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Whirling On By

June 3, 2011

I must begin this way:

I’ve made it to the land of my ancestors! I think my friends are ready to kill me – I’ve been saying that line for the past three days. Pronouncing my last name as it’s meant to be too. Such a shame I basically speak no Italian…

Now about that day in Lauterbrunen. May have been the best day yet. Spent it on my own, riding a cable car up a Swiss mountain to the town of Murren for a delicious meal. Rusti topped with fat slices of fresh bacon and a couple of eggs for lunch, and for dessert, Apple Strudel. Apple Strudel and custard. Heaven! The view was great too — there is nothing quite like eating great food surrounded by mountains, sunshine, and a lovely breeze.

Met a hiking guide who suggested I walk on to the next little town. Best advice of the trip…stumbled upon this fantastic slide and had a ball sliding down it (don’t judge). Then found a hill surrounded by cow farms and gardens and read for an hour. Bliss! Devoured the perfect chocolate bar on that hill…the Swiss really know how to live. If I could ship case after case of that stuff back to Florida, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Took another cable car down to Lauterbrunen and met up with my friends for a lovely walk. Ended the night sharing a great meal of fondue and a hike to a nearby waterfall. Not bad, huh?

Now the next big thing: Making it to Italy

My first Italian meal, unfortunately, was a beef burrito. Please don’t ask me why…it’s a long story, and was entirely out of my control.

The next was eaten in Florence — spaghetti pomodoro and a pizza topped with prosciutto. Much better.

Florence. Fantastic. The name alone. Firenze. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Every street is a postcard in the making. It seems most of Italy is, actually. After a great walking tour, we went to Pitti Palace, the second home of the Medici family. The gardens of this place go on for ages, and are exactly, exactly, exactly what I’ve always imagined Italy to be. We strolled through vines and vines of perfect garden. Groomed, but not overlygroomed. Just enough true nature to remember how beautiful the earth can be. The sculptures throughout were great. One day I’ll have to make it back there for a long, lazy afternoon.

Lunch. Tried a bolenese made from wild boar, a specialty in the area. It was divine.

We saw the famous David, the breathtaking Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (sp?), and checked out a few leather shops before making our way to one of the best desserts I’ve been so lucky to have.

Gelato. Tried four (ok, five) flavors from a gelato place our guide recommended. They prepare it in it’s traditional, old world style, and it is obviously one of the best gelato makers in Florence. The line was nuts! I bonded with the woman who gave me my gelato, and thankfully she recommended I try a flavor made with Ricotta. When I get home, I am scouring the internet for recipes…ricotta is the hidden gem to all things perfectgelato.

En route to Rome, we had lunch in Orvietto. I died and went to heaven in this darling town. Darling. Famous for pottery and wild boar sandwiches, Orvietto streets are some of the most lovely I’ve seen yet. In our travels I’ve developed quite a thing for interesting doors, and Orvietto is home to some of the most ornate I’ve stumbled upon. Could have stayed for a week (or maybe two).

Onwards to Roma:

We’ve been here one night now, and it is quite the place to be. Loud, a big city, but filled with charm, character, and Catholicism galore. Our hostel is in a great spot, near a bunch of great looking restaurants. One problem: no AC. Ugh.

Spent quite a day at the Vatican today. Checked our backpacks at their bag check…the Vatican guards run it, very interesting. The Sistine Chapel. I’ve seen it now! Cannot even begin to fathom how one man spent four years making one of the most beautiful creations ever made. One painting trumps the next. You could get lost in it for hours…except you’d probably suffer from a broken neck!

Lunched at the Vatican cafeteria, which was pretty good. Even in a massive cafeteria the Italians serve their pasta al dente. America, take note!

Backpacks on the Rome metro was interesting, but we made it out alive. Exhausted tonight, just had a simple dinner down the road from our hostel. Resting up for a big day tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by!


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