Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back Home from Italy

ORN: 4.2 miles, R6/W1,

Whew!! Back from Italy late Sunday night, took Monday off and now into the regular grind. What a marvelous time we had!! I’ll have photos posted in the next week or so. But here’s one funny running story and some other bullet points from our 12 days of pasta and scenery.

We visited the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa last Monday, just a couple of hours after my 17 mile run. The tower and the scene around it is comical; all the tourists stand and laugh. After gawking for a while, we paused for some gelato, Italian ice cream, oh so creamy. As we stood there, I noted a “42” spray painted on the street. I just happened to remember a Marathon is 42.2 km long and wondered if this wasn’t the “almost to the end” marker for a marathon which would finish next to the famous tower? We got home and a quick web search confirmed it; this was the finish of the Pisa Marathon. I guess if I wanted to go back there next May 19, I could run, laughing, to the finish line! For now, I’ll settle for the photograph.

So much more to say about Italy…I’ll just run a list, in no particular order for you:
  • Best Meal. A tiny restaurant in Florence with five tables and an elderly owner who spoke no English. Fantastic food, a warm welcome, wonderful evening.
  • Best Single Dish. In Lucca, called “Vegetable Soup” in English on the menu. Actually more a stew than soup, it had a puree with 2 types of small beans, spinach and amazing flavors of spices. Indescribably good.
  • Worst Meal. None. No bad meals. At all.
  • Italian drivers are not as crazy as I had been led to believe. I drove for a week and got along OK. Only once did someone make an obscene gesture at me.
  • Fashion. Italian men and women dress well. Especially the shoes. High heel boots seem to be very much in vogue this fall.
  • Cold Blooded. Italians also seemed to be colder than I was. While I was in shorts and a golf shirt, they were in parkas and scarves. Seriously.
  • The normal goods of life are expensive. Food, rent, petrol. We wondered how those on the lower end of the economic ladder make it there.
  • Italy is densely populated. There are people everywhere. I’m sure used to wide open spaces, American style.
  • Churches are museums in Italy much of the time. They look to the past. Where is the faith? Where is the look to the future?
  • Trains are a fantastic way to travel in Europe. Way more relaxing than driving.
  • Movie stars always have perfect complexions.
  • My family was surprised to learn I can do a pretty good voice impersonation of Bill Clinton.
  • Italian port-o-potties work differently than the American version. And are cleaner, as a result.
  • Italian pasta is thinner than the same-named American pasta.
  • Marble is pure calcium carbonate and is sawn off the sides of the mountains.
  • I love traveling with my wife.
  • If there is no smoking on an airplane, why are their ash trays in the plane’s restrooms?

A great trip. Great to be home. Persevere.


David said...

First three highlights were about food. Good thing you were running a lot.
Boilermakers missed you badly. Glad you're home.

Darrell said...

Great observations. How cool that you noticed the 42. The vegetable soup sounds like something my wife's grandmother might have made. I sure miss her home cooked meals.

Wes said...

Welcome home, Joe! Amazingly good stuff. I could eat myself to obesity in Italy, for sure :-)

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a good trip and back safely.... I thought 42 was the answer to the secret of the universe. (grin)

IronWaddler said...

SOunds like you had a great trip and enjoyed every minute. Welcome home and start enjoying the fall weather.

crossn81 said...

welcome home!! Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great time, Joe! I look forward to seeing some more photos from the vacation.

Pat said...

So, you were laughing at all the tourists doing the Pisa lean photo and they were laughing at the odd american taking a picture sitting in the middle of the street in front of graffitti.

Ah, too funny. I would have done the same.
And I have the same Purdue sweatshirt.

Backofpack said...

Love the list - sounds like a great trip. I especially liked "I love traveling with my wife". That is a wonderful comment!