Mallory, a HomeAway staffer, takes in the intoxicating sights and flavors of Italy
The airplane landed in Milan, but we still had a long way to get to Verona and we were already exhausted. It would have been nice to take a nap in air conditioning, but it just wasn't in the cards. The shower was also interesting because I had to hold the spout for the water to shoot out in my direction.
We walked around after the nap and didn't look as much as tourists because we weren't hauling our bags behind us anymore. I'm pretty sure we were mistaken for Italians at least three times so far, or maybe I was just imagining things. Many people speak English here, but for the dinner we had at La Torre - no English.
The pizza was incredible, but the Coke tasted the same to me. I got presents for my family already: earrings and a ring to match, a keychain, a charm of Venetian glass, and me a magnet to track my travels.
When we got to Venice, we had to lug our baggage over, at least, five bridges. Somewhere in there we got lost too. I'm sure I would have enjoyed the bridges more, had I not needed yet another nap! There was no air conditioning on the train and there was little room to sit. The train attendants didn't even check our tickets until the next to last stop. What if we didn't have tickets? We used a vending machine that took euros; I know that's probably assumed, but I still liked it. I had pizza marinara dinner on the canal. It was beautiful.
We went to the piazza San Marco and it was exactly like the pictures from my class! We took a boat to get there, too. I had a hot dog for lunch, which was a good experience because I know never to get it again.
After we walked around the piazza San Marco for a bit, we got gelato and walked back to our place. We only used our compass and street signs to get back, which is very impressive for me who is so dependent on technology. We had delicious limone slushie, but that was right after we made our way back to the Ferrovia area from getting lost in San Marco. There were markets everywhere! They sold little glass figurines, and masks! I definitely need to come back to Venice for an event with a mask.
Then, we saw the most amazing thing (to me). We saw a gondola with people in it, an accordion player and a singer. We even got some on video. We finally found the store. We bought limoncello too on our way back from San Marco after crossing an unbelievably long bridge. It looks tasty, but I'll probably never drink it until the week before I know going to Italy again.
I didn't sleep much last night, but we still managed to wake up relatively early. I stopped at a pet store to get Leo a present. Can't forget the pup! We made our way back to San Marco, and stopped to have lunch in a small park. I didn't think there would be parks on such a small island as this, but there it was.
The ticket to Florence was pricey and we had to wait almost three hours for our train. However, the weather has gotten cooler. We ate it on the train in our coach seats, but it felt like first class because we had a reading light, big comfy seats and our own trash can. There are way too many McDonalds here.
We walked around the Duomo area and before that many market streets where we got even more gifts. The Duomo is incredible ornate and gothic, just like the pictures from my class. We went to this gelateria place and it was incredible, the best I've ever had – nutella.
We started our walk without a map and went to the Palazzo Vecchio. It was very crowded there and we saw a replica of David. We went up a mountain that twirled a lot but wasn't steep overall. We went to the monastery that our friend, Peter, had told us about, but there was a wedding so we couldn't go in. There was a farmacia and I got to order a water totally in Italian. When we finally got to the Piazzale Michaelangelo, it was such a nice view. We got more gelato because that's what you do in Italy. We got to see the sun set on the Ponte Vecchio.
We woke up early because we had to take a bus to Tavarnelle. The buses didn't have a good way of telling which one was going where. The views were pretty on the way to Tavarnelle. We might have missed our stop if Silvia hadn't asked the bus driver for two Americans with our names.
We played ping pong until our room was ready - which is more like two rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen with a nice view. We borrowed some bikes to go to the nearest village and see the market to buy something for breakfast, but we just ended up getting some delicious steak lunch on a terrace with a view out to Tuscany. I got some gelato and we sat down to watch the Italians go about their lives. We had dinner at the place directly across from where we are staying. Everything is going pretty alright here in Chianti.
We did laundry in a washer and hung it out to dry outside. After lunch, we set out for a hike. Silvia had said that the road by the trattoria led to a small farmhouse where we could buy wine and olive oil. So we took it and mostly got lost. We finally found the quaint little place where we had to ring a real bell for wine or olive oil direct sales. An old man came out, followed by his wife for a minute, and he led us to his wine cellar.
