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Italia in 40: Day 12…Bridges, Blues, and Bruschetta

Today I woke up and walked down the street to the covered bridge. It was amazing.

It traverses the Brenta river which is gorgeous. I walked across the bridge and down the street to see a palazzo and then a church, which were both cool. I was the only person in the church and it got really scary.

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I saw these beautiful flowers and found out that they make juice out of them in Hawaii! They were so exotic looking, but I picked one to press in my notebook and was worried they were poisonous, haha!

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After seeing the church, I had an AMAZING lunch.

I went to Birreria Lowen and they had a million types of Bruschetta. Here in Italy, Bruschetta is like our version of those French bread pizzas. It’s thick toast, topped with different sauces and vegetables and meats. In the U.S. most people think that Bruschetta is thin, crunchy toast with cold tomatoes, but here (perhaps just in northern Italy) it’s like thick crust pizza.

I ordered a Bruschetta Monaco: pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, mixed roasted veggies, and spicy salami. Here in Italy they don’t have pepperoni (that’s an America invention), but spicy salami is basically the same.

I also tried Grappa for the first time, which was really tasty, but SO strong. Now, I drink a lot of wine, not so much beer, and very little liquor, but I’ve had Everclear and moonshine. This stuff was crazy. It made my lips, tongue and roof of my mouth numb! I was worried I was like allergic or something, but once I Googled it and saw everyone writing about having a numb mouth after drinking it. ūüėõ

I was tasty and very unique!

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After having the Grappa, I walked down to the riverside and took some pictures and footage, before walking back to my room. I walked around the city walls and back towards the piazza where my room is.

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I came back to my room and took a nap and stuff, and went back out about 10. I wanted to go out late so that I could go back down to the river to watch the meter shower that was supposed to happen tonight.

I went back to the same birreria and had the same bruschetta and a beer and then started to walk back across the bridge and heard some good music so I went into the bar and a band was covering Italian blues standards.

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I’ll definitely go back tomorrow because I saw posters for this all over the city today and realized it’s at the bar I was at tonight, so that will be fun!

It was so fun and interesting because there were all ages of people and they were having a ball listening to classic American music! I took a lot of video and drank A LOT of beer.

After that I was too tired to go see the meteor shower, so I just came back to my room and showered and chilled.

Today was fun, although uneventful. Tomorrow I will go to museums and walk around more.

Talk to y’all then!

P.S. Here’s some penis pasta!

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Italia in 40: Day 11…Udine>Bassano del Grappa (Days 8,9,and 10 Updated)

Today I left my friend’s house in Udine and took the train to Bassano del Grappa.

SN: Holy hangover, Batman!

I took the train from Udine to Mestre and then on to Bassano. It’s really beautiful here and elections are in a few days so there are all kinds of campaign parties going on.

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Why Bassano del Grappa? Well, my great uncle traced my mother’s paternal family tree all the way back to Anthony Bassano and Elina de Nazzi in the 16th century. The Bassano family was from this town (obviously) and Elina was from Venice. I am quite aware that it’s silly, but I just wanted to check out this town since my ancestors came from here. Also, other than Udine, it’s the only town I am visiting that I’ve never been to.

When we got to the station this morning, my friend waited with me on the platform in Udine and thank God she did. My train was supposed to arrive at platform 3 and right around the time it was expected a train pulled up and I started to get on it. It turns out it was a different train, going to AUSTRIA! They had changed the platform without either of us noticing! 0__0

I got to Bassano at about 3 and the owner of the B&B picked me up. She’s really nice and comes from even further north, so she speaks Italian and English with a German accent!

The B&B I’m staying at is right on one of the main piazzas, so I have my windows open, listening to the live band that is playing for one of the campaign gatherings-it is so nice. This B&B is really nice and new and reasonably priced; I will post the details when I leave…I highly recommend staying here!

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The weather has been gorgeous. It was a little hot today, especially since I was carrying all of my luggage, but I can’t complain.

I bought a first-class train ticket again, but could never find the first-class cars and was carrying all my stuff through the train and pissing people off, so I just sat in second-class…#thestruggleisreal There was no air and lots of smelly, sweaty people, but I got to where I was going so whatever.

My bag is like 45 lbs and hoisting it from the floor onto my back is a major struggle…unfortunately, I can’t recommend Osprey packs after this trip. This is my first time buying an Osprey bag and after 10 days there are already several problems. As I said, I only packed 45 lbs, but one of the buckles has cracked and the padding in one of the backpack straps is already ruined. Mind you I haven’t done any hiking, just walking between trains and hotels and this bag isn’t holding up well…I’m very disappointed considering the cost.

