Post #26: The Year in Review

From the sports world to world news,
And to pop culture icons,
Let’s look back on the year
Since it’s about to be gone.

With a new face for Old Spice,
They’ve seen sales from their ads,
The competition increased,
Between Kindles n’ Ipads.

Brett Favre re-unretired,
Kate undid her trademark do,
Turns out Tiger’s a “Cheetah”
And Jesse James is one too.

Got Grammys? Beyonce does.
This year alone she got six.
To a Jonas Brothers gig,
Good luck scoring any tix.

Justin Beiber bashed Brady
Which is no easy feat.
Lady Gaga made headlines
With a dress made of meat.

“He’s climbin in your windows,
He’s snatching your people up”
If you don’t know what this is,
You have to look it up!

Heidi Montag turned Barbie,
The Hurt Locker won praises,
Perseid showers rained down,
Twilight stars asked for raises.

A royal prince got engaged,
And a Clinton got married,
From a Hollywood bar
drunk Kid Cudi was carried.

Simon Cowell left Idol,
And Oprah ended her show,
Conan O’Brien left too
But sorry, Snooki won’t go.

A gold-medal earning goal,
Increased Sid Crosby’s fame,
Spain took home the World Cup,
Jim Joyce nixed a perfect game.

An earthquake in Haiti,
was a devastating one,
leaving a country in shambles,
When the year just begun.

More disasters soon followed
in snowmageddon and floods,
in oil spills on oceans,
and in landslides of mud.

But with the bad came the good
As is usually true.
The Chilean miners for one,
are an inspiring crew.

As for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,
We just saw it repealed,
And as for DWTS,
Another winner revealed.

And here is where I’ll wrap up
This snapshot of 20-10,
Look forward to the New Year,
But remember where we’ve been.

Buon Anno Nuovo!
And I’m just about done…
Here’s to love and happiness
through Two, Zero, One, One!


Post #25: Buon Natale

White Christmas Day Eve? Not quite. It’s more of a rainy, eerily foggy version of the holiday. But, we still have a few hours for the temperature to drop so that the rain can turn to snow. The weather is about as fickle here as it is in New England, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a fresh batch of neve were delivered just in time for Christmas. And, if I wake up tomorrow and see mud in place of snow, it won’t matter. The downpours outside can’t dampen the feeling of Christmas.

Since my revelation last week that I was coming up short in the Natale spirit department, I kicked my holiday prep into high gear. A team dinner, a Christmas market in Torino, Home Alone, Love Actually, Mariah Carey, and, as you know, Christmas cookies. Which reminds me! I’m happy to report that I got somewhat of the Christmas miracle I was hoping for in my cookie baking. As it turns out, the flour in Italy is commonly sold senza lievito, or, without yeast. Which would explain the lack of volume in my White Chip (or Chunk, in my case) Chocolate Cookies. Since one of the other wives notified me of this discrepancy and a sweet woman at the corner market guided me to the packets of lievito that need to be added as compensation, the second day of baking was far more successful than the first. That’s not to say they were perfect by any means. And the science behind the fact that they look and taste different than they do back home is still a mystery. There are not enough control factors in my baking experiment to attribute all differences to a single cause. There was the inconsistent temperature of the oven, the unreliable baking surface of the pan, and the substitutions I had to use for some of the ingredients . Putting my curiosity aside, I’ll agree that they all turned out good enough. At the very least, I’ll use the Italian term I’ve seen in some of the pasticceria windows next to ugly baked goods on display: brutta e buono.

Perhaps even more fun than baking the cookies and maybe even more delightful than eating them, was giving them out. Between myself and two other girls, we completed a total of nine types of cookies. Last night, we packed them up on festive plates, sealed them with plastic and tied them off with ribbon. My two cookie accomplices made deliveries to recipients in Torre Pellice and I dropped them off to the people in Luserna. The coffee shop woman who first helped me with my Italian, the owners of the corner deli and market, the day-care staff, and my neighbors. Not a single person batted an eye at the flattened, misshapen desserts. The wife of the late Giovanni even invited me inside for a visit with her and her sister. I happily accepted her invitation. Though I had spoken to Giovanni on numerous occasions, I hadn’t spoken to her except to offer my condolences when Giovanni passed away. She showed me her beautiful manger display and urged me to sit down while she tied up a little bag of Lindt chocolates for me and Kevin.  I spent about a half an hour with the cute, little old ladies. They told me about their holiday family traditions. Giovanni came up a few times in conversation which is not surprise seeing as this is the first Christmas in over 50 years without him. Since I did not know how to say in Italian what I would have said in English, I just listened. I think that was enough. She went on to talk about how grateful she is to have so much family close by and how she has been keeping very busy getting ready for the holidays. Her sister nodded and the two listened patiently as I contributed as much as I could to the conversations about Christmas and how the U.S is different from Italy. When I left the third floor apartment, I felt very content. Who would’ve guessed that cookies would lead to such a pleasant visit with a neighbor?

