Recent searches that have led people to this blog have included “sad face,” “leprechauns whispering,” “satanism,” and “клубы тбилиси форум.” Not sure if there’s a correlation, but I’d be scared to find out.
Last I wrote about my trips abroad, Marissa and I had been driving all over Germany. When leaving Munich we decided, spur of the moment, over pretzels, beer, and beer pretzel soup, that “Italy’s so close!” And that’s how we found ourselves on highway 11 heading south from Munich towards Innsbruck.
Coming down into a small village (where we saw a bunch of signs for a wolf rat house!!) we rounded a bend and suddenly the Alps were all up in our business. It was incredible. Just an unbroken chain of enormous mountains blocking the horizon. And that’s where we were headed. Jealous yet?
After about an hour we began the climb into the mountains zigzagging our way up the switchbacks until yet another rounded bend resulted in yet another awe-inspiring vista. This time we had stumbled upon the most beautiful alpine lake. It was quite large and dotted with tiny villages and large houses all around it. It was seriously one of the most picturesque places I’ve been. So no, of course we don’t have a photo.
But, what we do have might be even better. Since our car didn’t have a hookup for an iPod, we’d been listening to the radio wherever we went. Lots of Christmas songs, naturally, given the season, and lots of random pop and rock from all over central Europe (more on that in Slovenia). Since we had just entered the skinny part of Austria (Tirol, for the folks keeping score at home), we began to hear our first trickle of music from south of the border. And what’s south of Austria’s border? Why, Italy, of course!
Marissa and I were having a lovely chat about I haven’t a clue what. It’s not that I’m inattentive, it’s that suddenly we were both distracted by the most amazing Italian music we’d ever heard. Sure, there are loads of operas and folksy ballads. There’s Dominic the Christmas Donkey and a moon that hits your eye like a big pizza pie, but until December 23rd, 2012, I’d never heard such a truly glorious song as Shaddap You Face.
Now, disappointingly, the singer is an Ohioan who made it big selling comedy albums in the 1980s in Australia. But, hey, who am I to tell the Italians what they can play on the radio? Grazie, Italia for showing me this song!
So, we breezed through Austria, passed Innsbruck and even saw the giant ski jump from the Innsbruck Winter Olympics! By the time we crossed into Italy the sun was getting quite low. We had originally planned on driving as far as Trieste that day. Trieste’s on the Italian coast way down near Croatia. That definitely wasn’t going to happen.
Instead, somewhere between Bolzano and Trento we stopped at a gas station for some fuel (for Raughley) and asked for some travel advice from the nice man who sold us a car adapter (finally we could have some of our own tunes!). I don’t know this man’s name, but he spoke only a little English and had a triangle-shaped beard. He wore these crazy sunglasses (at night!) because he had some kind of visual impairment, but that didn’t stop him from doing his darnedest to help us out. He even gave us some life advice and talked about music and smiling!
When we asked how Trento was and whether we should stop there for the night, he poo-pooed the idea telling us, basically, that Trento is not really worth anyone’s time. He also said that Venice and Trieste would be way too far, but that we could make it to fair Verona, probably.
Make it we did! Although Marissa managed a little snooze, we found our way into the “Centro” before too long. Though we had picked up a bit of highway German (Ausfarht, hehehe) we had to re-learn to read signs in Italian. Lucky for us, Marissa knows Spanish and I’ve got French!
So we drove around for about an hour (or two) looking for a place to stay and admiring the old roman architecture and the nightlife. We wound up about two blocks from the “Old Gate” to the centro and the main sites of Verona. It was probably 9 pm by the time we sat down to have Italian Pizza and a small pitcher of wine. Let me remind myself again that Marissa and I ate pizza and drank wine in a cafe just outside the Old Gate of downtown Verona. Yup. Does life get any better than that?
After a lovely sleep, we woke up at the crack of dawn. It was brutal. But, we needed to get to Vienna by nightfall, so it had to be done. We walked around town for an hour or two, taking photos, and finally sat down for a sunrise espresso at a cafe next to the coliseum. Let me remind myself again that Marissa and I drank espressos in a cafe just outside a coliseum in downtown Verona. Yup. Sometimes life does get better than that. Life is life.