Monday, May 18, 2009

Paestum Photos (Melissa)

Paestum in about 90 minutes south of Naples on the coast. It is the site of the most well-preserved Greek ruins in all of Europe (that's what they told us anyway).

I did a great bus trip there with a couple of friends. Our half-day trip consisted of a tour of the ancient Greek town, the Roman town that was built on top of the Greek ruins, the museum of ancient artifacts, and a quick lunch at a cute cafe with bright yellow umbrellas (very Italian). While I was in Paestum, I took about 30 photos of amazing Greek temples and artifacts. After returning home, I show my husband my photos of these magnificent sights that I was humbled to stand before...yet there is only ONE photo that insights any remark of excitement from him. It's the one photo that I took of my lunch.

Of course I specifically took the photo of my lunch because I knew it would be the most interesting thing to him out of everything that I had seen all day. You can decide if you are the photos:

A few items from the Museum...

And finally, here is lunch :)

American Football by Italians? (Melissa)

Disclaimer: Joe should really be writing this since it is about football…but I’m going to start it and he can “revise” as necessary.

Photo: Joe with our friend Michela and her brother Alessandro who has played on the team for close to 20 years (if I understood Michela correctly).

Yes, the Italians have an American-style football league. Who knew? I thought nothing beats soccer over here. But we met a guy that used to play for the Jets (just had to be the Jets, right?) and then he played for some other team, and then he got now he's coaching the Naples football team.

We were told that we didn’t have to buy tickets and that parking was 2 Euro. Seemed odd. When we got to the stadium parking lot, it was packed! Little did we know it was because there was a kids dance performance going on in an adjacent building. There were actually only two other people in the stadium. So we did pay 2 Euro to park, and then walked into the high-school style stadium with no gates, no guards, and no ticket-takers. We even brought our cooler of snacks and beer without any problem. I think we could have rolled a BBQ in there and started grilling in the stadium without anyone saying ANYTHING to us.

Eventually about 10 other people showed up to watch the game with us. The game was great, Naples has been undefeated so far this year. I'm sure Joe would have lots of commentary about the plays they were running, but it all looks about the same to me. The funny thing was they didn’t have a good kicker (imagine that!) so they never kicked any field goals. Which may have been a good thing because they were actually playing on a soccer field – so they tapped big orange poles onto the top of the soccer net to make an upright on the top of the soccer net. Not sure that would have worked out so well. It was a lot of fun to be watching American football in Italy.

At the end of the game (Naples won!) the players lined up and did a dance for the stadium, which was hysterical. The teams were very respectful with a sincere “good-game” line-up of high 5’s. They also chanted and cheered for the opposing team the way I’ve seen girls softball teams do in the states. Of course after all this, a few of the Italians got into a fight on the field. Yeah, Italia!!

All in all, it was a great day and a lot of fun!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Namesake Restaurant (Melissa)

After Joe and I found our house in Italy, we realized there was a sign for “Il Casale Ristorante” pointing to our street. Obviously we found this amusing; to get to our house, just follow the “Il Casale” sign. Eventually our curiosity got the best of us and we decided to venture out and find this restaurant that was located on our street (sounds pretty simple to find a restaurant on the street you live on, but you don’t live here so you’ll just have to TRUST ME when I tell you that it was an adventure to locate this place). We find the restaurant tucked away a mile up the road, but we are not dressed for dinner and the place is busy so we don’t go in.

Soon enough we start hearing from other people that Il Casale is their favorite restaurant in Naples. People gush about how much they love it there. We decide we must go. The neighbors tell me that I have to make the reservation (duh). I find the number and call…I immediately ask if they speak English because I’ve never actually made reservations speaking Italian and I don’t know how well that will go. No luck, they say they don’t speak English.

So here’s how it all goes down (feel free to read with an Italian accent since the rest of this story actually occurred in Italian). I do my best to tell them I want to make a reservation. They must understand because they ask me something that sounds like a request for a date or time or something. Great! I tell them what day, and then what time. They were clearly asking for how many people because they then ask me WHEN I want to come in. Oops. Luckily the time and number of people are the same word, so it all works out. I now have a reservation for 8 people at 8:00 on next Tuesday. Whew!

Then they ask me for my name… I say “Casale, Melissa Casale”. There is a pause, and then they say a bunch of Italian words…I think informing me that they know that I want a reservation at Il Casale, I just called Il Casale, so what is the name for the reservation? Again, I say “Casale. (speaking slowly with emphasis) MY NAME IS Melissa Casale”.

Bingo! They get it. They immediately sound joyful and excited. I get a bunch of thank you’s and they confirm my complete reservation and then I hear “Grazie, ciao Signora Casale. -kissing noises- Ciao, ciao! -more kissing noises-“. Hmm. I’ve never had kissing noises before. I hope we get a good table.

So we’ll bring the camera (and maybe the family tree) and follow up after dinner next week. Ciao! –kiss-- --kiss—

The follow-up:

Allora, as you have already reviewed in Joe's comments the Casale name had no tie to the restaurant name...but we did still get a major discount off the bill and the food was great. Overall, I would say it was a success.