Following the fulfilling cookie distribution last night, I finished off the week of Christmas spirit with this morning’s trip to the grocery store/mall. As it turns out, the last minute shopping chaos is an international phenomenon. I felt like I was back at home, wading through people at the Westfield Shopping Center in search of gifts as I scurried through the Ipercoop, collecting enough food to last us through two consecutive dinner parties and a pre-game meal. But braving the masses was all  part of my master-plan. It was yet another indication that Christmas is really here.

So, long story long, I accomplished the goal set last Saturday to appease some spontaneous tears. It feels like Christmas.  And so, today, I want to give thanks to everyone who taught me what Christmas feels like and to those who helped me recreate it here. As I finish out the evening with an ugly sweater party, go to church tomorrow morning, and finish out Christmas day with another dinner in the company of new friends, I will be grateful for the spirit of such a beautiful season. Merry Christmas!


Post #24: The Diary of a Wannabe Baker

Sugar, Flour, brown sugar (at least I think it’s brown sugar), Vanilla (in a powdered form, weird I know), eggs, baking soda (thanks mom for sending this with the sis so that I wouldn’t have to find the Italian equivalent), cocoa, and white chocolate chips (or, in my case, chopped-off chunks of a white chocolate candy bar). I have measuring cups in quantities consistent with the U.S recipe. So, we’re almost ready to go. Just have to figure out the burro, or butter…

1 Cup of Butter =  227 grams
The block of butter I purchased from the grocery store is 250 grams. So, I need 227/250, or approximately 90% of the stick. So, if I use tick marks for tenths of a stick, I cut the stick at 9/10 and add it to the mix.

If this works, I don’t know who will be prouder… my baking mentor mother or my former math teachers who bestowed upon me the knowledge of fractions and percents.

The recipe calls for an ungreased baking sheet. I’ve got a cheap roasting pan. I’ll add a tiny coat of butter to compensate for the worn surface of the pan. Most cookie sheets come with a natural non-stick surface anyway, right?

First batch is loaded. Dough is delicious by the way. If that serves as any indication for the final product…

Small oversight on my part. How could I forget that my oven has one cooking temperature… incinerate. This might be a problem seeing as the cookies want a consistent 350 degree baking environment. Not to mention that the only thermostat I have is on the inside door of the oven and registers the heat in degrees Celsius. That’s a quick fix. As all of my Algebra students should know, F = 9/5C + 32. With a few applications of inverse operations, we arrive at the desired temperature of about 177 degrees Celsius. For all you kids that whined about wanting real-world applications of functions, there you go. Sure, you could have whipped out your I-phones or laptops to do the dirty work for you, but where’s the fun in that?! About the uncontrollable heat index problem, I’m going to have to monitor it closely. It may be necessary to open the oven door for intervals during the bake time.

Two minutes into the bake time and, Houston, we have a problem. Greasing the pan was a bad choice. Cookies spread out (A LOT), but did not rise up.

Batch #1 done. Ugly but yummy. A better combination than pretty but yucky, but still unacceptable. Next batch, no buttered bottom.

Unfortunately, the problem is bigger than the grease on the pan. Batch #2 looks as bad (but tastes as good) as Batch #1. I think the Italian butter is just too buttery. I’ll try adding more of the other ingredients in equal ratios to compensate for having essentially added too much butter. Will the third one be the charm?

Not quite. Batch #3 is better. Not great, but better. I’ll add some more flour and cocoa and baking soda to the rest of the mix. Heck, I’ll throw a little baking powder in there too. I think that will help them to rise...

Batch #4. I think I’m onto something here. More of the same adjustments as made to Batch #3.

