Published: September 5th 2011September 1st 2011
Apologies folks - we have been off-line for a couple of days, but we now have a vodafone broadband stick and are ready to roll.
We are staying in the northern Italian city of Portogruaro with our Italian family, Perina, Prego and their son Diego. Perina is my father John's second cousin. The Santaliana family have been extremely welcoming and have kept us very busy visiting many destinations. All of them with an extensive history and story so well explained by Diego our guide and interpreter.
On Sunday evening we visited Portogruaro's historic city centre and mingled with the locals. Like so many Italian cities, the city centre area has a character and intimacy that draws the local community into to the centre to meet, eat, drink and socialise. So many people get around on bicycles here, especially the elderly who seem very healthy and full of life compared to their Kiwi counterparts.
On Monday morning Perina took us to see the Roman ruins at Concordia. The site at Concordia contains statues, tomb inscriptions and mosaics. The footings of ruined Roman buildings can be seen all around the church and baptistery. In the afternoon Diego took us to
see a number of sites including the Sestoal Al Reghena Monastery, San Pietro Church and Stalis' Mills. The San Pietro Church by Portogruaro was formerly a place for Pagan worship.
We visited Perina's 99 year old mother, Giulia, at the family farm in the evening and had a very special time talking with her.
On Tuesday we went back to the city centre and visited the Archological Museum of Portogruaro and the Peasant's Museum in Belfiore. In the evening we visited the amazing city of Verona and attended an opera, La Boheme, in the Arena. The Arena is Verona's amphitheatre, completed around AD 30, it is the third largest in the world. In years gone by people came from across the Veneto region to watch battles and gladiatorial combat at the Arena in Verona.
On Wednesday morning Perina took us to a local mall for a spot of shopping. Daphne was busy buying gifts for friends and family. It was a very good effort on her part because Daph hates shopping. Lucky me! One thing can be said for the Italian's, they have style! The clothes, sun glasses, cars, houses and food all exude style and finesse.
In the afternoon Diego took us into the 'sticks' to the lagoon near Portogruaro where thatched holiday homes fronting the lagoon have stood for 500 years. We then visited the sea-side holiday town of Carle for a leisurely drink and a taste of the local sea food. Carle has beautifully vibrant painted buildings with narrow intimate streets that only allow pedestrians and bicycles access to the town centre.
Thursday - today we visited Villa Manin in Codroipo, one of the greatest examples of Venetian villas in the region. The Villa Manin was home to the last Doge of Venice (the ruler) and was constructed between the 17th & 18th century. Napoleon Bonaparte stayed here for two months; during the First World War it was also a meeting place for the Austrian and German Emperors. Prego tells me that Napoleon tried to sell the Vento Region to the Austrians in a meeting at the villa.
Daph and I are taking a train to Rome for a 3 day visit tomorrow (Friday). Dad is staying home in Portogruaro for some R&R before we head off for a two day trip to Venice with Perina, Prego and Diego next Tuesday and
Wednesday. Prego has arranged accommodation in Venice, including breakfast, for 20 Euro! Thank goodness for local knowledge!
Daph and I are travelling light to Rome, so no netbook. Will blog next Monday and fill you in on our adventure to Rome.
Arrivederci and Ciao for now :-)
There are more photos below