Italy, day 8

A day to finally rest. We headed back to Firenze, where we’ll get the train to Milan, to take a flight to Paris to finally get home.

Again, as last night, I couldn’t sleep right and woke up at 4:40 in the morning. As mom and dad decided to take a last trip through Firenze, I stayed in the hotel to take a nap and do nothing. Those vacations where really tireful, but nice none the way.

Tomorrow, as I said, we gonna take the train to Milan, and a flight to Paris. There, I should take another plane back to Guarulhos and, finally, to Porto Alegre. Fortunately, I still have some days off the office, so I can really rest at home, talk to my family and show all the pictures we took in this trip. A lot of pictures, I must say: we gonna fill two CDs just of pictures!

Italy, day 7

So, our hotel sucked. I’m not kidding here, I had to kill a big fly to get some sleep. Also, the shower box also had the “privada” inside, so, when I showered in the morning, it got all wet.

This way, we ended our stay in Siena one day early. Our next stop of the day was San Gimigniano, a city that, in the old times, had about 70 towers (they were considered a sign of power). Our hopes were to go there and find another hotel.

In the city, we headed directly to the centre, a piazza with a cistern. And it is a beautiful piazza: the buildings are very old, but there is some elegance in them. We couldn’t see all the towers, as the number have being reduced by about 13 because of the time. But you could spot them anywhere in the city. Even looking the city from the distance you could see about 5 of them (the highest of them, of course).

On the city, we could find a tourist information centre and book our stay in a hotel mom read somewhere. We didn’t even check another options, mom was very confident in the book (later, it proved to be right, but I’ll get there).

Leaving San Gimigniano, it was time to check Valterra, a city created by the Etruscan people (which no one knows where they came from). The city, even being create by a different culture than San Gimigniano, looks like the previous city, except for the several shops selling works with alabastro, a stone from the place.

So, nothing new, it was time to check if mom’s choice about hotels were right. And it was. A very nice hotel in the top of mountain, large rooms, big beds and such. Mom got pretty happy that her choice wasn’t a sucky one.

Bastard Poet from Hell

There is a city
Capitol of a great nation
A nation of great craftsman
They built a large tower
They built a large statue
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
Of a nation that tried
To be the one
And people that smoke a lot
And like sausages
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
With castles of an old time
Were a short emperor meet a large man
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
Known for its beer
And the people who eat sausages
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
Known by its wine
With bubbles
And they didn’t speak french
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
With a coliseum
That isn’t known by that name
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
Surrounded by the sea
They say it is sinking
But the people there don’t care
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
Of great bankers
They paid for several arts
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
With a big church
And a tower that is falling
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
With its walls still up
I was there
And you don’t

There is a city
Known by a crazy horse race
Which gave a name to a car
I was there
And you don’t

Italy, day 6

A day for a small town. We got our stuff in the morning and headed to Greve in Chianti, a small city between mountains, in a region famous for its wine. This city (and all around, mostly) looks a lot like the cities in the mountains of Rio Grande do Sul, like Gramado and Canela (except for the castles/churches/”viniculas” in the top of the mountains, looking for small cities below).

First task of the day: finding another hotel. Our fist stop was at a castle, but they didn’t have rooms for two days, so we kept going. Before finding an hotel, we got in the city centre, a small piazza with some stores around. Not very big, but sympathic anyway.

Next stop, Siena. It is a big city, so there could be an hotel there. one of the things Siena is known is the Palio, a horse race where everything goes: bribes, doping, you name it. Unfortunately, the races only goes on July and August, so there was no race for us.

I had a really bad night last day, waking up at 03:30 and I couldn’t get any sleep after that. So, when we got an hotel, I stayed there to sleep a little bit, as I felt my body hurting and as if the gravity suddenly had doubled.

With my at the hotel, mom and dad went to the city. When the Palio isn’t going, the place were it happens becomes a nice piazza, with a big clock tower in the middle. Mom got so interested in the Palio that bought a flag of the winner of this year.

At night, we all headed back to the Palio piazza to dinner. I asked a pizza (again) in the hopes that it would be nice, but, as always, they put a very very very thin bread below it, so it is hard to eat. I can’t wait to get to Brazil and eat real pizza again.

