The next morning I awoke to find that Brian's apartment in the country is surrounded by the most beautiful hills. (See above and below)
We headed out in the Alfa Romeo towards Venezia (Venice)! Brian asked me to stop saying "Alfa Romeo!" in my thickest Italian accent EVERY time we got in the car. In my defense, my brother and father do this sort of thing too. Bless the people that surround us and love us each day.
Driving through Italy was eye/mind opening. When I think of Italy, as an American...I picture the commercial, stereotypical Italy. Traveling by highway showed me the real Italy. This is a common feeling that I am sure a lot of first time travelers experience. When you arrive in a different country, you see the day-to-day life of average citizens just like you and me. Grocery franchises, construction, billboards...not what you see on the travel channel because that would be too American looking. Everyone has heard about the beauty of Venice, but the city we see on TV or in movies is just a small section of a much bigger industrial city, complete with "ladies of the evening" outside the city limits in the daylight. THAT is definitely not what I expected to witness driving into one of the most romantic cities on the planet. Isn't it ironic, don't you think?
Here you will find a lot of beautiful pictures of Venezia. It is truly breathtaking. Brian and I geeked out over the smallest architectural nuances and faded colors of the city.
If you look closely, you can see a hidden garden behind the gate. I wouldn't mind having a garden like this that opens up onto the canal...I mean if I HAD to.
Ugh. The bane of my entire hobo journey: graffiti. Like I have said before, this is universal. Every country and city I visit, there it is. How do children learn how to do graffiti? It is the same style of lettering only in different languages. I hate the argument that it is our modern-day cave drawings. At least cave drawings depicted people of their civilization or stories. I welcome graffiti that is more than just writing your and your girlfriend's name. More responsible, thought provoking graffiti please. Please behave more appropriately than neanderthals, thank you.
In everyday Venezia, Italians put out their laundry to dry as millions of tourists pass by each year.
This is a live lobster among dead sea friends. I eat seafood, but this is a little cruel in my mind.
Strange exotic dancer poles on the canal ;)
GONDOLAS! They are extravagantly carved, painted, and upholstered...and expensive to ride in, so I took an artsy picture instead.
Strange I know, but this blue door with steps leading into the canal was my favorite. As I am sure most of you know, Venezia floods each year. I love the symbolism of a door with such vibrant color that has withstood the floods over time.
Santa Chiara is St. Clare in English. St. Clare has not only been one of my favorite saints because of her name, but mainly because of her story. Read at your leisure http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04004a.htm
On the water bus! It takes you around the city. Pictures and videos to follow!
Venetian mask history http://www.magicofvenezia.com/servlet/the-template/maskstory/Page
Best warm up suit I have seen in a looong long time.
|Photo courtesy of Brian Burton|
I loooove boats!
Underneath one of the bridges that tourists cross to enter old Venezia. It looks cool and creepy to me.
These are the worst/best boots I have ever seen. When she woke up that morning, she thought "what do I want to walk around in for my day in Venice??" And THIS is what she chose. Faux-denim skinny jeans and boots made out of orphan furbies.
|With our late night dance night the evening before, we took a break at dusk for some much needed adult beverages.|
|I love my Venice bag!|
I make friends wherever I go, usually children and dogs. This one wanted to be more than friends once I got up and tried to leave.
|Surprisingly we were famished after a long day of sight-seeing. Can our hobo and hobo-friend wait until they get back into town? Nope, they go to an Italian truck stop. Also not on the travel channel, yet I HIGHLY recommend this!!|
We dined on delicious sandwiches with salami, prosciutto, and cheese and sang along with Steve Perry who played on the radio in the background.
After blissfully sleeping late the following day, we went to the home of another friend from Brian's meet up group. Bonnie and her husband invited us to enjoy a scrumptious homemade Moroccan meal, complete with a post-dinner peach tobacco (not wacky-tobacky, ye concerned readers) which we smoked out of Bonnie's new hookah. She is a fantastic artist of Moroccan decent and hails from Canada. She and her Italian husband have one of the most beautifully decorated homes. There are decadent treasures from all over the world mixed with her own pieces each with their own story.
|Yuummmmmmm. Squid, peas, and tomato-y goodness. Spectacular!!|
|I am obsessed with this tree. I saw it all over Italy and Turkey! I must have my own!!|
Brian and I headed to Castell'Arquato which is a small town in the province of Piacenza.
This day trip could also be called "Photo Fun with Brian and Claire" ENJOY :)
|We happened to be there on the day of celebration for the town's patron saint, San Giuseppe. There were people dressed in traditional costumes, and children singing their well-prepared choral songs. (Small parade pictured above with the town mayor).|
I heart Castell'Arquato!!
|Thank you, powers that be! You always remind me how lucky I am to be here.|
|Super Mario jumping for coins|
|Sneaky picture we took to capture the woman in the window that kept staring at us while we were in the square. When I lifted the camera slyly to "take Brian's picture", she seemed to duck away. Creepy Italian busy-body :)|
We stepped into this bakery and met one of the most charismatic Italians, nay, PEOPLE that we have ever met in our lives. The ancient woman quickly sold us a homemade fig torta and a loaf of bread. Brian asked how much, and she said "How much do you have?" She then proceeded to tell us how the city is famous for the people being swindlers. Classic. She told us all about her family for the next 15min. I don't speak a lot of any language, but being in non-English speaking countries for a few months allowed me to become an expert at international context clues. I can't speak the language, but I'm pickin' up what they're throwin' down :) Needless to say, the fog torta was one of the most amazing desserts I have ever had. I don't even like figs.
Please enjoy the rest of the photos of our village photo shoot!
Someone is torn between defending his master's home and wanting us to throw the ball he has in his mouth.
Thank you, Brian! Thank you for hosting me and showing me around Italy. It is such a blessing when you have the type of friendship where no matter how long you have been apart, you can always pick up exactly where you left off. I'm sure most of my readers can appreciate these friends. I hope to return to Italia soon and head south to Capri or Sardinia.
Stay tuned for my next and final hobo entry about Turkey!
I want to sincerely thank all of you for reading my random thoughts, you have no idea how much it means to me to share this experience with all of you.
Your faithful hobo, Claire