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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Italy

Me - Happy

I'm back - exhausted, happy, grateful, and of course, jet lagged beyond belief.   We were very spontaneous on this trip -- we left the U.S. with hotel reservations only for the first few day in Rome.  We used kayak.com to book hotels after that, with a tentative idea of where we wanted to go and a good guide book in hand.  We took trains from one city to another and taxis within cities themselves, and I highly recommend both.  (We didn't get involved with buses or subways as the more knowledgeable local people do.)   The train system is a very civilized experience in Europe.  You can choose an express train that bypasses the local stops,  and on there you can select first class or second class tickets.  (It's possible to buy tickets in advance online but not strictly necessary.)  There isn't a big difference between 1st and 2nd class in price or quality - either is fine and you get a reserved seat -- no scrambling once you get on the train to try to find a place to sit.  The bottom line is that you absolutely do not need to do one of those tours.  In fact, we signed up for a one-day tour the day we went to Pompeii and we didn't like the feeling of being herded around like cattle after all the freedom we had experienced up to that point.

Pictures.  If you've been to Italy, our pictures are interchangeable with yours - just change the faces.  I've posted a few of my favorites here,  and I'll put more on facebook.  I don't want to bore you with travel pictures, so there aren't many...



The picture below was taken in Venice, and you see a typical neighborhood well in the center of a section of town.  All the streets are set up like this -  a maze of streets that seem to center on a well - not a solar system but an aqua system.   It was such an extraordinary feeling to stand in those small, empty squares and realize that so many generations must have gathered there to fetch water, wash clothes, eat, drink, celebrate and mourn.  The open square that enclosed the well was clearly the heart of each neighborhood. 




When you climb to the top of the Spanish Steps and turn around, the view below is what you see.  It's expansive and impressive.




This is a kitchen in Pompeii.  The spool-shaped stone cylinders were used for grinding wheat or corn into meal to make bread, and they were turned by slaves who walked round and round them.  The brick oven in the center had openings on all sides and several chimneys to keep the loaves of bread coming and going.


And what happy little town would be complete without it's local house of ill repute?  Certainly not Pompeii.  These two images are from the Bordello.  The image on top is one of the friezes still left on the wall - something like early day porno I suppose - of a prostitute performing some act on a client.  The lower picture is of a client room with bed.  The rooms were small and those stone beds looked uncomfortable.  I'm guessing they must have used pillows on them.






And I leave you with an image from some of our happiest moments, at an outdoor cafe in Florence called Gilee (I think that was the spelling) at the center piazza near the carousel. We loved sitting there, sipping limoncello and watching the people and the pigeons walk by.  When we weren't discussing clothing or hairstyles on the passersby, we were talking about how lucky we were to have met in our 40's and how happy we were to be there together now.  Ciao!


9 comments:

Hannah Banana said...

Welcome back, Teri! Your photos are so lovely. We are planning a trip there next year & I'm so excited about it. I'm amazed by all of the history & architecture there. Thanks for sharing your trip w/us. I'll have to browse your FB photos too.

Brenda said...

It was awesome, Teri. I didn't find the train system civilized at all. When I went we bought tickets in advance only to find that we were ripped off and given general tickets not first or second class. We were riding the train from Calabria to Milan (a 24 hour train). Everyone and their nonna were returning from the beach and vacation. We were packed like sardines, and basically sat on the floor for most of the ride.

It was quite an experience. My friend, Lorraine kept saying over and over, "the forces of destiny," in Italian. I almost choked her, but it is something I will never forget.

Holli said...

Wow. I loved the pics and I would be one of those people who would gladly look thru your entire stack of travel photos. You could just keep emailing them to me every day and I would love it....Italy is someplace I've always wanted to go...I'll get there one day!!

Heather M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather M. said...

Awww, your pictures make me nostalgic... I studied abroad in Italy when I was in college. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. And I highly agree, do not experience Italy on one of the 'herding' tours. Train transportation works just fine, so long as there isn't a strike. Did you happen to notice the penis friezes on the ground at Pompeii? The 'point' you in the direction of the many, many brothels.

City.Girl.Em said...

I love that maxi dress you're wearing it's FABULOUS!

Who went with you, I don't think you say WHO? I suspect it was your husband, but I wonder.

Glad to see your photos and that you had a memorable time. I'm going over to facebook and add you as a friend so I can see the rest of your photos.

EM

Jo said...

Love your pics on facebook!

Lizzi said...

Teri,
Your trip looks amazing! I love the trains in Europe - standing at the open windows, watching everything roll by (when it's not crowded!) I'm with you on opting out of tour groups. The best time I had in Rome was getting lost walking to the Colosseum - we got to see so many little facets of everyday life that we would have missed in a group. Glad your adventure was grand!

P.S. - I for one wouldn't mind more pics!

Brandie said...

Love the pics! Wish everyday I could go to Italy. Maybe someday...

Welcome back!!