This Thursday marks the end of a string of late nights and social gatherings. I have gained the new nickname "mondana" (social butterfly) for the extraordinary number of times I find myself returning home when the only sign of movement on the streets is that of the odd "ubriaco" and the only prominent lights in view are the Christmas illuminations that remain lit throughout the night. I am not used to being a mondana -- a girl whose original idea of a curfew when she first arrived was 1:00 a.m., but it is when the Torinese are at their most alert. So, when in Rome (or in Torino), one must follow suit.
On Sunday, I experienced my first live football game. It took place on a rainy and cold day between two Italian teams, Juventus and Milan, and my companions for the evening were RaeAnne, Sarah (from England) and her school chum Simon who just so happens to be a dead ringer of Jeremy Northam, my favourite actor. (Swoons!) RaeAnne and I were incredibly fortunate as the father of the family for which Sarah works is friends with the manager of the Juventus team. As such, the tickets were free and in a fairly descent position. As I am not a football fan in general, I will not attempt to comment on the game itself, but I will comment on the fans. From what I noticed, Italian fans really don't seem to give two hoots whether their team makes a mistake or not. A player could kick the soccer ball and completely overshoot the net and the crowd would still break into a supportive cheer. This attitude seems to lie in contrast to that in other countries like Canada where players are more often booed than not if they foul up on the field. In the end, the team which Torino supports, Juventus, won by two points, a result pointedly emphasized at the finish by the team when they ran from goalpost to goalpost and threw themselves sliding into the mud. It took us almost an hour subsequently to get home since it was pouring with freezing cold rain, and there wasn't a taxi or bus in sight for over 20 minutes, but we still maintain that we do not have any regrets, despite the fact that our heads hit the pillow at 2:00 am.
Monday night was planned to see off a girl I only just got to know recently though we've been acquaintances ever since I arrived. Kim, a fellow au pair from Australia, was in my Italian class and also looked after a couple of children who go to the same nursery school as Anna and Pietro, so we had quite a bit in common, but never got around to hanging out outside of these two environments. Since I am always one for throwing random people together, I decided to call up Mathieu and Nicola to join us, and Kim did the same to her friend Loredana, giving us a substantial group of five people who really didn't know each other that well, but were happy to spend time together regardless. The movie we saw was called Slumdog Millionaire, originally filmed in Hindi but translated into Italian, and I recommend it to anyone, even those who cannot stand the proverbial Bollywood dance that is bound to appear at the end of each Indian film. To give a very brief summary, the movie takes you through the life of Jamal, an 18 year old orphan whose troubling life experiences give him the knowledge to win 20 million rupees on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It has an excellent blend of humour and seriousness, and provides in depth insight into the wealthy and impoverished sides of India. If you're looking for a movie to see, this is the one folks! Afterwards, we went to a local pub for a beer and a chat, and by the time I got home, it was already 2:30.
The next day had long been in the making. I attended my first Zucchero concert at the Torino Olympic Hockey Arena Isozaki, and I was once again accompanied by Mathieu and this time Marco as well, who I hadn't seen in almost a month. Though the whole concert was fabulous, my night was truly made when Zucchero sang both Il Volo and Mente a Rosamarino, my two favourite songs off of the Best Hits album. (And Il Volo has a special significance for me since it was always the one I would sing along to with my family when it came on the French radio station, Cherie FM!) Throughout the show, the three of us were on our feet dancing and singing, taking videos and random photographs, enjoying the human energy that overwhelmed the arena. Another favourite part was when, during the prelude to the encore, everyone in the stadium began stamping their feet loudly to call Zucchero back on stage. The vibration created by our feet shook the entire stadium and sent shivers through my spine. After the concert, we once again headed for the nearest English pub where we met up with Nicola for supper, drinks and an intense lesson in Italian slang and proverbs. This time, my key entered the lock of our front door at 3:00 in the morning, and I could hardly sleep for worrying about whether my alarm would wake me at 7:00 the next morning.
Wednesday was the final event in my string of late evenings out. I had to chuckle a little when I saw Mathieu waiting outside for me in his car as he had done the two nights previous -- though it hadn't been planned intentionally, this was the third night that we were in each other's company and it was becoming rather amusing. From my house, we went to an Argentinian restaurant where a massive group of Mathieu's friends were dining in style. Many of them I had met before - Enrica, Pietro, Marcella, and her boyfriend - and I had a wonderful time trying to hold mediocre conversations in Italian with those who were close to my seat. Since I had eaten already, I went for a small plate of french fries while everyone else splurged on an expensive "menu" - basically a four course meal crowned by a tender, juicy piece of steak. We were joined by Nicola later on who had just come back exhausted from volunteering at an airline conference, and by 12:00, we decided to call it a night. All the way home in Mat's car, the three of us serenaded each other with Zucchero and Coldplay songs from the new album -- a great end to an exciting four days. (Note: The picture above is of Mat's yummy lemon cake...mmm mmm!)
And that brings us to today when Zombie Heather decided that 12 hours of sleep in three days wasn't enough, and took a well needed nap from 9:00 to 11:00 to recharge her batteries. Tomorrow, the excitement starts again as I have salsa lessons booked, and if I am lucky on Saturday or Sunday, I may be able to join my favourite boys for another couple of late night get-togethers depending on when my babysitting duties end here.