Hello one and all. Greetings from gorgeous Italy. Sorry we haven’t written sooner but we have been flat out travelling and enjoying "la dolce vita." It may not be entirely sunny in Italy at the moment but it is still damn good. A quick summary of the Paul and Shelly show:
We arrived in Milan a little worse for wear after about 36 hours on the plane or in airport waiting lounges. Milan was nice. We visited the cathedral and introduced ourselves to gelati - a friendship we have endeavoured to repeat at every subsequent stop (Deb - thanks for the tip. Shelly blames you).
From Milan we visited Lake Como and did the serene cruise around the lakes. It was a bit cool so all the beautiful people were probably sunning in the Caribbean, but that meant we had more room to ourselves. We even visited the balustrade where the memorable (Memorable!!!????) scene from the Phantom Menace was filmed. What a wash out! Shelly was very excited to see it considering she slept through the film (the worst film ever made – honestly Plan 9 from Outer Space was better).
Then it was off to the Cinque Terre - the five lands. Five cliff top villages perched along the Mediterranean coast. We stayed in a town called La Spezia which Shelly described as the Bunbury of Italy. But nevertheless, Cinque Terre and the village of PorteVenere were absolutely spectacular - even though it drizzled in the CT - it was still magnificent.
From the CT it was on to Lucca - a walled town in Tuscany. Great! Then Florence which was filled with American tourists, but still, it is a great city (even though Paul was called a Yankee son of Bitch by a street artist - I don’t know what is the worse insult?). Florence - no matter what - crowds, tourists, extravagant prices - is just a great city. We were relieved however to get away to the quieter - but absolutely magnificent - city of Sienna. We ended up staying there for 3 days. We walked around the city each night (and got lost every time in the maze of streets) and took day trips out to Tuscan villages like Montepulciano, Castellino in Chianti (as in "I ate his liver with a nice glass of...")
and San Gimiagniano. It was totally great. The Tuscan countryside is as picturesque as the postcards really show. Honestly.
From Sienna we had a little bit of trouble with the bus and train system and we missed a few buses and trains. It was something of a language barrier thing. Anyway, we managed to get ourselves on track and got over to the east coast via Assisi. Assisi, which was pretty much destroyed by an earthquake in 1997 is back up and running and looks great. It has mostly all been rebuilt and was a nice, calm, quiet stop. We stayed at a BB (camere) where the people were falling over themselves to be lovely and
nice to us. It was very nice and quaint.
Today it has been a bit of a travel day. After seeing the sites of Assisi in the morning we took the train to the beachside town of Rimini but it was raining and no one was home so we continued on to Ravenna which, as I continually annoy Shelly by telling her (as a way of justifying coming here) Ravenna was the former capital of the Western Roman Empire (see Paul after class for an very long and boring explanation of this piece of trivia).
Anyway, Paul has just bored Shelly witless by making her follow him around the Church of San Vitale while he looks at mosaics (yep, I can tell you’re all bored now too).
Tomorrow we are off to Verona and then on to the lovely amazing and beautiful Venice.
Italy has been absolutely great. The language issue hasn’t been much of a problem. Even Shelly now knows two dozen Italian words and phrases (and none are swear words). The Italians have been extremely patient with us dumb tourists. The classic image of emotional Italians couldn’t be further from the truth here. Everyone is cooool. Everyone dresses well. People remain calm under pressure (we should know, we’ve been travelling by train and seen a few things). Even the buses and trains run on time generally and are cleaner than the London underground.
Pink is the big in colour this season. One oddity - Italian men wearing tan shoes - with everything.
The food has been fantastic. Great pasta. It is amazing to watch Italians eat. They eat so much. Pasta is like an entree and then there is the main course. We have the pasta and were full. And yet they are still skinny!!!.
It’s amazing. We are enjoying the food (not as much as the Italians of course) but thankfully are putting in about 8 kms of walking a day to work it off.