We've now marked an entire calendar year spent in Italy. While I always feel like there is more and more travel to be done, I realize now that we didn't do such a shabby job. Beyond our travel within Italy, we marked six countries off our list, with visits to France, Greece, Ireland, Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria. With another full year to go, I'm excited to see where the year will take us. Istanbul is tops on my list, although Nathan has no interest in the city, so that may be a solo trip. Skiing in Austria, a weekend trip to Barcelona, a long weekend in Sardinia, a cruise through the Nordic countries, driving through Croatia - all of these are on our list. Who knows what we'll actually fit into the schedule though. We're resting up after our marathon fall and early winter travels so that we can hit 2012 with renewed vigor.
As far as our actual life here, we've made friends, created a support network, found a home church, secured options for Crazy Dog care, and made friends with our landlords. We've learned that all the bad things people told us about Naples were, in fact, true...but that those things don't define Naples. We've learned to embrace the driving. I wonder how I will adapt to driving in the U.S., a place hampered with stifling rules such as stoplights, stop signs, yield lanes, lane change rules, left turn rules, and so forth. While with most aspects of society, a complete lack of rules can descend into chaos and anarchy, I find that in Naples driving, chaos and anarchy are more compatible with safety on the road. An odd dichotomy. We've learned about living in a house in a country that is falling down around itself. No matter how nice the house, mold will grow. We must turn our caldaia (water heater) off and then back on at least once per day to ensure continued hot water. Our terraces, if left unswept for more than two days, will become a carpet of leaves. Plaster will continue to fall off the walls in our house. At least one thing in our house or on our vehicles will break each and every week. Scully has learned to be an Italian dog, which mainly consists of hanging over our front railing and barking madly at any and all persons who dare to do such activities as walk down a public street. We've learned to appreciate a coffee culture in which the proper coffee, from time of entry to exit of the bar, should take no more than two minutes...but that doesn't mean we don't miss sitting in comfy chairs in an American coffee house, enjoying reading or talking with friends over an hour long coffee session! We've learned the Metro system, our favorite pizzeria, and how to drive the Amalfi Coast without being terrified. We've learned how to get by and even have a somewhat decent conversation in Italian. Our brains are full and tired, but we have another year to absorb and learn and see and do.
And so, we will end 2011 with a bang. With lots of bangs. I don't know if there's a better place on the planet to experience a New Year's Eve. We'll head to a high point by our house tonight to have a 360 degree view of fireworks displays - fireworks will be shot off of balconies, out of personal yards, by town councils in their piazzas, and out on the islands, of which we hope to be able to see all three from our vantage point. We'll look at the fireworks while standing on the edge of a caldera formed hundreds of years ago in a volcanic eruption, and we'll give thanks for 2011 while looking forward to 2012 with optimism. Happy New Year.