Then it's just a short flight home!!
11.5.16 - 20.5.16 20 °C
Two Scoops is enough
While we were in Florence, we had the privilege of visiting, not one, but two very well-stocked Galleries: the Accademia, where we gazed with wonder and artistic appreciation of arguable the most famous sculpture in the world: 'David' by Michelangelo. He was a local lad made good back in the 1500s.. You MAY have heard of him. After a walking tour around the centre of the old city, we then spent the afternoon in the most celebrated Uffizi Gallery laden with Renaissance artworks and many others. Here was where we found the ethereal 'Birth of Venus' by Botticelli, an absolute masterpiece in so many ways as well as Michelangelo's only actual painting (the rest are frescoes or sculptures!)
It was here in this gallery also that we were handed the opportunity to learn a very essential life lesson. Our English-speaking guide, Angelo, stopped us all (about 16 of us) and said, 'When you go to a Gelateria and look at all the flavours, you think that you want them all.. But, two scoops is enough!'
There have been times on this trip when we have been tempted to try to have a 'scoop of every flavour' and that's been when we have not enjoyed the experience.. We left hundreds of masterpieces unseen by our eyes in both these galleries and are satisfied!
A little aside to that experience of Uffizi Gallery: Having farewelled our wise and wonderful guide, we decided to venture back through the corridors and floors of this huge collection just for another couple of photos.. bad idea. How do you get lost in an Art Gallery and not be able to find the Exit?? we made it with help from several amused attendants. (Should have just gone for the 'two scoops'!)
Choice: don't take it for granted
There are some things that we just take as part of our Australian culture, one of the big ones is 'choice'. Even in good old Wynnum, we have Italian, Greek, Turkish, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Thai, fish & chips and more! Here in Italy (and also in France), we were hard-pressed to find anywhere that we could enjoy anything but the traditional cuisine of the country. Don't get us wrong, we have loved sampling the local specialties especially the wine & the cheeses. But, today is a good example of what we mean. I walked into a Caffe and, sort of asked for a sandwich ('panino'). Having negotiated that I wanted ham ('prosciutto') and cheese ('fromaggio'), I then had the gaul to ask if they had any lettuce... no idea what 'lettuce' was in Italian!! So I threw my hands about a bit (as instructed by our dear friend, Daph) and said, 'salado'!! The response was a definite 'no'! (I should have remembered our guide Jim's advise that Italians do NOT mix their foods!)
That's the we travel though.. to experience the uniqueness of every culture under the sun.
Orvieto: what a find!!!!
After walking our legs off in Venice & Florence, we were looking forward to 4 nights in a quieter, country setting. Our dream was to have a little cottage on a hillside, surrounded by an olive grove with birds chattering and flowers blooming. Where someone else would sort out breakfast for us and we could just mosey into the village when we wanted to. Our dream came true in Orvieto! The best part about this village is it's history and the local people's dedication to remembering their long and amazing story. It's a very proud ancient walled town built on a high volcanic plug with over 1200 caves dug in underground where the Etruscans protected themselves from invaders 2500 years ago. The volcanic mixture in the caves was used to
create cement for the Duomo centuries later. Nowadays, many of the caves are used for underground cellars, restaurants or storage areas.
We were treated to a week-end of many celebrations in Orvieto. The spring Flower Festival (Orvieto in Fiore) was stunning. A Pentecost Sunday event occurred (La Palombella), like no other, where a caged dove is released along a tight wire and flies through the air to the accompaniment of fire crackers to a prepared landing place. You have to see it to believe it really!! There was a Bishop involved, waving his white hanky and the last young couple to have been married in the Duomo was presented with the poor, nervous wreck of a dove to look after it until it's natural death. (Our guess is that their job would be a short one!) The ceremony started in 1387 so they've been through a few birds!!
The dove was not the only attraction of the day. There seemed to be a strong Medieval theme as well with lots of men in tights with cross-bows and women and children in baggy tunics carrying flowers. They were heralded by more men in tights with drugs and trumpets. It was all a jolly occasion!
