Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Eve in Prato della Valle

It's time to ring in a new year. This time we meet 11 in the third millennium after Christ's birth. This is the year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese calendar, which will be coming up soo.

Padua will be having its usual New Year's Eve celebrations, but a bit more subdued. There will be a concert stage with live music and DJs in Prato della Valle by the church Santa Giustina, organized by Radio Company and Radio 80. Festivities will start at 10 p.m. Fireworks and a light show will be put on by Parente Fireworks at midnight. Click here for their demo, including an excerpt of a Padua past display at the 1 minute mark. Since the city of Padua decided to shift two-thirds of the fireworks funding to the recent flood victims in the Veneto region, the pirotecnico display will most likely be more simplified and/or shorter than usual.

Funds will be raised that night for the "Save Guinea" cause.

All is free and open to the public.

Hopefully it won't be too cold to have fun!

For more information, go to Radio Company.

Selling Second Hand in Italy

It took me forever to find a few second hand shops in the Padua area.

I had grown up in the States, visiting them at least once a month. I pratically lived in clothes from there as a child. I found great, cheap and funky things as a teenager. Once at art college, I located some more objects to convert into art assignments such as a compound found-glass sculpture and a cigar box memory trove.

While living in New York City, I bought some odd evening wear.

Then I moved to Italy and these special stores didn't seem to exist.

Italians push through the latest fashions with new clothes and shoes to don every year. I wondered where all of last year's abiti and scarpe had gone? I could only see big yellow donation containers on some streets to explain their end. These are designed for donations to the poor. But what about people who don't want to spend full retail price, but aren't "officially poor"? What about getting furniture at rock-bottom prices, but not going to IKEA?

Finally I found my solution: Il Mercatino chain and a few other shops. I could start to peruse used wares again. It has come in very handy, especially since I have a house to furnish now.

After buying a few things, I also wanted to unload some other items from my closet and garage. I decided to sell in these venues. I started with clothes. But this is where things got culturally very different. They wouldn't accept half of the items! "They are out-of-fashion," the girl said. Even classic fully-lined wool pants were put into the pile of unacceptable merchandise. "Wow!" I thought, "Couldn't they be appropriate for a middle aged woman, perhaps?" No, either the cut was too wide for the pants or the sweaters too short. She was afraid she wouldn't be able to sell them. So I realized that even the second hand shops are quite trendy in Italy. You're supposed to be selling your clothes only a year after you buy them, while the styles are still fairly current.

In the end, I did unload some clothes. My funky hats were sold immediately. (Leopard-print and transparent vinyl are all the rage, I guess!) The others items are still waiting to find homes. Anyone looking for a violet wool jumper set from Benetton?

Italians take their clothes seriously, even at the second hand stage. Now I am taking a better look at Il Mercatino's fashion section. If I can buy a great jacket which retailed for Euro 150 last year at one of the big brand name stores and is being displayed on these racks this year at Euro 20, I would say that's a good buy!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nativities Galore

Along the most historic street in Cencenighe Agordino, Via Coi, there seems to be a nativity outside of virtually every house. It's interesting that the magi have already arrived. They came early to the baby Jesus, here in the Dolomites.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Destructive Waters for Christmas

The rivers rose again. It was during another holiday weekend: Christmas! 250 people were evacuated from there homes on Christmas Eve from Bovolenta, in the province of Padua. The Bacchiglione reared its ugly head again. This makes two floods in less than two months. No warm fires at the hearth while opening presents for those children.

Click here for more images of the flooding.

Image taken from Il Mattino di Padova

Friday, December 24, 2010

Interesting Seasons Greetings from Padua

I received this most interesting email from XMountain Guide Alpine Padova for this Christmas season. Here it goes with translation below:


ma si sveglia
sempre di buon
umore, a chi saluta
ancora con un bacio, a
chi lavora molto e si diverte di
più, a chi va in fretta in auto, ma
non suona ai semafori, a chi arriva
in ritardo ma non cerca scuse, a chi spegne
la televisione per fare due chiacchiere, a chi è
felice il doppio quando fa a metà, a chi si alza presto
per aiutare un amico, a chi ha l'entusiasmo di un bambino
e pensieri da uomo, a chi vede nero solo quando è buio

A chi non aspetta Natale

per essere


Buon Natale
e Felice 2011


loves to
sleep but
always wakes
up in good spirits, who
still greets you with a kiss,
who works a lot and has even
more fun, who speeds in his car but
doesn't honk at lights, who arrives late
but doesn't make excuses, who turns off the
television to chat, who gets up early to help a friend,
who has the enthusiasm of a child and thoughts like a man,
who only sees black when it's dark

To he who doesn't wait for Christmas

to be


Merry Christmas
and Happy 2011

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goodies from America

I saw a friend from the States last night. She brought me and other friends a goodies bag from the US. I've taken a picture of the assortment inside:

