Bella Italia--my memories of Italy!
A few days ago, I discovered some old photo-albums from my college days when I was still studying fashion in Italy. Lying forsaken in an old drawer, they refreshed past memories of friends and fun and the summer of 2002, when I had traveled all over Italy alone. With one pair of black trousers, a couple of tops and a jacket and very little money for the trip, I remember myself as happy and as carefree as one can possibly be at that age. I had no hotel bookings, no itineraries and no worries, only faith and an inward assurance that I would be taken care of! Now when I think back, I marvel at myself for having been such a courageous traveler--these days, I have to have everything to the last detail worked out!
I also had with me an old camera that shot on film and that I bought very cheap, but it gave me pictures to remember and rejoice the adventurous person that used to be me!
It's wonderful to have a blog where one can post such memories for oneself as well as share them with others! Starting with Genoa, I went from Florence, Pisa, Assisi and Rome upto Naples and the beautiful Coast of Amalfi in Southern Italy. Everything was as though happening in a dream-so perfect and so fairytale-like! I hope you enjoy the pictures. :)
It is the largest seaport in Italy and I was lucky to get a ride here from Milan. The drive took us about 2 hours and I remember being invited for lunch to the home of the parents of some friends and the ciaos and the kisses (on both cheeks) and the hugs on arrival....the carefully prepared risotto for lunch...the exquisite wines...and the fine espressos at the end!
2. ROMA (ROME)
I was a guest at the house of some friends of friends, whom I had never met before! Between metros and trains, I walked alone everywhere in Rome and the evening would find me sitting on a street corner enjoying a yoghurt-gelato in the Italian air!
I actually climbed up all of the Saint Peter's Basilica's Dome's stairs, from where I clicked the following picture of the square.
In order to save entry fees (since I was a student), I did not go inside the Colosseum (neither did I feel bad, no not at all! It was all such an adventure!) but was happy to take this exterior shot of the grand amphitheater, considered as one of the most extraordinary works of architecture.
At the Spanish Steps as I sat down to have my lunch, I realized I was not so hungry to finish it all and even as I was almost wishing if somebody in need would like to have it, a young boy came to me and pointing to the the food in my hand, said in Italian, 'Posso?!', which meant if he could have the food--shocked at this sudden demonstration of my silent prayer, I quickly handed him the food and he ate it all in no time!
3. Firenze (Florence)
I stayed at the house of a friend's friend, where the sink tap in the bathroom converted into a shower to take bath! Also one had to be careful how much water to use while bathing, lest it seep through under the door onto the stairs and enter the living room! But Luigi was so sweet and his infectious laugh and good humor kept my spirits high!
In Florence, I also discovered that it was cheaper to stand and have coffee in a bar and that one needed to pay extra to sit down! I remember entering a coffee-bar with Luigi and very happily I selected a table for us to sit down when Luigi, a little embarrassedly informed me that sitting down mean paying extra money! So we had our coffee and croissants standing as people noisily chatted in the crowded bar. Then we went for a drive in the hills with another American friend who joined us. :)
This was embarrassing--I entered a cafe to have an ice-cream but when I asked how much it cost (I was still a student and I hated that my father had to pay for everything!), I decided not to have it and save the money instead. Just at that moment, a lady approached me and bought me the ice-cream!! Another instant prayer-wish fulfilled!
After my first trip to Assisi, I went back there three more times. I remember sitting near the tomb of Saint Francis in the Basilica of San Francesco and meditating for half an hour--it was one of the greatest blessings of my life!
On another trip I drove with Ansano from Florence--the drive took about a couple of hours and we stopped three times for gelato/ice-cream before arriving at Assisi and then three times again while driving back to Florence! There is nothing better than an Italian gelato to lift your spirits!
6. Venezia (Venice)
I took a day-trip to Venice and didn't actually stay there. All I remember is, that it was extremely crowded and I had to be very careful about my belongings!
7. Napoli (Naples)
In Naples, I stayed with another friend of a friend!! She had a small house in a crowded neighborhood, so typically south Italian that I absolutely loved it! I remember one evening when we out to eat pizza, how the restaurant owner and my friend had fun telling me that traffic signals were only a suggestion to them!
We climbed up the Vesuvius and I felt as if I was on top of the world!
I don't remember where I took this picture of a church in Italy but I like it so much that I post it here!