Category Archives: Everyday

Wine Tasting

Today was an open wine tasting day for the Friulia Venezia Guilia region.  What does this mean exactly?  Local wineries were having all-you-can-taste tastings as well as offering additonal things, like special vendors, snacks, and tours.  Oh, and archery.  Because wine and arrows mix so well.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

First we went to the Luciano Bessich winery in Roveredo in Piano.  We have driven by it a lot, it’s on the way to the flightline side of base when we go the “back” way, which saves us a whole 2 clicks I think.  We’ve bought their wine at the Shoppette before, but hadn’t bothered to stop in at the winery.  So we thought we’d check it out.  They took us on a tour of the vineyard.  Some of the vines are as old as 50 years old.  There were others they just planted this year that will take about 5 years to be productive.  They also grow corn, mainly for fuel purposes, in the past it has been for animal feed.  And they have kiwi trees.  Kiwi season is in the Fall, and you can get a Kilo of kiwi (not the cream of the crop, but definitely edible) for 1 Euro.  Oh, and they had asparagus too, asparagus season ended yesterday.  Then we came indoors and they showed us the different vats they use to ferment the wine.  Then they filter the wine and bottle it.  Bottling time is based on the moon believe it or not.  If you want your wine frizzante (with bubbles), bottle it at the 1/4 moon.  If you want it regular, bottle it on the full moon.  If you want to age it, bottle it at the 3/4 moon.  But whatever you do, do NOT bottle it on the new moon.  According to the tour leader, your wine bottles will explode at some point in the future.  He also said the average Italian drinks a half liter of wine a day.  Two glasses at lunch and two at dinner. 

After we were done there, we took off towards home and revisited the Rive winery.  They had cheese dipped in honey to try and a roast pig with no bones.  Not sure how they did that, but it sure was good!  The kids were bored and getting whiney (hee hee), then they discovered that they could shoot bows and arrows.  The owners of Rive don’t speak a whole lot of English, but the person they had doing the archery apparently is an Italian airline pilot and so speaks English and plenty of it!  The boys had a blast trying to hit the target, and Doug had a try as well.  They finally convinced me to shoot despite me feeling a little tipsy from all the wines I had tried.  I didn’t do too badly, perhaps stone cold sober and with a little practice I could actually be pretty good!  Or at least hit the broad side of a barn.  My photographer (Brandon) needs a little practice with his photography though.

All in all, a day well spent though it would have been fun to find a few more wineries to visit.  Who knows what other things we might get to see and do!  Luckily for us, there is always next year!


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Il Mare (The Sea, not a female horse)

So Friday Doug mentions he thought maybe we could go to the beach on Saturday.  My mind starts whirling.  “Well, we’ll need to buy a cooler (our old one had developed a leak and didn’t make the move with us), we’ll need drinks to go in the cooler, and ice, we don’t have any sunscreen, I’ll need snacks because I don’t want to buy food there, and oh, yeah, I DO know where all the beach towels are!  But what about swim trunks?”  Nothing is easy when you’ve got kids to tag along with you. 

We spent what felt like half the day just getting ready.  Buying a cooler and sunscreen (and a map of Northern Italy), buying drinks and snacks, forgetting to buy ice and having to go over to the shopette, then trying to figure out what beach to go to, and then getting the GPS all set up.  I don’t think we left the base till almost 2 p.m.

We headed towards Lignano.  The kids and I went to the zoo there a couple weeks ago.  One of the other moms that was on that trip mentioned that last summer they would go to the beach in Lignano every Sunday after church.  Sounded good to me!  It was a pleasant drive, though the autostrada can be kinda scary.  Two lanes each way and you have people in the slow lane sometimes as slow as 45 mph and in the fast lane you have people whizzing by at twice that!  Makes passing scary because you can look and no one is there and then pull out only to find someone on your bumper.  It cost Euro 1.40 to use the autostrada.  One of these days we’ll get a Telepass so we can just zip on through and get billed once every 3 months.

