Saturday, August 25, 2007

SOFTI Part Three in Two Parts

Part Three of a Series--I decided that title was just too long, so I've shortened "Story of Our Family Trip to Italy" to "SOFTI."

Monday the 5th we took a bus into Gaeta, had lunch at a seafood restaurant (what else would there be when the water is 100 yards away), and did a little window shopping, although most stores are closed from 1:30 till 4:30, which is prime shopping time for me back in Virginia--that was a hard adjustment. :) Then my mom and the kids and I went back to the public beach for just a couple hours before dinner, which is served rather late--8pm or so.

This is such an old town, and you can see how narrow the streets are. Nobody can drive through them unless they have a special permit because they live in one of the apartments. Lots of people drive scooters and Vespas, and bicycles.

You can see the laundry hung out to dry from the second story of some of the apartments.

And see all the stores are closed--nice sturdy doors.

This is the Gulf of Gaeta. Lots of private fishermen and their boats, who then sell their catch each evening on the main street that runs along the coastline.

Tuesday we decided to venture farther out and took a bus to Formia, a larger city close to Gaeta, with more shopping and even a department store, called Orlandi, although it paled in comparison to ones in the US. (The large cities in Italy do have much larger stores, and especially so in the North. ) We ate at a McDonalds, and it was as disappointing as the ones here in the States, but the kids enjoyed it! Another thing we noticed was the absence of toys stores, in Serapo, Gaeta, Formia, and Cassino--there might be a small store here and there, but there is nothing at all to compare to the high-pressure have-everything-so-you-must-buy-it toy stores in the states. The kids were disappointed as the choices were so limited. Didn't bother me a bit. :)

We didn't have a car in Italy, so all our travel was by foot, bus or train. I only gained about 2 lbs, but not for lack of trying, so all the walking must have helped!

So back to the private beach on Wednesday. Emily and Thomas played with a couple of kids from Rome, named Flavia and Valerio. This picture is of Emily trying to talk to Flavia, who was a couple years older, and had been studying English in school.
The big excitement, though, was going to the old part of Gaeta in the afternoon, and a huge thunderstorm rolled through. You can see how dark the sky was getting here.We had to run for cover into a coffee bar and the water was coming down in buckets, with high winds. The winds were blowing all the debris and some sand into the air (and our eyes). Quite an experience! The bar lost power and their gelato was melting, so they were serving it for free to everyone who was crammed in there. Very nice of them, I thought. :) I wish we had taken more pictures. We did get a little on the video camera. Afterward we rode a bus home, and the roads were totally flooded. Good thing the bus was big.

I had wondered before we left the US if my Italian would come back to me after 14 years, and it was rather rusty to begin with. I could understand a lot of what people were saying, if they spoke slowly, but it was harder to answer back in Italian. By the end of our trip, though, I had regained most of my ability, which was quite a relief, and a boost to my ego. :) I guess listening to Italian music the past few years has helped after all! I like to listen to Laura Pausini, Giorgia, Eros Ramazotti, Biagio Antonacci, NEK, Zucchero, Luca Carboni, Pino Daniele, and a few others.

I'm thrilled to say that Eddie now wants to study Italian with my mother. He had fun trying to follow conversations. If people spoke slowly enough and he knew the topic, he could follow a lot of it. At first he said it was hard to know where the words ended because everything flowed together to him, but once he knew a few words it was easier to distinguish them. [Follow up—Eddie hasn’t had the time to schedule regular lessons with my mom, unfortunately. Ah well, we're planning for another trip in about 18 months, so maybe he'll feel more motivated this time.]

I’m breaking the article here into two posts because there are so many pictures.

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