Thursday, January 31, 2019

Playing It Smart for Once

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Every Sunday when I call my 94 year old Mother, she always warns me about being careful at my age (71) with being outside in the cold Italian winter weather.

Her biggest fear for me is that I catch, quite literally, my death of pneumonia.

Thus, when I got ready to go around the corner about 50 meters to the Bar Semaforo for my morning cappuccino and brioche I realized . . .

. . . that it had continued to snow
during the night and that it was
cold outside

I make it at two inches of fluffy
snow on our gate opening device

 Our trash cans were pristinely
white as well

Besides going to the Bar Semaforo
for nourishment, I also find out about
the goings on the national sports scene

While skimming the sports pages, I came to the correct health related decision.

I was not going out of the house for any extended period of time today because of the weather combined with the five-plus hours in the freezing cold at practice last night.

I also factored in that I would be exposed to another five-plus hours in Skorpion Field's sub-freezing microclimate on Thursday night.

" . . . don't catch your death of pneumonia."

 I joined Santa Barbara for a trip
to the Esselunga Supermercato at mid-day

Esselunga has a fine array hams and cheeses.

In the afternoon I did go out to
return and check out some videos
from the Varese Public Library

The library is located on the ground floor at the far end of this  city government complex.

 The garden behind the library

It is a gorgeous spot in the Spring

Little Miss Mary likes to ride
on the swings in the park near
our home in Camarillo

I wonder how she would like romping in the snow here in Varese today?

After checking out two videos, Unbroken and Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, I ambled to my favorite downtown pasticceria where they seemed to have a theme going in their display window . . .

. . . Hearts . . .

. . . lots . . .

. . . and lots . . .

. . . of hearts!

The only possible conclusion was that the most romantic day of the year was nearing.

Yes, this coming Saturday is indeed Groundhog Day!

It is hard to be apart from Laurie on this most special of days for people in love.

It happened right here

I forgot to relay this most Italian of stories from the other day that happened at that very corner just down the street from this bus stop in downtown Varese while I awaited the C line bus for the ride back up the hill to the Villa Skorpiuon II.

A car stopped at the intersection from the right about a foot over the limit line.

A taxi driver, driving down the street towards said intersection, about four seconds after the offending car had stopped, came to an unnecessary screeching halt just before the intersection getting the attention of all of the pedestrians on the street.

The cab driver proceeded to fling his door open and barged out of his vehicle ranting and waving his arms about in full Italian body language style.

He approached the offending car stopped at the intersection and regaled the negligent driver who wisely kept his window closed and, hopefully, his door locked. Our taxi driver's rant, in essence, was simply "You stop BEHIND the line, NOT on it and DEFINITELY NOT past it!"

While his cab was still idling and blocking traffic, another taxi and a city bus had now queued up behind it waiting for its driver to finish his business. No honking, no yelling, it was obviously just another day at the office for Varese's public transit workers.

I LOVE this country!

In the evening, we celebrated
Raffa's 20th birthday!


The Nardi family (Giorgio, Santa Barbara, Federica and Raffa) once again opened their home and hospitality to me.

They thankfully continue to educate me in the subtleties of the Bella Lingua Italian at every occasion.


I went to bed tonight feeling quite healthy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Day in Milan and a Night on the Frozen Tundra of Skorpion Field

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A long day began with a train ride into Milano to see about purchasing tickets to view Leonardo da Vinci's non-fresco wall painting rendition of The Last Supper.

Along the way and right next to the Cadorna Train Station, I ran into the Croatian Consulate in Milano. It reminded me that Laurie and I might go to Croatia to unwind on one of their splendid beaches come July.

 I love Croatia's Bob's Big Boy
inspired plaid national crest

Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie 

The Last Supper is found in the former dining hall of this church.

 Same church, different view

In Milano, often the old sees the new

This is the view from the Chiesa Santa Maria Delle Grazie up towards one of Milano's newest skyscrapers. 

I am trying to buy two tickets to view one of Leonardo's many masterpieces for our son Michael's visit this coming April. I was acutely aware that tickets must be purchased months in advance and was afraid that they might already be sold out for the time of his visit.

The lady said that ticket sales for all visits to The Last Supper in the month of April start tomorrow, on-line beginning at 2:30 p.m. local time.

We've got a shot!

Good news in hand, it was time to wander and see some key sights in Milano.

To me . . .

. . . food displays in store windows
ARE key sights in Milano!
 Everywhere one walks there is
art to be viewed in the streets

I don't know if this is a good idea


 Because I'm bad . . .

