Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter week

The week leading up to Easter (our fifth week in fact) has certainly been interesting. It was really great that Dick and Dorothy came for a visit, to keep us company as it were. While we were in school in the mornings and early afternoons they would hike about the city on their own, exploring the little alleyways and backstreets inside the walls, Dick stopping at an occasional enoteca and engaging the owner in conversation about wine while Dorothy investigated the ceramic shops.

On Monday we met Dick after school -- Dorothy stayed home with a sore throat -- and had a panini at our favorite bar, Quattro Cantoni, and then just strolled before going home. The four of us drove in later for passegiata and dinner at 8 pm at Da Divo, returning home late into the evening. On Tuesday after school the four of us drove south out of Siena through the "crete senese" (the clay hills of Siena) and came into the city (again) for dinner that evening at Boccon del Prete, another of our favorite spots.

On Wednesday we ate at Enzo’s and had a thoroughly delicious meal, again enjoying the repartee with our favorite waiter.

Unfortunately, at least for me, I chose “tonno rosso” (red tuna) which was “molto crudo” (very raw) for an antipasto and about 2:30 the next morning became very sick. (At least we think it was the tuna.)

Anyway I couldn’t go to school – I rather felt like I was 10 years old, unable to go to school because I was sick – although Susan went in Thursday for both the lessons and the theater hour.

By the time Susan got back home I had rallied a bit and felt slightly better although still weak, no appetite and felt quite tired naturally since I had slept little during the night. Nevertheless we had to get Dick and Dorothy down to Rome so they could catch an early flight out Friday morning and about 2 pm the four of us headed off to our night’s lodging, a B & B, the Casa Plazzi, overlooking Lake Bracciano just north of Rome. We stopped at Orvieto for about an hour and a half or so and I dozed in the car while Susan and D & D hiked into the city for a bit of exploring. We arrived at our B & B about 7:45 that evening after a most challenging drive through the back roads of northern Lazio and eventually found our lodging after many twisting and turning tiny streets brought us to their gate. We ate dinner at about 8:30 or so, the only other guests was a German family who arrived a bit later than we did having missed a train connection.

The Casa Plazzi is an interesting place – the owner Gianni Plazzi was for many years in the music production business, and specialized in film music production working on most of Roberto Benigni’s films (but not Life is Beautiful). His house was filled with fantastic things to look at, a very eclectic collection of things to tickle one’s curiosity, and was a wonderfully designed space. It had a breathtaking view of the lake, which ran the entire length of the house. He had a staff of two, a man and a woman helping him and they were characters right out of a Fellini movie, the woman about 30 or 40 had a most gentle nature it seemed and whose expressions changed dramatically moment by moment. We could not have asked for a better or more understanding host for this rather rushed part of D & D’s trip.

After a delicious dinner we headed for bed and got up the next morning at 4:15, showered and left to get D & D to the airport, a drive we were told of about 45 minutes. The directions we had been given the night before by our host were a bit turned around, or so it seemed to us, and in the dark, along the shores of Lake Bracciano we became lost. Not to worry, 15 minutes later we found – or thought we had found – our way and sure enough we had and we soon had Dick and Dorothy at Terminal B, Fiumicino airport. We said goodbye and then headed home, having to get back for our theater show for the end of the session “festa”.

We got back to the apartment about 9 or so and I had to take a short nap – in fact we both did – but got up after about 15 minutes or so, a bit refreshed. I called Luisa Tampone to tell her what had happened and that we would not be coming down to Cerignola for Easter. Her sister Angela called a bit later asking of we would change our minds, that there was a bus we could take from Siena to Cerignola and even her father Peppino got on the phone to ask us to reconsider. We really felt the disappointment but I was simply dead-tired, hadn’t really eaten much except a bit of food the night before, and just felt like I wanted to sleep the entire weekend. Plus we still had to go to school for the show! And so we packed up our things and headed into town for the Grand Finale.

We got to school about 10:30 and had just a few minutes of our regular class session with Egina before the morning break. I got a chance to meet our new student, Stacey, from the UK. She is working on her Italian before entering school and had originally been placed with the elementary group but found it was too basic and is now with our Intermediate I group – and her Italian is very good indeed.

