Under a cloudy Tuscan sky, I write to you from the streets of Florence, the heart of the Renaissance. Firenze, as the Italians call it, the magnificent city that rescued Western Civilization from the tyranny and stupidity of the Dark Ages. If it weren't for Florence, we would all be worshipping a two-dimensional Jesus whilst covered with the excrement of wealthy land owners.
Why on earth would I be inside an internet cafe when the wonders of Italy await outside? Well Joanna was dying to see Michelangelo's David and his famous penis and I had seen it on my last trip (Firenze 1995!), and I also just climbed the Duomo, so it's time to sit and chronicle my first week in Italy.
After two days of flying, waiting, bussing, waiting, really waiting, and flying, Joanna and I reached Milan. We were met by Franco, who is one of the Brambilla-Fantinis. Our families friendship goes back too when his grandma Lucia, and my grandfather Wesley had a thing back in the 60s. Franco's mom and my mom were college friends, and we even named my sister Lieta, after his mom.
Franco who has grown quite a bit since last time (Milano 1995!). But I easily recognized him at the airport, he just turned 27. Franco, who almost always wears a smile and has excellent English, drove us into town to his father Angelo's place.
KABLAMMO!! Holy bejubbuz, this place is huge! It's a beautiful four story apartment in the heart of the city with a gorgeous central garden and glorious 10 feet high windows. Franco says we can stay here for the weekend, and Joanna and I wait for Franco to turn his back so we can jump around with glee. That night we grab a quick beer and Franco tells us of his plans for us this weekend. Tomorrow we drink, then on Saturday we head to the Coast!!!
Dear blog reader, as I look at my watch I realize I don't have time to wax poetic about all of our adventures so I'll try Outline style to save time.
Friday- We meet Chiara, Franco's younger sister, and her friends who are working on a documentary. My I-pod speaker saves the day when they have audio problems.
-We go out drinking with Franco and a few of his friends
-Wish, our first spot is very posh, in Italy happy hour comes with FREE APPETIZERS
-De Santis, second spot is small rustic style- amazing paninis
-Goodfellas, our third stop is Franco's favorite, with loud techo and a fun scene
-As if that wasn't enough we head to Navigli to another pub, where we talk politics with a young UN ambassador from the Vatican. We apologize for John Bolton.
Saturday- Franco drives us and his dog India to the Coast!
-1st stop Portofino, the famous little Promintory on the Italian Riviera, I can't download any photos now, check google images.
-We meet Elena, Franco's girlfriend who joins our Ligurian adventure
-We go to Genova (Genoa) to drop off Elena's car, Genoa looks really cool, I want to come back. This is of course the birthplace of Columbus
-Pietra Ligura, further down the coast, The Brambillas have a seaside home here too
-Savona, we meet Elena's father and he treats us and others to drinks at Rollodero
-DINNER AT FINALE BORGO, In the shadow of an ancient castle, I had a huge plate of homemade pasta that was to die for, the dish was called Trophe Norchina.
-Sleep in Pietra Ligura
Sunday- Per my request we go to only ONE PLACE, that day.
-Antibes, France, near Nice, a beautiful quiet little costal town with quaint little streets and huge Yachts.
-Crepes, so far Joanna and I haven't paid for anything except for a round of drinks on Friday, which I had to do while Franco was smoking, and we're beginning to feel a bit guilty. Yes, even in Italy, you now have to go outside to smoke.
-Risotto, when we get back to Milan, Franco shows off his culinary expertise by make us a delicious place of Saffron Risotto Milanese
Monday- Lunch with Lieta who is always a joy to talk to
-Dinner with Angelo at his apartment, Chiara, Elena, Franco are there as well
Tuesday- Joanna and I head to Lucca
-Fearful that our Italian friends may grow tired us too quickly, Joanna and I take a train to the Tuscan town of Lucca, home of Puccini
Wednesday- We stay at the Da Eliza inside the town walls
-Lucca is surrounded by huge medieval walls, and pretty green fields, and a cute little moat. The top of the walls are so wide, that they've made it into a park that you can walk around, bike around or just lay in the grass of some amazing old embankments, now covered with trees.
-Joanna and I have our minds blown, we purchase a huge amount of amazing food for our picnic. We get a gluttonous amount of Salami, tuscan cheese, tuscan wine, a bagette, olives, anitpasto, pears, and it all costs . . . 8 Euros!!! The same amount of stuff bought at your local Albertson's would cost about 40 bucks.
-We play a little Frisbee on the fields
-Climb the highest tower in Lucca
-Foolishly go to a Chinese place for dinner
Thursday- Day trip to Pisa
-Leaning Tower, that thing really looks likes it's gonna fall any second now
-We return to our favorite place in Lucca and have a beatiful Pizza
-We catch an early train to Florence, climb the huge Duomo, and I sit down for an internet break, and Joanna takes in the Museum with David
-Tonight we return to Milano, the fasion capital, I'm not so sure about the fashion though. It looks like Kurt Cobain and Bon Jovi got together to start a futuristic Japanese motorcycle gang.
-Tomorrow we meet my mom, who will be flying in and next week we will go to Torino and the Alps, and wherever else we fancy.