Friday night dinner!

We were all pretty tired when the weekend rolled around. The first week of school is always exhausting for kids and parents alike. But we got to usher the weekend in with style because our colleagues and friends from Chicago – Susan Goldin-Meadow and Bill Meadow – were in town for a few days! We joined Susan and Bill and their friends Bob and Jill for Friday dinner. It was a beautiful evening after a very hot day, and we enjoyed aperativi on our terrace before walking the few blocks to the same restaurant where we took Uncle Sy and Aunt Roberta on their last night in Rome. Again, the food was terrific and the service warm AND efficient (not a typical combination here). Even so, we didn’t roll back home until nearly 1 AM – very late for us, but right on time for Roma. I think we’ve already seen more friends from afar in 2 months here than in years in Madison!

Saturday was fun, but rife with transportation challenges. As noted in a prior blog post, I’ve been enamored of the bus system here. But I’ve over-romanticized the busses just a bit, I think. In the morning, we ventured across town to the localovore/organic farmer’s market near the Forum. Getting there was no problem, and we filled our rolling shopping tote with lots of great veg and fruit and pasta and cheeses for the week to come. But going home, the bus didn’t come. And didn’t come. Seth and the kids decided to walk the 45 minutes home in the 90’ heat, and I waited with the shopping bag. Another 25 minutes later, the bus finally arrived. But did I learn?

Apparently not. That night, we took the kids out to dinner to celebrate a successful first week of school. The restaurant was one that we loved on a previous visit; it’s in Trastevere, which is a funky fun part of the city on the other side of the river, again about a 45 minute walk away. I again planned a bus route. And again was foiled! Unbeknownst to us, the little bus that comes through our neighborhood was diverted because the shopping streets are closed to traffic on Saturday afternoons. So we walked to a tram that would take us to Trastevere. But for some reason, the tram wasn’t running. So by the time we got to the restaurant, we were all more than a little hot and tired. At least the sweaty city walking made for good appetites! Nell proclaimed her chocolate mousse “the best dessert of my life!” Eli’s dessert consisted of halves of fruits that had been hollowed out and frozen with fresh sorbet inside (a lemon half frozen filled with lemon sorbet, plum with plum sorbet, kiwi with kiwi sorbet, etc.) – fantastico! Needless to say, we took a cab home.

Eli enjoying new friends at the BBQ.

Sunday was very full and very fun! In the morning, we joined a walking tour that is run by the school where we took Italian lessons in July. Their classes consist of walking Italian lessons that combine seeing interesting sights with learning past tenses and prepositions. Sunday’s class was a walk through the San Saba neighborhood, which is within sight of the Circo Massimo and yet remarkably quiet and untouristed. We saw a stunning church with frescos and beautiful tile work that Nell sketched.

Nell in a twister pile (that's her leg in the turquoise shorts). Thanks Barbie for taking photos from the BBQ!

We then moved on to the high point of the day – and for the kids, of the week. We were invited to a barbecue at the home of Maria and Fausto. We met them last year when we visited Rome; their daughter is in 4th grade and Maria teaches at the school that the kids are attending. Fausto teaches at a boarding school in Rome, which is also where they live. And what a place it is! Because the boarders were all away at the beach, Fausto and Maria invited a number of families to come over to hang out and relax at the villa that houses the boarding school (St. Stephen’s). Seth and I loved meeting the interesting adults, whose professional and personal lives were great fun to hear about. They also had lots of tips about expat life in Rome, and about the kids’ school. The kids adored spending the afternoon running around the villa’s grounds with a pack of other kids from their school. They played group tennis, basketball, and some very tangly games of Twister, with a lot of sprinkler time sprinkled in. We all enjoyed BBQ Roma style – the burgers had olives embedded in them, and the salads and side dishes were restaurant quality. We left 5 hours later, excited about having made new friends in our new city!

And yes, sports fans, we did manage to watch the Packer game (or at least some of it… my skills at recording the satellite TV feed from ESPN America are limited) and the Badger game (fast forwarded in part; not much suspense there). A day late in both cases, but it was fun to see and hear Wisconsiana from our Roman living room!