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Today was weird, but good anyway.
I’m starting to miss the U.S. a bit.
This is officially the longest I’ve ever been out of the country and other than a few summers in middle school, the longest I’ve ever been away from my mom. I miss buffalo wings, Taki, (basically, spices and meat) and the anonymity I have at home…let me explain:
In the U.S. I can drive to the store alone, go buy the foods I want, use self checkout, go through the drive-through, watch TV, and use social networks to communicate with people. I have the freedom to interact with people as much or as little as I want to, at my own pace and when I want to. That’s not the case here. For instance, it is like going on a damn treasure hunt, just to get bottled water (in the big cities they do have grocery stores, but I have yet to see a “convenience” style store here and even grocery stores close abnormally early). Once I find water, I have to take it out of the cooler, awkwardly try to explain myself to the cashier, and then pay. I can’t just walk up to a machine, put my money in, get the product, and go. Every little thing requires human interaction and it’s exhausting. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; I understand the amount of social isolation in the U.S. isn’t necessarily a good thing, but to go from 0 to 100 in less than 2 weeks is becoming a bit much.
Also, just a heads up, I would highly suggest knowing Italian at an intermediate level before traveling here alone. I have taken two semesters in college and studied independently, but I was completely ill prepared. If you are brave enough to say little things in Italian people automatically assume you are fluent and get very impatient if you don’t understand. That’s been hard for me because I have the knowledge and could write them an essay in Italian, but when they put me on the spot and I can’t verbally reply in an articulate way or they misunderstand me, I feel very stupid and almost trapped. There have been a million times I have wanted to ask questions or make statements, but I couldn’t formulate my thought in Italian quickly enough before it was too late or I said something and was misunderstood. I think this is one thing about traveling alone that’s also hard. You don’t have anyone to talk to or connect with at all. It does help one develop a new level of compassion for immigrants!
Anyway, now for the cool stuff!
Today I woke up and walked down to the riverside and tried to find one of the major museums in town. I used a map my host gave me and my iPhone, but it turns out once I got there, it was closed. It’s a Hemingway and WWI museum, but it looked like it was permanently closed. There were cats all over the place, which I found ironic with the Hemingway connection and all. Walking to the museum was gorgeous though and there were several fly fishermen in the river and the weather was literally perfect. After seeing that the museum was closed, I went back to my favorite restaurant and hand lunch: Bruschetta, of course! I was bummed about the museum though, because it’s supposed to have a large exhibit about Hemingway and obviously loads of military history…
After lunch I walked along the other side of the river. There were tons of people out sunbathing and exercising. IF YOU COME TO BASSANO DEL GRAPPA, RENT A BICYCLE. There are several posts where you can rent one and I would highly suggest it. Lots of people ride bikes here and the Giro d’Italia is coming through here in a few days (I might take the train back up here from Venice to see the race). Had I not been alone, I definitely would have ridden a bike today. The weather was great, as I said, and I would have loved to explore more of the area along the river, but walking alone was only safe for so long.
After lunch I decided to go check out the porcelain and publishing museum. You can purchase a ticket to four museums and attractions for 8 Euros and it’s definitely worth it. The porcelain museum was awesome, but the attendant caught me taking pictures and proceeded to follow me around for about an hour, which was annoying. The printing museum was very cool because I recently wrote a seminar paper about Venice and one of the sections was about printing in Venice, so it was especially cool to see the techniques and technology use in Bassano del Grappa. Apparently printers here reprinted a lot of Venetian works and produced large amounts of decorative and novelty paper products!
After the porcelain and printing museum (they are in the same building), I was going to go back to a museum right by my hotel, but then I heard some brass music and realized it was coming from the bridge. As I was walking to the bridge I saw a bride and her bridal party taking pictures and a man wearing a giant inflatable penis! 0_0 As I got closer to the bridge I noticed the brass band was sometime of military affiliated group and recorded a bit of their performance. I don’t know why they were there or what the songs were about, but they must have been important because all of the Italians knew the lyrics. I think that they must perform on the bridge most Saturday afternoons. The group is Fanfarina Nastro Azzurro, if you are interested.
After that, I went back to the museum by my hotel (Museo Storioc Bassano del Grappa). It’s a great museum with lots of things! There is an ancient pottery exhibit, a medieval section, an exhibit of opera costumes, a sculpture exhibit, an exhibit of maps and photos of the city, and loads of paintings. Right now they have a small exhibit of drawings by Michelangelo, which was obviously awesome.
I went back to my room after the museum and napped and showered, so that I could go back to the bar I went to last night. The band last night was awesome, but tonight they had a DJ mixing reggae and Nigerian music. It was really fun!
A family of special needs people sat with me for a while, but then they got up to dance and I left.
Tomorrow I leave for Venice, so I will have more to write tomorrow night!