Batch #5. Acceptable in the presentation department. And it seems as though my modifications to the recipe did not noticeably affect the taste. I’ll leave the last portion of the mix as is.

Batch #6. Burnt. To a crisp. Clearly my frequent visits to the oven to open and close the door intermittently during the 12 minute bake time did make a difference in the previous batches.

My conclusion. Trial and error is a lengthy process in the field of culinary arts. Oven temperature does need to be monitored closely. We'll try this again tomorrow. Raspberry thumbprint butter cookies are up next with Molasses cookies on deck. I might just need a little bit of a Christmas miracle...


Post #23: Better Late than Never

Sometimes the babies at the daycare will be playing with their toys, completely immersed in stacking red, green, and blue blocks atop one another or rocking back and forth amiably on the little plastic horse. Then, suddenly they will look up from their toys and start to cry. Just like that. As if someone accidentally toggled a switch governing the child’s actions, a careless flick from Giocare to Piangere. Inevitably, the cause of their spontaneous distress is the longing for their mamma, papa, or nonna. I was always baffled by the unpredictable nature of these outbursts. How could a child be completely content with their toys in one moment and then inexplicably distraught that something’s missing the next? I still can’t say that I know why this happens. But, as of yesterday, I at least now how it feels when it does.

It happened as I was washing the dishes. A mindless endeavour and, as such, one that enables the mind to detach itself from the activity and wander elsewhere. I don’t know where exactly my thoughts anchored themselves, but all of a sudden, I was crying. But, no, I couldn’t be crying… maybe I got dish soap in my eye, I reasoned as I dried my cheek on the shoulder of my sweater. Or maybe water splashed onto my face from the soup ladel I was rinsing, I juxtaposed as more trickled down to my chin. But after these frivolous attempts to pin the origin of my “tears” elsewhere, I conceded. These were not the tears of an agitated eye or the ricoched water droplets off of a kitchen utensil. These were day-care baby tears. Something was missing, but like the babies, I couldn’t really verbalize what it was.

When Kevin kissed me on the cheek on his way out the door for practice, he noticed I was upset. It’s embarrassing enough to be caught crying while watching The Last of the Mohicans for the millionth time. But, crying for no apparent reason, even at this point in our relationship, was a whole new brand of humiliating. When he asked what was wrong, I copied the response of the babies. “I miss my family”, I muttered between childlike sniffles. It was the response I needed to reassure Kevin that one, there was a legitimate excuse for my crying other than my being emotionally unstable and, two, he did not do anything wrong. But even as I said it, I knew I was using homesickness as a scapegoat. Sure, I missed my family. And, after having talked to one of my girlfriends the night before, it was clear I was missing my friends as well. But this was different. When he reluctantly left me in the little kitchen nook, I rinsed off the dish in my hand, and I sat down with a cup of tea to figure out what emotions were responsible for the attack.

I thought about the significance of the day, one week before Christmas….

I remembered that at this time in the last three years, I was surrounded by students who were anxiously anticipating their winter vacation. How their excitement was contagious and that I, too, could barely wait for a week off. A week off to celebrate Christmas, no less!

I thought about our dog. And how, for him, it’s the season of retrieving the Christmas Teddy Bear from its display on the mantle, table, or tea cart. His prideful dance around the apartment at having snatched up the one stuffed animal in the house that is not one of his toys. 

I envisioned my father sorting through the ornaments, meticulously repackaged at the end of last Christmas season. How he would complain about the process of decorating the tree, but clearly relish at the task of putting every piece in just the right place.

I thought of my mom baking cookies. LOTs of cookies. And how I would normally be helping by rolling the dough into little balls, and dipping them into a bowl of sugar, or unwrapping what seemed like hundreds of Hershey’s Kisses, or, more likely, just hovering around the kitchen ready to fight with my sisters over the last of the cookie dough in one of the bowls.

And that’s when it hit me. Of course I was missing the individual characters in each of those recollections. But, more specifically I was missing their contributions to the feeling of Christmas. There were Christmas lights beautifully strung throughout all of Italy. I had been eating a chocolate a day from our advent calendar. I had sipped Vin Brulee at a Christmas market in Florence. But the fact of the matter was, it did not feel like Christmas. Though I cannot bring all of my loved ones here for the holidays, I can certainly re-create the feeling of my most beloved holiday of the year.

