Conversations from Italy
A few near divorces and me wanting to give away my children to anyone due to long car trips, however, the Aussie adventurers are all well, intact and loving Italy!
Starting from where we last left off. From England we boarded the Chunnel or as the kids called it “the time warp machine.” Such a great concept to take your car onto a train under the English Channel to be in France in 35 minutes.
We drove through France into Switzerland marveling at the engineering feats of the impressive tunnels through the Alps and Autobahn structures. The boys are in love with the vast selection of stunning luxury European cars that whizz past at warp speed! So beautiful coming through the Alps into the Lake Lugano and Lake Como region in Italy and seeing the stunning landscape, waterfalls and beautiful churches perched up high on rocky outcrops.
Venice was a lovely experience. I had always stayed in hostels when I visited Venice, so this time being right in the centre of everything in a little, basic apartment was very special. You open the shutters in the morning, and the fabulous sounds of Italian conversation waft up.
The Italians have such style. The way the women carry themselves, the way the men dress, their nurturing and love of the arts, the food! Days were spent just wandering and coming across interesting places. We had a trip out to Murano and Burano, and the boys loved watching the glass blowing and ogling at the most stunning glass sculptures.
One of my childhood travelling memories – Assisi was our next stop. Tiny, tiny meandering streets to navigate by car. I think we may have to invest in a Fiat Bambino 500. It feels like you have to breathe in each time you pass a car or person. Lovely days, waking to the bells chiming, wandering the stone streets, eating gelati, fresh pasta and pizza, and watching the sunset over the Umbrian landscape. Byron is now investigating how we can grow truffles in Australia after trying some in a fabulous pasta dish.
Homeschooling has begun for the boys. I have such respect for primary school teachers! Oh, the patience required!
And now we sit in Positano, looking at the coloured houses precariously perched down the incredibly steep landscape, watching the sun sparkle on the turquoise, Mediterranean Sea.
Byron celebrated his tenth birthday with a very special, stunning dinner, high above Positano, with fireworks in the background. A lucky fluke as it was a day of celebration to some Saint. Days are spent wandering the streets looking at the artwork, swimming at pebble beaches with black sand, navigating tiny, and I mean tiny streets along the stunning coastline. Myles is in charge of researching dinner spots and of course great coffee! Life is great!
On to Pompeii and Rome, two places that have always been high on the boy’s list from History lessons at school. Orren and Byron were keen to climb Mt Vesuvius, so we all did it and were rewarded with fantastic views of the Italian coastline and Naples from the top. It was amazing walking through the streets of Pompeii with Vesuvius ever present in the background. An incredibly preserved piece of history.
It is always interesting going back to places you have been and Rome did not disappoint. I am not sure if it was just that we were in a fabulous part of the older section, or if it is just the Italian way of life. We loved it! We loved walking out of our little quiet flat straight onto the street in the evenings. Watching performers in the square while people were all around enjoying great food and wine in small restaurants. Rome just has a certain buzz about it.
Myles rekindled his obsession with gelato. How fortunate there was a fabulous gelato shop ten metres from our doorstep. Byron became the pizza connoisseur, being able to critique the difference between good and great pizza.
The boys enjoyed the Colosseum, intrigued by the tales it holds. We were caught in a freak, massive thunderstorm when leaving there and very sadly this saw the end of my camera. Moisture somehow got into our pack and my camera of nine years is no more. Very sad few weeks of hoping it would miraculously come back to life. I feel very touristy now walking around with the iPhone, taking happy snaps!
We headed north from Rome with no particular place in mind. We came across the most fabulous place tucked away in the Serramazzoni region. Fabulous accommodation in a restored old mill, with incredibly hospitable hosts and stunning local produce. The boys made the daily bread in an old wood fire oven, learned to make pasta from a real Nonna, were fascinated by the production of Parmigiano Reggiano, tasted aged balsamic from 9 to 42 years from Modena and watched the most magical sight one evening, a field full of fireflies. I think I would like to have a midlife crisis in the Italian countryside. Anyone interested in joining me?
The Cinque Terra had always been a place I had wanted to visit. We stayed in Manarola, and this gave us the ability to visit all the five towns. Truly picturesque. People crammed onto the tiny beaches enjoying the hot summer, the most amazingly, flavoursome peaches, olives, fuchsia and purple bougainvillea. All the low paths were closed so we huffed and puffed along the high walk between Vernazza and Monterosso on a scorching day. So, so pretty. Amazing to see what can be cultivated on small plots of land on such steep inclines.
Next stop, Spain.