Thursday, July 23, 2015

Italy - Day 41 (Milan to South Bend)

I headed for my farewell run to say goodbye to the city, for now.  A few final pics of the area we came to know and love so well.

This shows our #9 train heading off.

Our balcony
 We had the last of our coffee, put the bags by the door, and then woke the kids about 8 to get ready for our 8:30 pick up.  Pretty early start to the day for them, and definitely some mixed emotions about leaving.  Lily cried the entire way to the airport.

The farewell shots of our apartment...

The steps in the foyer.  The sweet apartment attendant gave us a hearty arrividerci that tugged at my heart and stung eyes with tears.  She loved watching the 'bambini's' come and go and would count off 1 - 2 - 3 to me as they walked by.  Three kids is a rather large family by Italian standards.
 Once at the airport, the kids kept themselves busy.  And funny enough, we ran into some friends from South Bend that were flying home too!  Such a small world!

Gia hard at work on her letters

Lily looking wistfully out the window.

Caden drawing the plane.
The flight from Milan to Toronto was just shy of 9 hours.  The kids did great as usual.  Short stop in Toronto then we landed in Chicago and headed to Avis to pick up our one-way rental, trying hard to keep the kids awake on the last bit of this 19-hour journey door-to-door to tackle the impending jet-lag.  At this point, it is a bout 3AM for them.  It was tough, but we made it the car...

The backseat - Caden fell first, Gia enjoyed hearing her favorite songs and singing along before tipping over, and Lily hung in with the air guitar before falling over the other way :)

They slept the entire way to South Bend and woke in their own beds the next morning right on schedule.

In closing, spending 6 weeks together in Italy has been such a blessing.  We loved every minute of the journey!  Around the dinner table when sharing our favorites it really came down to just having the time to be together walking, exploring, swimming, boating, playing games, and experiencing a different way of life that not only encourages but demands a healthier lifestyle for the people and the environment with  the the emphasis and support for biking and walking everywhere, fresh wholesome foods available at outdoor markets at every turn, and the emphasis on being responsible to do good for the environment too with 5 different trash receptacles for sorting your trash, the smaller cars, and the wonderful public transport.  Hopefully these will become habits for us now that we are home.

And while Italy certainly has made its mark on us, I know Italy will never be the same either.  I mean come on.  How many 4 year olds can pull this off?!?

Ciao per ora bella Italia = Goodbye for now beautiful Italy!

Italy - Day 40 (Milan)

I had meetings arranged today with IED and Domus around design thinking.  I began the journey thinking I would use the bike share... to summarize, the Internet was so slow it took 30-minutes to buy the pass online.  I rushed to the bike station by our place and all the bikes were checked out.  I raced to the next one and back before getting a bike.  Set off on the journey and could not get the Google Map to load, so parked the bike, hopped in a cab, and hung my head out the window the entire ride in an attempt to stop dripping in sweat!  Quite comical to say the least!  However, I had a really great meeting with Federico and Alesandro (wearing my outfit purchased at the markets the previous Saturday) :)

 The facilities of IED...

 I took the train back, and we all had lunch with Massimo at a little place just down from our apartment that has an entire cooking school where they train chefs on panini making!

I then headed off by bike, which were plentifully available, to meet with some of the faculty at Domus Academy, which is ranked by Bloomberg as a top school in design thinking.

I tried to discreetly snap a photo of this trendy looking woman at the reception.  Even the heels of her shoes were striped!
 One of the DA classroom/collaboration spaces I was coveting.

 I then hopped back on my bike to go back to l'Hub to finish my sewing project with Sylvia.  By this point, I was feeling quite Italian and enjoying the confidence of being able to get myself around the city.  We describe Milan as a Chicago and Rome more of a New York, meaning to say that Milan is a bit more manageable.

On my way to meet Syliva I realized this little piazza was actually a pool - right there - a short distance from our place the whole darn hot week!!!  I know I had seen it online, but the only photos were of a graffiti-ed facade which didn't quite motivate me any further.  Today however the gates were open, and as I rode by dripping in sweat, I really, really wanted to swim.


I quickly finished my skirt, which was so fun!, Corey got the kids suits out of the suitcase, and we met at the pool for an interesting and refreshing pool experience.

We stopped for gelatto on our way back to the house, got cleaned up (Lily and I each wearing our homemade skirts) and headed out for our final dinner out on this amazing journey.