Italy, day 5

Ah! A car! If the whole Italy had a train system as good as Paris, I wouldn’t be so happy. But it was nice not to depend so much on time and being able to go anywhere, any time.

First site of the day: Pisa. Yeah, the falling tower. But we weren’t so lucky when we got there, as there was a dense fog around. When we arrived, we could barely see the top of the tower. And it isn’t that height, by the way. Also, the tower isn’t really straight: it seems that it was already falling to one of the sides when they were still building it, so the tower has more of an arc build. Plenty of jokes of getting straight and following the tower inclination to take pictures, and even a picture of me trying to put the tower down. Talk about terrorism.

In the tower surroundings, there is the statue of Romulus and Remo, the founders of Rome, being feed by a wolf. Story of Italy.

Now, everybody talks about the Pisa tower, but there are more there than just that. The tower were part of a church, a “Campanario”, where the bells were. So, there is a church around. A big church. It was one of the first time I got somewhat moved by the architecture around. Also, there is a “batisterio” near the church, where children were baptised, and the two fit each other, even with some meters between them.

So, as the main attractions of the city were already seen, we moved to another city, Lucca. Lucca is a fortified city, with the city walls still intact. So yeah, the city still have its walls, which a normal city still inside them. Of course, there are some points outside the wall, but it seems to be only a small part of the city. And you can even walk the wall, as it is quite large. But a little bit long, about 4km in extension.

Again, churches every corner. And I’m not kidding here: we could spot a church not a block away from another.

We saw only part of the city around and walked part of the wall, and saw plenty of churches. Time to leave the city. Dad wanted to see Pistoia too, but only going through small roads. As my flu got worse on the trip, I was quite happy when we decided to head back to the hotel using the highroad.

Italy, day 4

On a new hotel, it was time to explore Florence, the city of the Medici family. As many old cities in Italy, there are several churches around and we found one right after the bus stop, where you trip around the city started. Also, as many old cities in Italy, there are plenty of narrow streets between old buildings. Yet, as many old cities in Italy, the old portals of the city walls still exist, somewhat hidden between the old buildings.

One of the things we could spot around the city were some cows. Not real cows, but statues of cows, painted by several artists, resembling some other stuff, like a cow with jeans, or a cow formed by jigsaws. We didn’t get the reason why the cows were there, but it was kinda funny.

Near one of the old markets, we could spot “Davi”, a huge statue of a naked guy. It seems that old Italians were fond of sculptures of naked men and women with clothes. Go figure. While taking a picture of my parents, I could spot something familiar: a man with “bombachas”, hat and boots, with a jacket with the colours of my state, Rio Grande do Sul. As I pointed out to my parents, they imediately headed there and start talking with the couple. They were from Brasilia, but the husband born in Bage. Talk about a real gaucho around. As they were talking, they pointed a large group of people with bombachas, hats, “prenda” dresses… yeah, a full group of gauchos. As we could get from them, they were on Paris, to the opening of a CTG there, so they extended their trip to Italy. Really, really, really small world.

After a while, dad decided he would take care of renting the car for our next trips, so mom and I headed for the rest of the city alone. And I was in bad shape (thanks to the flu) and in a bad mood, so the rest of the trip was kinda painful. Not really, but it was not so fun. I think I ruined a lot of mom’s plans for the day, as I wasn’t in the mood to check churches and museums.

Anyway, we headed for a church, were a lot of famous people are buried: Danti Aligheri, Leonardo da Vinci, Galilaeus Galileius, Michelangelo and Nicholaus Machiavelli. Well, not all of them, as the voice tour pointed: Galilaeus is buried somewhere else in Italy and, even with several requests from the Florence government, he still there. But they built a memorial, nonetheless. On this church, several rich people are buried directly in the church ground, as a sign of devotion.

Later, we headed to the Pitty Palace, the palace of the city. We didn’t check anything special inside the castle, except for the garden. And I must say that it was the most impressive garden I saw. It is so huge that, even with a big city all around, with several cars and buses roaming around, you couldn’t hear any of them. A really peaceful place. I wasn’t a surprise to think that many philosophers and thinkers go there just to put thoughts in place.