We joined the other “cast” members about 11:30 and made our final preparations for the show. Eduardo, the director and instructor in our class as well, was absent since he had to return to his family’s home on the island of Ischia (off the Bay of Naples) for the Easter (Pasqua) holiday. So the show went on pretty much without a hitch – although I still stammered a few of my lines in Italian of course – but we all had a grand time and the rest of the school seemed to enjoy themselves. We said goodbye to Florina, one of the six of us in the show, as she heads home to Switzerland after being in school here for 3 months.

After the show everyone went downstairs for a light lunch of cheese, salami, bread, crostini with tomatoes, wine, etc. A few of us, including David whose 2-week stint is up and heading off for Venice and then eventually back to Japan, headed off to the Campo to chat for a bit and share an early afternoon aperitivo.

About 4 or so the group broke up and Susan and I left for home, planning to meet David at a nearby enoteca near the Campo at 8 that evening. We did indeed come back into the city to use the Internet (carrying the laptop of course) 6 pm but I was so tired that we went home, fixed a quick meal and went straight to bed early.

Indeed, I slept nearly 12 hours Friday night and after a restful day in the apartment – excepting a brief foray in the morning to buy groceries and another short hop into town later in the afternoon – we had another peaceful evening of doing nothing but sipping a delicious Vino Nobile from Poliziano, fixing some homemade pasta we had picked up earlier in the day and going to bed for another 11 hours of rest.

We awoke to an Easter Sunday of rain, fog and cool temps and one surprise: we had apparently “sprung forward” early this morning. So when I thought I was getting up at 7 it was really 8. So spring is here it seems.

Anyway we are staying here in Siena this holiday weekend, to rest and refresh ourselves. Moreover, our Italian is still in need of serious work and I have missed two class sessions (Susan one) so we also need time to review and catch up as well.

But we are truly sorry to not spend this weekend of all weekends, this holiday of all holidays with the Tampones, the food the conversation and in particular their warmth and kindness that family has always shown us, will be sorely missed. We look forward with great anticipation seeing them all next month after we leave Sicily and drive to northern Italy.

Happy Easter and Buona Pasqua!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Week 5 begins

The wonderful feelings we’ve been experiencing since Black Tuesday continued on through the weekend. Friday afternoon we had our midday meal after class was over of course with one of the other students, David, who was born in New York but has been living and teaching Japan for many years, We went back to one our favorite places, Boccon del Prete and had a pleasant afternoon of conversation and good food.

After we said goodbye to David it was about 4 PM (we seem to have fallen into the Italian trap of letting meals go on and on and on) so we headed home to pick up the computer and laundry and drove back into the city. After running our errands it was getting pretty late and we stopped at a couple of small osterie to see if we could get in without reservations (no) and we ended up eating in a rather dull place on the Piazza Independenza remarkable only for the blaring TV, day-old food and could-care-less service.

Saturday we again woke to grand weather and took our time about getting into the city since we didn’t have to meet for our school tour of Santa della Scala until 10:30. We ended up spending nearly three hours, some 15 of us from school, getting a tour of this most remarkable “ospedale” (hospital), and it is in fact one of the oldest hospitals in the world and was only deactivated as such some 10 or 11 years ago. It is located directly across from the Duomo in Siena and began as a place of recovery and recuperation for the large numbers of pilgrims (pellegrini) who made the trip along the Via Francigena, which ran from Paris to Rome and then on to Jerusalem, And this road ran right through Siena, right past the Duomo. The Ospedale thus became a place where these strangers could find food, water and comfort as well as medical and spiritual needs attended to of course,

After our tour the group broke up each going their way for the rest of the weekend – Sue and I ran into another student, Urse, from Switzerland and while the three of us were standing talking in the bookshop of Santa Maria della Scala, we were joined by a woman from the UK doing a piece on language schools in Siena. She had in fact been in our group tour and in school for the past week, interviewing students, talking with instructors, etc. Anyway, the four of us went to a nearby Osteria shed had heard of and as it turns out was very close to the school and one we had hoped to try soon, where we had yet another fantastic meal.

Again we found ourselves late into the afternoon but we had no demands on our time so we just enjoyed the moment and strolled for a bit before heading to a pasticherrie to pick up some dolce for the next evening’s meal. We then headed home.

