Ahhh my favorite time of the year is upon us..FALL! You know what that means, Pumpkin EVERYTHING, bonfires, hoodies and riding boots! I will forever be a beach baby (a Topsail Island beach baby, that is) but there is just something about the cool crisp autumn air and the leaves changing colors that makes me want to sit outside in my oversized sweater and ugg boots, drinking a pumpkin spiced latte and planning out which haunted house we will go to first this year. Too bad we live in Italy, where Starbucks doesn’t exist and Halloween isn’t exactly “celebrated.”….Although I hear the past few years Italians have slowly been catching on to the American “tradition.” ….I still highly doubt we will find any corn mazes to run through…
By this time, I am usually making a list of the newest and fattiest fair food I can try. What’s the fried specialty this year? Will I have the Krispy Kreme burger with lettuce, tomato and cheese, or stick to the usual deep fried snickers and chocolate covered bacon? Talk about making life decisions here people! Although I count my blessings everyday, and I am beyond grateful that we were given this opportunity to live in Europe, I have to say- come this time of year, I am jealous of everyone back home. Guess the homesickness is starting to set in. Hey, I did good- we are getting close to the 8 month mark here in Italy…most thought I wouldn’t last 30 days!
The past few weeks have been jam packed with all kinds of traveling and fun new adventures. Right after my last post Bobby and I decided to go to a Medieval Festival in a neighboring town. It was our first frustrating experience with the language barrier. Not only could we not understand any part of the reenactments taking place, but even ordering dinner was a feat. Typically we can pick out a few things on a menu that we are familiar with in Italian (if we are in a touristy spot, the menus are always in English and Italian anyways) However, this particular night we ended up at multiple “food booths” trying to figure out what in the world we were going to order. I am sure the experience would have been a lot more pleasurable if we fluently spoke Italian, but since we don’t, I just felt like a lost puppy the entire night, not having a clue what was going on around me! I personally plan to take Italian courses ASAP, however the “next one” started while Alexis was in town so I will probably have to wait until the new year to begin lessons.
Speaking of Alexis… she came, she saw, and she conquered Italy. We packed more in to a two week period than most probably do within months of living here. Vino and pastries were definitely a staple during her trip….When in Italia!
The first week we tried to keep the traveling “nearby.” Unfortunately around here, nothing is exactly a hop, skip and a jump away. I managed to fill up the FJ FIVE times while Alexis was here. The sad part is, I didn’t even drive the entire time…We took the train to Venice and Bobby drove his Scion to Florence and Pisa (Which was two more tanks of gas!). We started off week one with a trip to Nove. Nove is the “home” of local ceramic industries, with over 100 ceramic stores in the 3 square mile town. Ever heard of Williams-Sonoma, Lennox, and Tiffany’s? Well Nove is known as the epicenter for these handcrafted ceramics. I won’t go in to details on what we purchased, many gifts were bought (and will be bought in the future) in Nove. We ended our day in Marostica, which is a town known for their Human Chess match. The upper and lower castles are joined by a wall around the center of the town and the main Piazza (square) is made of a giant chess board. On even numbered years, over 700 people participate in the live version of this game. Marostica is where Alexis had her first taste of true Italian Pizza and Gelato!
The following days we explored Piancovallo, Lake Barcis, the Sacile Market, Trieste, and may other local favorites, including wine tasting at Bessich and Geilisi. Wine that is manufactured and sold in Italy is different from the States, here there are no preservatives or additives in the wine…aka No raging headache the next day! The wine doesn’t typically last for more than a year or two when sitting, but who wants to wait around to drink it anyways!?!
