This will be another quick update. We’re putting a bid on an apartment this week, because our furniture will be arriving soon! The apartment, if we get it, will require some work first, so we’ll be moving to a friend’s apartment for a month while the renovations are carried out. (The friend, meanwhile, has moved to NYC.) After two weeks of looking at apartments as a full time job, I now know the layout of the city and the feel of its various neighborhoods, the common features of apartments here, and how to carry on at least a rudimentary business phone conversation. Of course, I sbaglio (mess up) every time I answer the phone, but you have to start somewhere.
In other news, Sarie passed her Italian language exam yesterday! That means she’s allowed to sit for violin auditions next week at the conservatory. For the audition, she’s learning a little Bach Musette. The conservatory requires piano and she’s never taken a lesson. She can sight read, but hasn’t ever perfected anything. And all she has to practice on is an iPad app! This lowest common denominator of piano will, in the Italian fashion, determine her level in the conservatory. But we’re not going to worry about it, because she’ll have the same teacher, regardless.
One difference between New York and Torino that has been surprisingly hard for me to get used to is that in Italy nothing much is open on Sunday, including grocery stores. I’m sure it used to be this way in the US as well, but I’ve found that I’ve really had to adjust my thinking to prepare for Sunday every week. Add to this the fact that I’m usually quite busy on Saturdays, and that you can’t shop on Saturday between 1:30 and 4:00, and it really pushes the deadline back to Friday. And there’s Monday morning’s breakfast to be taken into consideration as well. Italy is still a housewife’s world, and that world requires a well-stocked pantry.
On this, our third weekend, I finally started to get into the rhythm of shopping early. I only had 45 minutes on Saturday because of the language exam, but on the way back to the residence, I stopped by at least four places to get food. I found I was part of a general rush to prepare for the weekend. I took a number (a favorite Italian custom) and stood in line everywhere I went. I snapped up foglie (a flaky pastry) with prosciutto, some brioches (Americans call them croissants), milk and panna (cream, and I had to go with the kind in a box), some salad greens and onions, speck and pancetta (both cured meats), a couple of knots of fresh mozzarella, a bottle of red wine, jam, yogurt, and I once again struck out on the only Italian cereal we like. By this time, I couldn’t carry another thing, so I went home.
Everywhere I went, I heard people greeting each other “Buona domenica!” as they paid for their purchases. “Have a good Sunday!” Europe may be largely secular now, but in Italy at least, many traditions are still in place. Only the stores in the walking districts will be open, and that’s where most of the Torinese will be after their Sunday lunches, taking their weekend social walks. It’s as much of a tradition as walking in Central or Riverside Park is for Upper East Side and Upper West Side families in New York. They’ll be lined up at Grom for Ice Cream and getting espressos at all the outdoor cafes. But they will not be at the grocery store. And now that I’ve finally learned to think ahead and buy for the weekend, I think that’s rather nice.
Some favorite Italian foods: summer tomatoes (the ones from heaven), the best and most deeply green olives we’ve ever eaten, fresh pasta in a shop on Via Micca, fresh butter shaped like a shell, and our favorite lunch of cantaloupe, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and another cheese whose name I forget at the moment, but it was delicious.