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Report 1114: Bergamo, Venice, Lerici, Piemonte, Friends & World Cup Mania

By girasoli from Hawaii, Summer 2006

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Page 8 of 23: Weekend with Irene & Francesco

photo by girasoli

view from Ristorante Pizzeria Lo Spigo in Montelupo Fiorentino

I woke up Friday morning not wanting to leave Venice but also excited to see Irene & Francesco again. I took the vaporetto to the train station, the Eurostar to Florence, and then another train to Empoli.

My first train excitement of my trip consisted of a small outburst, which took place on the Eurostar. At first all was calm. Then very suddenly, an older Italian man sitting nearby started yelling at another man sitting across from him who was constantly talking on his cell phone. Everyone was pretty shocked by this event and began to quietly discuss what had happened. After his outburst, for the rest of the journey, every time a cell phone rang, everyone held his or her breath not knowing if that would set off another outburst. Thankfully, he only huffed and puffed a little but other than that, he managed to stay calm.

My train from Venice arrived in Florence 10 minutes late. Because my next train to Empoli also left 10 minutes late, I made the connection without any difficulty. Francesco's mother, Marusca was waiting for me at the train station in Empoli.

It was wonderful to see everyone again. I was amazed when I saw Irene. She was seven months pregnant but you wouldn't even know it until she turned sideways. Sara recently turned two and was talking quite a bit. She was as cute as ever. At first when I would speak to her with my strange accent, she would look at me with this strange look, but after a while she seemed to understand at least some of what I was trying to say. I read her one of her books and we played together until Francesco returned home from work.

Friday evening we had a very delicious meal at Francesco's parents' house. Marusca made ravioli with burro and salve and also some eggplant, tomato, & mozzarella cheese goodies and a dish with zucchini and other vegetables. For dessert, we had fruit and then some little yogurt fruit frozen treats. I was so full, I couldn't move!

After having a nice relaxing breakfast with Marusca Saturday morning, Irene, Francesco, Sara, and I went to the center to walk around and do some shopping. We went to the fish market, to the fruit and vegetable stand, to the bread store, and to a few other shops. The weather was very HOT with no breeze. After returning home and enjoying a delicious pasta lunch, we all took an afternoon nap.

Later in the afternoon, we went to the train station so that I could buy my next train ticket for my next leg of my trip. We watched a couple of trains arrive and depart with Sara and then stopped at a park. When we returned home, we began cooking dinner. Irene made a delicious seafood with pasta dish and we both worked on putting together some shish-ka-bobs using fresh tuna chunks, bread, tomatoes, and zucchini.

Giacomo & Francesca joined us for dinner. Everyone had a great time eating and chatting. Last summer we went to their house for dinner. I gave them suggestions of places to visit for their first trip to Boston. After dinner, they showed me their pictures of their trip. I haven't been back to Boston for a while now. It was fun seeing the pictures of the places they enjoyed. After seeing all their pictures we chatted some more and watched some of the soccer match of the evening. World Cup soccer matches have been on TV every night since I arrived in Italy.

Sunday morning, I went with Francesco & Irene to watch them vote. It was a very interesting experience. Their polling place was at an elementary school. When they finished voting, we returned home and got ready to go to Irene's parents' house for a delicious lunch of pesto pasta, a vegetable dish, a seafood dish, and fruit salad. Ice cream was also served but I was too full to even try a bite. I so enjoy spending time with both of Irene & Francesco’s families when I come to Empoli. They are all so kind and we always have such interesting conversations.

After lunch, I spent a little bit of time on Francesco's computer updating my blog, checking in on the Red Sox, and checking my e-mail. Later, while Sara was napping, Francesco, Irene, and I watched the DVD "L’Amore in Gioco” (Fever Pitch), which I bought while I was in Coccaglio. Francesco always sends me information about his soccer team and I always send him information about my baseball team. I definitely could understand the passion of soccer this summer while in Italy. I wanted to also share my passion for the Red Sox. At the end of the movie, I told them how I still get goose bumps every time I watch the final out when the Red Sox finally won the World Series.

When Sara woke up, we went for a walk to another park. Irene was amazing, seven months pregnant and full of energy.

For dinner, we went with Francesco's parents to a wonderful place called Ristorante Pizzeria Lo Spigo in Montelupo Fiorentino. The restaurant was located above the town up on a hill with amazing views of the valley below. The restaurant was very crowded and the food was very good.

When we returned home, I took a few more pictures of everyone and sadly said goodbye to Francesco, Irene, and Sara, as I would not see them again on this trip. Another memorable weekend with special friends, which I will treasure.

**Update - Aug 20, 2006 - It's a boy!!!

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