Category: Jakob

Saw a mountain. Climbed a mountain.

We climbed a mountain above Castellucio because our dad told us to. It was a lot of fun and we felt very accomplished afterwards. We were also lucky because some friends who stayed later there said that a huge storm hit with hail and everything.


The view wasn’t half bad.

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We have now been in the United States for three+ days. The houses are strange (an eclectic variety of styles and materials that evoke everywhere and everytime without actually being anything, a collection of mini domestic kingdoms named Cape Cod, Georgian, Neo-Classical, Spanish Colonial Revival, Clapboard Bungalow…). The roads are needlessly wide; there are lawns everywhere, and they are trimmed and edged; people pick up after their dogs. People talk loudly with Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia accents–vowels are strong, angled, harsh. Everything is bigger: cars, buildings, portions, people.

There are fragments and reflections of Italy here on the East Coast — at Uncle Gino’s Pizza in Margate, the restauranteur  noticed Simon’s Juventus jersey and Simon was able to practice his Italian (though not try the pizza; he wasn’t ready for that). We saw stracciatella on the boardwalk in Ocean City, but no one wanted it, at risk of modifying the memory of the divine products from our beloved Gelateria Gambrinus in Perugia. As we go west, even those embers will wink out.

We may be putting up a few more posts — stories and images we didn’t have time to share as we packed up. For now, the boys have decided to start a YouTube channel that is meant to introduce kids in America to European soccer; to share, peer-to-peer, their observations and insights. It’s called “Soccer Stuff”, and episode 1, though a little long (they need to get each show down to 5-8 minutes), is below. It’s about the World Cup. They begin to find their stride about halfway through.


Forza Italia

Jakob's divided loyalties

Jakob’s divided loyalties

In two hours, Italy will kick off vs. England in the tropical rain forest city of Manaus. The game begins at midnight here. We are waiting for the minutes to tick away.

We are meeting friends at Elfo’s, a party of 10 people trying to fit into a pub that will be overflowing with fans. We were there last night for four hours with our friends from Arezzo, watching two matches (Mexico 1-0 Cameroon) and the stunning 5-1 drubbing of defending champions Spain by the effervescent Dutch team.

Jakob and Micah were both pulling hard for Holland; Jakob because he had accompanied me three years ago on a Winter Term to the Netherlands and Germany, and got to train at the KNVB, the Headquarters of Football for Holland. Micah just loves orange. Two tall young Dutch women seated on the other side of the aisle were both pleased and puzzled to see the little boy in front of them, head-to-toe in the national uniform of the Netherlands, jumping up and down with joy as Holland scored one after another in the second half.


Another goal by the Oranje

20140614-215957-79197162.jpgThe boys will be exhausted; with their friends from Arezzo here today, they went out to a local park to kick around the ball just before noon. Then it was time for lunch, so we met our Australian friends below the church of San Ercolano (which was actually open, for once, so Rebecca got to see inside, and inspect the late Roman sarcophagus holding the saint’s remains which is used as the altar of the church. What did the boys do in between munches? Kick the ball against the massive stone foundation blocks of the building. Then we had an end-of-season party for Micah’s team; the parents played a match vs. the kids at Don Bosco; and Jakob and Simon came down a bit later and they all played some more (3 more hours of kicking a ball).

You have to say that the game keeps them fit. They’ve almost beat the stitches out of our ball. It only has days to live.

So we have to make it for two more hours. It should be an even match. And while we like the England squad and the older boys have some loyalties to St. George from our last sabbatical in Yorkshire, we’re in Italy and we’re all blue tonight.

Well, except for Jakob. He’s cheering for both.



Will the Santa Sabina player score with the keeper down and the net gaping?

Will the Santa Sabina player (in white) score with the keeper down and the net gaping?

La palla è rotonda. “The ball is round.” It’s a common saying about soccer. It means that anything can happen. That wisdom is backed up by stats; Chris Anderson and David Sally, in The Numbers Game, cite several studies demonstrating that “soccer is the most uncertain of the team sports” (Ch. 1). The underdog prevails much more frequently in soccer than in basketball, baseball, or American football (10-15% more of the time). It was certainly true this week at Don Bosco in Perugia.

Wednesday was the first semifinal of the small four-team “G. Modestini” memorial tournament (2nd edition) for giovanissimi born in the year 2000; the teams had all played each other once to determine the order of the knock-out round. Don Bosco (rossi squad), Santa Sabina, and Nuova Alba all had 6 points, and Ventinella had 0, but due to goal difference, Nuova Alba was tops, and so they played no. 4 seed Ventinella, who did not score a single goal in regular time of any match. Somehow, after a 0-0 semifinal, Ventinella beat Nuova Alba 4-3 on penalties to reach the final.

And that would not even turn out to be the craziest game of the tournament so far.

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Holy Motors


The First Ferrari IndyCar – in the early years of F1 competition, the Indy 500 was included as an event.


Micah inspecting a Vespa with a side-car at the Museo Piaggio

On the way back from Verona, we visited Maranello, home of the Ferrari motor factory, museum, and test track. This visit had been a dream of Jakob’s for many years, due to his dedication to industrial design and his interest in ‘going fast.’

Motor vehicles play a prominent part of Italian culture and sport; racing is one of the most popular spectator sports (motorcycles and F1) and participatory activities (as anyone passed by an Audi doing 180 km/hr on the autostrada can attest).

We had already visited, during our trip to Tuscany, the Museo Piaggio, where the eternal flame of Vespa, the iconic Italian scooter, is kept alive; this post records Jakob’s thoughts about stylish Italian transport.

(Our title refers to the strange but wonderful film, Holy Motors, which we watched earlier this year.)

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The Piano Competition

The last two days we were in Verona, 400 km to the north, for Simon and Jakob to compete in the Concorso Pianistico Internzionale “Remo Vinciguerra,” an international piano competition for young talents from age 5-14. Jakob’s teacher had encouraged him to play in the category of “quattro mani” (“four hands,” that is, two pianists on the same piano). However, a few weeks ago, Jakob’s planned partner quit piano, so Simon stepped in to play with him.

Brothers two years apart don’t always play nicely together. Practices — when they happened — sometimes involved as much taunting and tangling as tickling the ivories.  Nevertheless, they made progress, and after school on Thursday we set off for on the four-hour drive over the Apennines to the city of Romeo and Juliet at the foothills of the Alps.

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