Thursday, March 13, 2014

La Dolce Vita

Last October, B and I spent the better part of October traipsing through Italy.  We flew into Rome, stayed for a week, moved onto Siena, then Florence, then Venice, then back home.  It was an amazing way to celebrate our ten-year-wedding anniversary, and gave us a chance to REALLY get away from it all-- no kids, no dogs, no jobs, etc.  I kept a journal of the entire trip-- actually, WE kept a journal of the entire trip as we took turns writing in it--and I considered going back through it and writing a blog about each city we encountered.  Then I thought, "Hmm... I kind of have a headache and it's already 3:30 on Wine Wednesday, and 75 degrees outside, so do I REALLY want to put that much effort into blogging about Italy?  Nah.  That's what travel bloggers are for."  So instead I compiled you this really awesome list of my favorite memories from Italy.  Enjoy.


1.  Giving Diabetes The Finger~  October 17, 2013, was my 25th anniversary of having Type I Diabetes. Though I am an extremely healthy diabetic who has excellent control over the disease, I can't even begin to tell you the number of times in my life that diabetes has FUCKED ME OVER.  All the birthday parties with no cake because my sugar was high, all the headaches I've gotten because my sugar was low, all the frustrating attempts to learn how much insulin to take for Chinese food or pizza or, well, ANYTHING.  So, as a way to say, "FUCK YOU, PANCREAS, FOR GIVING UP ON ME AND LEAVING ME STRANDED WITH THIS FUCKING DISEASE," on my diabetes anniversary, B and I got directions from our innkeeper to the best gelato in Rome, at a lovely little place the locals visit called Portofino.  It was my first experience with gelato (of  course, my diabetes had only allowed me to have diet soda while all my friends ate gelato the last time I was in Italy) and it was HEAVENLY.  I had white chocolate and biscotti flavored gelato, with real whipped creme on top and ate EVERY SINGLE BITE.  And, by using my handy dandy insulin pump, I didn't even screw over my blood sugar.  HIGH FIVE, ME.

2.  The Time We Interrupted The Funeral~  One evening in Rome, B and I were wandering around looking for something new to see when we decided to go back to the Pantheon.  The first time we had visited, we had gotten there right at closing and hadn't been able to go inside.  This time when we arrived we saw that it was open, and people were going in, so we walked right in with them.  There was a sign taped to the  door written in Italian, but in Italy EVERY SIGN IS WRITTEN IN ITALIAN (go figure) and neither of us speak fluent Italian, so a lot of damn good THAT did us.  Once we got inside the church, we marveled at the beauty of it all-- the dome, the hole in the center top, and were being very, very quiet because, as it appeared to us, Mass was taking place.  But as we began to look closer, we realized that this wasn't just any mass.  THIS WAS SOMEBODY'S FUNERAL MASS-- made obvious by the ginormous portrait of the dead guy on an easel in the front of the church--AND WE WERE CRASHING IT.  Those other people in there with us?  Those were the dead guy's friends and families.  OOPS. We left.

3.  The best thing about Italy is that there are no open container laws and they sell wine EVERYWHERE, so you can walk into one of their little supermarkets, buy a bottle of local, delicious wine for 2 Euro (slightly less than three American dollars), pop the cork out (if you happen to be carrying a corkscrew-- which we always were because we're GENIUSES), and drink it while you're walking down the street.  If you were so inclined, they even had WINE JUICEBOXES (we never partook of these, seeing as how we're too classy for that, but see the photo I took below.)  ANYWAY.  So you can drink wine while walking down the sidewalk.  Or crashing a funeral.  Or, say, at the laundromat at 9pm on a Sunday night in Siena, the most intact medieval walled-city in the world, after you've been hiking for two solid hours straight up and down the streets of the city carrying all of your laundry in your backpack, searching for somewhere open to wash your clothes.  (Yes, this DID happen, and, while I did appreciate the opportunity to drink wine unencumbered in the laundromat, I would rather have skipped the hiking-around-carrying-all-my-shit part.  And yes, drinking at the laundromat is what I'm doing in the photo.)  I would write my favorite memory here of our wine-capades, but there is no one favorite memory.  We drank SO MUCH WINE.  Holy Hell.

4.  The first night we were in Siena, we were sitting in Il Campo (this is like the center of town-- it's this HUGE, gorgeous, medieval, scallop-shell-shaped courtyard surrounded by old stone buildings).  This seems to be where people just go and hang out--study, dance, read, drink.  The sky was an inky blue-black and the moon was full over Il Campo.  It was AMAZING.  And then this scruffy little dog walked by and sniffed my foot, so I started petting him.  His owner, whose name was Francesca, turned out to be a very nice lady who spoke not a word of English, so communicating with her was pretty difficult.  We finally (with lots of miming and B's newly acquired Italian) figured out that the dog's name was Hugo.  So I loved on Huge (I was missing my Mims a lot) and then they went on their way.  A few days later, we were sitting at a table on the edge of Il Campo (drinking wine, of course) when I saw a little dog go walking by.  IT WAS HUGO!  So I started yelling for him and Francesca, who seemed a little mind-boggled as she had obviously forgotten me and had no idea how I knew her dog, brought him over.  It was awesome.

5.  SO, our plan was to take the train from Siena into Florence as there was no way in hell I was getting into a little European car with B behind the wheel.  Seriously, I have to Xanax-up and pray before we drive from our house to the grocery store (a mile away) because he scares the ever-loving fuck outta me.  Everything had gone smoothly with this plan thus far.  We had gotten from Rome TO Siena by train, and now we were back at the station to catch the train to Florence.  It was raining pretty hard, and the train was late, but it was no big deal.  We were under a covered platform and had two bottles of wine with us for the ride, so it was all good.  About an hour after we were supposed to depart, the train guys finally let us board the train.  We got settled in and sat there for a half-hour or so.  Then they told us we all had to get off because flooding had canceled the train.  It was explained to us all (in Italian and very, very broken English) that buses would be coming to pick us all up and we could use our train passes for the buses.  This wasn't such a big deal because Florence was only about fifty miles away, so a bus was fine.  Except the buses never came.  B and I met a chick named Marissa from NYC who was traveling around the country and the three of us hiked BACK UP another giant hill (carrying all of our luggage) to get to a bus station.  Once there, we bought bus tickets and waited for a very long time until our bus finally arrived.  There were tons of people waiting by now, and the bus filled up quickly, so we were stuck without a seat.  Once again, we were in ITALY, SO WHAT if we have to stand on a bus for fifty miles.  IT WAS A GOOD.  We were tired and a little irritated at everything we had gone through, but we were excited to get to Florence.  Only we didn't GET to Florence-- we got about five miles down the road before the bus pulled over to the side of the street in the middle of nowhere and KICKED EVERYONE WHO WAS STANDING UP HOLDING THE HANDRAILS OUT.  Yep, that's right.  They put us out in the side of the road with our suitcases, no explanation, and just left.

Wanna find out what happened next?


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