Tuesday, April 29, 2008


We made one last stop on our drive back home to Pecetto and that was the little city of Ferarra. As we walked around the main square we quickly felt that pedestrians didn’t have the right of way in this town but it was the bikes that ruled the streets. In fact we later spotted a sign boasting Ferrara as the 'City of Bikes' (Not Beijing but Ferarra).
This town has the coolest 14th century castle with a real and honest to god moat! It was built by the ruling D'Este family who did not forget to include a substantial dungeon, which is part of the fun of visiting it.
We stayed in a 13th century palazzo turned hotel called Hotel Principessa Isabella and had originally belonged to a member of the D'Este royalty. It was beautiful but literally everything was pink, which we weren’t expecting....

Monday, April 28, 2008


Murano is an island that just might be breakable. Every shop, every cafe, every sculpture is crystal or adorned with it. It's right next to Venice and famous for it's glass art. We went there and found everything from wine glasses to jewellery, which is of course was what I was interested in. Murano's glass making history goes back to 1291. You can visit the furnaces and watch the masters in action but some parts have to remain secret as they have for hundreds of years. The secrets of the techniques of the glass blowers are taken to their grave.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Venezia Part 3

On our final night and it was a full moon which for this cynical girl was like, come on they must put that on for tourists! But no Venice really is that romantic.

My impressions of Venice:
Walking around I felt like I was on a movie set. It was all so beautiful that it didn't seem real. I have never been in a city that was so dirty but so magnificent at the same time. Dirty because the algae and mould and damp growing up the buildings and the constant construction waste as well as crowded tourist areas. But I was so busy looking up at the buildings and out at the jade green water that this never is that noticeable. Visiting a city like Venice is wonderful for a few days but then I start to wonder how the every day things are done for someone who lives in Venice. During my time there I saw the fire department, the trash man, the postman, and the police and ambulance all getting around on boat. Can you imagine? The funeral hurst is a gondola and the cemetery is on another island where everything is above ground.

Venice is basically built on wooden sticks pounded into the swampy earth. It's a marvel how it's held up. The first settlers here needed a place that no one else would want to come to as they were fleeing from Attila the Hun. They decided to live in what was then an impossible land that now it is one of the most expensive and desirable place to live. It's defiantly the most desirable place to experience, every nook and moldy cranny of it.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Venezia Part 2

The problem with photographing Venice is knowing when to stop. You never want to put your camera down and there comes a time when you just have to say to yourself, "stop now and just enjoy it!"
Travel Tip: Be prepared to love fish or pretend to because most restaurants serve nothing but fish. One place we went to served nothing but fish for appetizer, first plate, and second plate. Most everything was wonderful but there were a few unidentifiables. I didn't ask. It's part of the fun.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Venezia Part 1

The frosting on the vacation cupcake came the next day when we continued on to Venice. The next few blogs I’m going to concentrate on the beauty that is Venezia.My list of favorite things about Venice:
1. The color of the water, Jade green
2. The bells of 100 churches scattered throughout the city ringing at the same time on Sunday morning
3. The full moon on the grand canal
4. A group of gondoliers sitting around on their uniforms having a smoke break together
5. St Mark's Square flooded with water coming up threw the drains instead of going down

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kiss Me Kate!

Straight after Verona and continuing our worlwind tour, we headed to Padua. Another Shakespeare city and the setting to my favourite of all his plays, The Taming of the Shrew.

"For the great desire I had to seefair Padua, nursery of arts, I am arrived…and am to Padua come, as he that leavesa shallow plash to plunge in the deep, andwith satiety seeks to quench his thirst".—William Shakespeare

But there was no time for me and Pier to re-enact Katherine and Petruchio scenes because we were on a schedule and Pier's mom had made an appointment to see inside the little Scrovegni Chapel. Completed in 1305 the entire inside was brightly frescoed by Giotto. I couldnt take any pictures in fact we had to be disinfected before entering, but take my word for it when I say the celing was painted and electric blue with twinkling stars that made it look as if the heavens were singing.

After the chapel we walked threw the rest of the museum and came upon a women cleaning and restoring a painting when seems like a really cool job!

I got holes in my socks from walking so much and it was raining.

“Why there’s a wench! Come on, and kiss me, Kate” (again William Shakespeare)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

First Stop is...

The first stop on our trip was Verona. Home of the tragic Romeo and Juliet. You can visit her home and see her balcony. I don't know why but everyone was rubbing her breast as some sort of good luck ritual. If only she knew how much action she'd be getten these days.

You know Shakespeare never visited Verona but, of course, the Romans were here and left a 20,000 seat arena made from the local traviatine that comes in lovely shades of pink. I also found fossils hidden throughout the stone seats. As you can see it was a rainy day and after these sights were seen, and a quick espresso, we were on the road again. Where we stopped next tommorow......