Before I skip ahead I have to share our little Trieste experience with my readers. Bobby and I have been to Trieste once before, in fact, it was out very first “trip” here in Italy. We had no issues getting there and the town itself was not too touristy. We were able to find parking and enjoy our day (for the most part..until Bobby got rear ended by an Italian lady that drove off, but that’s another story in itself!) So I thought, no problem, I’m familiar with the area, we didn’t take Bobby’s car down any streets that my FJ wouldn’t fit, we’ve got this covered…We get in to Trieste no problem… however, the town is PACKED for a Friday morning. Parking was unheard of and people were everywhere. I asked Alexis to find a parking garage and/or a pay lot nearby on my GPS since we were just driving in circles…Bad idea. TomTom doesn’t know what kind of car I drive, and TomTom isn’t aware that I am an American driving an oversized vehicle on Italian roads… I am pretty sure I had a mild heart attack that morning. We drove down streets that I could guarantee were intended for scooters only..at one point I was down a road that was so narrow, I couldn’t turn around… I ended up having to push my side mirrors in and drive the wrong way down a one way road! Thank God we got out safely without a scratch on the car (even though you could stick your hand out either window and touch the brick walls on both sides of the road) Needless to say when we finally found parking, we sat down at the first cafe we saw for an Aperol Spritz! I didn’t care what time of day it was (although, neither do the Italians) drinking here has no time limit period.
More photos have been added to each of these albums:
On Saturday we got up bright and early to meet on base for the ITT Croatia trip..and when I say early, I am talking 4:30am we were on the bus, headed to Croatia! This is a trip that Bobby and I have been wanting to take since April, so we were really looking forward to sharing the experience with Alexis. Unfortunately, after going to Cinque Terre earlier in the month, Croatia wasn’t as exciting as we hoped for. While still beautiful, it was a little disappointing in comparison. Never in my life have I seen so many nude people…yep, you read that right. We traveled along the Croatian Coast by boat, passing more nudest beaches and resorts than I could count! Men standing around fishing in the nude, women laying out reading the newspaper completely naked..my oh my, they didn’t warn us about this. I am use to the beaches here being topless but I was not expecting to get a peep show on this trip! We stopped in several towns for shopping and sightseeing, and they served us lunch on the boat (wine included!) It was a LONG day, but hey- I can add Croatia to my list of places I’ve been to now!
Click here for photos from our Croatia Trip:
The second week we started off with a day trip to Venice, followed by a day of Wine tasting on Prosecco Road. Prosecco is an Italian sparking wine that is made from Glera grapes. It comes in three different forms: Brut, Extra Dry and Dry… however, in Italy these terms are not what you think. Brut is a dry wine, extra dry is actually semi sweet and Dry is considered “sweet.” Prosecco also comes with one of two labels, Doc which is a median quality wine and DOCG with is a top quality Prosecco that is guaranteed of origin in the Veneto and Friuli Giulia region of Italy (which is where we live) Prosecco Road is a 20 mile stretch, that conveniently starts roughly 7 miles from our house, full of wineries and cantinas that specialize in this particular wine. The list of wineries goes on for pages, so obviously it cannot be done all in one day. We were able to tackle 4 or 5 wineries before calling it a night. If you plan to visit, be prepared to travel along Prosecco road with us. It’s a destination that you do not want to miss!
A few fun facts:
Prosecco is made from the same grape each time, it’s the different soils that the grapes are harvested in that change the taste of the wine.
One particular winery (which does import to the states) is now making Organic Prosecco!
Both Alexis and myself bought a special blue label bottle that is numbered; they only make 10,000 bottles of this particular wine a year….I’ll be saving that one for a spacial occasion.
Click here for photos of Prosecco road:
New photos added to the Venice album:
We ended our second week with a two nights stay in Florence, but not before making a quick trip to Pisa. I must say, of all of our sightseeing in Italy thus far, the leaning tower of Pisa is by far my most favorite. It was so surreal standing in front of this massive structure that is literally leaning to one side. Of course I had to take a picture doing the typical tourist pose, holding up the tower!
Click here to see more photos of Pisa:
Florence was a blast. We picked the wrong time to go…they were having a massive bike race and many of the roads were blocked off…parking was a nightmare! But once we got settled in to our precious Italian loft-style apartment, we made the most of it! We attended our second Italian wedding, which was two of Alexis’ co-workers, we saw the Statue of David, Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, and many other tourist sights. We also learned a very valuable lesson…Next time we go to Florence and/or Pisa…We are taking the train! It cost us over $70 in toll fees and $76 to park for TWO nights in Florence.
Click here to see more photos from our Florence trip:
I was sad to see Alexis go, it was nice having a little piece of home here with me in Italy. But, we’ve done more traveling in these first 7 months here than most people I know have in their first 2 years…I think it is time to lay low for a while and stay local. Working on a possible trip to Germany for Christmas, OR Barcelona for New Years…we really need to play the lottery!