Anyway, once I got checked-in to my room, I unpacked and repacked all of my belongings and threw away some stuff. I calculated all of my expenses so far and then hung up all of the dirty clothes I’ve accumulated since Florence, so that they can “breathe” a bit while I’m here.

After cleaning up all of my stuff, I walked down to the square and went on the hunt for some bottled water and snacks. I got some money out of the ATM since I had to use all of the cash I had to pay for my room. It was already 8:30 so nothing was open except the bars and a few restaurants. It’s so interesting to me that even pharmacies were closed. What are you supposed to do if you or your children get sick or there is some kind of minor issue? I finally wandered around and found a stand selling Crepes, so I bought two bottles of water and a ham, egg, and cheese Crepe. There were lots of people at the stand and it seemed popular. I was able to order completely in Italian and all that good stuff, but then I started watching the woman prepare the Crepes…

1)There was no sink in this little stand, so she obviously didn’t wash her hands…

2)In the ten minutes that I stood there watching her make everyone’s Crepes she touched her nose and licked Nutella off her fingers, before folding the Crepes with her hands, aboutttt 20 times.

I was just going to ignore it and eat it anyway because I hadn’t (haven’t) eaten all day, but I got back to my room and started thinking about it and decided to throw it away. I am here by myself and I don’t want to get food poisoning and be stuck without help and be all embarrassed and whatnot…so, I got a scoop of gelato instead and returned to my room again.

There are no other guests here tonight, so I have the entire house to myself…a kitchen, living room, balcony…it’s super awesome, but also a little spooky!

I was able to take a good long shower, shave and wash some delicates, so other than the snot Crepe, it’s been an epic evening!

I pulled a muscle in my left shoulder today when I was trying to lift my bag up into the train, which completely blows. At least I don’t have to haul a bunch of stuff around until Sunday, so hopefully it will heal a little bit in the meantime.

I will add pictures to my blogs from Udine (Day 8, Day 9, and Day 10) right now, so make sure to go back and check them out!

Tomorrow I’m going to sleep-in and then explore Bassano del Grappa. I saw a porcelain museum when I was walking around tonight, so I’ll check that out and I’ll also hop on The Google and hopefully find some places to go. I hope to see some cool things, but don’t anticipate anything crazy like some of the stuff in Florence *knocks on wood*!

Thanks for reading along so far! ūüôā

SN: Below the break is a review of my hostel in Florence, if you are interested!

Continue reading Italia in 40: Day 11…Udine>Bassano del Grappa (Days 8,9,and 10 Updated)

Italia in 40: Day 10…Potatoes, Cheese and Ancient History!

Ciao!

Today was another awesome one!

My friend’s dad drove us into town and we caught the bus to Cividale, another important Roman and Longobardo town. When we arrived at Cividale we toured the main cathedral before exploring the town.

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After the church, we walked around and went over the Devil’s Bridge. From what I could understand, people sold either their own souls or pig’s souls in exchange for help from the devil to build it.

The river that the Devil’s Bridge traverses is astonishing. It was the clearest and bluest river I’ve ever seen. I wanted to swim in it so bad. Maybe next time!

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After crossing the river/bridge, my friend asked a passerby how to get to the Longobardo temple and he directed us back to the municipal area with the church where we had originally come from.

We planned to go see the Longobardo temple, but it was closed until 3 PM, so we went to lunch.

As I explained in the last blog, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is an autonomous region with its own language, and as I found out today, its own cuisine. Today I was able to eat Frico and Gubano. Gubano is a dessert dish that is small knots of croissant/doughnut dough with thicker bread like dough in the middle. It looks like golf ball size knots of doughnut with banana-nut/ginger style bread in the center.

I also had Frico con patate, which is a cheese shell with mashed potatoes in the bottom. OMG. Best. Food. Ever.

I freaking LOVE cheese and potatoes are a close second, so it was AMAZINGGG.

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After lunch, we walked to the Longobardo temple and there were a group of French tourists there. We got at the student rate (if you are under 25 in Italy-and most of Europe-you are considered a student and you pay super reduced rates to get into museums) of 1,50 Euros!

The Longobardo temple was amazing because it was on the beautiful river with lots of houses and the mountains were visible, but some parts of it were built/decorated in the seventh, yes, seventh century!

It was so cool. I am not an ancient/medieval historian and normally I am not very interested in ancient history, but it was neat! It helped me tie a bunch of loose ends together from all of the classes I have taken and people I have heard talk about their theses and interests.