Civita de Bognioregio... the crumbling town on another volcanic core
The photos say it all.
Italian Cuisine... there's more....
Get some Pork (Maiale) on your Fork
We haven't really looked into the reason for this, but Italians seem to be obsessed with all things "pork": Culatello, Coppa, Pancetta, Guanciale & Lardo to name just a few. It has almost been enough for us to become vegetarians because neither of us are big on 'fat'! They even have stuffed boars greeting customers at the entrance to their 'Negozio de Carne de Maiale' (Pork Store!) There are ristorantes dedicated to pork as well! Bring on a nice chicken breast or a slab of steak for us!!
Now this is one very generous concept and one that we quickly got the hang of. There are little bars all over Northern Italy that offer this delightful apertiser before" lunchtime and then again before the italians think about eating dinner at about 9pm. It's called "sundowners" by our dear friends in South Africa, "aperitifs" in France, "happy hour" by our friends in the US, "pre-dinner drinks" by us Australians. Italian "Apertivo' involves enjoying a cold glass of any drink (not necessarily alcoholic) accompanied by usually a rather wide selection of nibbles. Now this might sound rather familiar but the point is, one can eat as much as one likes at no cost... other than the price of the drink.. One day in Florence, we must confess, we had our entire lunch at an Apertivo Bar and only drank a lemon squash!! (Our Australian dollar is not going well against the Euro so needs must!!)
it's an espresso coffee drink with a very small amount milk, usually foamed and we LOVE it...
You are not a true blue Aussie unless you travel with vegemite. We have almost finished our tube of it... we could not have made it through the trip without that familiar, savoury spread lathered onto our baguette or pane with any cheese selection. On the train from Orvieto to Rome, we were watched with some interest by a very cheerful family. We offered them a taste but they were not willing to give this black tar a go.
A chat is a chat in any language...
We wandered into a church (of which there are many) in Orvieto on the eve of the big flower celebrations. Everyone was frantically preparing a unique floral mosaic for display. It's a yearly event apparently and every church family works at having the best presentation. While i was taking photos and admiring this superb effort, Jen sat down beside a very elderly lady who was watching the action. They seemed to have a big conversation. When i asked what they'd talked about, Jen didn't have a clue but the warmth and grace of this old lady flowed over her and warmed her heart.
So now, after 52 days of travel we have found that 'all roads lead to Rome' and that 'Rome was NOT built in a day' so there was much to see and wonder at. We didn't need to throw 'Three Coins in the Fountain' because, apparently, about 3,000 euros are thrown in to the Trevi Fountain every day by visitors hoping to return to Rome. Thankfully, the coins are donated to a charity supermarket. We kept our eyes peeled for Russell Crowe as we gazed in wonder at the marvel of the Colosseum. There were no gladiators to be found. We also bowed our heads in contemplation at the horrors that occurred in that arena under such fiends as Nero. Legend has it that St Peter was hung there along with many others who refused to denounce their faith.
We stumbled along the Roman roads in the Forum and considered Julius Caesar's demise and the stirring speech of Mark Anthony rang in our ears, "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your eyes. I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.."
But now, our Roman Holiday is ending. We have followed the good advice "When in Rome, do what the Romans do!" We have eaten pizza and pasta until it's coming out of our ears. We have driven around the Colosseum on a Vesper with Gregory (in our dreams). It is time to say "Arrivederci Roma, Good-bye, Good-bye to Rome" because "We still call Australia home!" We fly home this morning!! Ciao!!
PS... on Travelling Light..
We are very proud to announce that we are returning to Australia with the SAME amount of baggage as we left with.... the weight of these bags is another story!! Thank you to all who have followed our travels with interest. It has been a special privilege to have been able to share such a long but glorious trip with you. We thank God for His protection over us every step of the way... we have been incredibly blessed by this adventure but we are SO looking forward to being HOME!!