This was predestined to be a low-key Christmas. In fact, the most low-key Christmas either of us had ever experienced. When I was young, we would gather as a family and open mountains of presents before our grandparents came and joined in the fun. Jen’s experience of Christmas as a little girl was no different. Since we started dating over ten years ago, our two families have merged and we have always made the holidays the grand event it should be. Since it’s just the three of us here in Italy, we knew this year would be small in comparison. But at the same time, we were eager to set our own family traditions now that Julia is old enough to understand what’s going on.
Our low-key Christmas
We developed a plan based on our vision of how we wanted the day to unfold (OK, OK. Jen’s vision… Jen’s plan. I just helped when possible). Fortunately, our low-key Christmas did not disappoint. First we had to set up the tree, which we did well before the big day. We capped that evening off with popcorn (a real treat for Julia) and a movie (The Polar Express). Continue reading Buon Natale (Merry Christmas)→
Can you believe that they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Italy?! They also don’t celebrate the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day! I know weird, right?!
Our Thanksgiving table is set
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Of course I love the spirit of Christmas, the fun costumes of Halloween (another holiday that they don’t really celebrate), the fireworks of our Independence Day… but nothing can match the guilt-free ability to gorge on delicious food all…day…long! And if that wasn’t good enough, you are then permitted… nah, encouraged to lay on your duff and watch football until it’s time to re-heat a plate of leftovers. Continue reading Thanksgiving in Italy→
When our friends, Nathan and Danielle had come to visit this past spring – Danielle pointed at a unique outdoor-oven-with-a-chimney-thingy in a neighbors yard and asked what it was. I replied with all the confidence in the world that it was an Italian-style BBQ, but in reality I wasn’t positive. I had seen the smoke billowing through the chimney and I had seen many of these things in other neighbors yards – but I had never inquired about it. I asked my “go-to guy for all things Italian”… Jen’s uncle, Franco. He confirmed that it was in fact a BBQ and a fairly typical one in Italy. So, my educated guess was right. Whew!
Classic Italian style outdoor grill
I noticed shortly thereafter that the typical gas Weber grills we’re accustomed to using in the States are non-existent here. In fact, it’s possible you may see a round charcoal grill – but more often than not, it’s one of these large, permanent fixtures that people use to grill. Continue reading Step Aside… It’s Time to Grill!→
Julia has officially been our favorite little peanut for two years now! It seems like just yesterday that we were having fun at her first birthday party in DC and only a blink before that when she first held my hand in the hospital delivery room. And now it was already time for another birthday!
Our birthday girl one year ago
What a difference a year makes!
Also, what a difference a country makes – birthday cake last year, tiramisu this year!
Jen’s parents and sister were happy they were here for the big day. We’d already had tons of fun together, which you can read about HERE. We had just gotten back from a trip to Abruzzo the day before (HERE) and we had to make quick work getting everything together for her party. It was going to be low key – just some family over for a few snacks and cake. If you know my wife and mother-in-law, you’ll know that “low key” was not easy for them. Dominic and I had to keep reminding them it was just a small gathering – no need for their always impressive party-planning skills to be put to the test. Continue reading Our Piccola Principessa Turns Two→
I recently realized that our “Home Cooking” section of the blog was growing the slowest throughout the entire site. I’m only partly ashamed to admit that the one consistent about our trip is that we’ve been indulging in some of the most amazing food we’ve ever had. However, my OCD recently kicked in when I noticed all our food posts landed in the “Restaurant” or “Jen’s Kitchen” sections. So, in an effort to right this wrong… here is one very memorable home-cooked meal we hosted a little while ago.
Eugenio brought a wonderful Champagne
Jen has a warm and wonderful family, with whom we love spending time. Recently, her cousin Eugenio drove from Torino to spend time with us and get reacquainted with Julia. He brought his lovely girlfriend, Barbara as well.
You may have recently read HERE about our trip to the Dolomiti (Dolomite Mountains) to visit Franco and Claudia over Easter weekend. What I wasn’t able to fit into that post, was all the imagery we captured of the most spectacular mountain range we have ever seen.
Hilltop view – I had to trespass to get this shot
Mountain view from “Claudia’s” bridge in Canale D’ Agordo
We extended our trip in Canale D’ Agordo (Claudia’s hometown) by a day, because the three days we planned was barely enough to just scratch the surface in this region of Italy. Claudia wanted to show us not only her town of Canale D’ Agordo, but also the surrounding towns. We would like to now share them with you. Continue reading Dolomiti e Una Macchina Fotografica→
What’s a good thing to do on a Sunday? We thought a stroll by the lake might be the perfect activity. Jen’s uncle Franco had been telling us about a lake nearby that is an exact 5k and perfect for walking and stroller pushing because it has a paved walkway.
Lago di Segrino
Jen and I had ventured off on our own half a dozen times this past week trying to find this nearby lake. First, we went to Lago di Alserio, because that was the closest. We discovered a charming new town and another “happy hour” place to try – but alas, the lake was not suited for walking. Next, we tried Lago di Montorfano and found a place to rent boats and a fun-looking beach bar for the summer time. But no walking trail. After a few more failed attempts, we realized that we were never going to find this place on our own, given that this area of Italy is often referred to as the Lake District of Italy. So Sunday morning we asked Franco if he would show us on google maps the location of the map. Instead, he volunteered to join us and personally direct us in the car. And fortunately, Claudia offered to stay home and cook us lunch for our return! Continue reading A Sunday Stroll→
Whoever said the “easy-going” Italy lifestyle is “easy” was pazzo (crazy). Take for example our experience in obtaining cell phones.
We thought it would have been simple. We both have unlocked iPhones that only required a TIM card (the same as a SIM card in the U.S., you just have to slide it in… batta-bing, batta-boom). We had been briefed that there are no cell phone plans; you simply pre-pay for the week, month or year. We had decided to get plans with voice, data and text – just enough to help us find each other if separated and maybe find a good trattoria (restaurant) if we were in a new city.
So one nice day (maybe 3 days into our trip), we decided to walk across the street to the local TIM store. The woman did not speak any English and we didn’t feel comfortable picking a plan blindly. So we did what we always do… we asked Jen’s uncle Franco (who lives upstairs) for his help.