Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Orange Pictures. . .

For more pictures from the Battle of the Oranges, check out Matt and Courtney's blog: It has a good description of the festival's history, some awesome videos, and even more pictures of us!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Orange Festival of Ivrea

We had the most unusual weekend--several months ago, John found out about a Carnivale celebration in Ivrea, about an hour's train ride from here. Ivrea is known for its Orange Festival, which does not involve a tame tasting of orange-flavored items, but rather the throwing of oranges. This is how it goes: the main piazzas (courtyards) in the town each have a ground team and several crates of oranges. At the appointed time, a horse-drawn cart will come through and the cart has about ten people on it, protected by helmets, padded uniforms and of course, armed with oranges. Once it comes into view, the cart is mobbed by the ground team and the fruit starts flying. Then a whistle blows, the cart moves on, and the ground crew tends to its wounds while waiting for the next cart.
This was clearly an experience we could not pass up. Some friends of ours were also planning on attending, so on Sunday and Monday we went out with them and had a great time.

As our friends Sian and Lloyd are exhibiting here, there can be a great deal of anticipation before a cart comes through; people tended to deal with their nervousness in different ways. Sian, on the left, was definitely the safer of the two.

Notice the tarps and the netting, which are meant to protect both the people and the buildings (ignore the elephant if you're not already acquainted with Purple). The good people of Ivrea take throwing oranges seriously.

Very seriously.

Let the games begin! Here's a mob of ground crew members attacking a cart. People wearing red hats (available for purchase at the entrance) are supposed to be marked out as innocent bystanders. But accidents still happen.

In this video, you can get a good idea of the flurry of oranges. John was brave and stood outside the protective netting to get this.

This video defies explanation.

Here are Matt and Courtney, with their children Nolan and Meredith, and John, of course. Notice the copious amounts of red. To our knowledge, neither child was hit with an orange, although there were times we had to shield them with our bodies.

And here's us! We encourage you to click on this picture and make it larger so you can have a better view of the action behind us. (Our clothes, in case you're wondering, now look like they've been run through a juicer.)

Like I said, accidents happen. If you click on this picture, you'll be able to see in vivid detail where I got clocked on the head.

Slipping and falling is another danger. A carpet of smashed oranges is as treacherous as a driveway after a Missouri ice-storm.

Hiding from the oranges is therefore the safest option. (Whether a camera case is sufficient protection is another question.)

So that's it! We survived, small children and all. Monday night, we went back to Dyfan and Caroline's to celebrate Sian's eleventh birthday. There we enjoyed another cultural treat: toad-in-the-hole. This British dish, cooked by an authentic British person, consists of pancake batter mixed with hot lard and cooked in the oven with sausages. Not in the least healthy, but very tasty.

Friday Night Migas

Well, we've had a busy but a fun weekend. Friday night, we went over to Dyfan and Caroline's to watch some episodes of BBC's latest "Robin Hood" t.v. show. Then, since it was an opportunity not to be missed, John made the family (minus Dyfan, who was away for the weekend) a tex-mex specialty: migas (pronounced meeguhs), which are scrambled eggs with sauteed bell peppers, onions, and torn-up bits of tortillas. They were really good and even the British people liked them, or seemed to. They weren't so sure about the refried beans, however. . .

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Trip to Asti

Welcome to Asti! This bustling little town was once a lucrative medieval trading center and boasted over 100 towers, thus advertising its prosperity to not-so-fortunate surrounding areas. John took me here for a Valentine's Day outing and we had a great time admiring the architecture, wandering around the Saturday markets, and of course, taking pictures of the towers. Most of them date from between the 11th to the 14th century, but the tower in the second picture (excluding the top two stories) was built in the 1st century A.D.

Here's the Roman tower--just a little younger than the incarnated Jesus. The big church behind it is from the 17th or 18th century.

This little replica of the Roman tower was just too darn cute not to post.

We came across this mural on a quiet street away from the main thoroughfare. Look closely and you can see the towers in the background.

In addition to an excess of towers, Asti also has a cathedral--a huge building built almost entirely out of white stone and brick. We saw this red and white combo on various old buildings around the town. The medieval Italians must have gotten a kick out of making their buildings striped. The Cathedral in Orvieto (which we saw on our honeymoon; see the picture below the Asti Cathedral) is also striped.

Cathedral in Orvieto

Here's John at the base of yet another medieval tower. We took this picture because of the cool heraldry above the door and also, if you look above John's head, you can see the points of a raised portcullis.

So that's it! Hope you enjoyed our little excursion. I promise there will be more pictures of John next post; somehow he escaped the camera this time, but now I'm onto his game.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And here are two informative, and hopefully interesting, little videos about some sites in Rome. We didn't think we'd be able to download them, but here they are!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back from Roma!

We've returned safely from Rome (in case anyone was worried). John had a good series of meetings with other Fulbright scholars and I was able to look at some churches for my research. We were only there for two nights; for one of those evenings, however, we were privileged to attend a reception at the house of a senior official of the U.S. Embassy. That was Friday night and on Saturday we had lunch with other Fulbrighters and then wandered happily around the city until we took a night train back up to Torino. Dad, you'll appreciate where Fulbright set us up for lunch on Friday, as well: the Casa dell'Aviatore, which was (is?) the officer's club for Italian Airforce.

An example of fifth-century mosaics I was looking at for my reseach. This picture is from a series of Old Testament stories, found in Santa Maria Maggiore, one of Rome's big five basilicas. If you look closely at this mosaic, you can see that the top part depicts the fall of Jericho.

San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence) Outside the Walls - the atmosphere of this church was very sober, a nice change from Santa Maria Maggiore. If you can zoom in on the pillars, you may be able to see some of the damage caused by Allied bombing in WWII.

Some of our Fulbright buddies at lunch.

Rigatoni Democratici (yes, it means Democratic Rigatoni). Don't know what makes it democratic--maybe it was the Parmesan sauce?

John at the Four Rivers Fountain at the Piazza Navona. We had a video explaining this fountain but it was too long to post it. Che peccato! (What a shame!)

Giolitti's, our favorite gelato place in Rome. It's the only place where John can get his cinnamon gelato, although I went on the wild side and got Bailey's Irish Cream.

Tossing pennies into the Trevi Fountain. (These pennies were provided by Jonathan and Patricia Leech of Santa Barbara, CA.) You're supposed to wish for a return to Rome. We did it last time, too, so I guess it worked!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A fun weekend

We thought we'd share some of these pictures from the weekend after we got back from Bardonecchia. Although some of its activities undoubtedly contributed to our subsequent cold (which is only now letting up!), we still had a good time.

On Saturday, we hung out with our friend Matt, who lives in Avigliana (just outside of Torino). His wife and kids were still visiting at home in Indiana, so we had the pleasure of keeping him company for a day!

Note the cool hats (Matt's hat is Amoco), intimidating expressions, and epic gazes.

On Sunday we went out sledding with the youth group from church. The following pictures are probably self-explanatory.

Have a good week!