1. Walking. Fresh air, sunshine (most of the time), interesting people, and beautiful, historic landmarks make walking around town a joy every day. I also appreciate the guys who play music on the streets: there is a clarinetist near Saint Anthony's cathedral, an accordionist downtown, and sometimes small bands by the Palazzio Bo that really liven up graduations. Music brings even more energy and life to the streets of Padua. I should also mention that strolling downtown often involves eating gelato.
2. Dogs. So many people in Padua have dogs, and they are always out walking or hanging out with their people at outdoor cafes. In parks and grassy areas, people here are relaxed about letting their dogs off-leash, and the dogs really enjoy the freedom. Whenever I see happy canines walking down the street, looking up at their people with those sweet, expectant, doggy eyes, it always makes me smile.
3. Church bells. I have always loved the sound of church bells and, in Italy, you hear them all the time. I can even hear them from my apartment. On a practical note, since I never wear a watch, church bells can be useful for figuring out what time it is.
4. Shopkeepers. Thanks to my participation in the Italian street culture I wrote about previously, I have developed a little network of shopkeepers whom I can always count on for good food and a substantial conversations in Italian. For example, there's the guy with the beautiful fruit/veggie shop (on the way to the U.), who calls everyone "cara", teaches me the difference between "blond" and red oranges, and tells me I will learn plenty of Italian, "con calma". There's the kid at another great fruit/veggie shop (on the way downtown) who moved to Italy from China at age 12. Because he acquired Italian -and a few other languages- as second-languages, he is sincerely interested in my research on bilingual writing. He always asks how the project is going and points out improvements in my Italian when I stop by.
5. Food. Fresh pasta on a daily basis. What more can I say about this one?
|Orecchiette con pesto: my go-to dish|
Overall, my first month in Italy has been excellent. I am collaborating with talented and hard-working colleagues at the University. I am getting involved in the community through work with schools and organizations. The teachers and students participating in our research project have been welcoming and enthusiastic. My Italian is OK! Tutto va essere bene. Gracias a la vida!