Venezia

I spent two days in a floating city - its narrow streets a masquerade, its cobbles made of glass. Every step was a photograph, every turn a masterpiece.

Venice, by me

I’ve talked about about how I didn’t really like Rome, the first or second time I went. And I’ve talked about how I loved the Italian countryside. But what I haven’t told you yet, pets, is that there’s a city I did love in Italy.

Venice.

Venice is one of those incredible places where there is always so much to see. Not to visit, per se, since we saw most of the important places in two days, but to look at. You’re constantly surrounded by such beautiful things - from the museums to the masks in shop windows.

Venice is so unique. The streets are so small and narrow, the buildings are misshapen - leaning and jutting out. The canals are filled with gondolas and other boats and bridged by crosswalks. The water is teal green. I didn’t believe it. I asked if they dyed it that colour.

Venice at Night, by me

We went to nearly all the museums in Venice, and they’re all definitely worth seeing (you can also get a day pass that lets you into all of them for one price). But the most stunning part was definitely the Doge’s Palace. Every room was a masterpiece in itself, and then the walls were filled with some of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen (sadly, they don’t let you take pictures in there).

The Sistene Chapel’s got nothing on the ceilings of Venice.

Looking out from Venice by me

Carino

I’d like to introduce you all to my new friend.

Carino, by me

This is Carino. He is a Fiat 500. He belongs to Toe and his family, and lives in Rome and on the olive farm. His name is my idea, though. “Carino” means cute in Italian. And it starts with the word “car.” Get it?

Carino is the perfect little car for driving around the Italian countryside. He doesn’t go very fast. Sometimes you have to get out and push him down a hill to get him to start. Sometimes you’re not quite sure he’s going to make it up a hill, but he never gives up!

I love cars. Not in the way that guys tend to like cars - I don’t actually know anything about them or how they work and I can’t tell you the make, model or year of a car. But I love driving. And I love driving around in cars with character.*

My first car had character. Her name was Blanche. She was old and white and she had a huge dent in the front (that my sister claims isn’t her fault.. and I know wasn’t my fault…). She had to struggle to reach speed to merge onto the highway. One time, her turn singles stopped working in the middle of winter as I was trying to change lanes and I had to roll down my window and signal by hand. But she was a staple in my group of friends and everyone called her by name.

Carino is a lot like Blanche. Not necessarily reliable, but always an adventure. I even got a chance to drive Carino myself (my first time ever driving a manual transmission!) and I actually did pretty well!

Carino on the Olive Farm, by me

And there are few things better than driving around the Italian countryside with the sun roof down.

*As much as I like cars with character, I like driving fast more. So the next car I get, just like the last one I had, will be new and a Mazda.

Italia

A couple of weeks ago, I returned to Italy. After my last impression of Rome, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew, however, that this trip would be different.

For one, I was going with my friend Toe who speaks Italian. So I didn’t have to get lost in translation. He ordered my food and asked all the questions I needed. It was great!

Secondly, we were going to see more than just Rome. Toe’s family has an apartment just outside the city walls in Rome, but they also have an olive farm, in a city called Castelnuovo di Farfa, about half an hour away.

The Olive Farm, par moi

What I discovered was that Italy is beautiful. It really does have character, and it starts the minute you leave Rome. The entire time in the Sabine* (the area where the olive farm is) was like a scene from a bad romantic comedy. There was a traffic jam with sheep. There were narrow winding roads lined with olive trees. There was a part where we had to get out of the car and push.

Traffic jam, par moi

We explored the ruins of a Roman bridge. We went to a town that was about two streets big, and set entirely on a cliff. We sat in the sun. We got a tour (in Italian only!) of the Olive Oil Museum (including modern art inspired by olive oil!)

The Olive Oil Museum, par moi

And, inevitably, everything shut for two hours in the afternoon. It was slow, peaceful and quiet.

Peach blossom, by me

We spent a few days in Rome, too, and I still don’t love it. Next time, I’d rather just stay at the olive farm.

*The Sabine is the area from the early Roman myth of the Rape of the Sabines! How cool is that? I bought a children’s book in Italian about it.

Strasberries: not a typo

Today, I went grocery shopping. I wandered over to the berry section, as per usual, and was greeted by something I’ve never seen before: strasberries.

strasberries, by me

Apparently they’re a new fruit, a hybrid berry from strawberries and raspberries. How can you get any better than that?

They taste quite like really sweet strawberries, but they’re smaller and a bit more airy - the texture is really unique. It’s light like a raspberry but without the gritty raspberry seeds. If you find them, try them! For anyone in the UK… they’re on sale at Waitrose* this week!

*The author of this blog would fully consider any offers of sponsorship from Waitrose, in the form of lots of money or, you know, free groceries.

Le Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge, par moi

Just a photo for today, pets. I’ve been a busy little digger this week and this weekend I need to be a busy little student. Next week, posts about Italy, carino and sculptures.