Saturday, February 26, 2011


German is now like this to me. It's what English sounds like to people who don't speak English. It does sound like English, except I can't understand what they're saying. German now sounds familiar, like I should understand it, but, except for a word here and there, I don't.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Germany gets a point for soft pretzel products. Italy, though, also gets a point for the availability of pasta with tomato sauce and/or cheese pizza at every restaurant in the country. There is always a respectable vegetarian option.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Word Origins

In fact, there are more words in English from French/Latin than from German. (source) That explains why it seems to have more in common with Italian.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Things I won't miss about Italy

  • always feeling like people are trying to take advantage of you
  • buses that just don't show up
  • fearing for my life when riding my bike in traffic
  • inhaling all that exhaust from the motorini
  • transportation strikes that seem to exist for no other reason than to give workers a long weekend
  • not being able to take people at their word (best piece of advice: "Never take 'no' for an answer")
  • dealing with 3 companies and waiting 9 months before having decent internet access
  • power limitations that prevent you from using the oven and washing machine at the same time
  • mosquitoes at all times of the year

Things I will miss about Italy

After two and a half years in Florence and a variety of experiences, there are a variety of things that I will miss after moving away, and also some that I certainly won't. In no particular order, and without the claim of completeness, here are things that I will miss about Italy in general and Florence in particular. Things I won't miss will be in an upcoming post.
  • my colleagues, who have become friends
  • being able to visit an incredible variety of museums, churches, ancient cities, and other tourist places on a quick day trip
  • cheap house wine in restaurants
  • Italian food, especially the high quality of food and produce you can buy
  • Grom gelato
  • seasonal specialties: porcini and fresh olive oil in the fall, cavolo nero and cime di rapa in the winter, fava beans in spring, and percoche and other stone fruit in summer
  • (relatively) cheap local and regional public transportation
  • lots of sunshine and clear skies

Update on the last few months

As you probably noticed from Kristen's last few posts, we're no longer in Italy. We'll probably keep the name of the blog and its address, just for convenience, but our new home is now Ulm, Germany. But let's back up a bit.
Most of you regular readers probably already know that we got married last December in a small ceremony on the beach in Key West, Florida (email us if you want to see pictures). After that happy occasion, I returned to Florence, while Kristen stayed in the US for another few weeks. The middle of January, I started work in Ulm, while Kristen came back from the US a week later. We both flew to Florence for a week at the end of January to pack up our stuff and say goodbye to our friends there, before heading off to wintery Germany. We're currently in a temporary furnished apartment while we look for something more permanent.
We hope to keep updating the blog with our adventures in Schwaben (Swabia), though you might find that posting will be a bit slower, since the density of sights to see is probably a little lower than in Tuscany! Of course, we'd be happy to host visitors in our new home as well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First Impressions of Ulm compared to Florence

1. snow. seems to be a permanent feature
2. Burger Kings
3. pointed roofs

Stay Permit

(See this for context)

I was seen almost immediately at the place where foreigners get their stay permits, and the woman answered questions without an attitude and was able to give useful information. Germany: 1, Italy: 0.

Note about Moving

We put up signs saying no parking on the day we moved, so there would be space for the moving truck. There were even metal barricades in the spaces. Of course, by the time the moving truck got there, the metal barricades had been moved and there was no free space. Way to not disappoint, Italy.

Only one person got out and yelled at us for blocking the road, though. For being able to argue back with him rather successfully, I felt I had reached a good level of Italian proficiency.