Modeling our new skirts

Our dinner spot

Cadio and pepe pasta (butter and black pepper)

The walk home - we will really miss the walking lifestyle!

The advertisement plastered everywhere, and I mean everywhere, we had to commemorate with a mocking photo.  Even the kids were commenting how tired they were on seeing it.  I asked Lily what she thought they were selling and she offered up "shirts?!?"  Love that girl's sense of humor!

Italy - Day 39 (Milan)

I ran to the Duomo this morning.  The Duomo in the early hours is virtually empty.  Such a contrast from our earlier visit where the kids say on the steps and played Spot It among the throngs of people.

A man immersed in pigeon feeding.  I had to stop and watch for a bit, as this is clearly a ritual for him.  He walked back and forth tossing handfuls of seed as the birds swirled about him.

The indoor mall space was worth a slow walk through to take it all in without all of the visitors about.

Notice the positioning of McDonald's '_'

These snails had a different position every few days.  From kissing to this :)  I get the sense that the artist is not the one doing the moving...  by the end of the day, the snails were repositioned.

The scuola right by our place.  The image morphed (or has attempted to morph) into a child giving flowers.
 We set out to find mass around 9 and ended up at this beautiful church of St. Lorenzo.

The inside of S. Lorenzo's was stunning with the openness and sunlight streaming in from the dome windows.  And this mass was the first time I experienced attending mass with dogs!  Three different people had their dogs with them.

The kids each lit candles, which gave us a chance to meet the priest.  He spent about 20 years in Africa and 5 years in the US and seemed so delighted to see us there.

 Next up was Chiccolati Italiani for brunch.  Their philosophy is about the benefit and value of chocolate for use in all types of cooking.  One of their signature dishes is a pasta with cocoa nibs - which we didn't try.  We did however try the pear and chocolate waffle, crepes, fruit, and chocolate coffees.  Each dish came with a side pot of chocolate - your choice of nero (black) or bianco (white) for pouring on your food or directly into your mouth :)  Our table did both.

 I took a few shots of some of the menu pages to give a sense of the vast number of offerings in hot chocolate alone!

The hot chocolate offerings...

On the way home, we stopped at a play area, but was too hot to stay for long.  There was small, fenced in reservoir filled with fish, a turtle, and baby ducks that the kids enjoyed watching.

We relaxed in the air conditioning for the rest of the afternoon before Caden, Lily, and I headed out to IKEA for a kids class / study they were doing on cooking instruction (you had to be 5 to do it, and thankfully Gia was napping when we left).  But first, a stop at the kissing birds...

The IKEA store is a test location set up for 180 days around the concept of the kitchen of future, which aligns with the EXPO happening in Milan right now, and also the importance of play in a family.  IKEA just completed a study on play which was highlighted in the test space.

Waiting for the class to begin.  Just a tad bit anxious about the fact that the class will be fully in Italian...

The test kitchen space

Getting started.  We first signed a release that the kids could be photographed for their work, which I understood thanks to the help of the trusty Google Translator app on my phone!  Either that or I said they keep the kids in exchange for a photograph :)
  The set up included a little dining table, this table, and a table with crafting materials.  We really had no idea what it was all for at this point.

The kids were each given a little packet that contained a tattoo.  The tattoo had visual instructions on how to set the table.  The assistants helped each child tattoo the instructions onto their arms.

We decided this would be a great way to learn the language!

The kids were then asked to set the table using the instructions provided.  Lily and Caden were a bit unsure, but made it through.  It was funny to see that each child set their spot a bit differently.

The next task they really enjoyed, which was to cut out circus shapes and make a little puppet show craft.  This one they did much quicker at.

There were then asked to incorporate the craft into the table decorations, which Lily got very creative with affixing the puppets to the fork tongs :)

Afterwards the kids were treated to ice cream to say thank you.

The kids loved the play area, which was designed based on the play research IKEA just completed.  Unfortunately my camera battery was nearly dead at this point, so I missed the but dressing up the kids did as birds and Wild Thing looking creatures.

I made a quick tour through the kitchen of the future display that was designed with IDEO, the leading design thinking firm, and a university in Finland.  I included an overview of the concepts below too.  Very inspirational!

 Afterwards we met up with Corey and Gia for drinks at the Ginger Cocktail Lab that we had been wanting to try.  It is ranked in the top cocktail labs worldwide.  We sat outside on the canal and enjoyed a breeze, a delicious drinks, and the happy hour appetizers.

Once home, we finished getting our packing in order.  Only one more day!