Miming My Way Through Italy

Most of last week’s short trip to Italy is just a blur, quite honestly. Days softened into evenings and late nights as I traipsed through the streets with four of my fellow English assistants. Only stopping to tumble into a café or gelato shop when we were hungry, the hours melted into one unending day.

Each afternoon, we continued our unceasing stroll through the town called Salerno, about an hour from Naples. Confetti inexplicably filled the cracks of the cobblestones, like the beads that hang from New Orleanian phone lines year-round. Every night, we read books out loud to each other, one girl swiping through the pages of an e-reader while the others sipped from their wineglasses and snuggled together thoughtfully. We snacked on cookies and fruit in the afternoon, never minding the calorie content and whole-heartedly enjoying ourselves as we chatted and solved all of modern society’s problems. 

So there was obviously a lot of this.

So there was obviously a lot of this…almost every meal.

Southern Italians on the streets hollered, gesticulated, and stomped their feet to comment idly on the weather. I spent most of my time wondering why everyone was so angry with each other before I got used to the fact that we were just in Italy.

A fair amount of this.

A fair amount of this.

We trekked to the dark grey beach nearby, where the wind played notes on our beer bottles and whipped sand into every possible nook and cranny. It wasn’t exactly beautiful weather, but it was a heck of a lot better than what we’re used to in Normandy. We kicked off our boots and socks, and my tootsies saw sunlight for the first time since last September. 

Descending upon the port while our seagull drones complete recon.

The busses klaxon before going around each blind mountain corner, and there’s always a lady who makes the sign of the cross and kisses her crucifix necklace as all the other passengers lean into the turn. We spent quite a bit of time praying for our lives and our lunches on those wild bus rides.

When you see pack horses, you know you're in the country.

You know you’ve reached the countryside once you see pack horses.

A hike through the Sentiero Degli Dei  (literally the Path of the Gods) along the Amalfi coast provided some seriously gorgeous views. Italians have been farming and fishing against the steep, rocky mountainsides for thousands of years, and it shows from the moment you step outside. Modern graffiti painted on top of Medieval ruins stacked on top of Roman ruins-it’s everywhere. 

Becky and Stace are terrible people.

Becky and Stace are terrible people.

French civilization holds just as many claims to being “old” as Italy’s does (just look up the cave paintings of Chauvet and Lascaux), but this countryside seems so much more steeped in history than Normandy’s. These pictures absolutely do not do it justice, but I tried. 

We saw some nice views, or whatever.

We saw some nice views, or whatever.

There’s nothing like heading out of your comfort zone for a few days to get some fresh air, hear a new language, and eat obscene amounts of tomato sauce on carbs. Italy comes nowhere near France on my list, but you’ve gotta admit that it’s got style.


When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie…

I’ve had four full days of recovery since my trip to Italy, so I suppose I can’t put this blog off any longer. Get ready for Rome, Florence, and Venice!

I met my parents at the station in Rome after a long night on the train from Paris. We spent the afternoon exploring the area around our hotel, throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain and making it all the way to the edge of the Forum before we decided to turn back. One siesta and gelato cone later, we ventured back out to eat a massive dinner at one of Rome’s many delicious restaurants.
The next two days followed the same format: morning exploration and structured sight-seeing, afternoon siesta, and evening meal and strolling. We visited the Spanish Steps and people-watched for ages, saw Bernini’s famous Fountain of the Four Rivers at the Piazza Navona, walked through the Pantheon, Palatine Hill, and the Forum, stood in the ruins of the Colosseum, gaped at the Sistine Chapel, and ate our weight in gelato and pizza. We were also shocked by the excess of the Vatican. We walked through rooms filled with priceless artifacts that I’m pretty sure could feed a third-world country for many years. Why are they collecting dust in the Pope’s house? Alas, a rant for another day. Remind me to get back to that.

Next, we hopped a train to Florence, and immediately continued on our quest to eat our way through Italy. Mother and I found the best soup in the entire world-ribollita-which is a sort of bean/veggie/bread/oatmeal magical treat that I will try to make as soon as I return home. We spent most of the rest of our time in Italy trying to find ribollita on every restaurant menu. Of course, we also did the usual sight-seeing and visited the Uffizi and Academia museums to see a lifetime’s worth of statues and Madonnas. Michelangelo’s David stands at the Academia, and I could have spent all day just staring up at that perfect work. To simply see pictures in a book is not enough to comprehend the absolute beauty that is this statue. You must go see it! Florence was also our main place for major purchases-the gorgeous leather and Florentine metal work were too unique to pass up. Shopping is always more fun when my mother’s around to enable me.

After three days in Florence, the crew headed toward Venice, where we started the trip with a boat ride to our hotel. I knew Venice was the city of canals, but I never realized that there really is no other form of transportation there! Cars are banned on Venetian streets, and I never saw any sort of scooter or bike, either. So, you walk through cramped little alleyways and over countless bridges to get anywhere. It feels a little claustrophobic sometimes, until you pop out onto a grand piazza and feel a sudden gust of wind off the water. In Venice, we visited the Doge’s (mayor’s) palace, crossed the Rialto Bridge, watched traditional Murano glass blowers fine tune their crafts, and listened to quartets play to a full moon on the Piazza San Marco. Glorious, romantic, and expensive.

While Italy was beautiful, colorful, and held so many famous things to see and do, it was made even better by the fact that I was with my parents. Yes, traveling with family can be a little frustrating, but five months away from home is a long time, and it was nice to see them again. Tomorrow’s post will detail our return to Tours!