Sunday was an early day for us since we had to drive to Rome and pick up Sue’s brother and his wife who were coming to join us for a few days. It was a beautiful day for a drive, sunny and 70. They were a bit late getting into Rome and naturally somewhat tired but after getting settled into the apartment in Siena we all headed into the city for our evening passegiata and an aperitivo (a “negroni sbalgiati”, equal parts campari and vermouth over ice with a splash of prosecco sparking wine). We returned home for a dinner of pasta and artichokes and it was off to bed for those two – with the wine, the food the travel finally hit home.

No new students for our group this week but little complaining since we have so much time for questions, and, of course, parlare, parlare, parlare!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Midterm crisis

This has certainly been a most interesting week, and I mean that in the best of all possible senses, although Tuesday was probably the low point in our stay so far.

The day began pretty much as usual for us. We awoke to fine weather – I think it’s safe to say now that spring is here – and we headed off to school on the 8:23 bus. From there, however, things went downhill fast. Feelings were running high when class began, particularly between two students, and to make matters worse we were given a set of exercises on material which we had never had before and without any explanation of what was expected of us we had 5 minutes to complete the work. Most of us remained frustrated throughout much of the day over this and other work as well and everything seemed to come to a head late in the afternoon when two female students started yelling at each other (in various languages of course, but not Italian) and one started crying picked up her things and left the room, followed immediately by Egina.

Egina, one of the most empathetic people it has ever been our pleasure to come across, calmed things down but at the same time took to task the one student who had so callously and brutally chastised the other, pointing out (in Italian of course) the cardinal importance of respecting the feelings of others, particularly in such a potentially explosive and intense situation as our classroom. This student is, curiously, a very helpful and involved person and we have known her since we began the course. Like so many others she is far from her husband and family and naturally feels the stress and anguish of such a predicament.

After class Sue and I headed home, picked up the car and videotape equipment and then drove down to Asciano where we met Roberto Bechi. The three of us then drove a few kilometers further on to a farm run by a young man and his father where they raise chianina beef, the only beef used for the famous “bistecca fiorentina,” steak Florentine.

Bartolo’s wife, a beautiful German woman, and their little girl met us as we drove up. A few minutes later Bartolo came in from the field, driving a massive tractor. Bartolo left a job in the city some years back and together with his father decided to raise these highly prized cattle as a way of reclaiming not just his own peace of mind but also to preserve this very small but historically important part of Tuscan history.

It was a beautiful late afternoon as we drove back into the city, after dropping Roberto off at his van, and stopped at the Conad grocery store on Via Massetana for a few things. Trying to do homework that evening proved too frustrating for Steve – he kept blocking on it – although Sue in her own quiet fashion finished hers, of course. After a good night’s rest Steve got up earlier than usual, made coffee after showering and finished his homework as well.

Wednesday was, to coin a phrase, the “day” to Tuesday’s “night”. We turned a corner, perhaps, or moved to the next plateau of consciousness (or whatever). In any case the day was superb in all senses, And here’s why:

When we got to school they had broken our class into two groups (not surprisingly the two students from the previous day’s argument were separated) and it couldn’t have been a better move. Right off we explained to our morning instructor (Eduardo) about our frustration from the previous day’s work and our lack of preparation for it (it is not covered until the next textbook actually) and he explained that the texts were simply guides in the first place and not to worry too terribly much about grammar in the second place: just do what you can, learn along the way and, always, “parlare, parlare, parlare”. (“Speak, speak, speak.) Which is, of course, very true. And parlare we did all day. We had a great session with Eduardo (there being only five of us) and then had Egina for an hour after our lunch break.

For the fourth hour Susan and I decided to join Eduardo’s improvisation theater which we will now do every afternoon through next week. The goal is to prepare several short skits for the monthly end of session “festa” which will take place on Good Friday, next week. There are presently six of us involved in the theater group: four women and two men (Steve and another American, David who lives and teaches in Japan). David and Brigitta (she is from Germany and is in Italian Intermediate II) are in place to do one skit involving a young woman who comes to confession only to be confronted by a priest whose cell phone keeps ringing and of course in typical Italian fashion he answers it. It is absolutely hilarious. The second skit involves David and Steve as two warring “latin lovers” on the prowl in a bar full of women. Naturally I have my eye on Susan but she – like the rest – will have none of me, or David for that matter. The third skit opens with a line of people waiting for the sole bathroom available and the first in line is a professional-looking businessman talking on the phone etc who once he gets into the bathroom takes a great deal of time – all the while individuals still in line are getting anxious to say the least. The punch line is he comes out at last dressed as a woman. And since there were only tow men in the group and once has a beard you can guess who got chosen for this role. It is all quite a broad farce and lots of fun. Plus the interaction in Italian is a great help as well.

