October 29, 2007

10/29/07 Verona Italy

Montecchio di Negrar Italy

Ah, 7:30am comes early. I know because that's when the workers came to start on the building. Marta tells me they have about two more weeks of work on the outside of the building and the roof. Then they will upgrade the kitchen to comply with the new EU standards. Most of it makes sense like better electrical wiring and plumbing, but in other ways it is a big change. They have an old wooden table that they have used for decades but now they have to upgrade everything to stainless steel. They can't even keep the wooden table in the kitchen - against the rules. After forty plus years of serving food, not one person has ever gotten sick from their food. But that's progress. I suggested they move it to the dining room because it's such an important part of the life here.

When I sit around listening to the family talk, I am surprised that it sounds so much like Spanish. Marta tells me they are not speaking Italian but a dialect. Just like Swiss-German, it is not written down - it is only a conversational language passed down through the generations. But while unlike the Swiss-German I heard in Switzerland, many people here want to only use Italian and forget the dialect.

This morning Marta took me to Verona where we walked all over the city center visiting churches and seeing the old city walls. The churches are different here. They are light and airy with moderate amounts of painted frescoes. It was a very pleasant effect compared to the Spanish or French churches. But the highlight of the tour was to stop at the famous balcony of Romea & Juliet. They have a statue of the love-torn woman, and Marta tells me tradition states that any man who holds the statues breast will be lucky in love. So, what did I have to loose. [smile]

Frescos on the buildings are typical

This could be Juliet's balcony

Overlooking Verona with Marta

Marta says that the family only eats the noon meal together and rarely has dinner. I can understand because it was a lot of food, so much so that I was stuffed. When her parents found out I didn't own a cell phone, the instantly liked me. With the remodeling going on, it was too noisy to relax after lunch, so Marta took me on a long walk through the hills above the village.

No one came to the restaurant tonight, a traditionally slow night, so Marta, her sister Anatella , their mother and I talked a bit. Anatella was very interested in the differences between America and Europe in everything: politics, religion, relationships, jobs, economics, health, just to name a few. Later we all watched the last part of the Italian version of Tolstoy's "War and Peace."