Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In Giro della Sardegna and a Swedish-American Breakfast

Wow.  It has been an incredibly long time since I’ve made the time to blog, and this blog entry is very long over-due…I believe it has been over 2 months since I last updated!  I think that’s a new record for me and this blog.  Let’s hope the intervals only shorten… 

Let’s see….the last thing I wrote about was my winter vacation (it really has been a long time…) and since then, I have been going to school regularly.  I have also begun swimming laps regularly at a local gym as well as participating in a choir at the music conservatory in Cagliari.  Other than that, my daily routine also includes hanging out with friends, both Italians and exchange students, and exploring Cagliari a bit more. 

In these past couple months, I have been a bit busy with trips around Sardegna.  The first weekend in February I went to Oristano and Narboglia to visit a friend, in late February I went to Oristano once again as well as Alghero, and in early March I visited some other friends in Iglesias. 

For my first trip to Oristano in February I took a train early Saturday morning.  Oristano is a rather large city near the western coast halfway between the south and north tips of the island.  I arrived in Oristano and roamed around the city for a bit until I could be picked up by my friend and her host family.  I stopped in a caffè for a bit, stopped in a few shops, and did general sightseeing around the city.  I had already been in Oristano during my winter break, so I didn’t see many new things.  It was an interesting and fun adventure anyway.  If you’re interested in seeing some pictures of Oristano, see the previous entry!  After my friend and her host family picked me up, we made our way to their house.  I met everyone in the host family, and they were all very friendly and welcoming.  We had a lunch of boar-meat stew, pasta, bread, cheese, salad, and a fried and sugared sweat bread called frittelle typical of Carnevale in Italy (or at least Sardegna).  Everything was very good!  Later, we tested their vocabulary of English and they tested ours in Italian and Spanish by throwing out words and saying what it translated to.  It was very interesting!  Then, after a small tour and a visit to their dogs out back, we made our way to a party that was being thrown for my friend’s exchange program.  The party wasn’t all that eventful but it included successful speeches from all exchange students (along with me, even though I don’t even belong to that program), karaoke, dancing, and LOTS of eating.

About a week afterward, I joined that same friend in Oristano for La Sartiglia and La Pariglia, events included in the Carnevale festivities of the city.  Both events are 500 years old, maybe more!!  In preparation for La Sartiglia dirt and sand were spread over the narrow street in front of the cathedral (the traditional location of the event).  But before the actually event could start, a few other events had to take place!  On that narrow street a troupe of cross-dressing, middle-aged men put on a dancing show for the audience.  After the show passed a parade of drummers, people dressed in the traditional clothing of Oristano, followed by the court of “Eleonora D’Arborea”.  Eleonora D’Arborea was a queen of the region of Sardinia called Arborea, known for her advanced code of laws granting many rights to woman that weren’t granted in most places around the world.  After the procession of the court came a group of trumpeters, followed by the horsemen!  The horses were covered in colorful decorations and bells and the riders wore traditional Carnevale costumes with white masks.  I was told that, because of the prestige of the event, the horses and riders train all year for the event, and it is a requirement for the riders to have been born in the city of Oristano.  So needless to say this event is a really big deal.  There were about 70 horses and horsemen and they marched down the street in lines of 3 horses across.  Now this street was barely wide enough to accommodate 3 horses across, and the spectator areas were packed full with no room to move.  And I was right against the fence separating me and these horses.  My host sister warned me about how dangerous this event is but I didn’t truly believe her until now.  Whenever a horse would get spooked or annoyed, I was rather certain I would get a horse hoof in my face.  I had no room to back up, and the horses seemed to get spooked fairly regularly.  It was only after the event that I learned that the horses were the least under control, and most spooked they had been for years.  But luckily no horses kicked me in the face that day.  However, we did witness a few close calls with some other spectators.  
After the procession of the horsemen was over, La Sartiglia began!  One at a time, the horsemen would ride back to where they came from in the procession, trumpets would sound, and the horseman would ride at full speed back on the narrow street to the Cathedral where a small star with a hole in the center hung from a cord hanging across the street.  The goal was to, at full gallop, catch the star by getting a sword through the small hole.  If the star was caught, it signified additional good fortune for the city.  Traditionally, the event takes place twice two different days, and each day it is hosted by a different group (one day is for the farmers another for the carpenters if I remember right).  So catching the star on the group’s day earns good fortune for the coming year of that respective group.  Again, this part was rather intimidating (having a horsemen gallop at full speed in a narrow street towards you is a bit frightening) but also incredible, and definitely an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.  We watched maybe 15 runs (maybe seeing 1 horsemen get the star, which goes to show how difficult it really is; remember they had trained the entire year) and then we made our way to eat lunch at some street vendors, and to walk around the many stands selling typical Sardinian foods, wines, musical instruments, and other products.    

