Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oh, what a night!

Our dear friends the Grosses are leaving this week and we're all a bit tender about it at the moment.  Fortunately, we planned a slam bang finish to our time in Italy together...

We have had the chance to host Hannah (5) and Veronica (4) overnight on two previous occasions - once when their parents hosted a church outreach that went late into the night and the second time was a two night stretch when their baby brother Benjamin arrived in August.  Well, Karla and David were desperate to return the favor, but wanted to wait until all their household goods had been shipped...so...on their very last week in Sicily, with a completely empty house, they invited Elise and Caleb over for THEIR very first sleepover away from home!  The Grosses set a very high bar for all sleepovers to come - WOW! - here's a quick run down of the evenings events:

**Incidentally, I did not go undercover to take these pictures.  The movers packed Karla's camera battery, so I loaned her our camera for this historic event!

Gotta have a bouncy house!  (and, yes, it was INSIDE their big empty house!)
There was cookie baking...
...Elise, Caleb, Lucas, Hannah, Veronica, Benjamin, Brady, and Juliette!
...and rib eating...
...and special snacks galore thanks to Mr. David's sleepover shopping trip...
...and s'mores...
...and ice cream...oh, my!

The big tent in the living room!  When I chatted with Karla the next day she said "Oh, they did great!  I think everyone was asleep by 10:30."  (That would NOT have been my response!)  The kids went to bed with stories from Miss Karla and then drifted off to sleep while Mr. David read to them from Psalms.  So sweet!
Trek around the neighborhood the next morning.  Everyone was up at 6:30 a.m. - what else were they supposed to do?!
Brady was in charge of the map. 
Tired and HAPPY!
Wow...that was fun!  Thanks David, Karla and kids for making it such a special night!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Farewell Cinque Terre.

Our final day in Cinque Terre was full and exciting!  We tidied up the apartment and prepared to check out before beginning a "driving tour" along the coast towards Genoa...

Saying goodbye to Riomaggiore was soon followed by an amusing question from the backseat of the car... "Dad, why do you keep driving down roads that say "DANGER" and "FALLING ROCKS?"  Funny, I was kind of thinking the same thing - and so went our "3 hour tour" of the Cinque Terre coastline.  You may or may not remember that this area was heavily damaged last November by severe storms that caused mudslides and much damage to the area.  They've made a lot of progress in repairing the roads and infrastructure that were damaged, but it appears that there is still much work to do!
When I wasn't holding my breath, I was able to enjoy some stunning views.
Couldn't resist the vintage signs in Monterosso!

A very welcome (and sadly uncommon) sight in Italy.  What a cool playground!
Focaccia originated in this region..and I'm always a sucker for local taste treats!  Yum!

Don't think I'll ever grow tired of quaint little hillside towns!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Cinque Terre. Day Three.

Our third day in Cinque Terre started out with buckets of rain spilling down from the sky.  Josh, Elliott and their little ladies went out for some coffee and pastries and came back soaking wet.  (Fortunately they brought the treats home for us to enjoy in our dry apartment!)  Then it was time for the kids to play and color while Becca knit and the rest of us enjoyed visiting.  Around lunch time it started to clear up, but since the weather forecast wasn't convincingly optimistic we decided to stay close by and explore our own little town, Riomaggiore.

On our way up the hill we found a pizza shop that was open and got a few pizzas to share.  From there we continued our way up to the top of the town.  Here we came across the town duomo and the remnants of an old castle.  As you can imagine the bird's eye view looking down along the coast and the town below was fantastic!

The clouds receding from the valley.
Blue skies at last.


They had several murals like this painted throughout the towns.  They were done by an Argentinian artist in honor of the local townspeople who have worked for centuries to harvest the grapes and olives in the region.  They also pay homage to the generations of families who built the stone walls that line the terraced coastline.  

Nightfall.  Time to return to our quaint and cozy apartment to cook dinner.  Thanks to Elliott and Josh who prepared a lovely meal for us while Becca and I chatted and played with the little ones upstairs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Cinque Terre. Days One and Two.

We just got back from a lovely holiday weekend on the Ligurian Coast in northern Italy.  Cinque Terre translates as "The Five Lands" and is made up of 5 small towns that cling to the rugged mountainous coastline south of Genoa.  It is also known as "The Italian Riviera."  The towns were delightfully charming with their pastel colored homes and rustic nautical feel.  The terraced vineyards and jagged cliffs added to the enchanting ambiance as well.

Going in the off-season has its perks - it was affordable to get there and the towns were not overrun with other tourists.  Going in the off-season also has its downsides - there were thunderstorms and light drizzles throughout the weekend and many of the hiking trails were closed due to the inclement weather and constant threat of mudslides.  That was a bit of a bummer, but it honestly didn't dampen our spirits too much.  We were traveling with our dear friends the Garbers, so the less pleasant weather gave us more chances to hang out and visit while the kids played together in our cozy (read: small) little living room.
This was as close as we got to the Via del Amore trail.  Sadly it was closed because of the weather.  

Best buddies.  Yena and Lulu.  (aka...Lena and Lucas)

A vineyard trail above the town of Manarola.

So...the "cool face" has taken over and this is pretty much the only thing Lucas does in pictures right now.  


Yum...seafood ravioli.  This was Josh's lunch in Vernazza.  I opted for the chickpea and lentil soup, which was less colorful, but wonderfully warming and tasty.