We got to the beach and had to drive around for a bit to find a parking space (which we added to the GPS “favorites” file lol).  The parking reminded me of going to the beach in Southern California.  The beach itself was actually on the other side of a wall.  There are shops and caffe bars along the wall, along with bathrooms/showers.  It was kind of strange to me, because you couldn’t see what the beach looked like or how crowded it might be till after you committed yourself to being there!  But it wasn’t crowded really, and the water was so pretty.  There were umbrellas you could rent, along with chairs and lounges.  And some guy, who did NOT look Italian, tried to sell us beach towels.  Another guy was selling what looked like large sections of raw coconut, but I’m not certain because I didn’t have my handy English/Italian dictionary to look up the Italian word for coconut.  If you don’t want to pay to rent an umbrella, you just set your stuff up on the beach.  Oddly enough, the “free” beach area is the closest to the water!  That is what I want so I can watch the kids!

The kids had a blast, digging in the wet sand and catching crabs and hermit crabs.  The water was on the cold side, not many people were swimming.  But there were people playing games of soccer on the beach, and a few couples hitting a volley ball back and forth.  There were only a few topless ladies, I don’t think the kids even noticed.  They did notice a lot of the girls about their ages didn’t have tops and they thought that was strange.  We explained it’s just a cultural difference and not a big deal.  So they went back to catching crabs and finding shells. 

The water was calm, the breeze was blowing, the sun was warm, all in all a relaxing time.  I try to forget how much I dislike sand and sandy children, who somehow seem to cover EVERYTHING in sand that is within 3 feet of their person.

I don’t know how it is at your place, but you know it is summer in the Springer household when there are three little white butts attached to otherwise brown bodies,  We are on our way!

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Goal Day

All I know about a “goal day” is that it means Doug doesn’t have to go to work.  Instead of letting him relax around the house, we went to the market in Sacile.  After all, he’s been here over 4 months and hasn’t been to a market!  Alyssa was off school because it was an Italian holiday, their version of Labor Day, so she came with us.  It was beautiful out.  Yes, there is actually sun in Northern Italy!  I’m sure come summer I’ll be complaining about the sun.  We walked around checking things out at first, and then stopped for gelato.  When we were done, we went back out and bought a flat of strawberries for 5 Euro (better than my last experience buying berries at the market!) and Alyssa insisted on buying some anchovies for us to eat.  I never did eat one, which really doesn’t upset me!

We stopped for lunch at Alle Forcate and Doug had a seafood pasta plate.  It was really good, and we discovered that Alyssa likes to eat octopus, calamari (squid), and mussels!  I had pasta with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper.  Yum!  Then we had to head home so we could be there in time for the boys to get off the school bus.  I kinda feel bad that they didn’t get to go with us, but every once in a while it’s nice to get that one-on-one time with each of them.

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“Character Matters”

The third grade put on a school play called “Character Matters” in which fairy tale characters go to the Fairy Tale Advice Council to get help with their problems.  Brandon played the part of the Wolf, who is taught the golden rule so he won’t eat people.  Cinderella dealt with her anger issues, the mirrors on the wall learned to tell the truth even though the evil queen might smash them to bits, and Baby Bear learned to forgive Goldilocks.  It was a really cute play, I was very impressed with the writing and the humor.  Brandon was so excited to play his part as the wolf, and he did a really good job.

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Field Trip Acero Rosso

Today I went with Zach’s class to a farm in Sacile.  We went with another first grade class from one of the Italian elementary schools in Aviano.  It was raining (of course) so luckily they have a bunch of covered areas and we went into one where the cavallo (horse) was.  Each kid was given a picture of a farm animal and told (through translators, the guy at the farm didn’t speak any English) to make their animal sound and find all the other kids that were making the same sound.  We only had one problem, for a pig the American kids were all saying “oink oink” and Italian kids were all making a snorting sound lol.  A cultural difference probably no one has considered before!  They all managed to find their group and each group was pretty evenly split between the two schools.

We went into another area set up with tables.  There were tons of plants and that is when I wondered if this was more nursery than farm.  I wanted to go shop for plants instead of help with the kids lol.  The kids made a farm animal necklace/name tag and then drew a picture.  They talked about mammals vs. birds and then got to pet a 4 day old lamb and a 2 week old gosling.

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Then we went back where the horse was and they talked about the horse and how it was different than some of the other animals.

Then back to the nursery area and he brought out a rabbit.  I asked if they raised them to eat and they said no.  I think my landlords would be disappointed!

