If you missed my previous post..

may have looked like I gave up blogging all together, but that’s simply not true. But I did take a break. Real life got pretty busy for a while, and this took a definite back seat. The break is now over, and you can read the fruits of my labour here and here.

If you want to subscribe to the new blog, click over to the about page and scroll. There’s a little box, below all my words, just the right size for your email address.

A new blog and a new home

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It’s been a while, but for two good reasons.

The first is that we have upped and moved countries, and we are now in the Netherlands (in Utrecht, while flat hunting in Amsterdam). Moving house is difficult, moving countries is more difficult. Moving out of Italy is more difficult again, even this morning I had another, completely unnecessary, conversation with our ex-internet provider.

I think we’re still recovering from the pack-and-move.

The second very good reason is that I have shifted this blog and its content over to a self-hosted server, you can now find us on moltoandmolto.com. Everything is still Italy themed, but I may replace Portofino and Limone photos with tulips and windmills soon.

There is a subscribe link on the About page, if you want to receive email updates on new posts. I still have photos I want to share and stuff I want to say about Italy (including the trip we took last month down to Naples and the Amalfi Coast) before I switch over to Dutch stuff.

First impressions here, though, do make Italy look a little old-fashioned. Our airbnb has an induction stove top and Matt’s little Italian moka pot is made of the wrong metal to work on it. He’s using the provided (self-cleaning) coffee machine instead.

So we’re tired but we’re happy.

 

Rovereto bomb days

WWII

Update: I’ve been doing a little work transferring this blog over to moltoandmolto.com. It’s my first time using wordpress.org, so things are a little messy for now (and perhaps for a while) but we’ll get there! Check out the new site for new content.

One of the more dramatic events of 2015 was the discovery of a rather large (?) bomb in Rovereto. Though we knew nothing of its existence until a week out from bomb disposal day, when we discovered that half of Rovereto was to be evacuated and all north and south transport links shut down. That is more drama than usual.

The bomb, the giant thing in the photo, was found buried in the grounds of the old tobacco manufacturer. It was dropped by the Americans during the Second World War and had been sitting quiet ever since. War, what is it good for exactly?

IMG_2992IMG_3008Initially, there was no bomb information anywhere. As I said, we didn’t even know of its existence. I should also mention here that we tend to not follow local news aside from what pops up from the papers on my Facebook news feed. But, eventually, signs started going up around the city. And it made front page local news, as did the arrests of suspected terrorists in Alto Adige. Things are usually a lot quieter around here. As a comparison, last week’s headline was about a supermarket’s opening hours, so this was kind of a big deal.

Bomb day turned out to be the same day that mum and I were flying to London (this was back in November), with our planned train right in the middle of it. We were (wrongly) skeptical about Italian planning and worried that the trains they had said would be running earlier in the morning would actually be running, so we got an early ride down to Verona with friends instead. We had expected to see a lot of traffic on the road but at 7 in the morning it was pretty deserted. I think the queues came later.

We made our flight with hours to spare, though it turned out we needn’t have worried. Everything seemed to move so smoothly. Matt was stuck at home, although our flat was just outside the evacuation zones, and the road blocked off to stop cars moving into the closed area, there was nowhere for him to go. All the pre-bomb trains ran when they said they would, the bomb was deactivated and moved, and the roads reopened after barely an hour.

The photo at the top of this post is from ladige.it. There is also video of the bomb exploding in this article and other photos from the evacuation day.

Another bomb related event came at the end of January. Matt, working late one night, was hustled out of his office by Carabinieri who were clearing the building because of a suspected bomb in a bag outside a cafe. Matt burst through the front door completely out of breath and clutching the few possessions he was able to grab – he had been told he had to leave right then, and the street outside was already cleared of pedestrians and traffic.

The bomb scare turned out to be just that, a scare. The overnight bag was water blasted and found empty.  Photos and step by step updates (Italian) here.

You can’t always get what you want from small town supermarkets

Because what you want most of the time, is food.

Two food related things took adjusting to on our arrival in Rovereto*. The first was the choice of food. Like Amsterdam three years before, we struggled to locate and identify sour cream. It took me until Christmastime to find frozen blueberries. Like a sucker, I definitely searched for them in every different supermarket I went to, and that finally paid off with a new supermarket that just opened. Avocados were the other big thing for us and we have had spotty success rates over the past (nearly) three years. Baking soda, strangely, was another ingredient I initially struggled to locate.

