Costumes of Venice Carnevale

It’s Carnevale time round these parts!!!  That means lots of masks, cloaks, and fancy ladies swishing around in big dresses.  

I took a quick trip into Venice on Sunday to see the costumes and soak up the rare day of sunshine.  I made the mistake of staying longer than I planned and I got caught up in the terrible, horrible crowds.  I knew better, but I stayed anyway.  Sometimes I need to learn hard lessons more than once.  It’s my curse.

I did the full Carnevale experience my first year here and I never need to do it again.  It was way too many people packing into St. Mark’s Square and not nearly enough alcohol to keep the party going.  Seriously, would it have killed the event planners to set up booths selling drinks or have waiters circulating with shots or something?  Instead it was just a bunch of moderately sober people standing around in the cold, which is not my idea of a party.

But this year I did witness something pretty crazy.  It was early in the morning before the square filled up with people and I was trying to get pictures of the costumes before I saw something that ripped my attention away from the fancy ladies.

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This guy in a sheet painted with the word JESUS strung himself up on a flag pole in the middle of the square.  I am not sure what he was trying to do but it looked like he intended to hang out on  that pole all day.  The rescue crew was simply not having that.  I stood around taking pictures like the obnoxious spectator that I am and I even caught a few of the rescue crew snapping their own pics.

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So that was pretty much my favorite part of the day, but back to the fancy ladies…

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I think my favorite masks are the doctor masks with the long noses but I love reading about the origins and symbolism behind all of the different carnevale masks.  One of my friends shared this article that gives a great history and overview.

Tomorrow I will be at a local Carnevale party where I will debut my newest mask with outrageous feathers :)  What is everyone else doing for the pre-Lent party season???

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The Five Stages of Dating an Italian Man

When I was breaking the news to my friends and family that I was moving to Italy I got a wide variety of responses but the one I enjoyed the most was giggling with my girlfriends about all the gorgeous Italian men waiting for me.  

And there are some gorgeous Italian men, believe me.

But I am an American girl and I am comfortable admitting that I am out of my depth when dealing with Italian men.  In my (very limited) experience, dating an Italian is like staring in your very own soap opera.  Sometimes exciting, but mostly just full of eye-rolling moments.  

Take my most recent Casanova for example:

Stage One: Romantic “meet-cute”

I was wandering around the canal district of Milan looking for a low-key place to grab dinner and maybe a few drinks.  I normally have *very* good luck when picking a restaurant in a new city.  Sometimes it takes a bit of looking, but I pretty much always find the perfect place.  This time I found a blues club down the street from the canal.  When I sat down and saw the menu I knew I had made a mistake but I ordered a drink and an appetizer.  I am not kidding you when I say that this place had the worst food I have eaten my entire time in Italy.  Really, it was the worst.  

I was paying my bill and getting ready to leave when the pair at the next table asked me to join them.  They turned out to to be cousins and the guy was very cute in an older, rugged kind of way.  We talked for a little while and then the cute rugged guy asked me to dance.  There was music, but no one was dancing.  I said yes and before I knew it a party had exploded around us and everyone was dancing.  Pretty freaking cute right?

By the end of the night he had slipped his bracelet onto my wrist and we’d made plans to meet the next day, and then the next weekend, and so on.  

Adorable.

 

Stage Two: Inappropriate Professions of Love

Do you know what is not adorable?  Being told “I Love You” by someone you just met a week earlier.  Kind of makes a mockery of the sentiment, you know?  I would also like to point out that I barely speak enough Italian to make myself understood and he speaks no english, so there is a very real limit to how much we can communicate with each other.  There were no five-hour long conversations about our hopes and dreams.  No deep, soul-baring confessionals.  Just two people stumbling along trying to understand each other.  So when I am being told “Ti amo, Ti voglio bene, and I love you” by this man I have good reason to doubt that he says these things in earnest.  Rather, I get the sense that this is just what you do in a courtship, you say very romantic things that you don’t actually mean, which is the least romantic thing I can think of.