So, that’s what I set out to do. Starting right then and there. I selected Christmas Classics on an online music player playlist, and turned up the volume. I pulled out the little tree my sister brought, lined the Christmas cards we’d received along the top of our hutch. I strung lights around a little plastic tree that one of the wives had lent us for the season. I put colorful ornaments in vases. I made a shopping list of ingredients for my own cookie-baking session. I strolled through a thrift shop for a festive sweater. And that night, I watched Elf.

This morning, when I woke up, I already felt better. That’s not to say that I felt bad to begin with. I guess my holiday cheer just needed a little jumpstart. Now in full gear, I am ready for Christmas movie marathons, the smell of molasses cookies in my miniature stove, and my first Christmas in Italy!


Post #22: Firenze

Firenze is my favorite city in Italy! That sentence has been waiting on my tongue since I first visited the Tuscan capital with my sister and her boyfriend two weeks ago. I kept it to myself because I was afraid to jinx my affinity to the city with a premature declaration of it being my favorite. I reasoned that there was a lot more Italy to see. I would be naïve to award this distinction so early into my stay. Plus, I knew I would be going back with Kevin shortly after. I didn’t want my enthusiastic proclamation to set unattainable expectations for our vacation nor did I want to spoil any surprises for my otherwise unsuspecting husband. So, I practiced restraint, my secret bouncing off the roof of my mouth like a handful of pop rocks. The follow-up visit would determine if I could spit it out or swallow it whole. Now, having just returned from my second visit to the enchanting renaissance city, I am confident that my first impression was right on the mark.

I never formulated a list of qualities I expected to find in “my favorite city in Italy”. But, now that I know Florence is it, I can work backwards to do so. To start, there’s the city’s undeniable beauty. Whether strolling along a walkway in search of gelato or observing the night skyline from the Piazzale di Michelangelo on the other side of the water, the Florence sights of are consistently pleasing. (And especially so this Christmas season thanks to all the holiday lighting!) The streets leading through the city are narrow, many accessible only to pedestrian traffic. The buildings lining them are home to shops, apartments, restaurants, hotels, and business offices. Each is attractive in it’s own right, with the understated charm of typical Italian construction. I appreciated the combination of tall buildings and narrow roadways that constituted the city’s maze-like distribution of streets. Together, these elements made it nearly impossible to see what was coming from more than a block away. So, when I rounded a corner to find the streets opening up into a magnificent piazza, it was always a grand surprise. Between Piazza della Signoria, Piazza Santa Croce, Piazza della Repubblicca, and many others positioned throughout the city, this happened quite often. Of course, never to quite the same effect as when the streets opened up to the Piazza del Duomo…

As is always the case in Italian cities, all streets lead to Il Duomo. And Florence is no exception. If you are walking on the North side of the Ponte Vecchio bridge, you are bound to end up in the piazza that houses the trio of: the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Campanile Tower, and the Baptistry. The Basilica is a monstrosity of white, pink, and green marble capped by its signature and proportionately large dome. The dome was designed and added over a century after the construction on the cathedral began. As such, the completed project bears influence from both Gothic and Renaissance eras and stands, consequently, as a magnificent display of architectural ingenuity.  If the sheer size of Florence’s Duomo is not enough to take your breath away, then the intricacy of its design should do the trick. The walls are adorned with an abundance of life-like sculptures and windows accented by tediously-detailed columns. Together, it’s size and detailing makes the cathedral one of the most impressive in Italy, if not the world. It is no wonder that so many of history’s most established sculptors and artists thrived in this renaissance inspired metropolis.

