Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Italian Quirks

My friend Lori sent me this link, a short "film" about the differences between Italians and the rest of Europe. It's cute, but you have to be a little bit patient as it loads. Anyway, I especially enjoyed the film's take on Italian bureaucracy and Italian road signs. The only advice I had was that perhaps the parking sections would be improved if they showed cars parked on the sidewalk (an Italian art).

Thanks Lori!


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Pictures of Italy

Antonello and I carry around our camera like a bad habit, and basically everywhere we go, we snap away pictures. I took a whole roll this past Saturday while hiking on the trails of Monte Conero, and, in the last three weeks, we must've gone through about six or seven rolls.

Today I went to pick up the pictures we took of Venice. I had one roll of black and white, something I am not very familiar with using, and a roll of color. I went through them myself, then with Antonello, then with Antonello's mother and grandma. Mostly they are photos of houses and canals and churches, with a scattering of photos of me, Antonello, me and Antonello, or other tourists and locals. There's even one of a puppy (there was some sort of dog show going on in Venice, and halfway through Sunday a parade of puppies marched past us, wagging their tails and smiling). Two of my favorites are of shop windows. One has a venetian mask surrounded by glass ornaments, and the other is an art store, with jars of pigment lined for sale, ready to be added to oils to make paint.

While I don't consider myself to be an expert photographer, I think there's a sense that you can't really go wrong in Venice. Walking on a bridge, you turn, you snap a photo, and it's bound to turn out perfect--the colors of the water, the houses, the boats moving down the canal. These are photos that everyone takes of Venice, and for good reason. The more complicated ones that I tried--getting the right angle on a statue on a church, playing with perspective on a canalway--are the ones that turned out kind of sloppy. Taking the simpler ones works best, maybe.

We have a couple of the two of us--one that we asked a passerby to take on a bridge in Dorsoduro, and another that we set up ourselves, putting the timer on and Antonello running to my side. The bridge one is fine. The timer one, on the other hand...when Antonello set up the photo, he forgot that he's taller than me, so from his nose up is cut off, and the tip of my head as well. All you can see of him is a little smile, and I am sort of struggling to crouch myself down, to be seen.

Definitely a keeper.


This is kind of cute site, with a some details on each photo. I especially like the mosaic photos of St Mark's, since I had never really noticed the different styles before. The family on a gondola ride looks like Disney World.

Another Blog? Are You Kidding Me??

Yup, that's right. It's no joke...with the help of my very patient brother, The Long Trip Home's Travelblog is up and viewable, and we have even started writing on it! The team of blog writers is made up of the editors of The Long Trip Home (four of us), and we are looking for feature contributors to be a part of the story, so, if you are interested, email us at .

This doesn't mean that Corrie and I plan to slack on Allora, Aspetta (with our infrequent writing anyway, slacking can't get much worse!), but we will be dedicating a little bit of time to the travelblog, so be sure to check out both! Also, don't worry about the new travelblog becoming too similar to Allora Aspetta--with a larger team of writers from different parts of the globe, it's bound to take on its own direction and claim a unique identity.

Eric, there is a little post about some green doors in the Roman Forum that might interest you...

Anyway, enjoy the new blog!


Monday, May 24, 2004

More Venice

Sorry I didn't write more last week. Corrie and I must be on the same page with our limited entries--not enough time to write. I have been busy working on other projects, mostly occupied by all of the paperwork and waiting for this permit to stay. ugh. it's horrible, but one day maybe i can actually be a resident here. here's hoping.

Anyway, I did want to continue talking about our little Venice honeymoon. It was great. The weather was constantly wonderful, which is odd lately since it's been raining since mid April. We left on Saturday and stopped over in Bologna to search for a caving-related birthday gift for Antonello (his birthday was the 15th), but we couldn't find what we wanted. Still, it was great "wander-through-Bologna" weather, and we stumbled across a happy church, saw stars hanging in a hardware store (cute little star lanterns--I wanted to shop there but Antonello said, "It's a hardware store!" so?), found, through the jumble of bad Italian address listings, a foggy little sports-related bookstore, and dined on slices of pizza and cokes. Then we caught a train up to Venice to finish off the afternoon.

The best parts of our trip to Venice are hard to determine, since a lot of Venice is just enjoying the scenery, the walks by green canals, the colors of the buildings with the sun shining on them. We had both been to Venice, but always apart, and this was a great opportunity to enjoy it together. We had fun, and we laughed...a lot. Antonello bought me a rose in the Piazza San Marco which I dropped by the Grand Canal and someone stepped on immediately (I know the funnier thing is that I dropped it, which must have happened a good 15 times before someone had the nerve to step on it!), and as we wandered the piazza at night, there was an orchestra that kept playing renditions of music from Fiddler on the Roof. As we looked at paintings by a local vendor, I had to translate everything into Italian for Antonello since the artist kept speaking to him in English (the artist then said he had pegged him for an American living in Chicago!).

In a sunny piazza on Sunday, we stopped in to a Tabaccheria to buy stamps for a couple of postcards, and Antonello recognized the owner. It was a friend from his military days! We talked to him for a few moments, their faces both cheerful smiles as they remembered together old times. The friend's wife smiled over at us as well, and two kids gathered around her feet. As we left, Antonello's friend took us aside and said "Kids are great, but wait a while!" I thought it was cute--this exhausted Venetian with his two kids and wife warning us diligently against planning a family too soon.

We did spend some time visiting various Venice churches and the like. The first day we wandered in circles toward the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, or just the Frari, as Venetians call it. It was rich with artistic treasures, including two amazing paintings by Titian, and a wonderful Madonna and Child by Bellini.

We also visited the palace behind it--the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. This confraternity houses what is probably the richest collection of works by the artist Tintoretto--some 50 canvases of his lining wall and ceiling like frescoes. It was ornate to the extreme, with gold detail everywhere, and intricate wood carvings on the walls. I was happy to find this, since I didn't know it even existed in Venice. It's amazing what you find in this city, hidden in churches behind canals that you get lost finding. Venice hides her richest treasures in the most remote places.

We left with two completed rolls of film, various gifts crammed into small bags and purses, the sun in our eyes, and the beauty of Venice vanishing behind us on the train ride home.