Wednesday, August 30, 2006

La vita e bella

Posted by kuri, ping, the pinglet, & mini-ping on 8/30/2006
Um, la vie est, jinsei wa utsukushii...Oh, all right already! Life IS beautiful!

The mysterious light at dusk on the Grande Canal in Venice...Botticelli, Michaelangelo, Raffaelo...the David at l'Accademia in Florence...the FOOD *slurp*

I am all for the spiritual experiences that travel brings. It is food for the soul. Oh, but Italian food! Mamma mia!

Lucky buggers that we are, this was our second time to l'Italia and I seriously was not thinking about all the delicacies that would end up in my hot, little hands. Our first trip to "The Boot" (don't you remember your elementary school geography teacher?) was a blur of travels to Rome, the Vatican, Venice, Milan, Capri and Naples...all in one week. That was, of course, a Japanese-style whirlwind tour conducted by E7, with his sweaty unwilling partner in crime (ahem. That would be me, in case you're wondering). We ate in different restaurants, tried food in the bars, on the streets, and never found that little taste of heaven that everyone says is Italian food.

Until Florence. I think I found God in the food in Florence. From the first bite to our last (unwilling) forkful three days later, Ping and I never stopped groaning with every mouthful. It was almost indecent...but, oh so good.

Maybe you remember our little altercation with the Big, Bad Wolf on the day before our planned departure. Just as luck would have it, the typhoon never sped up enough to pass our little hamlet in the woods and your dynamic heros were facing a problem of staggering proportions. God, do you think we have to go to work if we don't make the flight?

Starting to hyperventilate with the thought that I might have to sell my soul for another week at Dilbert's alter-universe, I got a hold of myself: "Self, you must not panic. E7, our own personal travel agent, is here to save the day. He will get us out of typhoon territory." And he did. We were on the plane just before the flights stopped running and in the sunny skies of Tokyo as the typhoon battered my little town.

Our luck just got better from there. We were upgraded on our flight from Tokyo to Frankfurt and then again from Frankfurt to Venice. For no reason. Not that I minded, but I really would have liked to know why...especially as we got to spend the entire flight on the way back in economy class. Ahhh...heaven.

Every time I go to Venice, I feel like I am on the verge of waking up from a dream. I don't know if it is the light, the sound, or just the overall sleepiness of the city that brings me to this point, or if it really is just a magical place that would disappear if you ever tried to experience it while you were fully awake.

We spent three days in Venice before traveling by train to Florence and entertained ourselves by trying (successfully!) to get lost going from one straightforward place to another. We spent hours in Piazzo San Marco watching other tourists trying to get the attention of Italian waiters (Travel Hint #1: They don't like to be rushed. Don't call them over, beckon them with your hand, or otherwise give any indication that you want them to take your order. You must pretend that you have all the time in the world and could care less if you ever get fed. If you do show that you would like to have anything from the kitchen, you will never see them...ever). We took a short trip to Murano where we (well, I) bought beautiful Venetian glass and soaked up the atmosphere, which was just intoxicating.

Florence was a whole new experience for us both. Imagine having all the great wonders of the world in one city: Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Tiziano, Raffaelo...and others that I don't know due to the lack of my art history university degree. But the art...everywhere you looked, you saw things that you can only see in textbooks.
We burned off all the calories we ate with our newfound passion for Italian food, walking the streets of Florence, being mistaken for locals by a couple of trekkers from Holland (seriously, can you imagine?), waiting on line after line as the Italian bureaucracy tried to make order out of the naturally reigning chaos, which had about as much impact as you might expect.

E7 was in his element, ciao'ing people left and right as he strode into the local bars to order a cappacino. I think he was Italian in a former life but maybe I've just imbibed too much espresso. Cameriere! Check, please!

10 of you feeling verklempt. Tawlk amongst yourselves:

Narelle said...

Ahhh Chris, it sounds like a fabulous time was had by the pair of you - I am so jealous!!! Love the picture of you sipping coffee - so very continental of you :)


Andrea said...

I am soooooooo jealous!! I want to go to the boot in the worst way!! Instead we moved to Canada. blaaaa

Mom said...

You make it so real.....I can almost taste the food & wine!

Anonymous said...

Food, Art, Wine, the Language (sounds musical), the People (friendly, friendly, friendly!), the Scenery, the Crazy Drivers......Amazing, isn't it? Glad to hear you had such a great time.
Love, Aunt Patty
P.S. Did you BC?

kuri & ping said...

Narelle, LOL about the continental thing. Maybe that's why the backpackers from Holland thought that we were locals...Not. :)

Andrea, I understand how you're feeling. Hang in there!!

Mom and Aunt Pats, we really had a good time. :) And, I did BC (that's Bookcrossing for those not in the know!). I dropped a book in the airport in Tokyo written by a former flight attendant...very cute. I dropped another book called "A Thousand Days in Venice" which was wonderful in, um, yes, Venice! And I dropped a book that I had just finished (Mercy by Jodi Picolut) on the steps of the Duomo in Florence. Every single book was picked up so I'm just waiting for someone to journal them! :)

ichiandzero said...

Wow wow. wonderful. Post more pics please.

Anonymous said...

How beautiful pictures they are.
and trying to become.. ?
Did you eat spaghettii ?

Granny said...

I'd love to try to eat my way from top to toe.

Mande's J-Life said...

Sounds great! I can almost taste the food. Would have liked to seen photos of it, so I can imagine it even better. You did take photos of your plates before you dug in, right???

kuri & ping said...

ichiandzero, photos are winging their way to you!

fan, actually E7 was the only one who ate spaghetti. I spent my time eating things that I can't eat in Japan, like ravioli and tortellini. Yum!

Granny, you got it right! I think the best food is probably in the south...any Italian visitors agree?

mandej, hi! Long time no see! Actually, I have no photos of the food before we actually ate. Isn't that sad???


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