To round off a great day on the bus home we spent our time talking with an elderly gentleman we have frequently seen on the bus and who always says “ciao” to us. He is a pensioner now but fought in Italy during the war (in the Italian army of course). It would be fascinating to be able to interview him about his war experiences and he seems ready and willing to talk about them. Plus he has a smile as wide as his face and always ready to use it. Also joining in was another passenger, a woman probably in her 50s or so who explained to us the historical backgrounds of several with which we were generally familiar. It was nice bit of small talk and just goes to show you how kind so many Italians are to strangers.

I’m certain there will be days ahead where we will completely and utterly confused and lost. But at this moment we feel right at home and just as if we were learning “piano piano” (step by step).

After class on Thursday we went home but then returned to school for another, special session of our improv theater. There were eight students all together and we were broken into two groups. Eduardo the theater “manager” would then give us a all the same skit to perform and we had a certain time limit in which to prepare – there were four skits in all with decreasing prep time for each succeeding sketch. It was hilarious and great fun. We then stopped at the only English-only bookstore in Siena, run by an American who, I might add is in love with her new 20-inch Apple iMac, and picked up a couple of books for general reading.

Our fourth week ended with gorgeous weather, nearing 70 and sunny; grand weather to say goodbye to Gunhild, our Norwegian “nonna” (grandma). She heads home to Norway tomorrow. We are now four but who knows what Monday will bring?

Monday, March 14, 2005


Our fourth week of school opened in the midst of change, good and bad. To the good is the weather. This past weekend was mainly sunny and in the high 50s, and the early part of the week is shaping up to be cloudy but in the low 60s. To the bad, we lost the two women from Delta, Jennifer and Michaela, both of whom had to leave and return to the US. They both brought a fluency to the class which served to challenge the rest of us, to force us to be more focused than might otherwise be the case.

We are now officially in Intermediate I, and with the addition of new students (this being a Monday of course), we are now at 9, two of whom were in the previous Intermediate class and have been combined with ours (they were down to only two in their class) and we have added two men, one from New York but who has been teaching comparative literature in Japan and young man who works as an Information Technician in Switzerland.

Saturday we had a leisurely morning and a little after 11 we got into the car and headed south out of town, picking an obscure little back road. As we drove through the countryside, what is called the “Crete”, or clay hills of Siena, we were just overwhelmed by panoramas we saw almost constantly. The combination of rolling hills, clay soil, and fields just beginning to turn green mixed with the strong sunlight was powerful indeed and we welcomed the fact that we had no itinerary, or place to be or nothing in particular to achieve which might place some demand on our time.

But all roads eventually lead somewhere and we eventually found ourselves in Montepulciano. We parked and, since it was early in the afternoon and nearly every shop was closed, we opted to kill some time eating. We had a wonderful lunch at Trattoria Diva & Maceo on Via di Gracciano nel Corso 90/92, almost across the street from the Avignonesi cantina. The service was pleasant and professional, the food outstanding and the atmosphere lively with the tables being occupied by what appeared to be mostly locals.

After “pranzo” we strolled the streets, looking for a coppersmith’s shop which we had visited once before in 2001. We found it and the smith himself, Mr. Mazzetti and his wife at Via dell’Opio nel Corso 64. He makes all his own copper pots, pans and various other accessories for the home, and his prices are very reasonable for copper: for example, a 4- or 4.5-quart cassoulet for 130 euros and if you have them ship to the US they take 20% off the list price (in effect dropping the VAT tax), although much if not nearly all of that comes back to defray shipping costs.

After we left town we headed down to the church of San Biagio at the foot of the city, strolled for a bit and then headed back into Siena, where we changed clothes and then about 7:30 pm headed into the city for dinner. We joined in the evening passegiata and then strolled up Via Camollia heading for the northernmost point of the city walls (the Porta Camollia). Along the way we found a delightful looking place to eat, Ristorante Enzo, and had an absolutely wonderful meal. We both ordered a disgustazione menu of five courses each: Susan had the Tavola di Toscana consisting of typical Tuscan dishes and I had the “Tradizione”, which was oriented on more “traditional” or typically peasant dishes. One of its courses, for example, was “Acqua cotto”, or cooked water. In effect a soup consisting of beans, greens, carrots, whatever was left over in the pantry I assume, with a raw egg on top and then a couple of slices of cheese on top of the egg. This was then placed under a broiler to melt the cheese and poach the egg. Delicious.