Beyond the city’s obvious wow-factor in the external beauty department, Florence maintains a friendly and cultured personality. This is probably my favorite aspect to my Florentine favoritism. Because, in the end, I love Italian culture. That’s not to say Kevin and I didn’t rush at the opportunity to have a breakfast sandwich and Café Americana for breakfast one morning. Can you blame us? We’ve lived three months sans-bagel, and, though we have been embracing the traditional brioche and capucchino version of the morning meal, it was a treat to have a small bite of American cuisine in Italy. So, yes, I appreciate the fact that Florence is a big city and so it affords us a wider range dining options. However, it’s only once in three months that I crave random samplings from home like salad dressing, barbecue chicken, or, apparently, bagels. Generally speaking, I am more excited about experiencing Italian culture during my stay. Which brings me back to my argument of why I love Florence. While newsstands sold copies of popular magazines in English and one random corner diner served American comfort food, the city maintained traditional Italian culture. I guess I didn’t expect to get the same feel in a large city that I get in the Valpellice region of Italy. Despite this preconception, I was pleasantly surprised to see how customers were greeted by name in Florence’s café bars we visited. Menus were listed in at most two languages. And, while many residents spoke English, they were patient and appreciative when we tried to speak Italian. The city was confident and proud of its heritage, but not to the point of arrogance. Though tourists and students from study-abroad programs flood the streets almost year-round, the feel of Florence is unaffected by the tourist climate. It is, in that regard, a very liveable Italian city!

Perhaps in relation to its culturally inspired atmosphere, Florence also has an impressive assortment of activities for its visitors. Museums, gardens, palaces that were once homes for wealthy families in the city, all containing beautiful collections of art history.  Prior to visiting Florence, reference to Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo would have conjured up images of the Ninja Turtles… the quartet of crime-fighters that loved pizza and were trained by a terrifyingly oversized rat named Splinter. Now, having been to the city and three of its museums, the combination of names will not lead to a digression on Splinter’s resemblance to the woodland creature that attacks Wesley in The Princess Bride.  Instead, I will think of Donatello’s David, the first bronze sculpture featuring a nude subject in the renaissance period. Or, more likely, Michelangelo’s marble sculpture of the biblical hero. Or maybe I will remember Da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi, or one of Raphael’s portraits. Any afterthought awarded to the turtle clan will be to wonder why there were only four in the crew. There should have been a Boticelli or Lippi or even a Radici in the bunch. Four names are not enough to characterize a whole Renaissance worth’s of artists.  I never considered myself particularly knowledgeable in the arena of art history, but having seen so many beautiful pieces in the very city where some of them were produced, I have a new appreciation for their significance. It was truly inspiring.

So, there. That is why I think Florence has earned the very prestigious distinction as “Sarah’s Favorite City in Italy”. (I am sure the Uffizi Gallery and surrounding museums will be clamoring for a plaque that bears mention of this noteworthy accolade.) I am not denying the possibility that in my future travels through Italy, I might encounter a more beautiful, more culturally-stimulating or more activity-laden city. In fact, Venice would be one to challenge the Florence in the beauty category. And any village in the Valpellice region could compete with Florence with regards to providing a backdrop for Italian culture. And, in terms of museums and sights, I have no doubt that Rome will be a contender for the third of my criteria. But, in the end, I would be hard-pressed to find a place that better incorporates all three elements than my Toscana citta. Call me a renaissance girl, but I think Firenze is the city for me.

Reflection of the Duomo and Campanile Tower in a puddle

Inside of the Dome

Fountain in the Piazza Della Signoria

Gold doors on the Baptistry

View from the Duomo

View at Sunset of the Campanile Tower from the Duomo

Il Duomo

Looking over the Arno River at the other side of Florence

Night skyline of the city from the Piazzale di Michelangelo


Post #21: Nostalgia di Casa

I knew it would hit me at some point, and I knew I would be especially susceptible to it during the holidays. But my sister was coming, and so I thought ten days with her would hold it off for a couple more weeks. I was wrong.  The second I dropped her off at the airport, it set in. I was homesick.

I can think of two explanations for why the feeling set in so quickly. The first is suitable for an episode of The Twilight Zone, with homesickness generating from the aftershock of two worlds colliding. Since I’ve arrived in Valpellice, my heart has been in two places. La Bella Italia and the good ole’ U.S.A. My sister had been catalogued in the latter. She belonged with my family, friends, and twenty-five years worth of memories in the northeastern part of the U.S. But then she came here, and somehow seeing elements from my two homes coexisting may have caused this reaction. It was a Venn Diagram with my sister at the center, and somehow the union of the two circles created this nostalgic longing for the place she came from, or as she refers to it, “the other side”. (At least with regards to our video chats through gmail.)

