Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Week on Monte Rosa

I am leaving at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow for Monte Rosa, a mountain range on the border between Italy and Switzerland in the Aosta region. I just finished packing some very heavy backpacks, filled with gear, clothes, emergency medecine and food stuffs.

Over the next week, I will be sleeping at 3498 meters and participating in a glacier techniques course with my husband, another couple and led by our Alpine Guide, Andrea. The above picture could be one of the views that await us on the high peaks of this large and famous mountain group. It is part of the Mantova lodge's official website, which introduces some interesting ascents.

Once back in Padua and in the plains, which offer easy Internet connection, I will resume my blog. Happy vacation to all those going somewhere high, low, foreign or just plain nearby home this summer.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good weather!
And wish me luck!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday's False Friend

parents v. parenti

So your parents are your mother and father in our language, but in Italian it includes a larger group: your relatives. Parents are genitori while relatives are parenti (singular: parente).

Eng) My parents live in Baltimore.

It) I miei genitori abitano a Baltimora.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Italian Interpretations of Robbery

While rock climbing at an outdoor natural gym in Frassené (Agordo) on Saturday, our car was broken into. Someone ripped open the lock and stole a wallet they found inside the car. The problem for us and boon for them was that they were able to glean lots of cash on that particular day, while the wallet happened to be full of Euro-backs (this means "greenbacks" but for Euro)AND an ATM/credit card all-in-one. They somehow got the PIN number and were able to withdraw ridulous amounts of money inside of an hour, our guess as to the time it took to rob us, get down to the valley and start the cash-pull.

Of course, we are absolutely horrified about losing our hard-earned money. That parking lot was in located in one of the smallest mountain towns we know about and never has much car traffic. The obviously professional job of the operation, and its location, caught us off-guard.

The real surprise was the police (carabinieri) reaction and their assumptions which were offered to us when we reported the robbery. It was a quick: "Romanians did it. Those foreigners come from the Eastern European countries and raid our country because they know they can get away with it." This statement was supposed to make us feel that we had proof about how horrible those foreigners are who come to Italy. After all, the media is always talking badly about them. But remember, I am a foreigner, too, and extra-communitaria like them! Well to be precise, I am still one while Romanians' status has recently changed, since the country entered the European Union.

In fact, their testimony made us even more angry, not about the foreigners, but about Italy. Some foreigners come here because they know that neither the police nor the justice system works very well, so yes, they can rob Italians and run off easily with the money.

The police didn't realize that they were criticizing themselves.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rocca Pendice, Padua's Rock-climbing Paradise

Set in the midst of the Euganean Hills, Paduans can easily reach this natural outdoor rock gym, Rocca Pendice, which offers a cool summer haven of short rock-climbing runs and longer jaunts for the more adventurous. It was first climbed in 1908 by Mr. and Mrs. Carugati. Let me share their story.

The gentleman and his wife were guests at a friend's house in Monselice, a nearby town. They were bragging over dinner about their rock-climbing experiences in the mountains when the host dared them to conquer a mighty rock wall in Teolo. The next day, the couple immediately went to inspect the rock formation and made their first attempt at climbing it, unsuccessfully. Time restraints and bad weather caused them to try three times before finishing their climb to the top of Rocca Pendice.

Imagine these genteel people, wearing sporty-but-cumbersome waistcoats and heavily weighted down with dozens of nails and hammers, climbing up this big rock. It was a town sensation. Friends and curious observers had gathered at the bottom of the climb and shot off their guns into the air for moral support as the couple went up the steep rock.

Their course is now called the Via Carugati, with slight modifications, and is part of the eastern exposure of Rocca Pendice. The valley including the city of Padua can be seen during the climb from this side of the Rocca.

The entire eastern portion usually remains off-limits to climbers until mid-July due to the nesting of a protected falcon family that calls this rock home.

Viareggio's Tragedy Update

The death toll has reached 25 with the latest train-disaster victim being Federico Battistini, 32 years old, who passed away in a hospital in Pisa. Thirteen people are hospitalized with serious injuries. Rescue workers continue to look for the remains of a man who is missing since the tragic event. Andrea Falorni was walking his dog at the time of the explosion.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rianimatrici aziendali

This new university degree roughly translates as "Business Resuscitators" or "Business Cheerleaders".

Last week, the University of Trieste had its first two graduates receive this novel degree, under the department of Communication Sciences and professor Franco Grossi, the degree's founder. The two graduates are middle-aged wives and mothers who firmly believe they can help "save" businesses, especially in their beloved Veneto region. Monia Favaro, 39, is a mother of 2, and Marzia Dal Poz, 40, has one child. They are both from Treviso.

The purpose of this degree is to pump blood into small and medium businesses which are floundering in the both bad and global economy. The graduates are supposed to have the means to analyze businesses' current status, set future goals and help them communicate with the outside and global economy.