As I wasn’t in a good mood, our trip ended a little bit before planned, and all I needed was a nice bed, as I was fucking tired. Damn flu.

Italy, day 3

Miserable night. I hate getting the flu.

This would be another day of only two people tripping, as dad still had some work to do. But, as things went smoothly to him last day, he would need only the morning to finish his business and so we would short your stay in Conegliano for a day, and taking the train to Florence in the afternoon. So, a lazy morning, staying in the hotel and packing our stuff.

At lunch time, dad appeared with Giuseppe, the owner of the factory dad is trying. He invited him and us to lunch, so we went with one restaurant of his choice. I was unable to take a choice, so I followed everybody (who followed Giuseppe suggestions). First dish was lasagne with fungi, a mushroom. I can’t remember tasting a “vegetable” lasagne that taste SO good! Second dish was chicken fillet, with nothing special about it.

After the lunch, Giuseppe took us to the train station, were we had to take a train to Venice Mestre before taking the EuroStar (a high speed train) to Florence. It was a nice trip, even stating in the second class, as the first class (as our EuroPass allowed) was completely full. But it was not bad, not bad at all.

Arriving at Florence, we had to take a cab to the hotel, as the airport is in the other side of the town, and our hotel is near it. Not bad, but I hadn’t enough energy to do anything else. Damn flu.

Italy, day 2

Today dad had another business to check, so this was a day for only mom and I. Our trip was on Venice. You know, the city that is sinking into the sea.

Again, a little bit of history: the city itself has a part on dry land, but they decided to build a better port. So they build a city over a small group of islands. This gives the city a strange look, as the city looks “cutted up”, only connect with small bridges. And, as far as I could see, there was at least one church on every island.

The city is quite impressive. I mean, they know it is sinking, but the people there still live like nothing is happening: they keep their gardens, the clean their houses and they keep their stores in the lower levels of the houses. Even parks still exist there. Well, some of the houses look a little bit cracked up, but nothing that takes their beauty away.

On Venice, I could see that there are streets even narrower than Verona, but I suspect that there wasn’t any wagons around, so they only had to build the streets large enough for a few people. Also, some corridors just lead to the water, which isn’t surprising if you imagine that the only way to get into the city was by boat (well, some points still are).

So, our first stop was Rialto. It is a famous bridge on Venice, but it didn’t look so impressive to me. There are, however, several small shops around, so you can find anything around there: watches, masks, hats, you name it. There is even a MacDonald’s lost somewhere there.

First stop found, it was time to had to the San Marcus Park. It isn’t had to find any of them, as they are the main attractions in the island and there are plenty of signs pointing where to go to find them.

San Marcus is the famous part of the city. If you look at any pictures of Venice where you could spot pigeons, there is the park. In there, you could find the “Campanario”, the Castle of the Doges and the “San Marcus Basilica”.

As my request, we went first to the Campanario. It is a tall clock tower where you could see the whole city. And no, it is not as big as the Eiffel Tower. So, going up there was way easy. Over there you could spot at least three more islands (and their respective churches).

Second monument of the day, the Castle of the Doges. At first I thought it wouldn’t be anything special to me, but its grandiosity is quite moving. The castle was build in a way that all the things that mattered were connected somehow: the king quarters leads to the audience room (where the king had meetings with important people); there you could head to the high council room, where the king and another twenty senators meet to take on the greatest matters; there you go to the room of the Ten, a group of senators elected to take care about the secrets of the state (spying, watching the other senators); then you go the senate room, where all senators met; further, you go the the council room, where about 2000 people, including the king, would discuss the problems and priorities of the city; on a small passage, you go through the court room (as the judges where part of the council, it is no surprise); the court room leads to the prison and so on.

Near the king’s quarts, there is a room to the “scuderia”, the guards that take care of the king. Eight of them would always be available to the king, no matter what. From this room, you could get to the weapons room, where several different weapons are exposed there. There is even a “gun sword”, much like Squall uses on “Final Fantasy VIII”. I just thought it was funny see that there is a real version of that weapon.

