Monday, October 09, 2006

On the Road in early August

Finally getting around to blogging about that trip up north this past August (I know, it's October now--sorry for the delay). Talk of travel has filled the house lately as we just purchased our plane tickets for a Thanksgiving visit home to the states--we'll be back home in Indiana in a little more than a month. Plus, of course, Corrie and Eric are coming to visit in just a little more than a week--adventures galore as Genova, Florence, and of course Lucca await us! So without further ado, here's the first installment in this series of posts about our summertime trip.

Miramare, Trieste's famous castle

This whole idea of traveling north to Slovenia was my own fault. My husband's ideas had been clear from the start:

"I want to go to Monte Rosa."

These words were spoken at the beginning of the year, in early January, after I had spent parts of autumn in valleys of northern Italy, looking up at mountains and fall colored leaves, and feeling homesick. Monte Rosa became a goal, a little dream of ours. And I nodded vigorously, eager to take part in that dream, to spend our summer in the mountains, to maybe even take daytrips to Piedmonte's northern pocket towns.

I soon learned that my vigorous nodding was made without much of an idea of what I was agreeing to.You can't make such plans in spur-of-the-moment moments. Monte Rosa is one big mountain. I mean big, folks. As in, there's always snow up there. Always. How could we really go hiking on a year-round snow-covered mountain, one of the highest points in all of Italy? How could Indiana-girl, used to plains and grassy fields and farms where not a hill is to be seen for miles, concur with this insane idea?

Perhaps it would have been possible, but we didn't really organize it well. April came, then May, then June, and we hadn't followed our goal of taking long hikes in the mountains, of preparing, of making Monte Rosa a reality. When July came along, the year had passed us by. Monte Rosa was, at that point, completely out of the question.

So, known for my bright ideas, I came up with this one:

"What if we just went to Slovenia instead?"

I knew close to nothing about Slovenia. I knew it was a country that touched Italy's borders, and that, as of recently, had joined the EU. I had heard comparisons between Ljubljana (its capital city) and Prague. But really, my knowledge of this country was quite limited, and how the idea of visiting Slovenia popped into my head is beyond me. But it was close by, we could drive there, and neither of us had ever visited it before.

Tagged onto this idea of visiting Slovenia were other ideas that we came up with together: visiting the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, for example, where Antonello had spend one year of his life in the town of Palmanova doing military training, made a perfect stopover along the way to Slovenia. Plus, we needed a replacement for Monte Rosa, albeit not quite of that grandeur: Trentino was an area that Antonello had always wanted to visit, a mountaneous region in the middle of northern Italy, so we added that to our list of vacation visits too.

We didn't plan out much more than that. We were both looking forward to the kind of vacation where you just take off, getting in the car and, with hope and a little luck, spend the next two weeks in travel, stopping here and there, seeing the few things that were on our list, and then some. For weeks before the trip, we didn't even know which day we'd leave, or how many days we'd be gone. We did last minute stuff--taking the car in for its check-up (our little car had had its share of breakdowns during such vacations), researching our first stop--the city of Trieste in Friuli--and making a list of possible hotels, and buying a mini-guide book of Slovenia.

And then, the day of my birthday, August 9th, we finished up our packing and loaded up the car. With a few guidebooks in hand, a lunch-date organized with our friend Irene in Bologna on our drive up to Trieste, and a plastic container of pasta salad for that night's dinner (in case we got into Trieste very late...who knew how long it took to get there?), we took off. Almost two full weeks of adventure awaited us, and we eagerly drove toward it, with our summertime mix tape belting out the notes of its first song. The summer sky was as blue as a swimming pool, and the sun didn't hesitate to shine.


At 9:19 AM, Anonymous rowena said...

Monte Rosa!! Boy when you think big, you think BIG! We've been slowly getting into the hiking thing but so far only in the Lecco and Bergamo areas.

I just looked at the recent copy of Vie del Gusto and noted that there's La Festa delle streghe in Marche, in Corinaldo. Sounds like a big event and just wondered if you ever went to that. If I didn't live so darn far.... it would've been great to check that one out.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

Rowena: I THINK the Corinaldo Festa delle Streghe is really just a big halloween party for kids. We drove to Corinaldo once on Halloween not knowing about the party, and the place was PACKED with buses filled with kids going up to the old town for the party. We decided to go back another day instead :). The big festa coming up I think is the truffle festival in Acqualagna...they are known as the biggest producer of white truffles in all of Italy.

my husband went to monte rosa years ago, so he's been wanting to go back for years...we'll see if we can organize it one of these years! But I need to get in some mountains HERE first!


At 3:20 PM, Blogger Lori said...

You just need to make it clear to A, he wants to go to monte rosa, you want a puppy. Seems like a pretty obvious deal to me :D

Glad to see you're finally posting about the trip! I'm looking forward to reading more about it, and love the pic!

Any adventures with the newbie americans in town? say hi to A for me!


At 3:51 PM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

Wow! Sounds like the start of a great adventure!

Bought your tickets huh? I was going to ask if there is anything I can bring you back from Indiana, but it sounds like you will be here soon.

Thinking of you as I enjoy the fall our "homeland". Glad to know that you will be able to enjoy yourself soon.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Johnny from France said...

Zoot alow! EEt zoundz like your treep was a lot of fun. I hope you dedn't have to walk up no ztinking mountainz. Eet zounds like too much vork for moi!

Can not wait to ear about zee rezt of your holiday.

Johnny from France

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Shirley said...

Crikey, that mountain is a whopper. A fabulous challenge for another day!
Looking forward to reading more of your holiday.


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