Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Aunts" and "Uncles"

I don't know what our experience in Bologna would have been like without Julie & Paolo and their 3 beautiful kids. They moved here (for the second time) just a few months after we arrived. Julie and Paolo quickly became "Aunt" and "Uncle" to Taryn and brother & sister to Tyson and I. I cried as we hugged and said our last goodbyes at the gate that leads to their home. I knew this goodbye would be very very hard. Julie knew where to get the hard to find cooking items, where American products were sold, and could tell us the Italian word for anything. She listened as I cried on the phone to her- offering comforting words and helped me when Taryn was sick (she's a nurse and has 3 kids of experience under her belt). Julie opened her home to us nearly every Thursday for a giant play date- 3 moms and 5 kids- always a treat!!
Paolo taught me how to make Lasagna Bolognese and many other recipes (so did Julie!) and was never hesitant to offer a ride to our apartment. Paolo even took Paige and I (while Julie watched the babes) to the local inexpensive markets to teach us where we could go for cheap food, what to look for when shopping, and what the Italians eat on an every day basis. It's because of Paolo that Tyson and I have enjoyed Capricciosa Salad over and over again. I have loved getting to know their three kids (their youngest- Isabel- pictured above) and becoming an "Aunt" to them. Aaron and Jordan have the most contagious laughs and sweetest smiles. We love this family so much!

  The Anderson's will catch an early flight home to Utah tomorrow. Luckily, we will be able to see them again in Washington D.C. once the semester begins. In honor of their last night in Bologna and our last time all together with our 3 families, we gathered at Julie & Paolo's for a final dinner together. And it was so delicious!
We lived just two doors down from them and it was such a blessing. Having another couple with a baby in Tyson's Grad Program here in Bologna was so great. We had many many play dates, recipe exchanges, and fun gatherings. I loved having Paige to g-chat with throughout the day about ideas or setting up play dates. Having another mom around the corner, with a baby girl the same age as Taryn was so helpful because we often went through the same phases together (feedings, teething, walking, talking, sleep patterns) so it was wonderful to be able to bounce off ideas or get suggestions from her. They opened their home so many times to us for dinners, treats, and an awesome BBQ. Taryn would light up when she saw Ada and would get very happy when I told her we were "going to see Ada." She loves her little friend so much. Discovering a new city and a new language can have lots of ups and lots of downs. Knowing that I had someone within arms reach who was in the same boat and who I could go to made it that much more doable. We're excited to see how much Ada grows over the summer and to have these girls play together again. 

 Taryn ran barefoot outside and played with a great bike (while Daddy pushed) that she has fallen in love with- Now to only find one like this back in the States! Seeing Taryn running barefoot made me so happy. It means it's summer time and she's doing just what every kid should be doing- playing outside and enjoying the weather!

Aunt Julie made Taryn an adorable clutch bag for her birthday and then as a going away gift, made a matching purse for her. And it was stuffed with homemade goldfish crackers & cookies for the long flight ahead!!!!

Tomorrow is our last day in Italy and we plan to fill it with gelato, pizza, park time and touring the city one last time. 


Dancing along to the buskers

Playing with the necklace that our Bologna ward gave to Taryn as a gift

Yesterday we enjoyed the sun, cool breezes and the smell of the ocean in Venice. It was a wonderful day as we walked down the Zattere. We thought about how in just a few days, we would be smelling the ocean and feeling the breeze all the way in California.

We saw:
The Jewish Ghetto
Ponte di Rialto
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Santa Maria della Salute

We took the city at our own pace, Tyson was the master navigator and got us to all the places I had written down to see, and Taryn got in two naps in her stroller. We ate gelato a few times, got a little sun-burned (only Tys & I - Taryn was sun blocked up!) and took in the beauty of the city while strolling along. 

It was a perfect ending to our trips here in Italy (for now!). Now, we will take a break today and tomorrow to be with friends, catch up on sleep, finish up some last minute things on our to-do list, enjoy Bologna, and get ready to leave on Thursday.We started the day off today with a family dance party. Perfect.

P.S- We had another earthquake this morning at 9am! We were all in the kitchen when we felt it start. Still scary.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Sunday full of goodbyes and tears

 Daniele and Nausica Poli have been married for about the same time as us. Both of them are so much fun and we have spent a lot of time with them driving to and from different places, eating great food with them, and talking Italian/English with them. They have this heart shaped pillow in their car that Taryn fell in love with too. When we first arrived, Daniele translated talks and lessons for us. He works as a translator and knows English, Spanish and Italian.

RoseAngela was literally and Angel. Offering car rides so we wouldn't have to ride the bus, offering her mother's snow boots so I could run my errands during the winter and keep warm, and always giving giving giving!
 Hermana Espinosa spoke Spanish, knew a little Italian and moved here to be with her son and his family. She was grateful to have Tyson to speak with each Sunday. She rode the same bus we did to church and always wore a smile. She is a great example to us of how much you can rely on your testimony of Christ during hard times in your life.

 Irene Ramondo, who I co-taught nursery with. She has the sweetest heart and the most contagious laugh. She wrapped her arms around me and helped me along the way as we taught the three little boys the Nursery lessons in Italian. I will never forget how much love she had to share with those around her and how she was always so happy.

 RoseAngela and our little family  

 Our friend Jun who was recently baptized and is a student at University Of Bologna

Sunday was our last day of attending our Ward (members of the church that live in a certain geographical areas) in Bologna and it was an emotional one. We have been blessed to know so many great people here and have made wonderful friendships with so many. I am constantly amazed at how much the members of our Bologna Ward have given to our little family, helping and reaching out to us. Just like Tyson said today, "Our time here in Bologna would have been a lot harder if we didn't have the church" and all of the lovely people who have taught us so much.

