Venice, Florence & Rome
So we are coming to complete our 3 legs in Italy, its an interesting place, I feel we were lucky to see 3 such different italian cities, but from the train-rides alone, it is obvious that there are so many aspects to italy that are only found outside the city walls, the mountains of grass, forest, little villages... and there are the beaches, its a diverse country 4 sure.
The Italians are an interesting group of people, its not really that different to france, but a bit less arrogant (except the occasional grumpy old italian male). Different food and maybe a more complex language, but in the end they are still definately european, with the over-dramatisation of everything, the addiction to fashion and 'looking cool', sometimes it is outright painful european, cut-off jeans, pony-tail perms, the music is classic though.... we still have a song from the french moulin rouge stuck in our heads, some sort of eurotrash number, we dont know what it means but damn is it catchy... its just the way of life over here, but I was pleasantly suprised last night watching italian TV, to see that even spoken in italian, chuck norris and keanu reeves movies, lose absolutely none of their qualities.
Luckily we have an interesting photo series for when we get back entitled 'adso pwns around the world', where adso 'jeremy-style pwns' major monuments and landmarks around the globe. Compulsive viewing im sure you would agree? The photos attached are from the colosseum and the chains that held some dude called Peter.
Food & Drink:
Look, im no historian, but its pretty clear that at some point Italy sat down in a nearby sandbox and developed some fairly original stratz re: the creation of pizza and pasta. The problem... is like most old-sk00lers, they have been relying on that one strat for centuries, not thinking to refine and evolve it like many other countries (including australia). Italy basically have no counter strat for what the rest of the world is now doing right now.
Dont get me wrong, I mean they make fairly solid pizza and pasta, sort of, but they have no imagination, their pizza consists of ham &/or mushroom, and thats it, i dunno... call me a cultural genius, but with all the brilliant gourmet pizza in oz, tandoori chicken, satay chicken, roast lamb, chilli beef, supreme, and etc etc etc etc etc, i think we have taken italian cuisine and totally gone to Level 2.0. I dunno maybe when I get home, I will have to pilot some sort of 'sponsor an italian chef' program or something, and bring them down under for further training.
One dissapointment I found across Europe (but worse in Italy) was the lack of decent 'man-shops', you will find perhaps 1 or 2 small little electronics or computer shops, or sports shops, and they are as a result 'massively over-priced' for stuff that is completely outdated, I dont know if its possible, but it almost seems as if they they just dont care about technology over here?
But another example is the leather stuff here in italy (particularly touristy areas like venice and florence), its really hard to tell what is justified and what isnt, but many of the jackets, bags, wallets, shoes etc can be thousands and thousands of dollars, and i dont think its due to an increase in quality of materials, similar looking items in Amsterdam, will cost around 300-400% more in Italy, i think they are basically trying to exploit the italian name and fashion brandings to tourists, its a shame though, we would have bought a lot more if the prices were lower, such as a 'Fonzi' style jacket for use on the macquarie scooter?
I think weve seen so many famous paintings and statues now in france and italy, that they all blend in to eachother, well all except for the stand-out pieces, I mean some of the venus stuff, statue of david, mona lisa etc, and a few others are engrained permanently, but its almost insane how many paintings are stuffed into these massive galleries, each probably has its own incredible history, and no doubt you could devote your life to studying it, if you didnt have games to plan and stuff.
The ruins in rome though are another story, and they really are magnificent, I cant wait to get the photos home, I hope they can capture even 20% of their size & beauty.
Venice is kind of surreal, there is 1 road into a bus terminal on the outer edge, and then nothing but a rat-nest maze of streets, canals and bridges everywhere else, its nearly impossible to navigate with a map unless you stop every 30 seconds to work out what road you are now travelling on.
We spent many hours on the first night finding our way back from a restaurant at about 1am, the restaurant was literally just next to our hotel, but it turns out that 1 slightly wrong turn, and we went from being 50m away, to somewhere on the other side of the city.
Luckily, after a night of complete stressful adso navigation, Cheryl was able to tell me that she really enjoyed the walk through such a beautiful city.....
To be honest though we were glad to get out of Venice, its hectic in there, there are people everywhere, stalls selling the same tourist trinkets, but there isnt much room to move or escape, but still im glad we got to see it, but 1.5 days was plenty!
Florence is a lot more calming than Venice, the city is easily walked, so we were free to just explore, and find many famous locations, churches, gardens, and you really cant get lost, its quite easy to navigate.
I was really suprised though that as soon as you get out of the pebbled streets there are rolling fields, castles, glassy-still canals and bridges, which made for some amazing photos.
If you ever do Florence, make sure you pre-book everything, we jumped several 2-3 hour museum queues alone, just by pre-booking (hope you see this Christie!), it seems pretty evil in my opinion, but meh thats the system thats in place.
Rome is amazing, it is crazy like the other cities, but you just walk around and uncover amazing spectacles, it is basically an open museum, with ruins and monuments all over the city as you walk, it makes for great photography, the colosseum and vatican are the highlights, but there are many more.
We are probably lucky to escape with our lives in this country, its basically every man for himself here, regardless of pedestrian crossings or green-walk lights, you either walk with 'authority' into speeding oncoming traffic (praying they stop), or you wont be crossing any roads at all.... but anyway.... we survived, and we had a ball!
Panoramics (quality is lost on this site though):
Well, its time to don some slippers, and enter the world of Japan, luckily I have a few tips from Chris, and with Cheryls high-school japanese (shes so cute when she says 'o hayou gozaimasu'), im sure we will have heaps of fun, Kyoto is first, so many photo opportunities to come still, joy.