Cross-dressing Performers!  

Eleonora D'Arborea! 
Traditional Clothing from Oristano 

The Trumpeters


See how close they were??

The Gallop for the Star 

The next event we saw was La Pariglia, which involved acrobatics and pyramid stacks on top of the horses.  This was another amazing and memorable event, but it was a bit difficult to see due to the hundreds of people packed in to watch.  We saw a dozen or so runs before the event ended at its traditional ending time of sundown.  After that event, I took the train back to Cagliari.   

La Pariglia

A week or so later, I was invited by a couple friends to visit them in Alghero for the weekend.  I took a train up to the upper part of the island, and after 3 or 4 hours of travel, I finally arrived in Alghero and met up with my two friends!  We went to one of their host houses, where we would spend the next couple of nights.  We met the family, had yet another delicious Italian dinner (is there any Italian meal that’s not?), and got dressed for our Carnevale party!  It was a costume party, so one of my friends dressed up as a vampire-pirate, and the other dressed up as a hippie, and I dressed up in a toga with the laurel leaf crown (the crown was made by my Swedish friend Linnea in the way they make leaf and flower crowns for Midsummer in Sweden, making my costume very multicultural!).  We all had a great time at the party! 
The next day, we explored the city of Alghero, had caffè and hot chocolate (the hot chocolate here is more like a pudding than a drink) at a coffee shop with an excellent view of the entire city, and watched another horse event involving knocking down lanterns hanging from a cord, “sword” fighting with wooden sticks, and acrobatics.  This event was on the beach of Alghero!  Afterwards, we returned to the house, and ate some Frittelle.  Afterwards, one of my friends needed to leave to return home.  Later, we had a dinner of pizza and called it a night.  
A street in Alghero
The Coastline of Alghero

The next morning, Linnea and I made the biggest breakfast I have had since I left home.  We had granola with dried fruit and yogurt, caffè, boiled eggs, fruit juice, homemade bread toast with marmalade…I think that’s it.  It was excellent!  Afterwards, we spent the early afternoon sitting on the beach and enjoying the first really warm day of the year J After loafing around on the beach, we took a train to Sassari, ate a quick lunch, had a quick look around, and I got on the train back to Cagliari. 

The Beach where we spent the early hours of the afternoon.Yeah, I live on this island...

These past couple weeks have been filled with afternoons at the beach with friends (I actually got sun burnt in the beginning of March!) and exploring the city with exchange students.  This past Sunday, I had my first ever sailing lesson!  How many Minnesotans can say that their first sailing lesson was in the Mediterranean Sea, in Italian?  I hope to have many more lessons! 

Well that’s about all that’s happened over these 2 months since I last wrote, you guys are all caught up on my life!  I really hope to update much more often in the few months remaining (less than 100 days left in Sardegna??).  I would also recommend looking up either pictures or information on the places, foods, people, and events I’ve mentioned in this entry and other ones! 

Ci sentiamo! 


P.S. I learned the Sardo (the dialect of Italian on the island of Sardinia, a mix of Italian and Spanish, which can change from city to city on the island) and Italian versions of the stereotypical Minnesotan figure of speech “Yeah sure you betcha”!  In Sardo it’s “Ci poris contai” and in Italian it’s “Ci puoi contare” (“You can count on it” in English).  Thought all you Minnesotans following my blog would be interested!   

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Le Vacanze!