The bishopric asked us to bare our testimonies today and I gave mine in Italian. I get very emotional and loose track of my thoughts very easily once the tears start flowing so I jotted down some words before I headed to the pulpit (Elder Strobelt confirmed that what I wanted to say made sense before I went up and helped me remember some vocabulary- so helpful) The Bologna ward has truly been "our family away from home"

Once our meeting finished, the ward presented little books of remembrance to us. I started crying as one sister pointed out the Italian letter she wrote and then the English words her daughter had translated about an experience we had had a few months ago. It was at that point that I was overwhelmed with what I have learned from these beautiful Bolognese. My life has been enriched and I have grown so much. I couldn't hold the tears back- tears of happiness for our time here and tears for sadness that we will be leaving these wonderful people. Many asked us to return in the near future to visit and I hope that we will.

There are so many people that we weren't able to get pictures with and so many more people I could mention who have touched our lives.

* If you notice Taryn's lips you'll see that they are BLUE! Taryn was chewing on a little book that our neighbor had just given us. She was sitting on my lap and I spotted her blue fingers and when I turned her around, Tyson and I just laughed at her blue mouth. The blue dye from the cover got all over- sadly it got on her sweater too- hopefully it will come out! The blue on her lips and fingers disappeared by the end of the day but we caught it in all the photos!

The Bologna Commencement and one of our last walks

Saturday was Commencement for the Bologna Center because the small group of 202 students will be leaving Bologna and continuing their degree in Washington D.C. There were a handful of students who completed special programs who graduated after they completed their one year term. There was a lunch afterward and we took advantage of the wonderful view off of the terrace. Bologna is such a beautiful city!

One year done- one more to go! I'm so proud of Tyson! We spent the rest of Saturday packing our bags and getting ready to leave. We will be traveling more in the next few days and wanted to be sure to get everything *almost done before going. So with only the outfits we plan to wear for the next few days and some other small items that need to be packed, we are ready to go! 

Laundry is so much harder to do before a trip when you don't have a dryer!

We walked back home from the train station the other day and Taryn had fallen asleep within 5 minutes of being in the stroller. Tyson and I walked slowly as we took in the last few glimpses of Bologna that we will have. It was almost 9pm and the sky was still light. I could smell the magnolia trees in Piazza Cavour as we came closer to home. We felt the warm air and made a permanent memory of one of our last walks in Bologna. It was a prefect end to a fun travel filled day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pisa and Lucca

We made some last minute adjustments to our travel plans the night before we left on Friday and decided to go to Lucca and Pisa. Thanks to Tyson's awesome searching, we were able to buy all of our trains tickets for less than half the price advertised! Sweetness! Tyson was happy that we could make it out to Pisa and see the Leaning Bell Tower. We grabbed the best sandwiches ever from Panetteria Antiche Tradizioni and ate them while we sat in front of the Leaning Tower. The Duomo of Pisa is beautiful (the famous Pulpit of Giovanni Pisano is amazing!) and the acoustics in the baptistry were really fun to hear. A worker comes out every half hour and sings some notes to demonstrate for the tourists and we happen it hit the baptistry at the right time. There's not much to Pisa besides the Leaning Tower, Duomo and Baptistry in the Campo dei Miracoli so we only spent a few hours there. It was a lucky mistake that we got off one stop too early on the train and ended up right in front of the Leaning Tower (no more than a 5 min. walk). It was great compared to the walk I remember taking with my Study Abroad group 3 years ago and the walk listed in our travel guide book (45 min walk!)

Then we were off to Lucca which was only about a 30 min train ride from Pisa. 

 Lucca is known for the wall the surrounds the city. The wall has a 40 foot drop to the bottom with no fence so you have to be careful. Tyson and I took turns getting close to the edge- so scary! Many people bike, walk, and play on the wall  everyday.  We were hoping to ride bikes around the wall but then the thunder storm started and we were getting wet. We thought there was a chance we had missed the storm as we rode the train to Lucca (the rain started coming down in Pisa before we left), but we still got to see the wall, experience the city, and have fun (while keeping somewhat dry and Taryn dry)  Lucca, in our opinion, was very similar to Bologna (colors & buildings).

 Walking on top of the wall with paved walk ways and lots of space to share between walkers, joggers, and bikers.

Heading to one of the parks along the wall- straight for the swings of course.

 Can you see me?

 The best invention ever. The "Baby Bubble"- stroller bubble. Taryn doesn't like it very much but it has been so awesome to have. It was awesome the stroller company threw in the rain guard for us, I think, as a "We're sorry" when our stroller broke.  It seems that 98% of the time that we travel we have had some crazy weather experience (even checking the forecast a dozen times before still lands us in some interesting circumstances)

 Lucca had a tower just like Bologna too! This tower has a garden on top and the roots of the trees have started to come through the roof and into the room below.

 Above are some pictures from the old Roman amphitheater. It is now a shopping plaza and looks nothing like the amphitheaters in Rome or Verona. Very cute center where the people of Lucca love to gather at night. This place reminded me a lot of the Piazza Nuovo in Rome.

Lucca was so green and beautiful and unique. It seemed to take on so much from the other Italian cities but still remained a special place to visit. I do have to say that if you are heading towards Lucca and want to see the main cathedral- you can skip it. We were underwhelmed with it- good thing there was no entrance fee- and I think we stayed inside for about 5 min. But the rest of Lucca is worth the trip- and rent a bike there!