Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Barga Blues Festival and The Devil's Bridge

The pool- there was an amazing view of Barga and the
surrounding mountains.
This past weekend we took a little road trip down to a small town called Barga. It's in Tuscany, in the province of Lucca. It's about 40 km from the sea, so we thought we might spend some time at the beach. When we saw how nice the hotel was, we scrapped that idea and sat by the pool all weekend. It was great!!

Barga in the evening
The great thing about Tuscany is that there seems to be a festival going on every weekend in the summer. This weekend was no exception. There was a bbq and blues festival going on in Barga, and it was really fun! They had bands set up in all of the little squares, tables selling things, the stores were open and the entire city showed up to celebrate the occasion. Surprisingly, there are a lot of young families in Barga- we couldn't walk down a street without getting held up because there were a bunch of strollers blocking traffic. It was a little unusual for me. When we go to these small towns in Italy, the population always seems to be older and we don't see as many young adults. Maybe they are all hiding when we go to the small towns? It was fun to see some people our age!

Some interesting art we found in the city- painted umbrellas

This was the car for Trattoria di Riccardo

This was a sign we followed to find one of the bands playing
in the city, they also had a pork roast and other yummy foods 

One of the popular places that night- we counted between 5 or 6
strollers that were just hanging out by the this bar. There was a
serious traffic jam!

Another fun part of this weekend was seeing the "Devil's Bridge" (really it's called Maddalena's Bridge) on Saturday. The morning was overcast, so we took advantage and went to see the bridge before lying by the pool in the sunny afternoon. It was only about 15 km away from our hotel near a town called Borgo a Mozzano, so it was a quick and easy car ride. This thing is crazy! You see pictures and think it looks interesting, but when you actually climb the bridge, it's unbelievable how steep it really is. It took me a while to climb it with the preggo belly. I think Ragnar would be interested in seeing this bridge- he's a bridge engineer in Drammen.

The Devil's Bridge

Here is the local legend (found on The Florentine, but most versions I've found have the same story):
"Popular legend that tells the story of a clever and respected master builder who lived in a village on the banks of the River Serchio. The villagers asked him to build a bridge to connect their village with the one across the river. He set to work immediately, but he soon realised that the construction was not progressing as quickly as he had promised. Being a man of honour and wanting to keep his word, he became very unhappy and quite desperate. He continued working very hard, day and night, to finish the task within the time agreed upon in the contract, but the work proceeded very slowly. The days flew by.

The arch on the far left was added on to allow traffic through

One evening, while the master builder was sitting alone on the banks of the Serchio, looking at the work that was still to be done and thinking of the shame he would suffer for not having completed it on time, the devil appeared to him in the form of a respectable businessman. He approached the master builder and said he could finish the bridge in a single night-if the builder would promise him the soul of the first one who crossed the bridge when it was completed. The builder accepted the proposal.

The steep climb up to the top
The following day, the village had its beautiful bridge that can still be seen today near Borgo a Mozzano. The townspeople were astonished and delighted. When they went to congratulate the builder, he ordered them not to cross the bridge before sunset. Then, worried about his deal with the devil, he set off on his horse for Lucca to ask the bishop (who became Saint Frediano), for advice. This saintly man told him not to worry: he should let a pig cross the bridge first. That is just what the builder did. The devil, furious at having been tricked, threw himself into the waters of the Serchio." After the devil returned to the water, it was said that if you stand on the bridge gazing into the water for too long, the devil would rise up and take you, still looking for that one soul that he was promised.

We spent a lot of time admiring the bridge; after all it was completed before or around 1100! Since then, it has had one or two restorations due to damage from flooding, and they added an archway along one side of the bridge for traffic to drive under, but otherwise it's construction is the original. It was a part of the Roman Road from France and people would use this bridge on their pilgrimage. It was fun to think of all of the people from history that could have crossed it. For example, I recently read a book about Eleanor of Aquitaine. She passed through this area a few times, once on the second crusade. She could have crossed this bridge with an army of crusaders.

Our view from the room on Sunday morning, the mountains
reminded us of the Dolomites. They were a lot bigger than
I thought they would be!
After three days of relaxing by the pool and enjoying Barga, we headed home. It was a fun weekend!! I'm looking forward to going back to Barga next year. If we are still living in Italy at that time, we plan to come back for the Blues festival next summer.

Monday, July 23, 2012

8 weeks to go!!

31 weeks, 4 days in Barga on Friday
Today I am 32 weeks pregnant, and there are only 8 weeks to go! Holy cow. This past weekend we took a little road trip down to Tuscany and spent the weekend in a town called Barga. It's in the province of Lucca, not far from Pisa. During the weekend we spent the days by the pool (I got fried... and look a little bit like a lobster), and then spent the evenings in Barga. They had a really fun blues festival this weekend so the town was packed with people, strollers, and little squares with amazing bands playing. It was really fun! The only downside is that I get tired so early these days that we couldn't stick around to enjoy all of the fun.

