Sunday, July 03, 2011

Italy, Part One

Italy was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. We spent about two days in each city, returning to Rome at the end. First stop, Rome.

V, as you may remember, used to live in Rome, so he has friends still around and so we got to stay free of charge on the most comfortable sofa bed I've ever met.

Day one, we were tourists, bustling around the historic center for pen shops (we are quickly becoming fountain pen enthusiasts) and the church by the Coliseum that houses some 1500 years of history as you go down the stairs. It was fascinating and really cool, but since you weren't allowed to take pictures, I have nothing to show you. It's called the Basilica di San Clemente, I believe. We walked so much this day and it was so much hotter than I was prepared for that midway through the afternoon I experienced my first ever dizzy spell and had to quickly fall into a nearby chair at a café. Cafés in the tourist area are not kind to the ill or tourists and charged 7 euros for water, a Sprite and the privilege of sitting in their chairs!

Here we are in Florence on the Ponte Vecchio. My hair wanted to be noticed! There were too many tourists in Florence for my taste, so we avoided the long lines and just looked at the statues that were outside. This one I loved:

Florence, is of course, known for its steaks. The first night, we ate at a place recommended by our hotel, which turned out to be phenomenal. They served our steaks dripping in olive oil (which in no way resembles the stuff that comes in 5 gallon jars at Sam's Club) on wooden platters. Decadent. Night two was suggested by a friend, and so we dined on Acqua al 2's steak sampler: balsamic reduction, blueberry sauce and in a crust with salad and a wonderful vinagrette-like drizzle.

On the way to Venice, we were seated in the train next to two Brazilian couples (we were all strangers to each other). Amazing how useful Portuguese is becoming in the world…

After a little confusion about direction, we found our hotel, which was built in 1484, as you can see from the fuzzy floor picture below, and which still has some original murals on the ceiling. Including one which depicts the four continents. Four!

We miscalculated times that first day and arrived at Murano just as all the stores were closing. This did give us the benefit of being able to wander around and take pictures without other people getting in the way, so no complaints on my end. The crumbling glory of Venice, its shady underbelly just as visible as the glitter, was oddly comforting to me and spiked yearnings for my computer, as I am in the middle of brainstorms and starter scenes for a story that needs a bit of grime and rotting doorframes that open onto murky green canals…

Venice was so QUIET. In our ancient hotel (even the bed was too short, made for apparently, less developed folks), the windows thrown open to the night air (and hoping desperately that Venice's thieves wouldn't pop in for a visit, as I would be unable to offer anyone with a knife to my throat more than my clothes and journal, as our valuables were locked into a safe with a password that wasn't working. Good one, Jenna)...where was I? Oh yes, windows open to absolute silence. Nothing. That was so odd. I can't remember the last time I've been somewhere silent. Everyone things that being in nature will be quiet, but of course it isn't. There are birds and crickets and swamp toads and who knows what making noises.

I remember Venice as being the turning point for my eating binge, as we started the city by each polishing off a whole pizza and half a bottle of wine. Yum. But the food was not so good, on account of being so touristy. Not bad, just nothing to write home about.

Verona, however, deserves a post all its that will be Part Two. Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Did you happen to stay here while in Venice?

That is where we(mom,E,B, and I) stayed when we were there and I remember the fresco ceiling with the 4 continents...just curious.

- Anna

--jenna said...

Yes, Anna, that's where we stayed. We didn't get the cool room, though we did have a great view of the piazza...