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mystery Tour

This weekend Pier's parents took us on a mystery trip. We didnt know where we were going until we got in the car. We have just returned. Where did we go? More to come.......
Here is a little clue. Can you guess?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Make An Offering They Can't Refuse

Italians take their icons very seriously. With 98% of the public Catholic icons can be seen not just inside the churches but also on the corners of many streets and buildings. They take the form of statues or paintings. Italians leave offerings like flowers or prayer beads as they pray and ask for favors. This tradition goes all the way back to Roman times. The icons and offerings may have changed but the idea stays the same. Here are a few examples I have see around Torino.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Not Off The Rack

Yesterday I found myself writing on a fashion tangent. Today I continue that tangent with an Italian classic, the camicia. Italian men (and women) take their suiting very seriously and that includes their shirts, which brings me to a store in Torino called Sebastian. Sebastian just makes shirts. It works like this; you go in and choose the color and pattern you want your shirt to be made out of from the 100's of fabric and pattern samples they offer. You then have to choose the type of collar, cuffs, sleeve, and buttons. Basically designing your own personal style. They then measure you and make a shirt from scratch to fit your exact measurements. Now this is the ultimate souvenir to take home from your visit to Italy. I want a pink one, and a yellow one and maybe a light blue pinstripe with a ruffle collar and.......

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chanel's Italian Translation

Hay, I love fashion as much as the next American girl transplanted to Italy, home of Dolce and Gabanna, Armani, and Prada. I have watched women here wear pointy toe cowboy boots with shorts and colored panty hoes. I have seen men wear pinstripe pants with silver penny loafers and matching scarf and 'man bag'. But I don't know who is going to wear this. Yes It's Chanel but it's marked to Italians. The cherry is the ankle fanny pack but the see threw pants are up there. Chanel is my favorite designer most days but this is not the Chanel Im used to. Karl Laggerfield's mid life crisis. Fashion's equilvant to buying a fancy red sports car. Jackie O wore Chanel, Princess Grace Kelly, first ladies and royality. I think she is turning in her grave. Still It's not this:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Canaletto and Belotto

Palazzo Bricherasio is a beautiful 17th century palazzo right in the middle of Torino. It's full of beautifully painted and ornate rooms, wood ceilings, sculptures and, grand chandeliers. The palazzo is still privately owned but is now open to the public for art exhibitions. This weekend we went to see the current exhibit 'Canaletto and Bellotto, Art of the Landscape'. Canaletto was a famous Venetian painter that was a favorite of the British nobles on the Grand Tour. Belotto was his nephew and apprentice. In fact Belotto painted so much like his uncle only the most subtle differences tell them apart and Belotto started signing many of his paintings Canaletto to show his association with his uncle. In actuality neither one of them was actually named Canaletto, it was a sort of nickname that became a nome de plume. Pier and I played a bit of a game wondering threw the rooms seeing if we could pick out who painted what before reading the plaque. Although Canaletto moved to London for a 9 years stint based on his popularity there, his most sought after paintings remained the romantic venation images of life on the Grand Canal. He moved back to his native Venice where he died in 1768. Belotto broke with his uncle and traveled all over Europe painting for kings and queens on commissions. He died in 1780 in Warsaw, Poland as court painter to King Stanislaw August. Many of the paintings in the exhibit are from private collections and are rarely seen in public. I felt lucky to have seen them and defiantly gained a new appreciation for the Canaletto(s). Of the two images I have put above, Can you tell which is which?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Love Graffiti

There's something funny about the graffiti around Italy. It's not all 'F the establishment' and 'tag names'. It's actually mostly love notes. Check these out:'I love you Marty, for ever''Good night my puppy'
'This love is our castle'
'Puppy, be my fiancee? I love my spouse'

'Yes!! Also I love you'
Me? My choice of grafitti tool is cupcakes!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


The Primavera is a painting by Botticelli from 1482 that anounced the arrival of spring in Italy. We saw the original at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. There are many stories being told in this painting. On the far right is the story of Flora who was once a nymph called Chloris. So taken by her beauty, Zephyr, the god of wind, followed her and forcibly took her as his wife. Later, feeling guilty for his violence, Zepher transforms Chloris into Flora, the goddess of flowers. She breathes out flowers and lives in a beautiful garden of eternal spring.

Here is how me and Jolie anounce the arrival of spring...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This is Cheri:

This is Cheri. (Key air ree). It's got a church on every corner, some good shopping, some strange public bathrooms, and some serious history. You might remember a previous post where I explained that St. Valentine is buried here. Well here is a view of the rest of the town that began as a Roman settlement in 1st century AD.

A few more modern and intresting facts about Chieri are in 1630 there was a major outbreak of the plague affecting the city so much that every year it is still commemorated in a ceremony at the Madonna Delle Grazie church, occurring on September 12. In the 18th century Cheri became a center establishment for the textile trade especially linen and today there are still many fabric shops all over the city. Also they make the best hot chocolate I've had so far.