I must apologize for having been M.I.A. lately. The Business Schools team, of which I’m apart, at Bloomberg BusinessWeek was finishing up the annual undergraduate business program rankings. And Antonio and I have yet another visitor from Italy. This time our friend Agostino, the chef at his family’s restaurant Focolare in Ischia (see “Dinner at Focolare“), is staying with us and attending Berlitz courses with Antonio, who is still practicing his English.
Now that my work has calmed a bit — just a bit — I managed to finally post photos from Ludovica’s last days in the States, just before she returned to Ischia after her three-month American adventure. Check out those photos here –
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I want to give a shout out to New York. I’m a proud New Jerseyan, but living so close to Manhattan (just 15 minutes over the GWB, which is literally in my backyard), I have developed a fondness for the Empire State, too. Two weeks ago, I brought our friend Francesco Serpentone (Big Snake), our friend Ludovica, and my husband Antonio to the Empire State Building. Looking up at the top of the building from the ground has one feeling as tiny as a bug. It inspires and motivates you to keep growing. Looking down at all the buildings and beauty below, you feel like pushing hard to find success, to be a part of that business underneath you. To get through today, in fact, I might have to hum Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind“. I love New York for its wonder and its ability to push people to change themselves for the better or the worst. I’m choosing the better. I hope all of you will do the same. Perhaps, my picture of a sparkling Chrysler Building amid Manhattan’s bright skyline will get you started. (To see more pictures of our day in New York, please visit the “Big Snake Comes to America” photo album.)
The tourists from Italy have arrived. My parents and I have been hosting Titti and Domenico, friends of the family from Ischia, since Thursday. Ludovica, another Ischitana, as most of you know, has been in the States with us studying English since November. On Sunday, Antonio will return from Ischia with our friend Francesco (a.k.a. Serpentone). The best part about having all these foreigners around is getting to see New York through their eyes.
New York is magnificent with its towering buildings and characters roaming the streets at all hours. We can’t get enough of it (even though we’re happy to call New Jersey, right on the other side of the bridge, home). You can check out photos from Titti and Domenico’s first day in town at the “New York Tourists 2010” photo album and expect more entries about our Italian friends and their American journeys. Buon viaggio a tutti!
Over Thanksgiving weekend 2009, one of our favorite people, Liz, organized and offered dinner to my husband Antonio, our friend Ludovica, cousins Ralph and Connie, and me. Clever and thoughtful, Liz chose the perfect spot for dinner with foreigners — the ’76 House, a piece of Americana in Tappan, N.Y. Opening in 1686, it calls itself “New York’s oldest tavern.” (For photos of our dinner, visit the “Old ’76 House” photo album.)
The small bar is cozy and charming and has you imagining George Washington — or at least guys who looked like him — pulling up a stool. Traditional revolutionary garb serves as decoration in the restaurant. Even the Christmas trees, which were decked out in American flags and red, white, and blue ornaments, had you feeling patriotic.
You might imagine the menu to be filled with hamburgers and hot dogs and not much else. You’d be wrong. The food was fabulous. I had the delicious pot roast, which came with an impressive popover that melted in my mouth. The appetizers we ordered, including mussels and calamari, were divine, much better than I’ve had at other restaurants. The fish seemed fresher and everything was cooked to perfection.
There was a band, and Liz and the gang had gotten them to play the Italian tarantella in honor of our wedding anniversary. That’s right — this night out was over a month ago, and I’m still thinking about it. It was that great of a night.
Still, the best part of the evening was the company. We know we’re in for a good time — and some creative use of foul language — whenever we get together with Liz, Connie, and Ralph. Until the next time we feel like shouting c—- in c— in a public place!
Last year, when my cousin Fausto visited us from Italy, my Uncle Gino gave him the book Dirty Italian (Ulysses Press, 2006) as a gift. Fausto learned how to say completely vulgar phrases that I would never repeat, at least not in this blog. Uncle Gino found Fausto’s pronounciation and interest in this book downright hilarious — and he started buying copies of the book by the truck load. He now hands them out to all our Italian visitors. Over Thanksgiving weekend, Ludovica and Antonio happily received their copies. Now, they have English translations for telling a woman her breasts look like perfect melons or a man that he should f__ off. I guess I used one of those phrases in this blog — oops! You read it correctly. They even brought their copies of the book to show their teachers and friends at Berlitz, where they’ve been studying English. I’m so proud! Note the sarcasm. Way to go Uncle Gino!
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with all things New Jersey. I guess after having spent five months in Italy, I’m longing for a little bit of my home. That’s part of the reason I suggested taking Antonio and his friend Ludovica, who is staying with us while she studies English in New York, down the shore to Point Pleasant Beach on a Saturday afternoon in November. The other reason was that the weather was particularly warm until very recently here on the East Coast. (See the “Down the Shore” photo album for photos from our day.) We looked for sea shells — and found a ton of them, did a little shopping at the Jenkinson’s Aquarium gift shop, and took a stroll in the town of Point Pleasant. All in all, it was the perfect day down the shore.
The song Jersey Girl (which, in true Jersey Girl fashion, I’m listening to Bruce Springsteen sing as I write this) tells the entire story. “Cause down the shore everything’s all right, you and your baby on a Saturday night. You know all my dreams come true when I’m walking down the street with you.” My husband is one lucky man to have found an Italian Jersey girl who brings him down the shore on a Saturday night! A lucky, lucky man!