1,2,3, GO GRADUATES GO and get businesses back on track!
Slap those businesses happy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Italy Hosts the G8

In several hours, Italy will host the 2009 G8 in L'Aquila, the city devastated by April's earthquake. The conference of the world's wealthiest nations was moved from its original destination of La Maddalena on the island of Sardinia, once the earth violently struck the Abbruzzo region. Berlusconi wanted to bring more international attention and possible funding to this ill-stricken area of the country.

As Mauro Biani's vignette shows, tension remains about just how helpful the G8 can be for the city and its people. At the moment, citizens cannot move freely to and from their houses/tents for safety reasons. The summit is actually located in a type of fortress provided by the buildings and walls of the Guardia di Finanza, situated outside of the dilapidated city center. Just about no one is allowed near G8's official borders. It is most likely that everything will take place inside of those walls, in isolation, as is customary for this kind of summit.

Meanwhile, the people of L'Aquila are waiting for temporary housing to be built with in the form of wooden houses. Many cannot re-inhabit their own houses because the earthquake damaged their structures too much. So they are living in the hot and cold, depending on the season, of blue emergency tents with 8 or 9 people sharing a single one. They hope that the government's promise of funds and housing will bear its fruits before winter falls, which is early in this high-altitude area: a late September deadline.

According to media sources, it seems that only Onna, the most tragically destroyed town in the earthquake area, has just 2 houses which are almost complete at this July date. That area will be visited by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has taken special interest in the town.

Looking in other directions, the traditional fear of G8 demonstrations is mounting. University students around the country have begun their actions. The police are beefed up around L'Aquila to deter whatever resistance against the G8 status which may occur. Politicians are on edge.

The nerves this year are not coming from just this summit and the possibility that even frustrated Aquilean grandmas will muster when faced with big politics. They also originate from Berlusconi's ongoing sensational press, which is both national and international. He has failed to explain his relationship with an aspiring 18-year-old model, Naomi, and the reason for inviting several escorts to his house in Rome.

Let's watch what will unfold in the fortress, L'Aquila and for Berlusconi, as he hosts the G8 for the fourth time in his career as leader of Italy. This should be old hat by now!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tours on a Burchiello

With the warm season, new ways of exploring the city and region come available. Next to the monument, Memoria e Luce, dedicated to the September 11th tragedy, you can find this colorful boat. It offers tours through the city's waterways.

Yes, Padua has canals like Venice and Treviso. It used to have even more but many have been covered over to create roads. For example, about 20 years ago a road was named Riviera Tito Livio, near my place of work, recalling its origin as a water route. In the past, water was the best way to transport people and goods from city to city so even the inland city of Padua built a series of canals, mostly to connect it with Venice, which opens up to the lagoon and Adriatic Sea. But now cars and trucks seem to transport just about everything so roads are necessary and Padua's waterways are mostly explored by foreign tourists and local canoe clubs.

This particular boat, or burchiello, leaves from the Piòvego in the city centre, within a few minutes' walk to the train station.

There are several boat services of different shapes and sizes that take their guests through Padua, around Padua and along the Riviera Brenta to visit several important Venetian villas such as Villa Pisani, Villa Widmann, Barchessa Valmarana and Villa Malcontenta or from Padua toward Battaglia Terme to see the villas and waterfront of the Euganean Hills and Monselice. You can find trips for all tastes and price ranges, with time-frames ranging from one hour, half-day to full-day varieties. Here is a list of them:

And if you decide to go a trip now with them, you might be able to take advantage of their low-season rates! (July and August heat seems to be a deterrent for some, but on the other hand, you won't have to worry about rain!)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Along the Piòvego

Some fisherman throw their lines in the university district near the bus depot and hope to catch some fish in the Piòvego.

The pigeon is a marble fake, one of a series placed by a student of the local art high school in Padua which has its main building across the waterway.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday's False Friend

confidence v. confidenza

In English, we use confidence to mean trust or faith in a thing or person, as the first entry in the American Heritage dictionary. However a word that appears similar in Italian, confidenza, means intimacy in English so beware of misusing it. Use the Italian, fiducia, to better translate the correct idea.

Eng) We have confidence in our coach.

It) Abbiamo fiducia nel nostro allenatore.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mounting Death Toll

Viareggio's disaster counts 17 dead, including 2 babies who died today, 25 severely injured and 1 missing.

News is coming forth that there is evidence of rust on the GPL container's axle which caused a thin but deep opening and allowed the gas to leak out.

An official inquiry is in course to establish and verify the reasons for the disaster.

That fateful train began its journey in Novara, Piemonte and could have effected any number of the urban areas it was travelling through.

Italy is taking a harder look at the routes this kind of dangerous material travels as it makes its way down and around the "boot".