Published: October 2nd 2010September 27th 2010
“Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”
Italy is the 46th country or territory that I (Yaron) have visited. You might think it would be higher up on the list but I have a prejudice aversion to “classical Europe”. What so good about old buildings, Cathedrals and cities?
This week we did the “classical Europe” thing and you know what? It’s not bad :)
For example, I used to think that Pisa was just about this leaning Tower thing. I could not for-the-life-of-me understand why one would bother to go there just to see that tourist trap
. But then I turned a corner on a little Pisa street and, quite unexpectedly , stood before me a beautiful
marble tower which also happened to be marvelously defying gravity by leaning! It’s not just a leaning tower. It’s a gorgeous tower in a spacious Piazza filled with other stunning buildings which happened to be in such a slant that one’s mind does not comprehend and cannot take his eyes off of it.
After that we spent a few days in
Chianti. With all the high expectations from Tuscany you would think it could not live up to its reputation and that we were disappointed. But no. in Italy even the kitsch and over-hyped locations are lovly and relaxing. With endless number of castles and wineries and after 4 glasses of wine and some strong desert wine…who cares it’s a cliché?
And then there is Venice. I will not try describing the majesty and grandeur. But the 2 days we spent there were not nearly enough for me and we will surly need to go back there.
In Florence my “classical Europe” phobia did get some reinforcement. Too many tourists looking at too many old buildings and standing in too long of lines to enter museums showing art that was at its peak 600 years ago. Hagit's mother said that she cried when she saw Florence. I cried too. But I cried for lack of a parking space and from the difficulty of maneuvering the car in little streets. We left after a few hours.
But even the hordes of tourists could not take away the largest and truest
stereotype in Italy - THE FOOD.
In our 2.5 weeks in Italy we did not have a single bad meal and we did not have a single bottle of wine that we did not think was excellent. Even the simplest things like pizza and pasta with tomato sauce was prepared so good that it might be called gourmet - not just eaten because it was time to eat something. Thus, in the times when we did
splurge and have real gourmet food - it was unbelievably tasty !
I guess it’s something in the Italian air that makes food perfecto.
The last 5 nights of our trip were spent in a winery
There could not be a finer place to end our trip. The owner went out of his way to make sure we are comfortable. Every little detail was thought of in advance. The large room. The excellent breakfast. The complementary wine tasting (5 glasses of their better wines)
The Treviso area might just be the first place in continental Europe that I have visited that I can imagine living at. It is
an optimal mix of rural and city life. Of local Italian living with a mix of international feel. ½ drive to the south is Venice. 1hr to the north are the Alps.
It was not easy leaving this place… Or generally it’s not easy leaving Italy.
We could have easily headed south for 2 months and thoroughly explored this boot-shaped county. Or maybe headed west - Isn’t France just as tasty? Or, if we had the time, headed East up to Hungarian Step and from there, who knows? Maybe all the way to the end of the land-mass call Eurasia on the trans-Siberian train?
But alas, after 7 weeks we must finish our trip here.
After visiting 8
countries, crossing borders 17
(!) times, taking 2745
photos and driving over 7500km
we are heading home.
We are going back to having a daily schedule, going to our work and to our kindergartens and washing our own dishes..
But there are some up sides to returning as well.
Our intake of money will be higher than the outtake. We each get to go to sleep in our own bed.
We can start planning our next trip.
And… we can finally have some food with Skhug
(סחוג- Yemenite hot sauce).
Because the decades old advice of Ester HaTeymaniya going on a Charter
(*) is still true: If you are going to Europe, take with you a little jar of Skhug…for the taste.
While being pregnant with Ariel, I had been constantly told by the “experts” that Liya will be very jealous and that we should expect her to regress, and be angry with the baby. They suggested that we accept it as a natural phase when a new baby comes to the family. Well, they were probably right when considering a regular family. Ariel's birth enabled us to take a long vacation and Liya earned both of us for 2 months (otherwise Yaron would go to work as usual).
Usually, the big child spends little time during the day with the baby (after kindergarten ) and then he has to compete with the baby on their parents attention. In our case, not only did Liya spend 24/7 with us but
she also learned to know Ariel, his needs during the day and spent so much time with him alone in the back seat of the car making him laugh, that they became best friends.
Liya made a big step forward and became mature. She abandoned all her ”baby habits” and became a little adult, participating in Yaron’s and my conversations and adding wise comments. She became open to new experiences that she was afraid of before the trip. Like riding a horse in a carousel, taking a train or enjoying a swimming pool. she learned how to use various kinds of hotel keys and experienced new flavors and foods.
I guess that being inside our secluded “capsule of four” for two months, not being influenced from other kids, teacher, surrounding friends and family, helped us to shape her as we wished, to be a wise, amazing, funny and beautiful girl that she is.
(*)a comical character played by Hanna Lazlow
There are more photos below