Yessir, I’m back from a week in Italy. I experienced the new year a full six hours ahead of my friends at home. Suckers.
The plane ride over was awful and turbulent the whole way. Many people around us spent the evening puking into bags and running for the bathroom. I joined them at intervals. We rented cars, since we had to drive out to the east coast on day two. Being in a new city, and a new country, we got lost trying to enter Rome and get to our hotel. By the time we got there, loaded into our rooms, and got ready to hit the city, we were left with about four hours in which to see Rome. We walked as fast as we could and kept our eyeballs wide open to take it all in. As you might expect, the city is breathtaking, and we only saw a small bit of it. We hit some biggies like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, as well as many nameless (to us) fantastic sites. It’s tough to look down at your map and identify everything you see when you are nearly sprinting through the streets.
At this point in the trip I proposed to my girlfriend Liz (file photo), and luckily, she said yes! Ahhh, Rome. She was helpless. We will wed sometime next year.
With heavy hearts, we set out early the next morning to drive across the country to Lanciano on the east coast. Italy is basically two coasts with a mountain range down the middle, so we got to climb high into the snow-covered mountains, on staggeringly high-suspended roadways. Italy is filled with a luscious countryside speckled with olive and grape crops, and small old towns perched on impossible mountains sides. How the hell do people get up there?
We made the trip in under three hours and arrived just after lunch. Lanciano is a small, but modern, town that lies about 20km off the coast of the Adriatic Sea. In days of old it was surrounded by a wall, but sections of it only remain in the older areas. We spent the remainder of our trip in there, which is a bit of a shame. Lanciano is a lovely town, but you could get all you need from it in a day. I wish we could have explored more of Italy, but it just wasn’t in the cards this time. We knew going into it that we were in for a family trip full of big dinners and planned events nearly everyday. I am not complaining because Italy is beautiful and there is much to be thankful for…
The food, dear god, the food. I have never eaten so much, or so well, before and I already miss it. The biggest meal (which is really saying a lot, because food is like a sport there) was a sort of third wedding celebration for my brother and his wife. The party started somewhere around 8pm and the eating began at 9pm. There were over 10 courses and the food didn’t stop until we left at nearly 3am. I ate so much that I started to think about starving countries and how big of an asshole I must be for consuming so much food. But. It. Just. Kept. Coming. We even tried to skip courses, but due to language barrier and the chefs not understanding what they could have possibly done wrong to make us not want their food, we just tucked it.
Everything just tasted better there. I can only imagine that Italy’s pizza makers benefit from some divine intervention, possible due to the close proximity of Vatican City. The cappuccino, the fruit (clementines!), the wine… it’s like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was invited.
The drivers were insane, about as bad as your average metropolitan cab driver, but with a city full of people driving like cab drivers, your have to up your game. Street signs and traffic laws (which I can only assume they have there) are entirely optional. If you are going too slow—”slow” being a relative term—you will be passed, even if there is oncoming traffic. We didn’t have too many language problems. Italians are very patient to even the most offensive attempts to communicate natively, either verbally or through your own crude sign language. The metric system rules. Everything instantly makes sense.
Though the weather was kinda crappy and rainy most of our trip, and we were all at each other’s throats by the end of it, we had a good time, and I still managed to take a few hundred photos. I am instantly attracted to old walls and long winding pathways through the tight cities. For your viewing enjoyment, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites into a new photo collection called Holiday in Italy.
Happy New Year to all and thanks to the kind folks who contributed to the first Guest Photography edition of this site’s Daily Photography section. There will surely be more in the future.