They say there are different seasons in a life, but I think there are also different lives in different seasons. For about as long as I can remember, the advent of happy weather and longer days always corresponds to a desire to do ALL the things with ALL the people, and this year has been no different. I’m curious if other people notice similar things at different times of year- plotting social contacts vs. season would be interesting.
ANYWAY, these past few weeks have been a real whirlwind- I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had no after work social event planned, and the weekends have had scarcely a down moment. As a closet introvert I can’t usually keep up such a pace for long, but I’m riding the sunshine high 🙂 Writing about it all would not fit into the twenty minutes of down time I have between classes, but a short Zusammenfassung (I’m always entertained by the length of the German word for short summary :P):
Easter in Italy: My Italian colleague and her boyfriend invited me along with a couple of other friends to their parent’s home in Torino, in the Piedmont area of Italy. Man, is visiting Italy with Italians a different experience than doing so as a tourist.
First, an aside: Italy is one of those countries that EVERY time I go I fall a little bit more in love, something I’ve no doubt mentioned before. Some countries you visit once, get a feel, and think vaguely that it would be nice to go back someday. Other places just sink into the bone, and drive you to wonder and read and come back over and over again. Italy falls squarely in the category. First of all, every region is so infinitely different than the rest that it’s like a different country! Liguria, the region on the coast where Cinque Terre is, is all hearty potato dishes and delightful seafood, completely different from the perfectly al dente Cacio e pepe pasta and wafer thin pizzas of Rome. And then there’s the tapas like food in Venice (maybe my least favorite food region so far), and the truffles and world class wines of Piedmont. Oh, and the Verona Amarone, woof. And that’s just the food & wine differences, which to be honest is a huge part of the draw for me. The range of history and art to see are incredible.
So, I jump at every return opportunity. Torino was an amazingly beautiful city, almost Parisian in its feel, with chateaus around every corner. Not that I actually SAW much of Turin. I jumped off the train, toured quickly around Batali’s Eataly and the downtown, dropped my bags, and LET THE SOCIALIZING BEGIN. We stayed at my friend’s parents’ house in the heart of the nightlife area of Turin, and it was a challenge to even walk down a block without stopping at least three times to greet a friend or acquaintance of our hosts. We started with an Aperol spritz at a little corner bar next to his house and the next thing I knew it was four in the morning and we were dancing wildly in a club by the Po River, after meeting what felt like half of the adult population of the city. The English levels were wildly variable, but luckily hand gestures are welcome and no language is needed for dancing on top of beer barrels 😉
After stopping for some delightful arancini and (some of us) doublefisting pizza, we arrived back at the apartment at around 6am. Wow, what a night, you say! It just gets better from there. These Italians, they know how to celebrate Easter.
The next morning we struggled out of bed around 10 and piled into the car for a mini roadtrip through wine country. We stopped and had a decadent lunch in a tiny town called Alba that is the wealthiest per capita in Italy (all those truffles and wines really add up, apparently). I got to sample some of the typical dishes of Piedmont, which include beef tartar, a beef carpaccio with a yummy sauce, a type of quiche that reminds me of Spanish tortilla, and delightful butter sage ravioli (I can’t remember any of the Italian names….eeek).
Then we drove on past a few more little towns and up to Barolo, which is the CUTEST little castle wine town I ever did see. After a few more glasses of wine, we headed back to dinner at her parents’ house (homemade pizzas) and a relatively quiet night because the next morning we were up at 7am for what ended up being the most epic day yet. However, I did manage to record one of my most embarrassing Euro encounters yet- the Italians give two kisses instead of the three typical in Switzerland (which I already knew), but that they also start on the OTHER SIDE, which ended disastrously for me with my friend’s dad. I’m sure you can imagine the collisions that are possible. I still cringe uncontrollably while remembering this moment :X
Back to the good stuff: we were up early for an all day BBQ at my friend’s grandparents’ place in the Italian Alps, along with around 30 of their closest friends and family. When we were driving up I idly wondered what we would do all day- there’s no cell service or entertainment up there. Well, who needs that when you’ve got unlimited wine and food + gregarious Italians. After a beautiful sunset over the mountains and 7 hours of nonstop eating and drinking with the partiest of party folk, we dragged ourselves back home to catch a few hours of sleep before our train back to Zurich back the next morning. I arrived back at the main station ten minutes before I was due to meet with my supervisor, sunburned and running on no sleep, an epic weekend under my belt. THANK YOU ITALIAN FRIENDS!
I don’t know what I was thinking, saying I would give a short summary of the last few weeks. Easter in Italy deserved its own post 🙂