Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Travels with Cyndi: two days in July

Here we go. I'm finally getting around to posting about my summer travels. And wouldn't it be true to say those travels started a couple of months ago?

"We do not take a trip; a trip takes us."
-John Steinbeck

The four of us on a canal bridge in Comacchio

This was back in July. Around the 4th of July, more specifically, and Antonello and I had been invited up to a barbeque celebration at Cyndi and Danilo's in Fusignano. As always, we look forward to our little adventures with Cyndi and Danilo, and, packing up the car with our stuff, driving, windows open, on a beautiful day in July up past all of the beach towns toward Emilia Romagna, we sang along to mix tapes and radio songs, and we chatted about summer. Really, now we were in the heart of summer. Here we were, in the middle of July, and it was a glorious time of year.

Cyndi and Danilo greeted us outside when we pulled up to their house, and we immediately invaded their kitchen. As guests arrived, we all pitched in a bit to prepare and entertain, laughing and drinking glasses of wine, meeting new people--the fun of cookouts. Cyndi had been working on this cookout for a while now and had prepared it in true American style: baked beans, coleslaw, hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill, potato salad. I couldn't wait.

Cyndi's guests were fun to meet, too: one couple was from Fusignano (Antonello was grateful to finally speak Italian with someone!) and the other couple was from near Rimini. The Rimini couple included Karen, an American friend of Cyndi's, and a lost contact of mine from early Long Trip Home days. Of all holidays, the 4th of July was a great one to meet another American, and Karen more than won our hearts with a keylime pie she baked! After a great dinner outside by the grill and pieces of refreshing keylime pie, the evening ended with a stroll into Fusignano. As it finally got dark, we headed back to the house and Cyndi and Danilo's friends released huge tubes of "fireworks" made up of flying confetti. Not your typical fireworks show, but fun nonetheless.

The next morning's decision to take a daytrip somewhere before Antonello and my drive back home was pretty unanimous, and Sunday morning decided to cooperate with cloudless skies and plenty of sunshine. We drove, convertible top down, hats and sunglasses firmly in place, to Comacchio, a very charming canal town nearby, famous for its eels. Upon entering our first fish market (what was I thinking? I'm a vegetarian! What was I wanting to buy?), Cyndi and I eyed the eels warily. They seemed to be quite alive still, squirming all over the metal countertop. We watched as someone bought an eel, and we asked each other, "I wonder what they do with that live eel?"

Our answer came when we saw one of the store owners slamming the eel against the cold tiled floor repeatedly, and Cyndi and I ran out of that store like we had just witnessed a crime. We were both freaked out and shivering despite the glaring heat. The customers purchasing their very fresh eel laughed at us silly Americans, and Antonello and Danilo just shrugged and rolled their eyes, embarassed as they often are by their weenie American wives. What a way to start a trip to eel-town.

The rest of the day was fine, though, and Comacchio is actually a very pleasant place, despite the fish markets. It's canals and arched bridges are reminiscent of Burano, or one of the other Venetian islands, and the colorful buildings add flavor. We ate lunch at a pizzeria, compromsing for the boys--Cyndi doesn't eat fish either--as they ordered their eel delights, and we stuck to regular pizzas. After strolling a bit longer, peering into shops and taking enough photos to last a whole summer, we left the sunburnt town behind.

above: the Abbazia di Pomposa and a canal in Comacchio
below: our "knights" (in shining armor?)

Before heading home, we decided to go to the Abbazia di Pomposa, a well-known abbey nearby. I slept on the way over, so upon arriving in the parking lot and waking from a heat-induced slumber, I didn't have the faintest clue where we were. That soon changed as we walked over to the pathway and had a clear, gorgeous view of the abbey, standing in the middle of endless flatlands. Exploring it, we got to take close looks at the frescoed interior, beautiful and rather intact, despite the passing of the years. It was a great place to end our little daytrip.

We went back to Cyndi's house, said our goodbyes and gathered up our things. Waving as we opened the car doors to head out, Antonello discovered paper confetti from the previous night's fireworks on the floor of the car. It had filtered into the trunk too. We laughed--this way we could take a little bit of the 4th of July back to Macerata with us.


At 2:39 PM, Anonymous rowena said...

Ok, ok...I will wait patiently until you get to Slovenia...my, you have some catching up to do!

As to your comment on the dog having a blog. No way man...with the costs of being online every single minute, I can't risk the phone bill going up even higher with the petite chienne responding to all of her fans. ;-)

At 5:47 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

ah, thank you for the french word for dog! that is too bad maddie doesn't have a blog--perhaps due to her massive popularity, she could get some google ads or something to pay for the phone bills? :)

next blog entry is about rome, and THEN i'll finally be ready to blog about the long vacation! thanks for your patience!

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

Some how I had forgotten all about the eels bashing. That is until now..... I am telling you Jackie, I really felt like I was going to pass out after seeing that!

Funny you should write a post about Comacchio. Just last night we drove through the town on our way to "house boat" for a dinner. The fish was taken right out of the water and into the frying pan AND there even was fried eel, head included! I was smart enough to BMOF (bring my own food). I enjoyed a meatballs while 15 Italians watched unable to understand why I wasn't eating fish!

ps. We still have one streamer in a tree left over from the BBQ!

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

Sounds like a lovely 4th! The barbeque must have been fun -- did you throw some keylime pie out the window? (A tradiational American way of showing great appreciation for a delicious dish...)

Cyndi - you throw the greatest festas! Can't wait to see you soon in bell'Italia! (Don't worry, I'll leave my eels at home.)



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