It was just like in movies with huge vats of wine fermenting, or whatever they do in wine vats. To the right of the entrance, there were chairs and a bar for trying wine, olive oil and a middle-grade alcohol. Nothing like grappa - 43%. We tried a couple of wines, one was better than the other, but they were both wine. We tried the olive oils with different flavors - rosemary, basil, natural, piccante, and garlic. And some cookies that his wife had made - they were the best. The old man suggested some of that middle-grade alcohol to dip the cookies in. It brought out flavor but the alcohol was very potent. I told him this, sorta. He didn't speak English and my Italian is like a three-year-old, at best. We saw the sun set in the Italian country-side then. It sounds fantastic, but my favorite is still the Ponte Vecchio because there really are a surprising amount of telephone wires here!
Sonia took us to the bus stop, we took a bus to Poggibonsi where we got off on the wrong stop but didn't realize it until two hours later. I tried to ask for directions, and people helped us find the train and bus station, where we took a bus to Rome. My friend left the camera on the bus and realized this after we took a metro to Magliano. I befriended a security guard who checked on me. His name was Roberto and he has a nineteen-year-old daughter and a dog named Rocky, like the movie. I tried talking about my dog and he told me about his dog and daughter. Did I mention this was all in Italian? Poor Italian on my part, but I did my best! Anyway, my friend came back from the bus station with news that we had to come back to get the camera. We rode another train to some other place close to where we are staying.
We took off to Rome first thing in the morning. It wasn't that far. We are at the Vitinia stop and we took that from the Magliana stop in Rome. We could take a train to the Termini stop to go pretty much anywhere in Rome. So, we took that one to get to Linea A metro which took us to the Vaticani stop. I mention all this because it was super confusing for me, but apparently my friend got the hang of it. We went to see the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel. We still didn't have the camera so I took pictures on my phone.
After the tour, we had lunch at a Trattoria nearby and I had diamanti pizza which is salamine piccante. We left and after walking down about 100m a man ran up to us and asked us if we just had lunch at that place. He said we forgot my iPhone! I doubt if it had been a ristorante that they would have been so kind. So, we made our way back to the trains and then to the bus stop at which we arrived yesterday and waited. They found the camera and brought it back. Wow. Today was my lucky day.
Afterwards, we went to see the Pantheon, which was closed, but my friend Melissa showed up. We had been texting and she said she would catch up with us. We talked and took pictures of the Trevi Fountain and had more granite (the slushie) and talked more and took more pictures. Then we parted and my friend and I had the best dinner, in my opinion. I had gnocchi di patate con shrimp and asparagus. It also had a yellow sauce on it that was made of pure heaven.
Today was the Anniversary of the Republic of Italy. It was going to be almost impossible to get to Rome because the metro was shut down until much later. It was a military parade. We finally got to the Colosseum and walked around. We got gelato and thought about getting a tour into the Colosseum, but it started to rain. We had an umbrella, but we just ran to the stadium seats, from the parade. It stopped raining before too long and we were able to have dinner near the Trevi Fountain yet again.
We had to get up super early because our train at the Terminale stop was for 6:15am. One of the stops took forever getting there so we had to run when we finally got there but we made it. We got to Pisa and bought our ticket to Milan right away, so we wouldn't forget and so we would know how much time we had left. We left our luggage and backpacks at a designated area and paid €12,00. We went to see the tower, but we really didn't have that much time left before the train came. We had to run again to the train, and it sure was fancy. We had a six seat cabin area all to ourselves. We played cards and saw the sea, then people started to come in. First, it was two men. One was a nice Italian man. Then a family of four kicked us out because, as it turns out, those weren't even our seats! We had gotten the wrong carrozza number. When we finally got to Milan, it depressed me. Milan means going back.
We had to wake up early because of the flight. We checked in our bags, ate breakfast and waited. We are now on the plane at Malpensa airport near Milan and the trip is at its end. It is sad, in a way, but I know I'll be back.