Showing posts from July, 2015

Flashback: Milano

There's a soft spot in my heart for Milan--probably because it's the first European city I ventured into, twenty-two and travelling solo.  Some specifics are lost to time, but others are still vivid: Riding the metro.   Coming above ground in Piazza del Duomo.   Seeing that enormous melting wedding cake of a cathedral.  Crossing the square through a crowd of tourists, locals and pigeons.   Feeling terrifyingly, deliciously alone.   Trying out my beginner's college Italian.   Wandering through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle. Since Andre left the itinerary of our recent trip up to me, and since the trip from Les Arcs Draguignan to Venice necessitated a transfer in Milan, how could I resist stopping there a little while, showing him the places that loom so vividly in my memory? While there, we saw an amazing retrospective on Leonardo da Vinci at the Palazzo Reale. But first we reacquainted ourselves with the joys of Italian food...including  the br

Flashback: Disarming, Enchanting Venice

Since my travel writing class in the Saint Joseph's University study tour program in Rome is reading Marlena De Blasi's lush memoir A Thousand Days in Venice , now seems like a good time to look back on the Venice portion of my own trip. In sensuous, poetic prose, De Blasi tells the story of a wild and spontaneous romance that begins and ends with the city known variously as  La Serenissima and  Bride of the Sea. Here's her description of her first glimpse of a city she had long avoided: "The doors are open and I step out into wet rosy light, onto a sweep of wide shallow steps.  Shimmering water glints from the canal below.  I don't know where to put my eyes.  The Venice of myth is real, rolled out before me.  In straw hats and striped shirts, the gondoliers are sculptures of themselves fixed on the sterns of glossy black boats under  around yellow sun.  The Bridge of the Barefoot is off to the left and the sweet facade of the church of S

Flashback: The View From Fox-Amphoux

As I settle in here on Viale di Trastevere, I'm hoping to catch up on recording the first bit of my trip--the vacation part with my husband, Andre, and, for the first few days, with our friends Howard, Melissa, and Artemis.  We had the great pleasure of staying with them in their home in Fox-Amphoux, a quiet village in Provence.  And I'm not using the word quiet casually.   When we stepped out of the car, in the middle of a little cluster of homes, the first thing I noticed was the profound quiet--a thick, rich quiet like cream poured over everything, in which the loudest sound for miles around were the cries of the swallows that swooped and soared overhead. From up on the roof, the view stretched on for gorgeous miles.  Just ask Artemis. A brief hike in the neighborhood brought us to this chapel, carved into the mountain by a sailor who narrowly escaped a shipwreck: We also wandered and ate in nearby villages, like Aups, where we peeked into a lovely church: And in Cotignac, w

Looking Up

After two relatively difficult days of being perpetually lost and struggling to figure out How Things Work in Italy, today was a dream.  The highlights? A group trip to the Colosseum.  A colleague's fun and fascinating lecture on what a day of ancient Roman entertainment must have been like.  Overhearing a guy in a gladiator costume singing "No Woman, No Cry" to a dude in dreadlocks. Wandering off on my own, and feeling (for once) more found than lost! Seeking and finding the market in Testaccio: Then swinging by one of my favorite spots in Rome, the cool, green, and oddly beautiful Protestant Cemetary: Where I made a pilgrimage to the grave of John Keats: He died so young, thinking nobody would remember him--but do we ever. Even the graves of people I've never heard of break my heart a little. As did this random bit of street art I stumbled upon as I wandered toward the Metro: And (almost) best of all: hopping on the tram, and finding my way home without incident!

Call Me Misadventure

Some of my friends--people I first met on the internet, though they later went on to be three-dimensional real-world friends--knew me first as Misadventure.  I chose this particular handle in remembrance of my travels,  and because of the Squeeze song... ...and because, when it comes to travelling, I remember the things that went wrong almost as fondly as the things that went right. Misadventures make the best stories.  That's what I have been telling myself ever since I arrived in Rome.  I'm staying in Trastevere, a neighborhood I don't know very well, and so far, if there's been a wrong turn to take, I've taken it.  I've spent most of the last two and a half days lost--and not just geographically--learning the hard way how things work in a different culture.   I've had to admit that my sense of direction truly sucks, and that my Italian, while decent for the basics, really falls short when it comes to the complicated stuff.  And I'