Wine Season – The Grapes of Wrath (Harvest Time)

It’s wine season around here and my husband and the in-laws have been super busy harvesting and pressing the grapes to make wine in the coming months. I stayed home with Isabella (cause who needs a teething tenth month old at 6am) but I sent along the camera and got LOTS of pictures.

For two days Nico and his family got up early to go to the vineyards. Or at least that was the plan on the first day. The first day the Ape (pronounced ah-peh) wouldn’t start. The Ape is a wonderful little Italian alternative to a pick-up truck. Sure its not gonna haul too much heavy stuff (although it did pretty well with 20+ crates of grapes). But it can handle its own. The best part about the Ape is the way you drive it. It has a steering wheel like a bike. A new battery and it was ready to go!

Doesn't the Ape look like it belongs to 50 years ago? It just might be that old...

They arrived at the first vineyard about 10am instead of 6am. This was ok except Nico didnt get to sleep anymore (cranky baby) and by 10am the sun is a little higher in the sky and its a little warmer out making the work a little harder. Still the view isnt bad.

They spent a couple of hours harvesting grapes and managed to clear one of the vineyards. My grandfather in law has several pieces of farmland. Two serve as only vineyards and the third has a small section for grapes and is also where he grows everything else from potatoes, fava beans, almonds, citrus trees, olives, artichokes – so many good things!

Here you can see one of my sister-in-laws getting ready to cut a bunch – don’t the grapes look fantastic? The grapes are so purple they seem blue/black.

They harvested only these this time around, most of the white grapes werent quite ready yet. But they make both white and red wines normally.

And the wine – its good, I’ve used some of the white from last year in my cooking. Its quite nice to not have to spend money on wine!

Here some shots of the vineyards themselves.

I like this shot, below, I aged it using photoshop of course, but you can tell that the land, the practice of growing and harvesting grapes is essentially the same it would have been 50 or even 100 years ago.

Harvesting grapes is a family affair. Had Isabella been a little order we would’ve been out there too. Nico and his sisters grumble about having to go out there. They’ve been doing it for years. However I am still in touristy-so-thats-how-you-do-that-oh-my-gosh-I-live-in-Italy mode where all this stuff is new and exciting to me.

I never thought of grape vines being so tall. Sardinians are traditionally short in stature but these are a little under 5 feet tall (I think).

After cutting all the grapes they load them up in the back of the Ape (see small but mighty, much like the people of Sardinia.)

Speaking of small but mighty people, below is my mother-in-law Anna and Nico’s grandfather.

Nico’s grandfather is also called Nico (short for Nicolo’) Don’t you think he also kinda looks like a much older version of Patrick Stewart

Check out Anna. Would you take her on in an arm wrestling contest? I wouldn’t!

Harvesting might be done for now (they may have to go back to harvest the white grapes later, hopefully they turn out well) but wine season isn’t over yet. They sit in a shaded space before moving on to the next process – sorting and pressing the grapes!

Even though I was stuck being spectator for this grape harvest it was still amazing to see all the wonderful pictures. I have a lot more that I wasn’t able to fit here. Check out the rest over on Flickr (you’ll even get a sneak peak at what’s to come!) :).

Vacation in Italy, the easy way!

Want to vacation in Italy but cant spare the extra expense? Dont worry. Head over to Bleeding Espresso where Michelle is hosting Gita Italiana for the next two weeks. Gita Italiana is just another way of saying Italian vacation and the first stop is the island I call home Sardinia! The post features the area of Alghero which is where we flew into when we landed in Sardinia. As we waited for Nico’s father to come back with a new car seat for Isabella (since that was the only piece of luggage that was lost on our flight), Nico and I both realized something was different. It was the air, it was so clean and fresh. All of Sardinia is like that, and Alghero is a beautiful beach town that I would love to visit again someday. Even the old airport was beautiful. It is my goal to showcase more of this beautiful island and all that Italy has to offer. But for now, enjoy your vacation :).

*image courtesy of bleedingespresso

Baci – so much more than a Hersey’s Kiss

When I am stressed like most women I reach for chocolate. Here in Italy there is a chocolate that I love! You can find them in the US sometimes (and often they are expensive) but here Baci are in abundance. Baci is what you could call Italy’s Hershey’s Kiss because in italian baci means kisses. The individual candies are called Bacio (meaning kiss) and oh are they unlike any kiss youve had before. Baci are dark chocolate on the outside, milk chocolate truffle on the inside and chopped hazelnuts throughout. On the top is a single hazelnut just to give you a bit more of a crunch.

