italia, mio amore

i will just start this post by saying that i love italy. i love italy so much that i paid a ridiculous amount of money to try to learn the language through rosetta stone, then remembered my inability to finish any long-term project i aspire to… but yes, there is just something about the place that i really enjoy. i had the good fortunate of going there for work in 2010 and then the even better fortune of going there for fun in 2011.

jessica and i had decided that, since it was much cheaper to fly from one european country to another than it would ever be to fly from america, we’d be silly to pass up the chance to go exploring. we bought our plane tickets from ireland to italy for around $130, got a list of hostels, booked our stays, and off we went. the original plan was to fly into venice, stay there for a day and a half, go hang out with my co-worker bruno in verona, and then take a train down to rome. unfortunately, bruno got called to des moines for the week we were in italy (bummer!) so we had to find last minute plans. the whole thing didn’t go as smoothly as we anticipated, but i think that is half the fun. you might want to get jessica’s take on the matter sometime, though… she’s a “make sure you know where you’re going” kind of lady. (aka: a bitch. [just kidding {or am i?}])

while we were sitting in the airport in dublin, getting grouchy with each other, we found a map from the water boats (vaporetti) to where our hostel was in venice. as much as i give jessica a hard time, she was really dead useful when it came to getting around. i’m kind of a wanderer, i’ll follow people, i’ll get lost, i’ll ask for directions or i’ll just keep wandering. jessica remembers things; she knows where we turned, where we should go, and has pretty good intuition which helped keep us from getting lost. so needless to say, we arrived in one piece to our hostel, casa petrarca.

after we got settled, and they made us pay them in cash (highly suspicious, but happened EVERYWHERE we went), we got our giant key (i’m not kidding, i wish i had taken a photo of it) and we went out to explore venice. everything in venice is so tall and narrow- the buildings are like slender (ancient) super models. they were so old and beautiful, it was easy to get lost in the moment. the weather was nice, albeit a bit hot (compared to ireland), and everything was definitely within walking distance because the city was so small (yet extremely populated). admittedly, i looked like a huge tourist since i had my camera around my neck, but since i’m asian… well… i thought i could get by with it.

there’s an old charm to the city and everywhere you turn there’s something you could take a photo of. cathedrals, town squares, gondola rides, people letting pigeons crawl all over them… wait, what?!?

this was such a mystery to me. i mean, i can understand not wanting to take a gondola ride (they were around 80 euros during the day, 100 euros at night!), but why on earth would you want filthy, diseased pigeons crawling all over you. and do that for free?

this whole phenomenon was weighing on me the rest of the day. i couldn’t see the appeal. maybe i’m biased and have a thing against birds (sort of true), maybe i just have one too many scars from the species (literally *cough*eddie*cough*).

i couldn’t see the appeal and yet, and yet… i really wanted to try it. we tried to sit to see if the pigeons were interested in us, but we realized pretty early into this endeavor that people were selling bird seed, which of course, attracted the dirty rats with wings… ahem. anyway. i wasn’t going to pay for any stupid bird seed just so i could have this… strange… experience.

…but i will take the extra crackers from my table at dinner and use them.


(as you can see, i’m not handling it very well)

okay. now that i have that out of my system…

our time in venice was fairly short. it’s a fairly expensive city and i feel like you can see most of it in two days, which is roughly the amount of time we spent there. if you are traveling to italy, venice is a place you definitely need to see… but i would never live there. don’t get me wrong, i liked the place and it was fantastic for photography. but it was very touristy, very crowded, and just not the place i would hang my hat and call home.

in our last few hours in the city, i have well documented trip photos of us trying to find our way to the train station and also jessica’s frustration with how the names of the street kept changing. she tried to figure it out… i took photos (i am not much help in most situations).

after realizing that there are signs that point you to the train station (although it is called something different) we realized we had plenty of time to spare and did a bit more actual sight-seeing. we went to the cathedral to look around. a friendly tip: you are not allowed to wear tank tops or shorts into a cathedral in italy. if you try to enter in non-proper clothes they will give you a shawl to wrap around yourself while you’re inside. oh, and by “give you a shawl” i mean “they will make you pay a euro for a paper towel like piece of fabric.” just a fair warning. i’m not saying it’s not worth it.

jessica and i hung out at the train station in venice for a bit. since the original plan was to go to verona we still had our train tickets to there, but because bruno was no longer in town we did not have any housing. right before we left for vacation i had gotten us a room at a holiday inn (or something similar) at the train stop right outside of verona. it was fairly cheap and, besides worrying that we might be mugged, raped, and killed on our way there, the hotel was actually SUPER nice for the price. there was a complimentary buffet breakfast, good utilities, and super nice rooms… it was easily the most relaxed night of the whole trip. and sometimes you need to just relax, to be able to recharge your batteries. the next morning we woke up refreshed, we got ready, and we were on our way to rome.

when we got to rome we immediately found our hostel and fell in love with the place and our adorable hostess, Isa (who also made us pay in cash). let me just say, if you ever go to italy, do not hesitate to stay at the B&B Smart. it’s reasonably priced, it has a great location, and seriously, Isa is the best. she gave us water and drew us out a map when we first got in. she made us breakfast every morning. she hung up my clothes for me while we were touring the town. she brought us fresh watermelon while we were in the room lounging around. bless her little asian heart.

rome.is.huge. it’s old. it’s beautiful, it’s everything you think about when you think of italy. we, of course, did all the touristy things like go to the coliseum, the roman ruins, the fountain of trevi, the vatican…

sigh… the vatican. here’s a thing about the vatican. there’s parts of vatican city that you can see for free- there are other parts that aren’t free. and you will wait in line for at least 2 hours to go see the stuff. probably closer to four. hindsight being 20/20, i might have taken up the “fake” tour guides for their offer of tickets and a tour for $40 and skip the line. in fact, i might’ve paid $40 in itself just to skip the line. don’t get me wrong- the vatican was so AMAZING. there’s so much culture and history to it (and a surprising amount of mythological creatures and ideology), but my feet hurt so damn bad by the time we were there that i was ready to be done around 3/4 of the way through.

all in all, i can’t pinpoint what it is about italy that i like so much. it’s fun to see all the touristy, site-seeing places. it’s fun to walk around and go places you’ve never been. but it’s something about the culture, the architecture, just the country in itself that i can’t explain. i want to go back to italy as often as i can, for as long as i can, for as long as i’m able.

Advertisements

11 responses to “italia, mio amore

  1. i enjoyed reading this…I love..L O V E Italy.Great pics.

  2. there is something about the country, isn’t there? it’s just so darn beautiful, it’s hard to NOT take a good photo.

  3. I really like what you are saying, and am glad I found your website. Please keep it up.

  4. About to head over there in April – thanks for such a candid and interesting read about the two cities! Looks like you two had a blast!! 🙂

  5. Great post and stunning pictures!!

    love & light

    el

  6. Great read! I love to hear others who have fun traveling in Europe and embrace it! LOL the comments on cash cracked me up, most places in Europe are not Credit Card friendly, Germany & Austria aren’t big on the Visa either.

    Florence is lovely as well if you ever get the chance:
    http://ostranderblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/florence-beach/

    • I would LOVE to go to Florence, but it hasn’t worked out yet. I’ll be returning to Italy to go to Cinque Terre, Veronella, and hopefully Pisa, but I may have to make a special trip some day to see that middle section that I keep (unintentionally) ignoring.

  7. Looks like you had a fabulous time, makes me wish I could take off for a long weekend but the flight is a little long 😉

    I love, love, love Italy too and have a collection of language CDs and DVDs but like you, sticking to that project just didn’t happen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s