Gosh, the time is just flying by!!! I can’t believe a week in Venice and 6 days in Monza (just outside Milan) could go by so quickly!! And the God’s were definitely on my side when it came to the weather. It sprinkled rain one morning in Venice and one day in Monza and the rest of the time was glorious sunshine. Both cities have summer weather very similar to Cairns spring weather, so I felt right at home (all inclusive of a few days of working up quite a sweat while walking around in the sun).
Have I said how much I love Venice!!! I have previously described Venice as having a maze of narrow streets, canals, and countless little bridges. Well, each morning I would walk out of my apartment into a small narrow street, turn right and then walk down another long narrow street (now lined with shops on either side) then turn left and the street opened to a small piazza with more pretty shops & eatery’s and a few park benches. I would walk through the piazza, go right, walk through several more narrow streets, before the street opened to a huge piazza where there were even more very pretty shops, larger outdoor dining venues, and a Church. This then led to a wider street alongside a canal and a bridge to cross the canal. I crossed the bridge and……Read that paragraph over and over and over and over and over again and you will get a good image of walking around the streets of Venice!!!
Due to my questionable sense of direction, if I liked something in a particular shop I was simply forced to purchase it for fear of never finding it again!!! It was probably lucky for my credit card that I was somewhat distracted by the coloured buildings (and their decaying façade which gave them their unique appearance), their amazing reflections in the canals, and the never ending stream of gondolas floating down the canals.
Gosh, please don’t ask how many photos I have taken. If you feel that you need to see 152 different angles of a Gondola, please let me know as I am sure I can assist?? As for coloured buildings, let’s not even go there!!! Especially as I spent 6 hours on Burano Island which is renowned for its coloured buildings and reflections!!! Even I was shaking my head when I was looking back over my photos (in between yawns). Put a camera in my hand and I’m sure I become possessed!!!
Even my landlady Linda was shaking her head each night when she would see me downloading all my photos. However, she fed my obsession by giving me directions to a lovely street called ‘Via Garibaldi’. This time, all the narrow streets that led off from this main street had washing hanging out on clothes lines which were strung across the street. Apparently they do this specifically for dedicated photographers like me to take photos…so obviously I had to oblige. One local who was walking past me clearly must have seen the excitement on my face because she stopped and dragged me around to her street which she said was even better!!! Can you imagine a visitor from overseas coming over to your house and getting excited when they walked outside and saw your laundered clothes hanging from your clothes hoist….hard to believe it is a tourist attraction…but really it is!!! I have another 152 photos to prove it!!!
My landlady also reminded me that Venice was only an hour’s train ride away from ‘Verona’…home of Romeo and Juliet!!! So, of course I had to go there for the day; along with thousands of other tourists looking for romance? So, off we all went in search of Juliet’s house and the famous balcony!! Remember the balcony.…Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo??? Don’t worry when I found it; I did stop short of screaming from Juliet’s balcony, “Donatello, Donatello, where the bloody hell are ya?? I thought best not scare the other tourists!!!
Inside the courtyard of Juliet’s house there was also a bronze statue of Juliet with a very polished right breast. Apparently it was good luck (for finding love) to touch this right breast. Who starts these traditions??? Only in Italy I say!!!! But, who was I to go against tradition? I, along with many grinning males, copped a feel of her breast.
You also have the opportunity to send a letter to Juliet about your search for love and somebody actually replies to you. And now with the advancement of technology, they actually have computers set up in one of Juliet’s rooms so that you can email Juliet as well as pop a letter into her mail box. I may have inadvertently sent an email…….Hey, they also made a movie about this one. It was called “Letters to Juliet”. Very cute movie if you haven’t yet seen it. And this movie has a very happy ending J.
Even the walls at the entrance to the courtyard were covered with marker pen (Graffiti) declaring endless love. Hhmm, apart from one that said “Me Bitch”, which I’m sure, was written in an endearing way??? There were also love hearts and names on band-aids, gum, sticky notes, padlocks,…anything that could be attached to the walls and gates. There were men, women and children everywhere leaving messages of love. The name “Donatello” may have also made it onto a (clean) band-aid and somehow became attached to the wall. I mean…..who carries a marker pen while on holidays??? Okay, Okay, I got caught up in the moment……
And again I was blessed to have made a new friend in Venice. I was on ‘Via Garibaldi’ taking photos when a lady walked up to me and kindly asked if I wanted her to take a photo of me (using my camera). I said yes, and she did. She then said that she had an hour spare as she was waiting for her husband and daughter (who were looking through a museum) and did I want her to walk with me to other locations where she could take more photos of me!!! My initial reaction was “Oh my God is she a crazy stalker or can she really be this nice?” Well, fortunately for me, Adriana was really that nice!!! We ended up going for a bit of a walk (to take a couple more photos of me) and then sitting down and chatting for the whole hour while she waited for her family. She was from Prague in Czech Republic, which was a place that had been highly recommended to me as photographers dream to visit (No…I haven’t taken enough photos!!!!). So, we swapped email addresses and later that night she sent me a message offering for me to stay with her family for a few days and they would show me around Prague!!! I just couldn’t believe my luck!!!
