Thursday, July 14, 2011

Extended Update

We were thinking it is perhaps time for an extended narrative update on what we have been up to. We are in Milan tonight and turning in early, partially because we are exhausted and partially because we are up early tomorrow to head for the Cinque Terre on the coast. Forgive typos and lack of contractions, please, this keyboard is different than I am used to!

Venice was beautiful. We toured St. Marks Cathedral and the Doges Palace. A doge is a duke, though the dukes were actually elected public servants. Venice has a fascinating history and our guides for both tours were pretty good. We enjoyed the vaporetto (water bus) rides and had a good time figuring out how they run from stop to stop. Our hotel overlooked the Grand Canal and was adorable, even if our room was tiny with no air. (And, yes, it is very hot here.) We also enjoyed walking through the open air market in Venice and I really liked introducing Mom to gelato! My favorite funny story from early in the trip is related to the photo posted earlier of Mom dripping wet. We were on the water bus going from the airport to our hotel and she was looking out the window munching on potato chips when a boat speeded by and sent water pouring in all the windows. She got a faceful, including some in her mouth. But dont worry, her teeth are all clean because later that day she tried to brush her teeth with Neosporin. hehe

We spent the better art of a day in Verona, and my favorite part was the painted church ceilings. The churches, as you might expect, are enormous cathedrals or duomos. One preRenaisssance style involved elaborate paintings of lacy designs on all the ceiling surfaces. I had never seen this before either in Rome or Spain. Its beautiful. I think I took at least one photo, and I just posted a bunch of photos on Facebook. In Verona, we also saw Juliets balcony ... that is, the balcony that Shakespeare might have used for inspiration in writing his play. We suspect the balcony was built after Shakespeare. heh. We also saw the opera Aida in the Arena di Verona, which is one of the most complete Roman amphitheaters still around. Though much smaller, it seems to be in better shape than the Coloseum in Rome. We were not sure we would like opera, but it was kind of amazing. The sets and costumes and choreography were beautiful and the drama, what we could understand, was compelling. (Aida is a tragedy about an Egyptian warrior and an Ethiopian princess. Ethiopa and Egypt are, naturally, at war. Verona has a theme going.) When the opera let out at 1 a.m., we had about a 2 minute walk to our hotel. Another highlight in Verona was taking a pasagietta (evening stroll) on their shiny (buffed every morning, we think) main sidewalk in the commercial district.

Now we are in Milan. We went on a long walking tour today and our feet hurt ... but it was worth it! The duomo here is magnificent, made of fragile white marble with lots of gothic spires. It was built over the course of 600 years, so it also has a lot of other architectural styles going on. We also saw the famous Galleria. Both the Galleria and Duomo are about a three minute walk from our hotel. Later, we saw La Scala (the famed opera house) and the Last Supper. The latter involved a timed visit, limited visitors, airlocks, you name it. It was larger than we imagined but also in better shape than we expected. It is beautiful. After that, we managed to spend an our in the Brera before closing. The highlight there for me was The Kiss. (Reminds me of Robin Hood). We also enjoyed seeing the paintings based in places we had just seen in Venice. Neat to think it looked the same hundreds of years ago. Finally, we enjoyed the apertivo tradition, which involves buying one expensive glass of wine and then getting free access to a bunch of appetizers at bars in the Breri district. I had a little incident and Mom got a prosecco shower, but she forgave me! We ended the day eating gelato with a view of the Duomo. Not a bad day!

The trip has been awesome so far. We will do our best to keep updating!

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