Baci come in a silver foil wrapping and inside each one is a love note.  Each note has a love phrase in diferent languages; italian, english, german, french and other languages depending on the region.  The chocolate is smooth, it melts in your mouth in such a way that it is a flood of chocolate flavors. Baci are big enough to eat in several bites, but small enough to eat all at once, although they are honestly worth savoring. I picked up a big can of them a few weeks ago and I try to limit myself to just one a day, because eating more than one would lead to eating all of them! These are way better than a hershey’s kiss.

*image courtesy of Baci Perungia

Casalinga

Casalinga is the Italian word for housewife. Its an official term you can put down as your job description. Today is the first day that Nico went off to help his dad at the store and I stayed home with Isabella. He wont be home until 1ish – does this make me a casalinga? My initial answer would be no. True I did clean the bedroom and make the bed, but theres still laundry to be put away the living room is still strewn with Isabella toys and the floors in the rooms should get swept and cleaned. Theres also laundry to be done (although I dont get to do the laundry…) Do I feel like doing any of it? No. Eventually, I suppose.

The Decision to move to Italy is one that most people are jealous of and I admit I am lucky. But what most people dont realize, vacationing somewhere and choosing to live there are entirely different. I think that right now I am slightly overwhelmed by my decision. There is a lot of adjustment and cultural hurdles that need to be overcome. For instance, Nico’s mother had the expectation of being able to take Isabella out and about with her in the mornings. But for starters, Isabella isnt that much of a morning person anymore. Sure she was up at 830 this morning (and so was I) but normally she doesnt get up until 930 or 1000. Then she has breakfast and normally wants to nap again afterwards. Additionally I made all these changes so that I could stay with Isabella and so that she could stay with me – selfish, maybe, but I spent 4 months not being able to just be with my child – why would I just be okay with her going out without me as soon as Ive moved to a new country. Dont get me wrong, Nico’s mother is a fantastic person. A bit more of a mother-in-law than I think Nico thinks she is, but she is not overly pushy in any sense of the traditional Italian mother in law. I know it could be a lot worse. But we havent let Isabella go off alone with anyone. Shes always been with me or her father. And she is definitely going through adjustment pains in my opinion. Or just getting more stubborn/opinionated. Maybe both.

Ready for a walk!


But the adjustment isnt as easy as I thought it would be. I’m not sure why. Probably cause there is still so much to be done and I feel limited in my ability to do stuff. If only I learned to drive stick -lol. Although I doubt I would be comfortable navigating the streets of Capoterra. They are the epitome of Italian streets, narrow and packed full of speedy Italian drivers. I know that part of my problem with adjusting is me. I am a go get things done kind of person and I cant do that as much as I want here. And I dont have a kitchen yet to take my stress out on lol. And theres things to learn – the language and other things to adjust to. I just have to make myself do what I can. Study the language. Listen to people. MAKE myself try to speak – thats the biggest hurdle I think any adult has in learning a new language; getting over the uncomfortableness of saying something wrong. I should go room by room and make a list of the things we want done. I should focus on the other things I need to do to make myself be as happy as I want to be here.

Wandering

Go forth and conquer.....?

So the decision has been made. We’ve decided to move to Italy. Deciding to move back is an easy/hard decision. Easy because its where I want to be eventually, it was just a matter of deciding when. Hard because we have Isabella now and I fear that moving her to Italy will limit how much she sees my side of the family and I worry is that fair to her. But living in Italy provides a whole sort of different opportunities as well.

And bottom line we just are not happy here. We want to live our lives differently than the kind of life you would come to expect living in America. For me having a child changes everything I ever knew. Thats not true. Having Isabella really just clarified everything. I consider myself a wandering heart for a couple of reasons. The good, like I enjoy trying new things and challenging myself; and the bad, I just haven’t ever felt settled. Being in Italy I did. Having Isabella, taking care of her, I am.

Making this decision isnt easy though. There is my family,  I worry that they wont be able to see Isabella as often as I and they would want to. But they same can be said for Nico’s family. And I wanted to move back eventually, it was just a matter of deciding when. And I wonder sometimes if I am being selfish. We’ve been in the US for a year, but Nico really hasnt had the chance to do anything here. He hasnt had a chance to go out and work yet or to be around other people aside from me. He says he is happy to go home, everyone he knows is there, but we could do more to be around others here, now and even more so when we move out. I dont know.

In any event we are going through the process of working out what we need to do to move ourselves and the little bit of possessions that I have to Italy. It will happen after I take my comps, so anytime after the end of March. Exact date we arent sure yet. End of March is a little soon, so likely some time after that though. Theres so much to do. I have to update my passport with the new last name. Get a passport for Isabella  Find out rates for movers, get certain documents translated … a lot!