We strolled through the streets back to our car (we had parked in our usual spot near the fortezza) and got home a bit before 11 pm.

The next morning we took the 10:58 bus into town where we strolled through the huge mercato at the fortezza. (The mercato is held normally every Wednesday morning and consists of scores of vendors selling clothes – mainly – housewares, some produce and cheese and meats, all in vans specially designed to set up in open air markets.) We strolled to the Piazza del Campo where we sat on the ground soaking up the sun before heading to the Cimitero Laterino. The cemeteries in Italy, and in particular this one in Siena, are in effect spectacular outdoor sculpture gardens, and nearly every headstone has a photograph (or more) of the deceased. We then strolled along the top of the city walls to the Porta San Marco (passing the new underground garage complex which was, of course, full). From there we headed to the other side of the city walking to Santa Maria dei Servi, near the Porta Romana and from there back through the city to catch the bus back home. After all we still had homework to do.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Third week

The third week is over and amidst our seemingly endless frustration with various mechanics of learning this language one thing remains constant: we are learning, “piano piano”, step-by-step.

The week began with our group of three growing to seven as four new students joined our ranks: a journalist from China, a retired biochemist from Norway and two Delta flight attendants, all four of whom seem to grasp the language quite well. While a small class size has obvious advantages, the fact that these four “nuovi studenti” possess a real competence will be doubly good for us since they will help reinforce our fledgling oral skills. Steve remains the sole male in the group.

Otherwise the week has remained fairly quiet, as our routine firmly takes hold here. We have a bus schedule to meet most days, of course, and we now have a favorite caffe, near the school, where we often go for caffe or mid-afternoon panini (sandwiches) or late afternoon aperitivi: the Bar Quattro Cantoni.

Thursday we finished our homework at school before heading home to drop off our things and then grabbed the next bus back into town where we remained through early evening for a quick bite after some shopping. We ate a couple of slices of pizza at Cavallino Bianco and urge everyone to STAY AWAY. The food is tasteless and without any redeeming value whatsoever while the wine is worse than that served aboard Alitalia. Interestingly, they had a shelf full of Brunello from Fattoria dei Barbi, of various vintages, the only one of which I could see was I think 1979 (the other labels were pretty much faded form being exposed to the lights for so many years I presume), and the bottles had apparently been sitting there for years since one was nearly evaporated and the others were in various stages of evaporation. Very, and ncredibly stupid.

But to counter the absolutely mediocre meal (and I hesitate to even use that word to describe the alleged food we had just eaten) we had our first gelato, just across the street and near one of the entrances to the Piazza del Campo, before heading for the bus stop to go home. I trust it won’t be our last. (HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEH!)

The weather continues to hint at spring, with sun out more than not and the temperature hovering around 9-10 C.

Thursday we awoke to no hot water and of course no heat. We walked across the courtyard and informed Alva who immediately took care of the problem. (The pilot light had gone out probably when we lost power the afternoon before and we never realized it until the morning after since we didn’t need hot water or heat for that matter during the evening.)

Andrea Piergallini, the owner called us Wednesday evening in response to an email we sent about arranging a meeting to see the new apartments recently finished in the complex – part of an article I’m writing on long-term stays in Siena. We met with Andrea at about 4 pm on Thursday afternoon at Le Meridiane and he gave us a tour of the recently completed 11 new units as well as the underground parking garage (huge) and the 9 apartments presently under construction, and the new pool (which is scheduled to be open by early summer.

The third week of school ended with a general recapitulation of the previous two weeks or so of work – and a two-hour test (not graded thank the gods). After class we checked emails, updated the blog (of course), did laundry. The plan is to take the car on Saturday and do some exploring outside the city – probably to Montepulciano (one of our favorite places in this area) and perhaps to Cortona or someplace we hadn’t planned to go.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Two down

Our third week is underway. Last week we worked primarily on increasing our level of frustration – of course our language skills are developing as well, I’m just not sure which language. Anyway, a couple of rather burdensome problems remain. I won’t bore you with the intricate details but one is an ongoing confusion over the prepositions “a”, “da” and “in” which all appear to mean sort of (but not quite) the same thing: in, from, to and/or at.