            On the Friday before our winter holiday vacation, we had basically the entire 5 hours of lessons in school for a Christmas party!  We ate pastries and chips, drank soda and juices, talked, played Taboo, sang Christmas carols (I taught some of my classmates the words to “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” and we all sang it together).  And when the bell rang, announcing the end of the school day, I have to admit I was pretty glad I wouldn’t have to go to school for two weeks.  I love seeing classmates at school and all, but school isn’t the most exciting activity of mine here.  It’s basically 5 hours straight of listening to a teacher talk, without moving classrooms or moving at all for that matter.  So at that time, 2 weeks off sounded pretty good! 
            The vacation was rather uneventful before Christmas, with only a Rotary Christmas dinner.  The dinner only included my mini-district with only one other exchange student.  We were served pasta, fish, risotto, Sardinian flat bread, along with pandoro, a bread-like cake with powdered sugar traditionally eaten during the Christmas season.  At the beginning of my break, I also had my first choir concert with my Italian choir!    
            On Christmas Eve, my host family and I went to my host grandparents’ house for a Christmas Eve dinner.  A huge table was set up on the roof sunroom.  We had many different and delicious dishes, including full roasted lamb and pork (complete with the heads), a dish of lamb intestines, trippa, (or tripe), couscous, an octopus pasta dish, tiramisù, chocolate mousse, and ricotta mousse desserts, and many many other dishes that I can’t remember or describe.  I tried for the first time lamb intestines, tripe, and lamb spinal cord, which weren’t that bad but not exactly to my liking (spinal cord has a very creamy, fatty flavor, and is creamy in texture if you were wondering).  As I ate, I talked with and listened to my giant host extended family, which in many ways reminded me of my own extended family with the loud and enthusiastic conversations and arguments, the jokes, and the energetic younger cousins (it’s a pretty intimidating thing talking to little kids who are better than you at speaking a language).  At one point I asked my host sister what type of animal the intestines were from, who asked my host grandpa, who didn’t hear her (he’s a bit hard of hearing), and my host grandma repeated it to him in a louder and shriller (but loving) way.  It really reminded me of a favorite scene of mine and my family’s in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (If you were wondering what type of animal the intestines were from, it was lamb).  When we finished the dinner, we all conversed with one another and around midnight, Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) had come to deliver presents!  We went downstairs to find a living room filled with presents for everyone.  I hadn’t really thought about receiving anything, but I got two or three t-shirts, a long sleeve shirt, a black button-up shirt, and a scarf from my host parents, siblings, grandparents, uncle, and great-grandmother.  I was so grateful for everything, and I really felt like a part of the family!  This family Christmas Eve was the perfect medicine for an exchange student with a small case of holiday homesicknessJ

            The next day, Christmas Day, was very similar.  In the morning, I went to Christmas Morning Mass with my host parents.  We went to one of the most famous churches in the city, so needless to say it was packed.  It was difficult to understand the priests because the sound system was a bit messed up, but it was extremely interesting to go to a catholic mass in Italy, especially on Christmas day.  I don’t think there was that much of a difference between catholic mass in the states, except for the language obviously.  However, it was quite an experience going to catholic mass on Christmas day, in a big cathedral, in the world’s capital country of Catholicism. 
            After mass, we went home for a bit, picked up Silvia and Ale, and made our way to my host grandparents’ house for Christmas lunch.  The lunch consisted of the same delicious food, which I had absolutely no problem with.  Afterwards, I took a little nap on the couch up on the roof sunroom.  When I woke up, I conversed with my extended host family for a bit, then my host family and I headed back home.        

            The following week, my exchange student friend Matthew’s parents were in town visiting so I spent a couple days with them.  On the first day I spent with them, we showed them a little bit of the city of Cagliari.  We walked through the city streets, got gelato, and went to one of the city’s malls.  Then we went to San Gavino, the town where Matthew lived with his host family, and had a late lunch (later than the usual 2 or 3 pm Italian lunch) of delicious bread, cheese, and sausage in the apartment his parents were renting behind Matthew’s host family’s house.  Afterwards, we met Matthew’s host dad, and had a filling dinner of pizza at a pizzeria, followed by gourmet Italian hot chocolate, which is much thicker (and much better in my opinion) than that of the States.  This particular place had between 20 and 30 different kinds of flavored hot chocolate, including milk, dark, and white chocolate varieties flavored with fruits, mint, cayenne pepper, coconut, nuts, and others.
            The next day, Matthew, his parents, and I had a breakfast of cheese, bread, and meat, along with cappuccini, biscotti, and juice.  This was most definitely the biggest breakfast I had had since I left the States (having eaten just biscotti and caffelatte every morning), so it was a bit strange to me but delicious nonetheless.   After our breakfast, we left for the ruins of the Nuraghe close to the city of Barumini in the center of the island.  These are megalithic ruins of the Nuragic civilization of Sardegna, built well before 1000 B.C.  Essentially, it is a village comprised of 4 or so huge towers in the middle with smaller stone rings spreading out in all directions.  It was built on a hill surrounded by grasslands and other hills.  We climbed up to the top of the middle towers and could see for miles around.  It was unbelievable.  It was probably the oldest structure I have ever seen.  It was strange standing in the middle of the small stone rings or the giant towers thinking about what was happening in that exact same spot thousands of years ago.  It was such an amazing experience for me and I hope I get to see more of those structures.  