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After the Longobardo temple, we had to rush to the bus station to head back to Udine. In Italy, high schoolers take public transportation because after middle school they do not have school buses. In Cividale they have an agricultural/scientific high school, so lots of students got on the bus with us and it was so interesting. Two of the students were sitting right behind the bus driver so I could see them in his rear-view mirror: they were GETTING BUSY. I mean, I did my fair share of kissing boys as a teenager, but these fools were making me blush. My friend said they were only 15 or 16, but the girl was laying in the boy’s lap and he was sucking on her neck for the greater part of 45 minutes! #scandalous

The son of the mayor of my friend’s hometown also got on the bus, but only shortly before we got off to walk to her house.

We got off the bus and went to her house for a few minutes before we took her dad’s car and went to the stadium so that I could learn to drive a standard transmission car.

When I was a kid my dad used to let me shift gears in his standard truck and one of my ex boyfriends tried to teach me for like 3 minutes once (before he got worried about me burning up the clutch), but otherwise I had ZERO experience with a standard transmission vehicle.

In my opinion, I did a good job. I got all the way to fourth gear once or twice…in a parking lot! There was a carnival going on and dogs, bicyclists, and other people…I will post a video whenever I am able to upload the footage to Youtube.

 

After learning to drive we went to the mall and found a Hello Kitty story that was about to go out of business. I got a few cute things for cheap and I am so excited about it because it’s specifically Italian Hello Kitty!

We walked around the mall for a while and then we went back to her house to have dinner.

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Her dad bought us all kinds of wines from Friuli and we tried them.

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I drank a full bottle by myself and have to wake up at seven tomorrow because my train leaves at noon-it’s going to be rough, haha!

The owner of the B&B I am staying at in my next destination texted me yesterday and asked what time I was arriving at the train station and today she said she would pick me up!

I am so happy because the next place I am going to is my most rural destination for this trip and I have never been there before nor do I know anyone, so I am thankful that this woman agreed to pick me up at the train station!

I will leave tomorrow around noon and I will be to my destination around 3:30 or 4!

In Bassano del Grappa I will be able to upload pictures from my visit to Friuli-Venezia Giulia, so stay tuned!

Italia in 40: Day 9…#Historygasms and the Sea=My Perfect Day

I am still on 3G, so just be patient and I will add some (more) media to these three blog entries, eventually (probably Thursday night).

Today was AMAZING and quite possibly the best day I have ever had in Italy and the best day I have ever had as a history student! First, we went to Codroipo to an outdoor market and walked around. There were stalls for everything: clothes, shoes, scarves, plants, housewares, food, baskets, lingerie, toys, and everything in between. I bought some cookies for 60 cents and then we walked to my friend’s grandparent’s house, where her dad was waiting on us.

 

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From Codroipo we went out to Villa Manin, which was the country estate of the last Doge of Venice, Ludovico Manin.

 

My friend‚Äôs dad also said that Napoleon Bonaparte lived there at one point! Now, for those of you that know me, you know that this was SUPER COOL! If you don’t know me, let me explain:

1) I am a nerd.

2) I wrote my Masters thesis about the decline of the Venetian oligarchy, leading up to the fall of the Republic to Napoleon Bonaparte.

3) I dedicated the final chapter of said thesis to the shift of the nobility from a merchant class to a feudal nobility.

4) A large portion of that chapter discussed the buying-up of land on the terra firma and the adoption of the mezzadria (sharecropping) system.

So, guess what I saw today? An actual place where all of this took place! I was kicking myself the entire time because I know writing my thesis would have been a hell of a (helluva?) lot easier and more stimulating, had I been able to see this last summer when I was researching via Inter Library Loan and Google…>__<

They were setting up for some kind of food festival at Villa Manin and renovating the main estate, but we got to go into two small museums (one for weapons and one for carriages) and then into the back garden.

A French designer, who modeled it after Versailles, created the garden in 1714. There was a beautiful pond (it was crystal-blue and so clear), statutes and all kids of trees. I also heard a beehive for the first time…it was a little scary! The villa and garden would be a great filming location for any of you cinematographers out there.

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Walking around the estate and the gardens is free, but if you want to enter the museum in the main house, you have to pay (8-10 Euros) or get a Friuli-Venezia Giulia Card. Just like the Firenze Card, the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia has a card that provides access to museums, WiFi, and public transport!

After Villa Manin, we went to Aquileia, which was a prominent Roman city and the point of origin for many of the original inhabitants of Venice. We saw the basilica and baptistery of Santa Maria Assunta and passed many ancient ruins. I also mentioned Aquileia in the first chapter of my thesis. So, I basically got to tour the places I wrote about at the beginning and end of my thesis and beginning on Sunday I will be in Venice and get to see all of the places I wrote about in the body of my thesis! So exciting! #historygasm

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After having a short tour of Aquileia, my friend’s dad drove us to Grado and dropped us off. Grado is on the ocean and if you didn’t know, the ocean is my favorite place. Other than dipping my toes in the Mediterranean in Cinque Terre, I haven’t been to the ocean since August 2011!  In Grado, we got to have some seafood (spaghetti with clams), play in the water (got some epic GoPro footage I will share eventually), get some sun, explore, and do a little shopping (I got some cute stuff: two scarves, some earrings, and a scarf clip to match).