From the prison, you could walk through the Bridge of Sighs, where the condemned had to walk from the prison to the court room and vice-versa. Usually, as they were found guilty, and some times condemned to dead, there was the last time they could see the sea.

Ok, you got the point of how the castle impressed me.

Next monument, the Basilica. It wasn’t really impressive at least to me, as I don’t quite like religious buildings (except from the outside) and gold didn’t impress me. But, if you like those things, you’ll be quite impressive: the church inside is really golden and some points you cold see gold walls filled with precious stones.

All the main things seen, it was time to head back to the station. We walked all the way back, as I wanted to buy some stuff to some friends. When we got there, we took a trip with “Vaporeto”, their bus. Actually, it is a big boat with several places that take the trip around the city through the sea and the canal. I could get some nice pictures of the city in this trip.

On the way back to the hotel, mom got cured from her flu, only to be my turn. And I hate getting sick, even more with flu.

Italy, day 1

We got up early again, this time to take the trip to Verona. The city still have some pretty old buildings, including the old portals to the city (althought only part of the wall still visible). We headed to the main park in the city, only to find out that there was a cheese fair there, right next to the Arena.

For those who don’t know, the Arena is a coliseum, much like the one on Rome. The difference between the Arena and the Coliseum is that the Arena is smaller and still intact. Even today, there are plays played around there.

So, after tasting some cheese, we headed to the Arena, to see it from the inside. And it looks exactly like in the movies: round and with big “chairs”/stairs. One of the things that got me is that looks like two tribunes, so you can’t really point were the Emperor seated. From the heightening point of it, you could see the whole city.

On our way out, we took a trip through the city, and we could spot some streets really narrow. Upon pointing that, my dad said to me that Florence they were even more narrower.

Leaving the centre of the city, we headed to the bridges: one build in the times of war and one build in the times of peace. The last one is build all over with marble, which gave it a pleasant white look. Cars and buses still use it normally. The first one is build with bricks (the brown ones). You could still go up the sentinel stands and check who is coming around. Also, the sturdy door that closes the city still there, still looking pretty sturdy.

Lots of walking. Even with dad losing his sense of direction and heading us away from the station. But we got there, eventually.

Germany, day 7

Last day on Germany. As the day before, we had to wake up early, except that this time, mom and dad booked our tickets in the day before, while they got out for dinner. All my stuff was already packed, so I was the first on the lounge to leave the place.

On the train station, another sign that Germans aren’t as organized as they seem: the information screens keep throwing our train from one gate to another (one right next to the other, but, anyway…).

This trip took a little longer than the trip from France to Germany, about 8 hours from Stuttgart to Conegliano. Even being longer, this trip were a lot more easier than the first one, I just don’t know why.

The trip took us through Austria, which I must say have the most impressive landscape I ever seen. I mean, the grass is well cut, the mountains are really really impressive… and everything fits perfectly, even the cities. I surely will add some days there on my next travel.

Since we had no idea where the hotel was, we took a cab. Mum was so happy that we were finally on Italy that she couldn’t hold herself and started talking almost non-stop, even with the cab driver, who also seem pretty happy himself. On their talk, we could find out that he was married with a Brazilian from Bahia, but he couldn’t understand Portuguese. Funny, huh?

Upon reaching our hotel, I just got sad to find out that there isn’t an internet access around. I was planning filling my on-line album with some more pictures, but I would had to do that later. As we didn’t get a decent lunch, it was time to get a decent dinner. We asked some information in the hotel and all options were around the main park in the city. So, there we went.

The city is not very big, but there is something around. I don’t know if it is the people or the place, but everything seems more friendly than on Germany. We checked all three options the hotel clerk gave us and stopped in the last one, the local Osteria (sorry, lost the name somewhere). All they had was pork with sauce and a soup of beans. Not much, huh? But the pork really taste wonderful and I ate almost everything, even being more tired than hungry. Worth a check if you are around.

Also, Conegliano is the city of Prosecco, a white wine with bubbles, much like Champagne. Very good, by the way.