A second problem is pronunciation, or I should say where the stress is on any given word. One source says the second to the last syllable, one instructor says nearly in every word (excepting verbs) it falls on the first syllable. Ultimately, I suspect, it’s something that one learns with time (and practice). We’ll see.

Last Friday afternoon after class (and caffe and dolce) we videotaped the chef of Da Divo, on Via Franciosa, near the Duomo in Siena. The only customers in the restaurant at the time were two elderly but lively British women, presumably traveling together, with we had a rather fascinating conversation later about the importance of letting Tuscany invade one’s soul, or something along those lines. Before we said arrivaderci, Roberto informed us that we had at least three interviews lined up for the next day.

On Saturday morning Roberto came to pick us up and we went to the small village of Geggiano, just outside Siena, where we interviewed Andrea and Tatiana Bandinelli.

The Bandinelli family is one of the oldest existing noble families in the Siena and Andrea’s grandfather (known as the “red Count” because he was a communist) was one of the preeminent archeologists of his time. We had a great interview and afterwards Andrea gave Susan and a tour of the family’s villa, which had originally been a summer home (and was therefore unheated). It was not what we expected at all. The walls were covered with paintings, which were in large part murals although in one room the walls were covered with “false tapestries”. These were scenes painted on canvas, which were then fastened within frames to form what appeared to be massive woven pictures., almost like wallpaper but with greater depth. The piece de resistance was the bed where Andrea’s grandmother died in 1976, a bed which the family had once loaned to Pope Pius VI when he stayed in Siena, and who returned the bed to the family with a portrait placed at the top of the headboard as a gift. Andrea, who is probably in his 40s or so, informed us that he spent his wedding night in the same bed.

Anyway you can see the photos at:

Leaving the Bandinelli family we then headed to Asciano where we interviewed a young sculptor named Dario who talked about how he came to work in marble and stone and wood as well as explain the importance of keeping alive the traditional forms of handcrafts. From Dario’s workshop we ended our day at the home of a fruit and vegetable vendor Serre di Rapolano, Giancarlo, who discussed the changing nature of not only his business but the profound changes in agriculture which are sweeping Tuscany.

Roberto dropped us off at home and we made tentative plans to meet for our last two interviews on Sunday,, depending upon the weather.

We were going to head into Siena for a quiet dinner at a tiny trattoria recommended by Roberto, Per Bacco, but since it started to rain/wet snow late in the afternoon and continued pretty much throughout the evening and since we had had a large midday meal at one of Roberto’s secret places in Serre di Rapolano we decided to stay home.

Sunday Sue and I took the bus into town. Although it was a bit cold the sun was out and it felt good not to have anything to do but stroll the backstreets of Siena, one of our favorite pastimes. One of our objectives was to find the tiny Osteria, Per Bacco, which Roberto had suggested the day before. We not only found Per Bacco but a couple of other small trattorie in the same neighborhood (along Via Camollia).

We eventually stopped at Nannini’s bar and caffe on Via Banchi di Sopra, and urge anyone coming to Siena to do the same. Nannini’s have what must one of the largest, if not THE largest selections of dolce (sweets) in the city. Naturally we bought several for this evening’s dolce course and for our morning with caffe.

We then headed over to Conad’s grocery store in Piazza Matteoti, where we picked up some artichokes in the Roman style (peeled hearts with stems, blanced and marinated in olive oil,) one buffalo mozzarella and some roasted pork slices, which we had for our afternoon antipasti.

We left the store and when we got to the bust stop it quickly became clear that because there was a soccer match that day between Siena and Brescia, and the bus stop was right next to the stadium and the streets there were closed to traffic, there was no bus. It was a nice day so we decided to walk home which only took about 50 minutes. So we got our exercise and worked up an appetite for our antipasti to boot.

After antipasti and a glass of wine we spent the rest of the day doing home work, and just working on our Italian in general, I finished prepping the movies into Quicktime to pass along to Roberto so he can work on the translations for me. I made a meat sauce with spaghetti for dinner and we relaxed a bit before starting our third week of success and failure. But as our instructor says, “piano, piano”, step by step.