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On the way back to Codroipo we stopped in Palmanova, a huge fortress in the shape of a 9-point star. If you stand in the exact center of the fortress, the three gates leading out of the town are exactly 120 degrees apart on three on points of the star. It was cool! On the way out, we drove through one of the gates and it had two layers and all kinds of gears and mechanisms, which the inhabitants used to seal up the walls during attack.

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After all of that, we made it back to Codroipo. We bought a gelato and walked around the city to do a bit more shopping. We missed the bus to Udine, but thankfully my friend’s aunt drove by and she was able to contact her dad to pick us up.

We got back to my friend’s house around 7 and we had dinner (prosciutto, Prosecco, mozzarella, crackers, and tomatoes) and then dessert (pineapple)!

Throughout the day I also got to talk to my friend’s dad about politics in Europe, the U.S., and South America (her family migrated to Venezuela during the Depression era and only came back to Italy a few years ago), which was SO much fun. I love talking to people about their political beliefs, and specifically how their thoughts on economics shape their political beliefs!

Now, I have yet to get to the most awesome part. It turns out Friuli-Venezia Giulia is one of only 3 autonomous regions in Italy and THEY HAVE THEIR OWN LANGUAGE (one could argue that it’s a dialect, but whatever). Also, since elections are coming up, I got to see all kinds of campaign posters and even passed a campaign office for Lega Nord, a political party which advocates some isolationist and separatist ideas. Why is this cool? Well, I am a total sucker for languages and dialects and have been since I was a kid. I collect dictionaries and phrasebooks, if that gives you any indication of my obsession. Of course, the more obscure a language, the better! For my Ph.D., I really want to study the history of regionalist politics in Europe and specifically Italy. Everyone studies Irish and Spanish regionalism/separatism-and that is fascinating, do not get me wrong-but Italy is unique and so I want to study its political history!

 

So, to recap: I got to explore multiple settings from my thesis, I got to go to the ocean, I got to shop, I got to eat good food, I discovered a new language, I got to talk about contemporary global politics all day, I got to explore an autonomous region in Italy…it was literally PERFECT!

Before my brain explodes, I have to go.

Pictures to come!

 

Italia in 40: Day 8…Firenze>Udine

Howdy everyone!

So, I am at my friend’s house in Udine and only have 3G internet service, so I won’t be uploading pictures for this blog, but I will tell you about my day anyway.

This morning I checked out of my hostel around 9:45 and walked to the train station. I bought my ticket to Udine and then went to a cafe by the station. I had a Nutella croissant and a cappuccino before I walked back to the station. I found my train without a problem and sat with an older couple from South Carolina that were going to Venice for their anniversary. They were really nice, but I felt bad for them because they were using the Rick Steve’s guides and had NO clue what was going on or what to do when they arrived in Venice…

I got to Venezia Mestre station around 2 and immediately got on the train to Udine. I accidentally sat in the 2nd class section although I purchased a first class ticket, but it was alright. That train ride lasted about 2 hours and I arrived in Udine around 3, where I met my friend. We walked all around Udine and visited several churches, a castle, a library, a mall, a museum, and the city center.

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The museum we went to was the baptistery was attached to the Udine Duomo. It was so funny because the guide for the museum was a former history professor. He was old and drunk and was talking crazzzy! After the church we just walked around and I took lots of pictures.

Udine is really interesting. It looks very German and they have preserved the city SO well. There are barely any modern buildings! It is also only 4 hours from Austria and has a rich history, so the architecture is really unique and different than anything I have seen in the rest of Italy.

After we walked around the entire city, we stopped at a bar and I had a couple of glasses of wine (it definitely made my feet feel better, hahaha)!

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We came back to my friend’s house and I met her parents and we had dinner (chicken, a Russian vegetable salad, bread, and cheese) and now we are just having wine and talking. She lives in Tavagnacco, which is a suburb of Udine.

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Tomorrow we are going to Codroipo and Lignano. Hopefully I will be able to find WiFi somewhere so that I can add some pictures to this blog and write my post for tomorrow, but if not, I will write the posts and put them in a queue to be published once I get a better connection.

Hopefully I will talk to you guys tomorrow, but if not, just stick with me and I will have lots of interesting things to write about in a few days when I get to Bassano del Grappa! ūüôā