A second, more scientifically plausible explanation for my wave of homesickness was the fact that my middle sis brought with her an abundance of firsthand narrative about the recent happenings in my childhood home.  Not earth-shattering news, but little stories that I can see perfectly clearly in my mind’s eye having experienced them myself. References to our youngest sister’s sometimes vulgar, but always amusing dialogue. Descriptions of my dog’s exuberant tail-wagging routine when family members come home. Updates on my father’s latest pranks paired with my mother’s signature reaction, a blend of laughter (because let’s face it, it’s funny) and feigned scorn (because, though it’s funny, her parental instinct drives her to express she doesn’t necessarily condone the behavior). All of these little anecdotes made me feel like I was back at that home, curled up on the couch in what little space was available between two Labrador retrievers, and observing the familial interactions for myself. And maybe that was what planted the pit in my stomach and knot in my throat. The transition from feeling so close to home when my sister was here to feeling so far away when she was headed back there without me.

Though the term “homesick” generally carries with it a negative connotation, I view the emotion in a somewhat different light. Sure it can feel like a weight in your chest and a pre-tear pressure behind your eyes. But I think it offers a unique perspective on what you really value by showing you what you miss. I know in my case, it’s simply being in the company of the people I love. I miss seeing one of my closest friend’s glow in the happiness of her new engagement, being a more hands-on bridesmaid for another one of my favorite ladies, giving my baby sister a congratulatory hug on her recent graduation, and the list goes on. Of course, I’ve always known how much my family and friends mean to me. But a little dose of homesickness heightens the awareness that every second spent in their company should be cherished.

In the end, though I’ll continue to enjoy my time in this Italy adventure, I know I’ll have a lot to look forward to when I get home. So, thank you TC for being a part of many memories from Florence to Milan. For reminding me how nice it is to have you finish my sentences. And, for bringing with you a piece of my other home that will hopefully last me until I make it back. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the holiday season.


Post #20: An American's Perspective on Italy's Football

After attending a Juventus “football” game in Torino, I have a better understanding of just how BIG the sport is in Italy. I also have a better understanding of why alcoholic beverages are not permitted into the stadium and why they aren’t sold at concession stands… drunk fans would be even more of a liability than the sober ones already are.

Back in the U.S, soccer is not a big spectator sport. If a brawl were to break out in the stands of a sporting event, you’d be more inclined to believe that the said fight occurred at a tee-ball tournament than a professional soccer game. But here, it’s a different story. Once in Italy, everyone inevitably knows someone else whose experience in the chaos parallels that of a legendary tale. There are only two degrees of separation between you and some unfortunate person that once went to a game and woke up in the hospital to find he’d been hit in the head with a bottle before it even started.

Alright, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But there is a good reason why security officials at the game stand shoulder to shoulder around the perimeter of the stadium, and especially so around the area reserved for away-team fans. Quite simply, the people here are crazy about their football.

Although I am not a huge fan of televised sports, I have to admit that watching a game in person is an entirely different experience. Except for World Cup match-ups, soccer is not something I would schedule reminders for on my DVR. But, it was definitely a fun sport to watch in person! Juventus was ranked significantly higher than the opposing squad, and so the intensity of the game was lower than it would have been if they were hosting a rival of their caliber. Nevertheless, the energy in the arena was palpable. The fans chanted in unison, a single voice comprised of countless spectators. Their verses bellowed strongly onto the large green field from underneath the covered bleachers.

When the opposing team scored first, the crowds went wild. Juventus supporters ranted, swore and whistled. (Yes, whistling is the European alternative to booing.) Meanwhile, the small conglomerate of away-team fans charged to the railings at the first level of bleachers in their section.  For them, the excitement was short-lived. Juventus tied it up and then took the lead with a successful penalty kick delivered by their star player.

For a first-time spectator like myself, the highlights of the game came with the final few minutes of play. It was then that a Juventus player scored the third and final goal for his team, and subsequently ran a victory lap around the stadium. It was a celebratory display that would have resulted in a considerable fine had he been an NFL player, and it was hilarious to watch. Not as hilarious, of course, as the spectacle of the players stripping down to their underwear and tossing, not only their shirts, but also their shorts to fans at the end of the game. There’s something comical about a man walking across an entire soccer field in nothing other than his tightie-whities and cleats.

All in all, by the end of the game, I understood why people enjoy attending the matches. Even though I will probably never be a passionate fan, I definitely have a new appreciation for the sport. It's another piece of the culture here that I can check of my list of experiences in Italy!