Saturday, May 5, 2007
Firenze and Venezia
I would like to begin this blog with an ode to nutella. If you don't know what nutella is, buddy, you are really missing out and you're gonna be really glad you read this blog. I could not think of any way to describe this wonderful gift from god and do it justice so I visited my favorite know-it-all for some help. Wikipedia defines Nutella as "a hazelnut based sweet chocolate spread." Ooooohhhhh yeah. My sister already knew about it before our trip, but I unfortunately did not. Here is the progression of the nutella obsession. At our very first hotel breakfast in Rome, my sister discovered little individual packets of nutella so she picked one up and spread it on some toast. I was shocked that someone had discovered how make eating chocolate for breakfast acceptable! So the next day, I thought hey, that would be great if you added some sliced up bananas on top of it. For our last breakfast in Rome we decided that the toast was just an unnecessary additive so we just started spooning the nutella directly onto the banana. I'm sure you can see where this is going....Well, for our first breakfast in Florence we could not find any nutella. My sister searched and searched and finally found little packets of stuff called Nutcao (which we have chosen to pronounce as "nut-cow" cuz its just funnier that way) which is a knockoff of Nutella. I'm happy to say that Nutcao is just as good as the original so we continued on with our daily breakfast of bananas and Nutcao. When we reached Venice there was no Nutella or Nutcao but there was DOL crem which appeared to be a knockoff of Nutcao (a knockoff of a knockoff) and was completely inedible. It didn't spread and it had a really bizarro semi-metallic taste to it. This just wouldn't work so we sought out a market and bought a big jar of Nutella. This is when we discovered, as you can imagine, that the banana was just an unnecessary additive also and we started spooning the shizzle straight out the jar. Since we came back from our trip we have started using the word nutcao in our everyday language because its just so friggin funny. You can say things like, "that stupid nutcao" or "why you gotta be such a nutcao?" Maybe this blog will get the word out there and then in a few months some random person will call me a nutcao. That would be awesome!
I'm gonna blog about Florence and Venice together because I'm having a Seis de Mayo party today at the hizzle so I gotta start getting ready for that. Florence was my favorite part of the trip by far. My new goal in life is to make enough money (or lets face it, marry someone who makes enough money) to buy a villa in the wine country. I didn't realize this but Tuscany is a large region in Italy and Florence is a city in Tuscany. So you just drive a few miles outside of the city and you are in the heart of the wine country. Florence was my favorite city for many reasons other than the obvious - it's in the middle of some of the best wine production in the world. It is a much smaller city than Rome but still has still has museums, restaurants, and shopping, and looks much more like a picturesque Italian city. And the people are much friendlier. For the second day we were in Florence we had arranged to have a private guide, Alessandro, take us up to the Chianti Classico region for a day of wine/cheese/olive oil tasting. I have to say, this was one of the best days of my life. The picture above is from the second winery we went to, Castello di Verrazzano, which had good wine but also had the best olive oil I have ever tasted. Check out my facebook to see the rest of the pics from this Florence.
From our day wine tasting comes one of my favorite stories of the whole trip. We started the day at 9AM at Castello di Vicchiomaggio, then went to Verrazzano, and then stopped at Montagliari for more wine tasting and to have lunch. After lunch Jay and I both had to go to the bathroom so we headed over to the water closet (what Italians and maybe even all Europeans for all I know) call the bathroom. There were two of them beside each other in a little building off the side of the area where we had lunch. Jay went in one bathroom and I went in the other. Once inside, to lock the door I had to work with some key on a chain that already was in the keyhole. I fumbled around with it for a good five minutes not knowing if I had locked the door or not before I said screw it and decided to just go ahead and take care of business. Right before I finished up and old, Italian man smoking a cigarette leisurely strolls into my bathroom and says very casually "Ooohhh, you forgot to lock the door" in a thick Italian accent and then takes a drag from his cigarette. Well, he didn't seem to be going anywhere very fast so I finished up and then asked him how to flush the toilet. Side note: in Italy, locating the mechanism to flush the toilet could be an Olympic event. Sometimes its on the sidewall, sometimes the backwall, sometimes the top of the toilet. Geez. Well, this time, as the old Italian man points out to me, it's hanging from the ceiling. So I flush the toilet, wash my hands, and then me and the old Italian man still smoking the cigarette exit the bathroom where we find a very drunk and confused Jay waiting for me. He says, "Ummmm....was he helping you???" I wish I had a picture of the look of shock and horror on this face. I do have to admit, the lack of urgency the Italian man felt to leave the bathroom once he saw me sitting on the toilet was kinda strange.
After 3 days in Florence we packed up and took the train to Venice. We got off to a bad start in Venice because my stoopy sister left her backpack under her seat on the train. I mean you're just asking to lose something when you put it under a seat. Just go ahead and kiss it goodbye. Well about ten minutes after getting off the train and hauling all of our luggage (which easily could have supplied a normal family for a year in Italy) over an enormous bridge complete with stairs, my sister remembered the backpack. She ran back there and the train was still there, but her backpack was not. Fortunately, her passport and money weren't in there but Jay's camera was along with a lot of other miscellaneous small stuff that is inexpensive but bugs the crap out of you when you dont have it....like Chapstick. We were lucky because I had also been taking pictures along the way, but it sucked because Jay had taken all the funny pics like the one of a guy wearing a shirt that said "F**k the Babysitter." We thought that was hilarious until we saw about 10 other guys wearing it throughout our trip. Anyways, Venice was great. It was much slower than Rome and Florence so it was a great place for the last leg of our trip. They say that you can't get lost in Venice because its an island, but if you have ever been to Venice you know that's a bunch of b.s. We got lost every single time we tried to go anywhere. For instance the directions we were given to get to a restaurant said take your first left. We thought that we took our first left but after being lost for a good 20 minutes we backtracked and found that the first left was actually what can only be desribed as crack between two buildings. It was only wide enough for a small animal or a human walking sideways. We finished out 3 wonderful days in Venice and then headed back to the airport for another pleasurable 11 hour flight. All in all, we had an amazing time and have even more amazing memories. I would tell anyone to take a trip over to Italy if you get the chance, just make sure you take a boatload of moo-la with you, cuz that junk is hella pricey.
All right, I gotta get ready for a day of bocce ball and margaritas. I'll try to upload a pic from the party on the next blog.
ps. How do my blog-fans feel about my sign-off being "ciao?" I am having trouble coming up with something non-gay sounding, but I gotta have some way to end the blog.