View from the Nuraghe sight

The Nuraghe

Smaller stone rings 

View from the top of the Nuraghe, and a herd of sheep!

            Afterwards, we made our way to San Sperate.  It was my second time to San Sperate, but I was glad I came back.  We walked around the town, looking at the murals, and made our way to the musical stones again.  We walked through the field of stones.  After we looked at the stones, we walked past a house where we stopped at last time to pet a Labrador puppy and chat with some townspeople.  We saw the puppy again, which grew to twice the size of when we last saw it.  At that moment, I realized that I had been in Sardegna for quite a long time even if it didn’t feel like it, and the time I had left would go just as fast, maybe faster.  It was a weird feeling, both sad and motivating. 

Here are more pictures of San Sperate, but you may want to go to my past entry to see some better pictures.  

San Sperate

More San Sperate Murals
After our trip to San Sperate, we made our way back to Cagliari and to my host family’s apartment building, I said goodbye to Matthew and his parents, and went up to the apartment. 

            On New Years Eve, a few exchange students and I went out to eat at a Japanese sushi restaurant for dinner.  It was basically my first time at a real sushi place, but it was really good.  Later, we just walked around Cagliari, met some of my classmates, rode some carnival rides at a fair at the marina on Via Roma in the center of the city, and went to Bastione di San Remy, an entrance to Il Castello, to prepare for midnight.  The whole piazza on Bastione di San Remy was crowded with people, and fireworks displays could be seen on two sides of the piazza.  At midnight, everyone yelled “Auguri!” and celebrated the New Year!  It was an amazing sight to see so many people up on that piazza on New Year and a bit strange too.  Usually, back in Northfield, I would celebrate New Years with group of friends.  It was a very interesting experience being with so many people to welcome in the New Year! 

            On this past Thursday, one of my exchange student friend’s from Australia invited me to come to a party in Terralba with his exchange program to celebrate the Italian Epiphany holiday of the coming of La Befana, who is an old woman with a broomstick (similar to a witch) who leaves candy and/or other gifts in good children’s stockings and coal (or a black rock candy) in bad children’s stockings on the eve of Epiphany.  The city was in the central area of the island, near the west coast.  So in the morning we took a train to Oristano (a bigger city near Terralba), not really sure what we would do once we got there or how we would end up at the party.  We arrived there and wandered the city, seeing an old cathedral and a tower left from the original medieval city.  

              A little after lunch time, we took a bus to Torre Grande, a small, slightly touristy town on the west coast, not far from Oristano.  This trip was actually quite unplanned and spontaneous, and we got to test our Italian while we asked when and from where we could take buses!  We arrived in Torre Grande, and basically explored the town.  We walked on the beach without our shoes, certainly looking like dumb foreigners (it is January, remember, and quite cold).  We stepped into the cold sea a few times, found and explored a forest, and walked along the deserted tourist-season streets along the beach.  This trip was such a great feeling, because we hadn’t really planned anything or how to get places, we just went.  

The forest we came across

Then we took our bus back to Oristano, followed by a bus to Terralba.  We arrived in Terralba, explored a bit, bought some pizzette for a snack and headed to the party.  We arrived at the party and conversed a bit with the other exchange students and Italian outbound kids until the exchange students’ area representative from their program asked them, along with me, to give a little speech.  I was fine with that, but I did think it was funny that she asked me when I’m not even a part of their program.  I was a bit excited to give the speech actually, because this would be my first real test at an unprepared speech in Italian (the one in Alghero doesn’t count because I basically wrote down everything, even if I wrote it down 15 minutes before giving the speech).  This would be the first time I would have to talk (with no notes or anything, just what’s inside my head) in front of a large group of people.  So eventually the time came, and I nailed it!  It obviously wasn’t that complicated of a speech (it consisted of the Italian equivalent of “Hello, my name is Daniel Martinson.  I’m an exchange student through Rotary and I’m living in Cagliari for the year.  I’m from the Northfield, Minnesota in the United States, it’s a small town of around 20,000 people, so it’s quite a bit smaller than Cagliari.  I’m having a lot of fun!”  Simple, but I spoke it without troubles!)  After the speeches, we had a dinner of pizza, pasta, pork, and not much else but it was all extremely good.  Later the Befana came!  Or two…. Two men from the program dressed up and handed out gifts to everyone present.  Soon after, we got a ride back to Cagliari.  And the morning after, I got my candy-filled stockings from the Befana!     