That same day, I also received an email from Melinda’s friend Ros (who will be travelling with us around Eastern Europe) to say that she was going to Prague for a few days before meeting up with Melinda in Vienna on the 16th of August. SSSooooo, guess who is now going to Prague!!!!! I decided it would be easier to stay with Ros for those few nights and then Ros and I will travel together to Vienna. However, I have arranged to catch up with Adriana while I am there to obtain a local’s point of view of the city. How exciting!!!
And then before I even blinked, the week was over and I was heading back across the canal in a Vaporetto (water bus) towards the Venice Train Station…and off I went to Monza to visit my next lot of relations. This time they were cousins on my Father’s side of the family, who I was again meeting for the very first time. And a big yes, the Princess re-emerged and found herself a new castle!!!!
Oh my God…they were amazing!!!! Imelda and Luigi (78 & 79 years) could not do enough for me!! Again I was told to treat their home as if it was mine. I was offered food and cups of tea every 5 minutes; provided with three course meals for lunch AND dinner; had my clothes washed and ironed, and all the while not being allowed to lift a finger to help. One afternoon I was sitting on the couch with my feet up, reading a book (after just having finished a cup of tea) and Imelda asked if the ‘Principessa’ (Italian for Princess) wanted anything else. A crown would have been nice???
They also had an apartment in a gorgeous town called Barzio up in the mountains, so we went there for the weekend. Was wonderful!!! Luigi and I took a gondola up to the top of the mountain and went for a lovely walk and then that afternoon Imelda and I went for a walk around the city centre. We walked into her favourite funky jewellery store and she MADE me pick out an item that she wanted to buy for me so that I could remember her when I wore it!!!! So I am now the proud owner of a new silver necklace with two flower pendants!!!
But wait, there’s more….they used to own a store (which sold clothing, lingerie etc) and it is now run by her son Maurizio. So, we dropped into the store so I could meet Maurizio and see the store. While she was showing me around, we walked past some lovely bra’s in one of the display cabinets. I may have lingered in front of one particular bra for a second too long because before I knew it, she was sizing me up and I was in the dressing room trying it on!! The lovely Italian bra (AND matching panties) soon became another gift by which I could remember her. Although, hopefully not quite at that moment that I am showing them off to Donatello??? Oh, I also scored pretty blue top as well………….. Imelda only has the one child. However, if I had stayed any longer, she may have just found a daughter!!! Oopps, sorry Mum, but you already have two others….
And Nnoooo, the gifts don’t stop there. When I was invited over for lunch at their son and daughter-in-law’s house, they also felt the need to shower me with gifts! They gave me a lovely trendy little bag which is shaped like a flower. Just gorgeous! Loreedana (the daughter-in-law) and her two kids also spent the day with me in Milan yesterday and took me to see the famous Duomo and the Art museum. And to follow up with what we saw in the museum, Loreedana then went into a book store and searched out and purchased an English version of the book “The Betrothed” for me. The back cover reads “A vigorous portrayal of enduring passion “The betrothed’s” exploration of love, power and faith present a whirling panorama of seventeenth century Italian life and is one of the greatest European historical novels. The generosity of these wonderful people just didn’t end.
I was taken for guided walks around their park and city centre and the Monza Autodrome race circuit (which is where they hold the Formula One Italian Grand Prix….your husbands might be interested in that one). The entire family also took me for a drive to see some wonderful lakes. And when they found out about my gelati fetish, they ensured that it was catered for on a daily basis!!! I was also introduced to Imelda’s sister (another of Dad’s cousins) and received a phone call from another cousin who had heard I was there. Six days just wasn’t long enough!! Imelda wanted me to stay for two weeks and I would have except I already had set plans.
So once again, there was a teary good-bye and lots of hugs and kisses at the train station this morning. And if you were wondering, none of them spoke English, so the whole experience was even more amazing for me knowing I could communicate well enough now make myself understood.
And now I am back in Rome for two nights, before heading off on my next adventure. That adventure being “Morocco”!! I fly to Morocco on Saturday for a two week tour before returning to Rome on the 31st July. I hear the internet access over there is a little scarce, so if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks, let’s just hope that it is not because I have been sold off for a herd of camels!!!!
I hope all is great with you!!!
Love & happiness to you always,
p.s. I have had so many requests for photos, that I have added a few to give you some idea of the photographic temptations I was faced with in Venice.