Modesty at all costs

Yep, me again at the Duomo

In the Metro station below
the Duomo

The Super Bowl broadcast kickoff live on Monday, February 4th at 12:15 a.m.

The Skorpions will be watching!

I was headed to the Garibaldi Train Station area to have a look see and to start considering a place to have lunch.

Milano's famed
Vertical Garden buildings

 Lots of shiny, new buildings
in the Garibaldi Train Station area

 A HUGE steak was a bit
too much for my delicate
appetite today

 As of last July, when we headed home
fo California, there were ZERO
Starbucks in Italy

This blight on the Italian coffee culture is spreading quickly as this is the third one that I've spied in Milano alone since my return.

Hopefully Venegono Superiore and Venegono Inferiore have been spared from the attack of this Pacific Northwest giant.

Old and new architecture
No lo so

Giovanni Battista Piatti 
A stately Civil Engineer from Milano

Suddenly it hit me, the perfect place for lunch! It was back on the Metro for the short ride to . . .

Milano's Stazione Centrale

Bold statues abound at Milano's
biggest train station

My noontime dining destination was about a five minute walk from the Stazione Centrale. 

Once again, no lo so

No lo so is Italian for I do not know.

What I did know was where I was going to dine today as it was recommended by not one but both of my go to guides to Milano and Italy!

 Perhaps you recall this fun book from
last year's stay with the Skorpions

In this book my dining spot is listed as attraction . . .

#62 Osteria del Treno
The award-winning railwaymen's trattoria
Via San Gregorio 46
20124 Milano
+39 026 700 479

Back in the day, this is where the old railway employees "after work club" was located. On May 1st, 1898, it became the headquarters of the railway worker's labor movement.

At lunchtime there are no table reservations taken as the manager, one Angelo Bissolotti, wants to preserve the working class spirit of the place.

The menu varies daily and you have to order and retrieve your food from the chef himself at a window in the kitchen facing the dining room.

While lunch is informal and straight forward, at night and on the weekends the vibe changes to one of haute cuisine with rising prices. On Sundays the the main room even becomes a tango dance floor!

My newest Italian tome weighs about
five pounds but it was worth lugging
over on the flight from Los Angeles

And no, they don't have a much easier to use/transport electronic version of it as of yet for my iPhone.

I mentioned the the ever changing daily lunch menu at the Osteria del Treno.

Here is what this book had to say about the possible menu items: "These might include goose products from Mortara, petuccia (a minced-meat sausage from Friuli), smoked eel from Tuscany, almonds from Puglia and Sicily, and so forth."

What the heck, I'M ALL IN!

I found it easily

 Unassuming exterior as expected

Simple interior too

I got there at about 12:10 p.m. and was told by an extremely helpful waiter that lunch would not be served for another 20 minutes. The bar was open so I could order a nice glass of red wine while seated at my table for one awaiting the feeding frenzy to commence.

That long, silver colored window
is where one orders and receives
their food directly from the chef

The feeding has begun!

For my primo piatti I enjoyed what was a good rigatoni but it was all about my secondo piatti on this fine day.

My secondo consisted of a large slab of Lombardia's famed, strong gorgonzola cheese on a plate then smothered with warm, delicious polenta!

I was in Italian culinary heaven.


Great call by both of my books!

In the evening, it was time for four plus hours of American football with the Skorpions.

 On Facebook I found this funny
comparison of this Monday's two
Super Bowl QBs

At 6:30 p.m., the Frozen Tundra of
Skorpion Field was ready for our
U16 tackle team's and
Senior Women's flag team's workouts

Senior Women's flag team Head
Coach Dario D'Adelfio looks toasty 


U16 tackle team working
on their tackling techniques

U16 Angle Tackling

U16 QB throwing under no duress

At 8:15 p.m., we started our Senior team's, or La Prima Squadra as they are called in Italian parlance, practice.

Senior Defense also working on their
most basic of skills, TACKLING

Inside Run Period

A big Third Down scrimmage period
was a part of our schedule tonight

 We finished up with a Goal Line
series starting at the ten yard line

Tonight, the Defense had a solid Goal Line Stand to show for their efforts.

Overall, with La Prima Squadra, I was pleased both with the great turnout and the effort on this icy evening. Our techniques and timing are still a long ways away from where our coaches want them but we can attain our desired levels of proficiency if we can continue with the high attendance and solid effort.

Meanwhile, back in the Skorpions cozy, warm locker room area . . .

Tributes of past Skorpions' pilgrimages
to London to see an NFL game

 These annual games are HUGE
events for EuroBall loving players,
coaches and fans throughout the continent

 Even if it is only to see the Bengals play

Physically, it was a good day
for improving my fitness levels