It got me thinking about what best represents our US food, and cravings, when abroad. Peanut butter is an obvious choice. Now eveything seems to be Bio. I've been introduced to Justin's brand for the first time with this packet. Maple syrup lets us dream of New England snow and bright maple tree colors in Fall. I love the tiny Tabasco sauce bottle, although I can easily find this product at Italian supermarkets now. My husband insists on using it in many recipes, including yesterday's Tuna Melt sandwich (with a kick!). The symbol of American money--our greenbacks-- in miniature containing chocolate. Ghiradelli chocolates cannot match Gianduia in the mother country. I have to admit I never ate Altoid's in all my years in America. Then since this friend was coming from CA, there's a new snack to taste: California Crunchies. I'm from the East Coast so this is a novelty. Do they sell it in Baltimore, nowadays, even though it's from the state of "Eureka!"?

I really appreciated the thought. Thank you D!

Readers, what would you put in a little treat sack to pack away from Italy, if you lived here (or do live here) and want to take over something fun? Please leave me your comments.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas on the Streets of Padua

Via Altinate, Coin Department Store

The Christmas season is upon us. Even snow has arrived in Padua to boost the festive spirit. (About 3 inches fell on Friday, but has already melted in the downtown area.)

Droves of Paduans are pounding the city streets under giant strings, balls and bells of light. They are all searching for that special something for friends and loved ones.

5 days to go and counting....

to a Buon Natale

Via Santa Lucia, with lights and red carpet in front of one of my favorite bars, The Gufo, and underground tavern

a quiet Via Sauro

Friday, December 17, 2010

List of Home Projects

Now that F and I are home owners, there are always new projects to think about, prepare, execute and save for.
I should be writing Santa Claus my Wish List but instead, I am preparing this one.
(Bare in mind we have been living in our place for just over 6 months.)

Paint wall mural already pencilled in at end of hallway
Sand and varnish windows next summer
Install a work table in small bedroom
Frame prints and photographs for bedroom and hall
Paint a bright pink pattern on the bathroom ceiling to give it personality
Buy a nice rug for the living room
Draft a lace insert for the bathroom curtain
Put up shelves in garage
Get information about creating personalized wallpaper for one wall
Get a small heavy-duty outdoor table for the terrace (old one blew away during a storm in July)
Put up shelf in bedroom above chest of drawers
Decide on what to do artistically with wall space in living room (ongoing discussion)
Put up curtain in small bedroom
Make new dog throws for now brown sofa in living room
Get plumber to come back and pipe up non-functional radiators

Happy to have accomplished recently:

Install new wooden tiolet seat
Fix plumbing problem in kitchen
Change key locks for all major doors

Monday, December 13, 2010

Veneto's Flooding Crisis

A month ago a deluge of rain hit my area very hard. Flooding ripped through the province of Padua and Vicenza, not to mention areas of Treviso. The rain started hard on Halloween night, as I was complaining about my lanterns being blown out by the water. Then it just kept coming down: torrential and constant for over 36 hours. The mountains were spitting the water from every crevice. I happened to be there, in the Dolomites, for the beginning of it.

Then in the valley, the earth stopped absorbing the rain. The rivers couldn't handle the overflow. The tides pushed the fresh water back from spilling into the Adriatic. This meant FLOODING. The Bacchiglione River became one of the main culprits.

In my town of Noventa along the Piovegò, the bridge had about one foot of clearance before overflowing. Schools closed early in Padua on November 2nd. Other areas actually had water in their garages, basements and taverne (typical Veneto ground floor rustic dining rooms). Businesses were flooded out and farm land washed away. One of my clients from Veggiano had 3 meters (10 ft) of water in her family house.

For a video of Bovolenta's flooding effects as of November 6, click here. Casalserugo can be seen here, with a simple commentary in Italian. There is even a boat passing over what should be the road, during the video.

The region came under criticism for overbuilding many formerly agricultural areas, partly to blame for the water's effects. Several cities had been lazy about river bank maintenance and prevention work in recent years. After all, nothing like this has happened since 1966. There is a mixture of intense local pride to get back to work and recover the area and the need for help by the government and generous donations. The Veneto people are not used to "handouts" from anybody.

In the case you would like to make a donation to the cause within the nation, you can send an sms message to 45501 from a cell phone "Alluvione Veneto" (Flood in Veneto).The donation is for Euro 2,00.

For foreigners, please send donations to the Red Cross:

To the bank account: Conto Corrente del Comitato Regionale CRI del Veneto
Subject: "pro alluvione veneto"
IBAN: IT82 B063 4502 0100 6700 5001 62B

For the Italian Red Cross website: go here.

Time has passed but the groups are still raising funds and the work effort will go on for months, surely. During this Christmas season, think about helping the Veneto's recovery after November's flood.

Meanwhile here, the supermarkets and local government are inventing every way possible to raise money for the flood victims: matching gift donations and Christmas concerts.

Happy holidays and stay dry.

Image from flickr account Fritz Forelle at Ponte Pusterla (VI)