23 January, 2009

Exploring Albano

Albano is a town nearby our campus. It's supposed to be about a 30 minute walk, but tonight, as some friends and I went out to explore it a bit, we didn't want to walk. For one thing, the streets - even the famous Via Appia (Via Appia Nuova, that is, a relative newcomer dating back only to 1784) were extraordinarily narrow, and I can assure you that every legend about the marvelous rashness of Italian drivers has been edited and bowdlerized out of respect for the feelings of these fine people. At several points, I saw three cars side by side in a two-lane road. Taking the bus into town, as you may imagine, was interesting in such a setting, but all in all it went off without a hassle and it was certainly more disconcerting for the unexperienced American, adapted to a cautious style of vehicle operation, to find the cars whizzing less than two inches from the sidewalk.

The houses were very tall and squished together and there were random ruins of castles around various corners of the cobblestone streets. We explored the city for a time, and once we began to worry that staying longer might make it impossible for us to both eat and catch the last bus back, we decisively chose one of the last open restaurants that was within our budget. (The restaurants tend to stay open late, but in such a small town there were only a few inexpensive restaurants to choose from, since the pizza shops and bakeries close earlier.)

Our waitress didn't speak English at all, really. You could tell that she genuinely didn't because she had a very difficult time understanding our requests for extra plates (we intended to split up meals). She was very friendly however, and after a few attempts to communicate through a mixture of Italian, English, and Spanish, we all understood each other, and we turned to our meal with a feeling of exaggerated triumph at the successful response to our first study-abroad challenge.

The food was "squisito" - which actually means "delicious" despite its looks. We ordered two pizzas (very thin crusted, one with cheese and tomatoes and one with zucchini) and two dishes of pasta - gnocchi with tomato sauce and fettuccine. It would have been a bit thin for the eight of us who went were it not for the fact that the "Mensa" (cafeteria) ladies had fed us an enormous lunch a few hours earlier.

A couple pictures of the restaurant (one with us in it, obviously):


Mary said...

Amusement,amusement! Je suis si heureux pour vous! You MUST post some of these on FB when you have time! Je t'aime! Or should I say, ti amo?

Mum said...

All I can say is WOW. Your description is great, too.

Therese said...

Thanks guys, I love you!

And yes, I will, Mary. :)