Some of my favorite things so far:
THE FOOD - Oh, the food! Where can I find myself some focaccia in Urbana? And not the American kind that's so dry and dense and filled with unnecessary herbs. No no, I mean, the light and almost fluffy Italian kind with just enough oil and salt to make your mouth water. Yum. I haven't taken a picture of any yet because I'm too busy stuffing my face with it!
Then, of course, there's the gelato. No one should go through summer without some ice cream, and the Italians are no exception. I go out for some gelato just about every day. My favorite flavors are fondente (dark chocolate), pistacchio (pistachio), nocciola (hazelnut), and fragola (strawberry - with actual seeds!).
Finally, can I just say that the pasta here is infinitely better than any other pasta I have ever had in my life? Today, I had spaghetti with homemade ragu (meat sauce), which is about as basic as you can get, right? Doesn't matter - still beats any spaghetti I've ever had back home. There are just so many styles of pasta and sauces to accompany them. There's a place that makes fresh pasta and sauces a couple towns from here, and they sell them to the local grocery stores, so that is what we usually eat. I have some spinach ravioli stuffed with cheese and artichoke waiting for me in the fridge...
THE WALKS - One of the best parts about not being a tourist is that I don't ever feel hurried. I can take leisurely walks to nowhere, to just discover the neighborhood slowly. And I did that quite a bit my first few weeks here. I got horribly lost many times, but eventually I'd find a street I recognized and be able to find my way home. Nervi has some beautiful places to walk - through the large park and along the sea - and so many little alleyways and pedestrian-only streets to get lost in. When I first took the bus to Genoa, I aimed to find "the shopping street" (Via XX de Settembre), but ended up walking up and down four other major streets before I found it. The city is not on a grid nor does it have any sensible layout! All the more fun, I suppose.
THE LEISURE - This is in fact a foreign concept to me. Why am I not working?! Adjusting to my life here has been a huge change from my busy, busy work schedule, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it. I have so many ideas for next year and so much I want to do! But while I'm in Italy, I'm trying really hard to focus on enjoying my summer vacation. That doesn't mean I'm not reading blogs or keeping up with tweets, but it does mean that I'm not lesson planning! I am definitely reading, though! My new Kindle has been a lifesaver. :)
Well, this blog entry wouldn't feel complete without some more library vs. bookstore photos:
Italian translations of the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
at the Biblioteca De Amicis (children's library) in Porto Antico, Genoa
Junie B. Jones gets a name change in Italy to Giulia B.
Also at the Biblioteca De Amicis in Porto Antico
The Guinness Book of World Records is popular EVERYWHERE! As evidenced by this book store display in Porto Antico. Pop culture abounds too - there's Thor and Captain Jack Sparrow.