in Italy (often considered a most conservative country), women do not change their last names when they marry (another point proving Trofie Wife’s latent Italian heritage).
Trofie Wife should add that Martello insisted on hosting this affair the night before we flew to the United States for an even bigger party. The last guest left after 12 a.m., we cleaned until 1 or 2, and then the cab arrived at 5:15 for our 7 a.m. flight… . Needless to say, Martello is (still) trying to make Trofie Wife more flexible; it’s starting to work…a bit.
Speaking of partying, the Italian government is concerned that a bit too much of it is going on for the local raggazi, so they’re (supposedly) starting to enforce the drinking age, which is 16. See here, http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1913176,00.html. This is a sad commentary for several reasons, most notably that it’s only recently that Italians have taken up binge-style drinking, which several reports have tried to blame on the exposure to British (note that’s British, not American, woo hoo!) drinking culture encountered while studying abroad and during other cultural exchanges. Trofie Wife still wants to believe that the liberal Mediterranean approach to teens and alcohol is favorable to that of the American “forbidden fruit” tack, which, bottle for bottle, has led to more alcohol abuse over the years.
Well, that’s all our commentary for now. Tales of more feste will continue a dopo.
Baci e gelato,
Martello e Trofie Wife. 

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