We are going to a wedding in July, in Köln (Cologne), Germany. Actually the wedding will be in Bonn, near where our friends live in Köln. We are excited to be going to this wedding as it gives us the opportunity to share in the joy of one of our favorite people in the world, Andrea, who was our exchange student when Jessica, our daughter was 16 years old. Jessica in fact spent her 16th birthday in Köln and Andrea's family threw her a surprise birthday party that included a ceiling full of balloons and an experience that she will never forget. Through the last 16 years we have remained friends. When Bob and I took our first trip to Europe about a dozen years ago now, we met Andrea's parents and they treated us royally. When Jessica and Nick were married almost 6 years ago now, they all flew to Arizona for the wedding. Two years ago when we were in Italy and our crazy flight plan had us flying home from Rome via Munich, Andrea and her parents took a 3-hour train ride to spend an evening with us and we enjoyed a meal with them in that beautiful German city. We are excited to be able to return the favor now and go to Germany for this very special day.
I think I am almost set with my outfit for the wedding. This has been one of the biggest challenges for me, living in Italy. You wouldn't think this would be the case. There are certainly shops filled with beautiful things everywhere you go. In Perugia I had the most difficult time finding clothes that fit me, that didn't cost a small fortune. There were many, many shops that catered to the young, hip college students but I could never find anything in any of those shops that came close to fitting me. Almost everything I own is either a size 10 or a size 12, I swear, so I'm not looking at trying to find Plus sizes or anything. I certainly see women who are my size and bigger but who knows where they go to find clothes??
We came prepared to spend two years here so I really have not needed all that much until now but this wedding had me stumped. I thought there would probably be opportunities for shopping here in Verona but wanted to have it all done with by the time we got here, since there were only a few short weeks after we arrived that we would have leave for Germany. Finally, finally, I found a dress in Sicily, in Ragusa in fact (not that I can remember the name of the little shop!) It's a simple red silk dress - as in tomato red - and it's one of those with a slip under and a silk sleeveless shift type thing that goes over it. The only problem was that it needed a little altering because of a funny little thing around the armholes that could be easily adjusted (or so the lady in the shop recommended and I thought "how hard can it be to find someone who can do a little alteration?)
Shopping with my husband is a real challenge also because A. he hates to shop and B. well, he hates to shop. I know he is honest with me in whether he thinks something looks good on me or not, but then I think he's biased in his assessment because he loves me (thankfully, for all I put him through on this shopping extravaganza) and C. he hates to shop and wants it to just be done with. He's one of those typical male shoppers who goes into a store looking for a blue shirt. If he finds one, he buys it. If he doesn't he goes home. I, on the other hand, must look at everything, even if I've found something I like, just to be sure I haven't missed something and there is something much better just waiting in the next shop. You can imagine how these two shopping "styles" don't' exactly mesh together!
But as I really didn't come to live in Italy to spend all my time shopping, I bought the red dress. But of course you are not done there, now all the accessories must be found. This is where shopping in Italy is more of a challenge. There does not seem to be - at least I have not found it to be the case - a big department store like Macy's where, if you find a dress, you can also find underwear, shoes, a purse, a scarf, jewelry, make up, the whole shebang all in one shop and maybe, maybe you have to stop in one of those little fun accessory shops for the finishing touches but really you can do it all in one place. Not here. (OK, yes, there is the COIN and UPIM but so far I haven't found much in either of those stores that would work for me.) If you want shoes, you go to a shoe store. And there are zillions of shoe stores. Dresses and clothes stores do not sell shoes. Dresses and clothes shops do not sell underwear. And as I said, finding shops that sell my size has been really difficult. It seemed like there were the shops that the young and slim shop in and then the shops for the old and wide. I had quite a time finding something for me, sort of in between the two.
I did find a cute pair of sexy sandals to go with the dress in a little shoe store in Marina di Ragusa and now I was committed to the color scheme. The red dress with these little black shoes. But I needed a scarf in case the evening was cool and just to accessorize. That seemed to take me forever as I was looking for something that had just the right shade of red in it - not scarlet red or pinky red or orange, but somewhere in between. And urrgghh! I really want to be sightseeing and not shopping in every store that seemed possible! Bob was not thrilled with this either and we've both been a bit cranky over the whole thing!
Finally! In one of the little shops somewhere along the way I managed to find a scarf and some jewelry and then the most difficult of all, the underwear! There are at least a million of these cute little underwear stores. Every town, regardless of how small has a least two. Like the nail places in the states, they are everywhere. But again finding one that had anything that came close to looking right for me was the challenge and so far, this week alone I have had at least 6 salesladies, shall we say, "measure" me for the correct fit. I have never been touched my so many, so intimately, in my life! For naught! Nothing fit right, nothing was going to work. What was I going to do? In desperation I asked my daughter to shop for me in the states. She does this. She sends me photos on the Kodak Gallery that I can look at. I consider ordering a mug with the Olga bra on it, just to commemorate this moment. (Those of you who have visited the Kodak gallery to see friends' photos of their newest baby or vacations shots will know what I'm talking about.) She promises to bring all of them and I can decide when she gets here.
But there is still the question of the alteration. We drive around the neighborhood. We ask at the dry cleaners. No one knows. Oh, it's usually just someone somebody knows who does this for them. Or they do it themselves, it's not a big deal. Bob suggested I go to the hair dresser I found who cut and colored my hair to ask her advice (I'm back to being a brunette, by the way. Many of you have commented about how blonde I was getting) and she tries to think of someone who can help me and finally offers to do it for me herself. She likes to sew, it would not be a big deal. So I put on the dress. She pins darts into the front and tells me I should really have the right bra for her to adjust properly. Damn! I don't have it. Won't have it till Jessica comes but she tells me where to go, to a shop she likes where the ladies will help and advise me. I go there. I try on 3 or 4 and select one I like. It's costs a fortune but at this point, I cannot care. Back to Analisa who fits the dress and promises to call when it's done. Jessica and Nick will be here next week and we plan to do a lot of sightseeing with them so I want all of this done before they get here.
I am no sooner at home (just a few minutes away) when Analisa calls and says there is a problem (or a mistake? I have a harder time understanding the language over the phone) and can I come right back. I do. She laughs as I walk in and holds up the dress, which is now on a hanger. She spins it, showing me both the front and the back. She shows me the back because what she was adding the darts to was actually the back of the dress. I had been all along putting it on backwards! So of course there were funny puckers at the armholes! (Why the lady in the shop I bought it didn't realize this is beyond me.) There was no tag in the over dress, just on the slip and I always kept the two pieces together and didn't realize it had been flipped! What a dork I felt like! We laughed together a lot. I think I've made a friend and happily, I now have everything I need for the wedding, don't need any alterations and I'm all set to enjoy my daughter's company and go to the wedding! Whew! Of course, now I really need to stay on that diet because otherwise this red dress won't fit me and I'll be back at square one, shopping for something else and I just can't bear the thought of it!
Now I can just focus on getting to know this area and finding cool places to go before my husband kills me!