The group of exchange students/outbound Italian students/inbound Italian students/friends at the party
And after these two weeks of fun and adventures, I have to start school again.  In some ways I’m excited to start school again, but in others I’m not so glad.  I can say I’m excited to see my school mates though!! 

I’ll try to keep up on the posting!  I’m aiming for one at least every two weeks!

A late Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Best Wishes to all of you on the island of Sardegna, on the mainland of Italy, back home in the States, or elsewhere!! 

Uno ritardo Buon Natale, Buone Feste, Buon Anno Nuovo, e Auguri a tutti nella isola della Sardegna, nella terraferma dell’Italia, in America, o da qualche altro luogo!!

Ci sentiamo!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

So sorry for not updating in so long!  How long has it been since I updated? More than a month??  Well needless to say, this blog is going to be pretty lengthy and rather random.  So, sorry in advance.  This time, I decided to add sections of significant occurrences in my exchange over this period, so it may be more enjoyable to read.  Here we go!    

Allergist Convention

On the first weekend of November, my host family took me to an allergist conference at a hotel-resort in the town of Guspini, near my host dad’s hometown of Gonnosfanadiga.  Guspini is a town of 12,000 or 13,000 inhabitants, while Gonnosfanadiga is a small town with under 7,000 inhabitants.  The towns are located northwest of Cagliari.  In Guspini, we stayed at the Sa Rocca Resort, which included an outdoor pool, a resort spa, a gym with an indoor pool, a restaurant, and a bowling alley, all surrounded by hills and mountains.  The first day we were there, we listened to some of the presentations (including my host dad’s presentation on allergies to metals, in which included English terms that I taught him to pronounce!).  Later that night, we went into Gonnosfanadiga and ate a very fancy dinner at a local restaurant.  The dinner included a ton of things that I had never tried before.  For the first time, I tried oysters (a very expensive kind I was told) as well as another type of shellfish that I don’t remember the name (sorry for the vagueness).  I wasn’t a huge fan of either of the two, but I’m really glad I tried it.  We also ate some more familiar foods, such as shrimp, mussels, octopus, cured meats, cheeses, breads, wines (some rather expensive; apparently Italian allergists love to celebrate), and of course pasta.  It was insanely delicious.  By the end, I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open. 
            The following day, my host family, some family friends, and I visited the spa for the late morning.  We all did a session together.  We had a huge room all to ourselves with a large, cold pool, a large hot tub with various messaging jets, a Turkish bath, a wooden sauna.  It was something I had never done before, but it was very enjoyable and relaxing.  After that, we left to see an old abandoned mining complex.  We saw the living quarters of the workers as well as the mansion of the highest official of the complex.  It was extremely interesting to see the contrast of the two. 
            The next day, on our way back to Cagliari, we visited an agritourism hotel for a lunch of traditional Sardinian foods.  The meal included different types of meats and cheeses, breads, small antipasti including one with eggplant and parmesan, various types of pasta and risotto, roasted lamb and pork (a whole lamb and a whole pig, complete with the heads, which I’m finding more and more common here), wines, and a dessert of tiramisù.  Needless to say it was delicious.  Afterwards, we drove through the Sardinian countryside and mountains on the narrow and curvy roads, saw the coast of Sardinia near that area (which is dotted with giant sand dunes), and back to Cagliari
Sa Rocca Hotel-Resort
Spa facility that we used
Workers' Quarters at the abandoned mine 

A room in the highest official's mansion

The dining room of the mansion


            A few weeks later, my class took a field trip to two different mines outside of Cagliari.  The first, named La Grotta di Santa Barbara is a cave near Iglesias with giant stalactites and stalagmites.  The second was La Miniera di Porto Flavia.  The actual mine consisted of the typical tunnels and carts you think of when you think of mines, but it was dug into a cliff on the coast.  A tower was set into the side of the cliff and a port for loading ships with the minerals was also built in the cliff.  However, the mine is not a functioning mine today.  After we saw the mines, we spent some time on the beach near the mine skipping stones and just sitting.  

