Hello from Parma, Italy!
I arrived here on Wednesday and it has been crazy ever since, but, first, I will finish the Karen from Britain story.
I went to the train station and she never showed up. Gonna be honest- I was relieved, totally. So I went to the train to head to Bologna which took about 1 hr. I arrived in Bologna, which is away from the coast, and it was soooo hott. It has been getting into the mid 90s everyday here which is just insane. Anyway, I walked around the city, enjoyed the beautiful architecture there which works out perfectly in the summertime because the archways under all of the buildings provide perfect shade. I was in search of Pasta Bolognese but had no idea where to go so I walked into a place semi far from the train station and had people inside- all of your markings of a good restaurant. Except it wasnt. The food was s***. Bad pasta sauce and Im pretty sure the meatballs were frozen and then heated in the microwave. So as I walk out, about to head to the train station to go onto Parma, I get a text- from Karen. "Hey Lindsey, did you make it to Bologna? How is Parma?". No mention of not showing up (which is fine) but it is just odd. Either she was so drunk she failed to remember that she had said she was coming, or, the more likely situation, she was so embarrassed from her spectacle the day before that she didnt even want to talk about it. I probably would have done the same. Anyway, I waited a bit to text back and just said yes, everything is beautiful, glad I came. She sent another saying she was on her way back to England and that we should keep in touch so I can come visit- not likely.
I arrived in Parma around 7 and Virgil's flight hadnt come in yet so he sent his best friends, Simo and Siro, to pick me up. They were there when I got there and we drove to a bar to have some drinks and wait for Virgil. They told me about the town and the area and we were just enjoying the weather and the company, when all of the sudden, I felt water falling on my head. And so did everyone else. We all looked up and its a crazy old lady in pajamas hanging out of the window, screaming in Italian, throwing water bottles on top of us for being too loud. At a bar. The weird thing was that no one seemed surprised. I asked Siro what she was doing and he said " O thats just the crazy lady who lives above the bar", "she does this every night almost". It just so happens though that this particular night, she has really had it. About an hour later, she comes down with her hair in curlers, in her pajamas, and starts yelling and pushing everyone around the bar. Almost immediately, the wife of the bar owner comes out and starts screaming back at her. You can imagine it, two Italian women screaming at each other, hands a flyin, getting right in each others faces until the husband came and had to separate them. IT WAS GREAT. Only in Italy. Virgil arrived about an hour later and we stayed at the bar for a bit and then headed back.
The next day we just relaxed, got some coffee and headed to the Parmesan cheese factory. Yes, I am in the town which created Parmesan cheese and Parma ham, and let me tell you, I have never had something so delicious. It was really cool to see it, especially after dealing with cheese a lot in Israel, and they are all so proud of it. Virgil's friend Tafo works there and so he showed us the process of making it, all of the different cheeses that were aging and gave us a taste test. That night, we headed to Siro's house for dinner. Siro is a newlywed and his wife, Antonella, does not speak a work of English but, somehow, I understand her perfectly. She is so sweet and really energetic and will grow up to be your classic Italian wife. Their house was immaculate and she had made us a traditional Italian dinner. For the Antipasto- prosciutto with melon, caprese salad, parmesan cheese with aged balsamic vinegar and a rice salad with olives and onion. For the second course: steak which Siro had cooked perfectly and some pork. Of course there was wine, there is ALWAYS wine, so we had chianti and gelatto that Virgil and I had picked up for dessert.
The next day was Friday and it was so hot, too hot to be outside. Virgil needed to run some errands so we went around town, picked up his car from the mechanic, bought a new water heater for his house, got some pizza and then headed to the pool for "reggae and beer" night. It was a really nice night, played some beach volleyball, listened to some good music and enjoyed the cooler temperature. Saturday, we went to a Siro's mountain house where there is a river and relaxed there. Then we headed into town for a serious dinner. We met some of their friends and I let the Italians order because they do it well. We were in an outdoor restaurant tucked in a tiny street of the old town of Parma, colorful buildings all around with cute balconies and a stone street. It was perfect. They ordered some prosecco and a mixed appetizer. We had bruschetta, an olive and sundried tomato platter, a salami platter, lettuce with a delicious sweet dressing and that was just the appetizer. These people can eat. Virgil and I decided to order something different and then share so I got a tagliatelli with a hazlenut cream sauce and radicchio and he got Italian sausage in a wine sauce with olives and mushrooms. It was serious. After dinner, we walked around the old town to vertically digest for a bit and then headed to this really cool outdoor dancing place. They had a live band which was playing 1920's music and people of all ages were there, it was really cool- 18 year olds dancing next to an 80 year couple and everyone was having a blast.
Today is Monday and Virgil had to go back to work this week so I am just chilling today. Virgil won't let me pay for anything so I am going to go the grocery store to buy food for the week and make burritos for dinner tonight haha. This week I am planning a couple of day trips, probably to Verona one day and to Lake Como on another while he is working, and then Friday starts his two week vacation. I wasnt sure how long I was going to stay here but he invited me to come with all of his friends down to Sardinia this Friday for August vacation. Apparently everything in Italy shuts down for August while people head to the coast. We are going to bring some tents and camp in the mountains which are right next to the beach- sounds pretty legit. Hopefully Siro will grill out every night haha.
Anyway, the Italian life is a good one and, honestly, I am happy to spend the next two or three weeks just eating and reading. I am reading a great book about the war in Yugoslavia and working on getting my school things together, I take a nap every day and drink atleast two glasses of good wine. Does it get any better?