I hear California is entering official drought status. Meanwhile, here in Udine…
So I turned 31 this week and Udine celebrated the occasion with buckets of rain…like sheets of it. I even tried to take a photo of these torrential downpours but the rain was so solid, that it was hard to see individual drops— even with a really long exposure on my camera. Normally rain wouldn’t matter, but when one doesn’t have a car, it turns into an issue. Of course, Friday, my actual birthday, saw the worst of it (although today isn’t shaping up to be much better what with the power flickering and thunder roaring).
Dave had looked into at least five different restaurants that all had really positive reviews on Trip Advisor (yet were all a good hike/bus ride from home) and had planned to take me to one of these lovely places on Friday night. But as the clock inched closer to dinner time, the rain seemed to come down heavier. Finally, I told him we should just stay close to home and make plans to do one of the restaurants another night. Plus, there was a pizza place across the street from our building that apparently has some of the best pizza in Udine, so that sold me on it. We bundled up and made our way across the busy streets (“watch out for
the yellow ones all of the cars, they don’t stop”) and settled in for dinner.
The next morning, we woke up and had some errands to run. Namely, changing our address with our French bank, which of course, requires not only a signed letter, but also proof of this new address. I will be so happy to be done with the French system. We took a look outside and it seemed that the rain had subsided and become a fine mist, in which we thought it would be worth venturing. We assumed (erroneously) that the Italian post office would sell envelopes, so that errand was a bust for the time being. We had also planned to look into a gym that morning, too (most errands we needed to run were at places that were only open until 1pm, so we were trying to pack a lot in, we know). Since the rain had picked back up, we hopped on the bus to the gym, only to find that, while yes, it was in fact open, it was not manned by anyone and members could use their key cards for access. Thwarted again. Our third and final errand of the day was to the grocery store.
Grocery store shopping in Italy is interesting to me, but that is another post for another day. En route to the grocery store, we had to switch buses. I should back up a moment and explain that the bus system here is a little strange. In Udine, there is a main road that circles the city, which we call the ring road. We live just inside the ring road, which is basically served by the city bus. However, outside of the ring road (give or take) there is another branch of the bus system, which is like a suburban bus. And outside of the ring road is also where some of the larger grocery stores and shopping centers are located. I tell you all this because, though operated by the same bus network, the tickets for the city bus are different than the suburban bus. Of course. And naturally we had planned to go to the larger Carrefour grocery store, outside the ring road in the ‘burbs, on the hunt for some specific ingredients I hadn’t found at my neighborhood stores.
So we got off the city bus at the suburban bus stop and had a twenty-minute “layover.” At this point, the rain wasn’t awful and Google said it was only a twenty-minute walk to the shopping center, so we risked it and headed onward on foot, thinking this way, we wouldn’t have to buy new tickets for the suburban bus and we’d reach our destination faster. Plus, a stretch of the ol’ legs was a good idea since the forecast for the week didn’t look like we’d be wanting to go outdoors much.
Because of this decision, of course, the rain picked up.
Dave, realizing where we were in this trek, remembered that one of the restaurants he’d had in mind for my birthday, was close by, so we decided to take a detour and do a day-after-birthday lunch, instead! If there was ever a nice way to break up a wet, rainy hike, a nice lunch in a warm restaurant that smells like good grilled meats is it.
We sat down and enjoyed our wine and antipasti of prosciutto d’oca and prosciutto di cinghale (prosciutto of goose leg and wild boar, respectively), followed by our main dishes of pollo al Diavolo (chicken for Dave) and tagliato di manzo (cuts of beef for me). We each enjoyed a side of patate con rosmarino (rosemary potatoes) and all of our food was tasty, especially Dave’s chicken.
We think the staff knew we were foreign, despite Dave’s ordering in Italian, because they brought us butter with our bread. Also because they cooked my meat extra rare. Apparently, Italians enjoy their meat cooked on the well-done side but understand that is not common for Americans. So I think they were trying to do me a solid by delivering my beef still partially moo-ing, but it’s the thought that counts. We would have asked them to throw it back on the grill, but they were clearly trying to impress us with service and they came and refilled our wine without charging, so it’s hard to be upset. Plus, it was only a few inner pieces that were really too rare for me to eat.
We finished the meal by sharing an apple strudel (we live close to the Austrian border so strudel seem pretty commonplace) and then it was off to brave the elements again.
We did finally reach our destination and found a city bus line that would take us all the way home too, so that was a win.
Tonight, we have more plans with some of Dave’s classmates. We’ve been invited for wine and appetizers, so it seems we’re starting to get settled in here. I had hoped to take some photos of the town this week, but the rain prevented such exploits. Here’s hoping next week will leave at least a little time to get outside. But for now, I think I know how the people of Seattle feel!