La Grotta di Santa Barbara
the tower on the side of the cliff of La Miniera di Porto Flavia 
View near entrance to La Miniera di Porto Flavia 

View from the tower on the side of the cliff
Thanksgiving in San Sperate

            On Thanksgiving Day, my Italian friend Sara invited Matthew, Natalie (exchange student friends), and I to her hometown of San Sperate for the day.  After school, we all took a bus to the town.  When we got off, we all immediately liked the town.  The town is basically one huge mural.  Everywhere you look there are murals of all types of art, including one with a group of whales and dolphins with castles on their backs as well as realistic scenes, abstract figures, and murals including poetry in Sardo (the Sardinian language, which I have yet to learn), Italian, English, Spanish, and Latin.  We walked through the town towards Sara’s house, and as we made our way there the townspeople would smile at us and say “Ciao”.  Whether they were smiling at our obviously foreign ways or because we were in or a part of their town, everyone was genuinely friendly and happy to see us.  We arrived at Sara’s house, and met her extremely friendly parents and dog.  We sat down for a delicious “Thanksgiving Meal” which included an excellent chicken risotto, pecorino, marmalade, honey, bread, vegetables, chocolate cake, and caffè.  After the lunch, we left the house to meet with a group of foreign teachers, along with a Vice President of our school, for a tour of the works of a local artist of San Gavino by the artist himself.  The artist’s name was Pinuccio Sciola, and he was known for carving stones, and particularly for carving them in a way that they could be played almost like a xylophone.  We got a tour of his “gallery” which was a field dotted with orange trees and the stones he has carved.  He played a few as demonstrations, and then we made our way to his house.  His courtyard of his home was basically a workshop, filled with carved and un-carved stones and carving instruments.  He gave us another demonstration on a smaller stone, which he played with his palms.  Here are some videos of him!!

After we ate some of the complementary food and drink, we headed back to Sara’s house, got a tour of the entire house, and headed back to Cagliari.

The "Gallery" Orange Tree Orchard

Sciola playing his work of art! 

Streets of San Sperate

One of my personal favorite murals

Sara's House

Natalie, Matthew, Sara, and I and the dinner table! (Sara's mom is behind us)


            On the first weekend of December, the other Rotary exchange students in the Cagliari area and I made our way to Alghero for a Rotary convention.  We left at 7:30 in the morning, so I had to wake up the earliest I had woken up in a very long time.  We drove all the way to the Northwest area to Alghero, a city of about 44,000 inhabitants on the Northwest coast of the island.  We arrived at the small hotel where the meeting was to take place and took our places.  Apparently, I was to give a bit of a speech at this meeting, along with my friend Natalie.  So we prepared something very simple as we listened to the rest of the meeting.  When our turn came up, we made our way up front and improvised a simple introduction speech.  It was a bit rough, but I would say it was excellent for our first ad-libbed speech in Italian! After the meeting, we met the other Rotary exchange students on the island, and went to a seaside restaurant for lunch.  We ate risotto, patatine (which are basically french-fries and are surprisingly rather common hear), a platter of a variety of meats, and caffè.  After the meal, we walked outside on the beach for a bit and talked, and left for Cagliari.  We didn't really get to see much of the city, which was a bummer, but it was a fun experience anyway!    

Beach at Alghero

The whole group!

Here’s a list of other random things that happened!

-          I joined a choir at the music conservatory in Cagliari.  It’s very different following directions in another language, but it definitely helps my listening.  Generally, I understand perfectly and feel very comfortable with what to do. 
-          A friend of mine and I made Pancakes for Ale and Silvia (my host siblings), and I made Minnesota Wild Rice Soup for my entire host family.  They loved both the pancakes and the soup, but I think they were a bit unsure about the packaged soup.  They seemed to like it anyway, though! 
-          A few exchange students and I visited Castello di San Michele, which is a tower on top of a large hill overlooking the city.  It was built in the 12th Century.   

View from the top of the hill on which sits Il Castello di San Michele

Il Castello di San Michele

-          I haven’t had actual dreams that I can remember in Italian yet, but I have spoken in Italian in my sleep to my host brother.  The first time, I said “Cosa significa?” which means “What does it mean?”  The second time, I had apparently been having a nightmare and I woke up with a start, shined my cell phone around the room, startling my host brother and here’s the conversation we had while I slept, in Italian:

Me: “I thought I couldn’t stay here…”
Ale: “What do you mean?”
Me: “I thought…oh nothing…it’s hard to explain…goodnight…”
Ale: “Goodnight…”

I’m not exactly sure what it means and it’s rather simple Italian, but at least I know I’m thinking and capable of speaking in Italian in my sleep!

            I strongly urge you to look up some of these things on the internet, because my photos do not do them justice.  Also, I apologize again for my long and infrequent blog entries, and I know how annoying following a blog like this can be.  I promise to update more often.  But then again, who knows how long that promise will last….I will do my best! 

A presto!