 

Stage Three: The Green-Eyed Monster

On top of the inappropriate professions of love, there are also the rages of jealousy.  When I didn’t answer a text right away I got the passive-aggressive “Excuse me, I can see that you too busy to answer so I won’t bother you anymore” text (in Italian of course, which doesn’t make it anymore charming).  When I told him that I liked him but he was putting too much pressure on me he gave me the cold shoulder, which was the breaking point for me.  

*Please forgive me for getting on my dating soapbox, but I feel like I have to say this: Ladies, if anyone ever tries to emotionally punish you for knowing and maintaining your boundaries RUN AWAY. A man that doesn’t respect your boundaries will always be trouble. *

 

Stage Four: The Dramatic Goodbye

You can see where I am going with this right?

My grasp of Italian is not great, but I am pretty sure he told me that the bracelet he gave me for good luck would now bring me bad luck.  Because we can’t just agree that we are incompatible, right?  Now we have to start handing out curses? 

 

Stage Five: The Post-Drama Overtures 

So, a week goes by and I get a text from the charming Italian.  Do you know what it says?

“Prrrrrrr”

Really.  I have no words.

 

I am sure stuff like this happens with men in every country, but it feels somehow exaggerated here in Italy.  I can fully admit that I have a dramatic streak and I do like a little flair in a relationship, but shenanigans like this make me yearn for the kind of courtships you find in Jane Austen novels.  I could do with a lot more Mr. Darcy and a lot less Casanova right now.  

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Sono Distrutto

I learned a new Italian saying today: Sono distrutto ~ I am destroyed.  

It is a very dramatic way of saying that you are, well, destroyed.  That’s how I feel right now.  Distrutto.  Not for any particular reason, just life carving away at me until I feel like I am just a shell of an Erica.  

It might be the rain.  It has been raining here for days and days.  The city is flooding and all the yards are turning into little oceans.  Normally I love the rain but this constant gloom is getting to be a bit much.  

Today feels like a day when I should be concentrating on the really good stuff in my life but even that feels like too much work.  I would much rather sit here in my big brown chair and feel sorry for myself.  And maybe eat some ice cream because you can’t have a really great pity party without ice cream, right?

All of this whining is actually reminding me of something really cool I started doing on the first day of the new year…

I read a blog post about gratitude jars (I wish I could remember where I read it so I could link it for you) and I decided to make one myself.  I cleaned out a giant pickle jar and put it on in a conspicuous place in my living room with a pen and pad of paper next to it.  Now, whenever I have something I am grateful for I just jot it down and throw it into the jar.  On New Year’s Eve this year I will spend the day revisiting all of my moments of gratitude for the year :)

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(Don’t worry, the jar has a lot more scraps in it now, this picture is from the jar’s birthday!)

I hope everyone is having a peaceful evening, but if you are feeling distrutto try to think of at least one good thing you could put in your own gratitude jar today. :)

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Gettysburg

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Istanbul!

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Photos From My Mid-Day Runs

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Wildflowers

My joints have hurt all day.  I have no idea what is going on but I feel like a rickety old man and it is seriously bumming me out.

I thought a long passeggiata (Italian for stroll) would help loosen the joints and maybe clear some clouds from my brain.

I decided to walk down to the next town where there are gobs of wildflowers growing in the ditch.  

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Along the way I passed these adorable little bunnies.  Actually, they are not little, they were huge.  These pictures do not do their size justice.

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I love the coloring on the dark bunny.  His front left paw is white, which makes him even cutter but he wouldn’t stick out his leg for the camera.

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Of course I had to pick the wildflowers and cart them back home where I tried to make a nice bouquet.  I originally imagined a large messy bouquet, but no matter what I did it just looked strange so eventually I settled on a nosegay-type of arrangement.  Turns out, wildflowers are not like florist flowers, sometimes they look better in a ditch by the road than on your kitchen counter.  

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