Part 5 Italy trip

    
  
  
  
There isn’t much more to say about Venice because in this case pictures speak louder than words. It is a magical city, and with a great guide such as we had in Edward myfriendinvenice.com, you can know you have seen a side of Venice that is only open to “insiders”.

We will return –it’s impossible to think we would never visit again.  The life beat of Venice gets into your very soul-it becomes a friend you must reunite with.

Our next stop was Sicily. We flew into Rome and transferred to a flight to Palermo.  This was a very important visit for us because it is my husbands family ancestral land. His Grandfather came to the United States in the early 1900’s.  We wanted to visit the town they were born in-Termini Imerese.

A SUMMER TRIP WITH OUR GRANDDAUGHTER

Sorry it has been so long since I posted.  I got really busy this summer and got really lazy too I think.

But, we did make it to Italy….and I have lots of news to share about the trip.

A few months ago I went to Italy and Sicily for two plus weeks. It was a return trip for myself and my husband and a first time trip for my granddaughter who graduated from high school this year and started a new exciting life at college. I hope that she came home with the same admiration of life in Italy that we came home with.  I wanted her to have a special memory of our time together.

We had a great travel agent to work with, she did all the tedious work that I had not been able to find time to do, Mary Ann Vandenberg, CCT, TRAVELS WITH TASTE, phone 913-648-0858.  If you are considering a trip give her a call, she is absolutely the greatest at getting just the right people, places and events scheduled.

Part of my granddaughter’s heritage is Sicilian, as is my husbands.  It will be in part a sojourn to  walk the same streets, visit the same church’s as their ancestors walked, to get the sense of belonging that only a tie to a long passed relative can give one.  I think we all wonder “where we came from”  “who were the hardy people who left Europe and their known life”, and came to America, in most cases with little or no money.  A strange land where people didn’t speak the same language, the customs were to be learned, survival on a daily basis very much at the front of their consciousness.  There is something very grounding and magical about being able to connect with one’s roots.

In an effort to spend as little time as possible on a plane, we flew into Milan, and from there took a wonderful guided car trip thru the countryside to Verona, the site of the magical Romeo & Juliet balcony.

Our guide took us to a little restaurant for lunch after we stopped to visit Juliet, and the food was spectacular.  It set a very high goal for the entire trip.  But the food in Italy is so different than our food here.  It isn’t processed, made weeks ahead from something shipped 1800 miles.  As we would see all through our trip, each town has it’s own fresh food market, and the locals buy produce, fish, meat, breads on a daily basis.  I am sure the nonna’s would be horrified to know that I have 7 refrigerators and freezers.

Being from the wide open spaces of America, it is amazing to realize that when in Italy I can get from one side of the country to the other in a matter of hours.  The trains and bus services in Europe are much more developed and friendly that the U.S.  

When we were in Italy 4 years ago, we had a fantastic guide while we were in Venice for our very quick stop.  We were fortunate that he was available for us this trip also.  Andrea Perego and Edward Smith are the best guides to have.  They live in Venice, in fact Andrea was born there.  I suppose no matter how much time I spend in Italy, I would always think it was too short.  But at least this trip we didn’t  have to leave and board a cruise ship.  While cruises are fun, it’s no way to see a country.

Venice is a magical city.  This year was the Biennale, which is a focus on art, dance, architecture, cinema and theatre.  Some building that are being used now to show art from all around the world are not ordinarily open to the public.  We visited the several building that housed exhibitions and the interiors of these homes was totally amazing.  I think the thing that sticks with me is that in Europe, building are saved, there isn’t enough area to just abandon buildings and go build new ones.

We went through the Doge’s Palace, St. Marks Cathedral, Peggy Guggenheim museum.  The hotel we stayed at is out on an Island.  Quite a magical place in itself.  The Cipriani Hotel is something to be enjoyed if you ever go to Venice.

Each week I will show you more pictures and share more thoughts about Italy, food and ancestors.

Things that remind me of Italy

We went to dinner last week with friends, and visited a restaurant that served a dish that always makes me think of Italy. Both because my Italian friends here fix it a lot, but also because it is to be eaten almost everywhere in Italy. Fritto Misto Di Pesce. Of course, when one eats in Europe, the fish and the vegetables that are fried crispy are what is freshest at the market and what is caught that day.

I was absolutely thrilled to walk through the many markets and small stores in each town we visited in Italy. They don’t have large super markets like we do here in the United States. And Europeans don’t ship their food hundreds of miles in a green state, gas it, and then hope for the best as it lays on a store shelf for customers to purchase. They eat what is harvested in season, close to their towns. The markets are surrounded with tiny stores of all kinds, specializing in pasta, meats, breads, balsamic vinegars. Just about anything one could wish for. I absolutely wore my eyes and feet out. Of course my husband loved it because I didn’t have a kitchen, so I couldn’t buy one of everything in the market. But just to show him I could buy in bulk, I brought lots of goodies home (shipping is the way to go and the hotels are quite accommodating). We were right across the Grand Canal from the main market in Venice, so a short water taxi ride is all it took to take me straight to heaven so to speak, the Rialto market. And the fish market was right next to that. It was just heaven. I still can close my eyes and transport myself back there.

And the same thing I’d true the Florence. We stayed in a modest hotel very near the main market area in Florence. I could literally walk out my door, turn left, walk two blocks, turn left again, and there before my eyes was a market with everything I could need to have the most wonderful dinner, and it was all so fresh. And stores with all types of merchandise.

Our hotel room in Florence was on the 4th floor overlooking the street. We ate breakfast on the balcony. The buildings are beautiful and quite old and close together. There was a very old lady across the street in a window from us one morning. It was quite easy to see that she had just finished her breakfast and was leaning on her window ledge looking down at the street below. She must have eaten some type cereal, as her bowl appeared to have milk in it and she had a wooden spoon. (Maybe she was making her daily bread or pizza.)

It was quite common to see pigeons on window ledges or balconies (much to the annoyance of our hotel waitress who had a broom battle with three very sly and dodgy fellows near our breakfast table). Well, my neighbor looked up the street, she peered down the street, she very carefully checked below her window, and when she felt the coast was clear she stretched her very old arm out her window and dumped the contents of her bowl out to the birds below on the street. Of course I found that to be hilarious, especially since I wasn’t walking under her window when she hurled her breakfast out for the birds. I often wonder if she is still there, how she is doing and if she is still feeding the birds. Betcha she is……

I would love to go back to Italy. It was so magical. The way of life is slower, I think the people kinder to each other, the pace is not as frantic, people seem to be more interested in each other than in material things. Don’t get me wrong, there in nowhere where people look more beautiful or handsome, it’s just that Italians seem to take time to care for each other more, to take time to appreciate the things they have rather than to always be looking to something in the future that they haven’t achieved yet.

I will go back! That is a promise. And the next trip I will walk slower, sit on a curb and just breath in the air and watch life as it presents itself. I will stay in an apartment where I can cook, and I will take cooking lessons from a Nanna who carries a wooden spoon and feeds the birds.