The second thing was the opening hours of supermarkets. In New Zealand it was sometimes possible to find a supermarket with a 24 hour opening schedule – although this was actually a little unnecessary, it was nice to know you could buy candy at all hours of the night (and I sometimes did).

Before we discovered the Sunday supermarkets, and the Monday morning supermarket, and the midday supermarket (all common times for shops to be closed), it definitely felt like grocery shopping happened according to some very old fashioned market hours. That if you hadn’t completed your shopping by early evening on a Saturday, it was a long, hungry wait until early Monday afternoon when they reopened. Eating out for every meal the other option.

Gradually, both the supermarkets started to change, and we discovered those with extended opening hours. Because we like to shop on Sundays, we used to cycle further to the outskirts of the city – just because there was a shop open on that preferred day. With more bread options.

And so it was big news when, just before Christmas, two new supermarkets opened. Rovereto being a small town, this made local news.

And, get this, our new local is open every day. Until 9 pm, except Sundays when it is open until 8.30. This is almost bittersweet as it is so close to our end, but we can now grocery shop almost anytime we like.

The other supermarket is too far outside of the city to be a regular, though we did walk by it on new years day. Being a holiday it was closed, but we could still see how enormous it is. Luckily for this nervous cyclist, it’s that much closer to the cycle path than the other giant supermarket further down the same road, where I once bought a pillow and then cycled very carefully home with it stuffed in my bike basket. Memories!

Matt has said that he will miss this, this not being able to buy anything and everything, at any and every time.

These small Italian supermarkets, selling their small range of Italian products, inspired a kind of comaraderie among the other foreigners here. We swapped tips on where to buy things. Fresh coriander arrives at one particular spice shop once a week (which we occasionally buy, even if it is stored in the meat counter). Another store by the river sells tahini paste, etc, etc. Beer, specifically craft beer, has been the big one for Matt. The lack of variety has inspired a beer tasting night, with beer ordered online consumed and compared. The demand for this type of event is less in a bigger city where every bar sells craft beer.

 

 

How many times can I type supermarket in one post? Just watch me: supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket
supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket

etc.

 

*The abundance of pizza and gelato was not a problem.

What’s so civic about a civic museum

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Just before Christmas I spent a week knocking around Rovereto on my own. Matt was in the Netherlands for a conference, I would later meet him in Amsterdam where we spent Christmas. When I am home alone, I have a tendency to untether from routine. My routine isn’t even anything like Matt’s, but somehow when he isn’t here I stay up later, I stop cooking and I generally stop getting stuff done.

In spite of the extra time I spent in bed, claiming Matt’s side for sleeping and my own for storage of important things, I actually was out most days both working and socialising. I even managed to get to the Rovereto Mueso Civico, the final museum I had yet to see from Rovereto’s small collection.

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I knew what to expect from this particular museum, it having already been visited by Matt and both sets of parents. And yet, I was still hoping for a little of Rovereto history, a little bit of civics. Rovereto’s civic museum is instead more of a natural history museum. The entire collection is rocks, taxidermied animals and the more decorative items from the ruins of Isera’s Roman villa.

Most perplexing is the presence of a kiwi in the bird collection, under the heading of ‘birds not often found in Italy but here by an accident of migration, etc, etc’. I’m paraphrasing, I don’t remember the exact words. If you didn’t know, New Zealand’s kiwi is a flightless, shy, nocturnal non-swimmer. There is no way that bird swam, flew or somehow migrated from New Zealand to Italy without being tucked (carefully, those claws are sharp) under someone’s arm and marched onto a ship.

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There was no explanatory note card for why other non-Italian animals were here, other than they’re pretty fierce looking. Which begs the question, just what is a civic museum for? I assume general education and knowledge, meaning this museum was more valuable at its inception than now.

I can’t help but feel that a civic museum would better serve a city if it were about a city and its social history (the Isera Roman villa ruins aside), rather than a collection of the rocks it is built upon and a zoo of dead animals. I did actually feel very sad for all those animals.

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At the time of my visit I was waiting to hear from Matt about how the conference and associated university work was going, hence my collection of inquisitive bird photos that were sent to him.

Mercatini di natale

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All of my Christmases came early this season: with my visiting mum and sister I visited six Christmas markets in November in the space of a week. With so much Christmas spirit it felt strange to then wait another four weeks for Christmas day.