The past week has been interesting for me. I had two doctors appointments, one regular checkup to look at blood test results and make sure Bambino and I are healthy. During that appointment they also gave me a nasty shot to protect Bambino- my hip is still sore from that and it was on Tuesday of last week!! The shot was because my blood type has a negative RH factor, and Josh's is a positive RH factor. Since Bambino's blood type could have taken a positive RH factor from Josh, it could create some problems for us this trimester. The shot is some sort of antibody to prevent any complications with our blood types if they are different. They'll also do this again at the delivery to prevent anything from happening. They also took my weight and they were happy to know that I didn't gain too much since my last check up, only 1 kg.

The other appointment last week was my third trimester ultrasound where they printed off more pictures of Bambino. They also took measurements to see how he/she is growing to make sure everything is on track. This was a shocker! Not because they took the measurements, but because of what they found... As it turns out, Bambino is 2.2 kg according to the measurements!! That's about 4.8 pounds... This is a lot bigger than Bambino is supposed to be at this point! Apparently he/she is only supposed to weigh about 3.5 pounds. The doctor asked us how big we were when we were babies, and when we told her I was around 8 lbs and Josh was about 9 lbs, she seemed to understand that it could just be genetics. At the same time, she wants me to go back in three weeks for another ultrasound to be sure Bambino isn't growing too much, and again she emphasized eating a low carb diet with less sugars and lots of protein. Everything is normal otherwise- no gestational diabetes, blood results are normal, and I've been eating healthy and exercising every day. So, I guess it's just my destiny to have a big baby!!

31 weeks, 5 days on the Devil's Bridge-
I'll post more about the bridge on my next
entry. It's pretty amazing!

Something I've been thinking about a lot lately is the actual delivery. It's only a few weeks away and I'm trying to decide what I want to do- all natural, some pain meds, or get the epidural. I've been doing a lot of research and trying to get as much information as possible, and it turns out that I definitely don't want the epidural. Some of you may think I'm crazy, but I just don't think it's for me. I'm trying to do things to prepare for it, so if those moms out there who have done a natural birth (well, without an epidural) have advice, I am all ears!!

On another quick side note... if you are pregnant and have back aches, start swimming on a regular basis! Being in the pool this weekend and swimming was amazing. It took ALL of the pressure off of my back, and I could swim without getting the cramps that I get while walking. My back feels really good right now and it doesn't hurt as bad as it usually does. Not to mention it's a relief for my joints as well. I would highly recommend swimming as a regular form of exercise for the pregnant ladies. It also makes you feel like a normal size person again!  :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

30 years and 30 weeks

So, the past week has brought two big miles stones- turning 30 and hitting the 30 week mark with Bambino! I can't believe how time has flown by so fast... and I can't believe I'm no longer in my 20's! It's a little strange, but at the same time I feel like my 30's have some pretty amazing things in store for me. A few months ago my friend Laura turned 30 (if you remember our celebration in Amsterdam), and she talked about all of the things that she has accomplished in the past decade. That got me thinking about all of the life changing events that have happened over the past ten years...

1. Turning 21 (and partying a lot!)
2. Graduating from Undergrad and entering the "Real World"
3. Starting a full time job (and trying to keep a full time job between layoffs and jobs that weren't a good fit for me)
4. Moving out of my parent’s house and into a small apartment with my friend Holly (oh the memories!)
5. Meeting and marrying the love of my life!!
6. Becoming a home owner
7. Starting, and finishing, my MBA
8. Uprooting my life to move to Italy
9. Being able to travel all around Europe and to Northern Africa
10. Learning a new language
11. Finally... Becoming pregnant!!

I always thought that I wanted to start having children before I turned 30, but now I think this will be the perfect kick off to start my 30's! This will be a new decade focused on new priorities, where my 20's were focused mainly on my education and starting a career. Now, I think the next decade will focus on family and further development of my career.

The past few weeks have been really fun with Bambino. Bambino is supposed to be almost 16 inches long by now, and I can definitely feel it! I feel the feet up by my ribs, and the head close to my hip. It's easy to tell that Bambino is growing! I've felt really great lately, but fatigue is becoming more prevalent. It seems that the growth Bambino is experiencing is draining my energy.

After reviewing the results of that awful glucose tolerance test, the results were normal. So, I don't have gestational diabetes- yay! I was a little worried about that after the test.

My mom and Holly threw a baby shower/bbq for Josh and I when we were in MN a couple of weeks ago, and it was so great seeing all of our friends!! It was fun to catch up with people that we hadn't seen in almost a year (or more). When I get the pictures I'll post them for you all to see. I've been busy trying to put all of those things away and organizing our guest room so I've been a little distracted...

Cravings? Hmm... I'm always craving sweets, but I've cut back quite a bit which has actually helped to curb the cravings. Now I just want yogurt, peanut butter toast, and healthy stuff.

Exercise? I've started doing yoga again after a few weeks off, and it's great. I also try to walk everyday. It's becoming a little difficult because my feet now swell almost every night because of the summer heat and extra weight. I just need to keep exercising to keep the blood flowing.

We've also started putting together the nursery for Bambino, and it's taken over a corner of our guest room. It's starting to come together though! We now have the furniture, but still need a few minor things and it would be nice to put up some cute pictures on the wall to make it complete. It's hard though with concrete walls that you can't paint! We'll figure something out though.

Ok, that's all for now! Hopefully I can post something about my brothers wedding and the baby shower in MN soon. Stay tuned...