Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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Montagnana- outside the walls

Our second day in Veneto started with a visit of the town of Montagnana, which is still completely enclosed within extremely well preserved medieval walls.

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We walked up to the top of the Ezzelino tower (top, right, in the image above), from where we could enjoy the view of the town and the surrounding landscape.

Montagnana has the “inevitable” main piazza with its beautiful cathedral and arcades that skirt the streets. Houses no higher than two stories populate the town, which is truly a small jewel.

After a brief stop in a grocery shop where we got our sack lunch (I mean, a gourmet sack lunch…), we continued our field trip toward Este. Este‘s main attraction is what’s left of the Castello Carrarese (built in the XIV century), whose walls are today the perimeter of a very nice park.

Monselice was our third destination that day. We arrived there in the early afternoon and were greeted by a festive mercatino (a local fair), which was filling the streets. We decided to climb the small hill leading to the Villa Duodo, which ends a devotional way skirted by seven tiny churches.

Our last stop was Arqua’ Petrarca, the town where the famous Italian poet Francesco Petrarca died in 1374.

This is his house. And below you can see a local man selling, and my Mom buying, chestnuts, walnuts, apples, jujubes (which are typical of this area), and other fruits of the season right off his house, on the street.

Arqua’ Petrarca is a well preserved medieval village that embraces a small hill, with cute streets going up and down and characteristic places like this osteria (tavern):

And with Arqua’ Petrarca our field trip ended. Visiting these small towns was a revelation: seeing beautiful places off the beaten path has been a pleasant surprise also for natives like us. Besides, driving in Veneto is quite easy (unless you are in the outskirts of a bigger city), so consider it for the next time you are planning a trip to Italy. It really pays off.


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Chapter 3 map

The last document I need is the translation of the vaccinations Alessio received in the States. I’ll probably never know why they didn’t ask me to provide this same paper three years ago when the kids attended a different elementary school or even this year at Silvia’s middle school… Anyhow, I do as they say and go to Distretto 2 (note that two people from two different offices told me to go there, so anyone would consider this information pretty accurate right? Wrong).

I get there, before the office hours and meet a very nice lady who is willing to help me nevertheless. She glances at my papers and says : “Signora, this is not the right office, we deal with kids up to 6 years of age here”. My son is 9, so…

When I learn where the right office is, I realize that it is located exactly on the opposite side of the city.  I need to take two buses to get there (I don’t have a car in Italy and quite frankly so far I’ve been glad for this, I’ve never had such a firm buttocks…). This time though I’m not so disappointed, because thanks to this mistake I’ve discovered one the best lobbies I’ve ever seen and, as a design freak, I’m almost levitating when I see it:

Isn’t it cool? I’ve wrote a post about it in my design/home staging blog, if you want to learn more about it.

Anyway, back to my Odyssey: I leave, take the first bus, then take the second bus and with Charlie’s help (aka my iPhone) I get to the right office. There’s only one person in front of me, impressive, I don’t even have the time to grab my Kindle and the snack/lunch I brought with me (I always pack well and for the worst case scenario when I head to an office in Italy). I explain what I need to the lady behind the counter, she takes my papers, makes a copy and says: “Ok, that’s it, thanks”. Thanks? I ask if I can get a statement or something to provide to the school and she goes: “No signora, we need to enter these data in the system first, you need to come back tomorrow”. Tomorrow? Another trip across the city? Therefore I ask if I can send someone else to retrieve the papers, my parents have a car and lots of time, you know… “No signora, it is better if you pick them up yourself”, is what I hear. I didn’t know my son’s vaccinations were such a sensitive and private matter, to the point that I cannot even send a family member to pick up their translation.

So, the day after I’m back there, I obtain the document, I deliver it to the school, and I’m done. No more documents to get. My Odyssey is over (until the next one at least…).

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Odyssey chapter 2 day1

A few days after obtaining documents A and B, I’m back to my usual “Yes I can!” attitude, ready to defy any obstacle (or probably it is only the energy I’m getting from the spectacular amount of sugar I’m absorbing every day, thanks to my frequent stops to the bakery around the corner…). This time I need document C, so I head to office C. I get there, grab a number, sit, wait (not too long fortunately) and my number is called. I meet the same I-am-so-bored-I-want-to-die guy who checks the forms I filled out, then checks the computer and says: “This is not the right place, since this is the first time you apply for this document you need to go to another office”. These few words are enough to erase any trace of smile from my face, and my mind is already screaming Noooo! when he says: “It’s the building next to this one”. Quite relieved and full of hope I ask: “But, is it open today?”. “Yes, yes”. Pause. “I think.” I think? Oh boy… Things are getting bad…

But I do as he says and I walk those few meters to the building nearby. At the counter I meet an I-am-so-bored-I-want-to-die lady, who says: “Today that office is closed. But here’s a list of other offices you can go to.” After trying to silence my mind which, while yelling another Noooo!, I could picture transforming into the Scream by Munch, I ask: “Without reading this entire list, would you be so nice to just tell me where’s the closest open office?”. Not so nicely she indicates it to me, and I leave.

I take the bus, locate the building, locate the floor, locate the ticket machine and take a number for the office #3. And again: Nooooo!

Number 810 out of 289? What? Someone probably sees my consternation and promptly says: “Don’t panic, just look at the last two digits” . Ah, ok, so I’m number 10, which means that I have only 21 people in front of me. Should I be brave and stay, or should I be smart and leave? As I hear someone saying that it takes about 10 minutes for each person to complete their paperwork once they are called, I run some numbers and absolutely have no doubts: I’m out of here!

And for the second time, I decide that I need something to lift my spirit. So I enter into a salumeria and get a burrata pugliese (a creamier version of the mozzarella, more info in one of my next posts…). No sugar this time, but lots of calories nevertheless. Good.

A few days later I wake up feeling like Superwoman: I know what to do, where to go, and what time to be there. I dash straight to the designated office early in the morning (the arrow above should give you an idea of my state of mind), get my number, have the time to read only a few pages of 50 Shades of Grey on my Kindle and for the first time I’m bothered that my number is called (yes, this is what a good reading can do: the impossible). I get in, present my documentation, and 15 minutes later I’m out. Yes! I can!