Also, how nice it was to have my mum and sister stay! They came for my 30th birthday (and for Europe, I guess) and we did lots of little trips together. That photo above is them, with their daily vin brulè.

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On one memorable occasion, we visited TWO Christmas markets in one day. Because I was the tour operator and I was that keen.

The wooden decorations are from a little shop within the Merano markets – they sold such cute stuff but I couldn’t bring myself to spend close to 20 euro for a Christmas decoration, and I left empty handed. Those gingerbread weren’t from a market at all, but a bakery in Merano. So festive! They looked better than they tasted.

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Merano, our first stop, is rather adorable. It’s an ex-Austrian spa town so, like other towns in Alto Adige/Sudtirol, the main language is German. I never know if I should speak Italian or attempt my very, very poor German, or if should give it all up and speak English.

*My German is about ten words strong, most of them food related and most of them I can even pronounce properly.

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After Merano we went to Bolzano. As much as I love visiting the markets, I never actually buy anything, except food. And for this Merano and Bolzano didn’t rate so highly for things I wanted to eat. But, they are quite pretty, no?

Ever since our first Christmas here, I have had a mini, mostly internal, dialogue that I should buy things – I can imagine a day in 15 or 150 years time, when a mortgage and school fees have sapped my income and I can’t afford to leave the country, and at that point I might like to have decorations for my tree from Italian Christmas markets. But, I still can’t be bothered buying them, and practically my only Italian-bought Christmas decoration came from Upim (a small department store, similar to Farmers), so I shall have to steal them from my mother instead. You won’t mind, will you mum?

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Those last photos are all of Bolzano – so pretty! See also, no snow. It has been a very dry winter so far, I’ve heard the ski slopes look a little dismal with only a thin track of artificial snow for the skiers to follow. Things might be looking up now, Saturday brought actual, real snow to Rovereto’s mountains and on the ground in the city, so things can only improve.

 

Isole Tremiti or, is it summer (again) yet?

Isole tremitiIsole tremitiIt’s already four months since I had my post-summer end-of-summer holiday down the east coast of Italy. When I wrote this post it was Autumn: daylight savings had ended a couple of weeks previously and the leaves had moved from green to red/brown/yellow and were falling from the trees in clumps.

It’s now the end of December, the trees are bare and the temperatures are a little frosty (no snow in sight, though), and I’m finally going to publish this post, result!

And even though I don’t miss the sweat that came with summer this year (seriously, so much sweat), I do still miss the long days and my daily gelato. Those Autumnal feelings were what made me finally sort my photos from that trip, meaning this post will be full of blue skies and blue seas.. bliss.

Isole TremitiIsole TremitiTanned Italians motoring out to sea

Early September I spent a couple of days visiting a friend in Termoli, Molise. From there we visited Isole Tremiti, a group of islands (an archipelago, fancy) in the Adriatic.

This was one of those mythical summer holidays that Matt and I rarely do – we spent our August in hot, dusty and crowded cities much further inland. Though, really, being squished up on a beach with the entire population in August also doesn’t sound that appealing. Much better to go in September when everyone else is back at work (spoken like a true lady of leisure) – the temperatures were still hot and the beaches not even half as crowded.

San Nicola Isole Tremitiisole TremitiIsole TremitiIsole TremitiThe first thing we did after arriving by boat from the mainland was to get on another boat, this one to take us on a tour around the islands. There were conversations about getting our own little private boat, but money, so we squished in with more tanned Italians instead.

Padre pio isole tremitiPadre Pio Isole Tremiti

We dove off the boat to swim over this underwater statue of Padre Pio. Unfortunately, none of us had brought goggles or a mask, so we couldn’t see anything so clear as this. We were able to make out the shape when the water was calm enough, so I can still claim it.

Isole TremitiWe swam at the crowded beach in the first photo, before returning to the main (?) island for lunch and a swim off these rocks. As well as goggles we were also missing water shoes, so getting in and out of the sea was a delicate operation. But worth it for that beautiful sea – the water was so clear and blue.

Nowhere else in Europe is my pale skin such a contrast to the rest of the population as it is in Italy. It was midway through this day that I noticed that I was one of very few on the boat/island wearing a t-shirt or a sunhat or, likely, sunscreen. I wrote this post at the end of that day.