We boarded the Aviano scuola bus (our base tour bus was too big to get into the farm) and headed back out to our bus.  The Italian school bus was NOT comfortable at all, the seats were hard plastic and tiny (not meant for adult behinds I guess).  At least Alyssa’s bus out here in Caneva has padded bench seats.  Anyway, we headed off to Casa Bianca for lunch.  The kids had pizza, except for Zach, Mr. Food Allergy.  He had steak and fries.  And people feel sorry for him!!  I had the lasagna.  I am not sure what kind of cheese they use, but it is the BEST lasagna EVER.  Topped it off with a cappuccino.  Zach did miss out on the gelato but I told him he could have one of his allergen-free brownies when he got home from school.

Can you believe the first graders were better behaved than the third graders I went with yesterday?  And I also think the American class was better behaved than the Italian class.  It’s good to know kids are kids no matter where you go!


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Field Trip! Iron and Pasta

Brandon’s 3rd grade class went on a field trip today to visit a blacksmith and a pasta factory in Sacile.  I’m not sure if the two really go together, but it was an interesting trip!  We boarded the school bus (which here means European tour bus) and were off to Sacile, about 30 mins from base via slow bus.

First stop was the blacksmith.  I’d seen the shop several times as it is on SS 13, the main street through Sacile and Pordenone, but I didn’t know what it was exactly that they did there!  The guy was really nice, though I don’t think he spoke a word of English.  Brandon’s teacher, Mrs. Hernandez, did the translating so the kids could ask questions and understand what he was telling them.  He first sketched out a design, explaining to the kids that they do this to get an idea of what the customer wants and to make sure it will all come together nicely. 

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Then they do the actual iron work.  The kids were amazed by how hot the oven was.  He was telling them they used to use coal fires (like I used when I took Farrier Science, aka Horseshoeing 101, in college) but due to the health hazards of the soot they had to switch to gas ovens.  He made it look so easy, twisting and flattening and curling the hot metal.  Past experience making a horseshoe out of straight bar stock told me it was NOT that easy lol.  The business is a family business and I think he’s been working iron 20+ years.  He seemed to be about my age, maybe a little younger.  The kids seemed fascinated.

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After we finished up there, we boarded the bus and headed to the pasta factory.  The guy at the pasta factory was a hoot.  He was great with the kids and seemed like it’d be fun to hang out with him and have a cappuccino lol.  He would try and say the ingredients in English (he didn’t speak a lot of English, but more than they blacksmith did) and the kids would say it back in Italian and it confused him for a second.  Anyway, he made gnocchi (potato dumplings) from scratch and in the machine and then he made pasta by hand and in the machines.  He made different types of pasta, tagliatelli (I think), spaghetti, raviolis (a few different shapes), and tortellinis (about 5 different styles).  I wanted to sample some, but they only sell wholesale to restaraunts around town.  We did get some dried pasta to take home and it was very good. 

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Then it was time for lunch.  We ate at Alla Forcate in Sacile.  I had a four cheese pizza w/out reading what the four cheeses were.  One of them was dark and moldy looking and VERY salty.  I guess I’ll stick with my Pizza Diavalo (usually marinara, mozzarella, and hot salami~~asking for pepperoni here will get you peppers, not meat!).  The kids all ate well and were quite noisy.  They even got gelato for dessert!  Then we boarded the bus and headed back to school.  I ran off to grab a cappuccino while waiting for school to let out and then I drove the boys home, kind of a treat since they usually ride the bus.

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Spring Break

We survived the boys’ Spring Break last week.  The weather turned yucky, lots of rain and very little sun, so we had to find indoor things to do (well, we did squeeze in the Aviano market on Tuesday but both of them left their jackets in the car so we had to cut it short).  So they did bowling camp 2 hours a day from Monday-Thursday, then we bowled again Friday AND Saturday.  My bowling muscles are still sore.  So are the ones I used in Pilates yesterday.  Ouch.

We also worked on Cub Scout stuff, we’ve only got a couple months left to get all of their requirements done so they can recieve their patches.  Zach I’m not worried about since he started his stuff back in September with the den in Texas, but Brandon just joined last month so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us!

Yesterday we had a pretty good hail storm.  I think we’ve had hail more times here in the last three months than we would get in a year in Texas.  You could see the hail collected in the nets over the landlords’ garden in the back yard, but I was too tired to get up and take a picture to put in here.

Wish I had more exciting news to post, but there just isn’t much going on right now, especially with the weather keeping us housebound so much!


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