-Deborah Smith, NYT bestselling author
-Mary Balogh, NYT bestselling author
Judith Travels to Italy
In February, I travelled to Italy with my daughter, Alison, and a good friend.
We flew to Milan--be still my beating heart!--where we checked out all the fashion houses and found a street market, Via San Antonio, with knock-down fashion items. Can you believe a cashmere pashmina for five Euros! Sadly, La Scala was closed for rehearsals, so I'll have to save my opera outing for another trip....
Then it was a train trip to Florence, where we spent a week in a small albergo on Via Santa Reparata. I practised my Italian (I'd taken a beginner's course before leaving) and we gorged on Renaissance art and sculpture, not to mention the fabulous Italian food. Yes, "David" sends shivers up your spine, no matter how many times you have seen the image before, on paper or film.
Highlights? Michelangelo's last "Pieta," unfinished, at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (museum of the cathedral),the leather goods at street markets, the Uffizi (of course) and my personal favorite, San Lorenzo Church where all the Medicis are buried.
A bus trip to the airport (I didn't want to drive in the city, understandably!) and we picked up our rental car. Off to Spannocchia, a medieval tenuta, estate, near Siena and a bone-chilling week trying to warm up an 12th century farmhouse with a wood fireplace--the stone walls were two feet thick and the area was having unseasonably cold weather. Glad this Canadian took along her down vest.
The hill towns of Tuscany were wonderful, everything we'd imagined--Volterra, Colle Val d'Est (Basso and Alto), San Grimagnano, the Chianti wine country. Then, east to the Adriatic Sea and some warmer weather. Cesnetica, an Italian summer resort, was understandably deserted in mid-March, but beautiful, a scene out of an Antonioni movie. We approached Venice from the broad delta of the Po, a marvellous landscape of fishing boats, canals, marshy delta and huge, huge sky.
Venice! What can I say?
Two days there, then yours truly venturing onto the autostrada for the trip to the airport, nearly an hour east of Milan. We made it! And had one of the most memorable meals of our trip (among many) at the small hotel near the airport where the owner, a Tuscan, treated us to his region's specialty, biscotti and vino santo.
Arrivederci, bella Italia! I'll be back.
AND I WAS BACK! In 2008, I was accepted into a Master program in Food Culture and Communication at Universita degli studie scienze gastronomiche (Parma, Italy) and spent a wonderful year there with 23 other students, from all over the world. What an experience.... Since then I have been back, this time Bologna for two months, in 2010, continuing my efforts to learn the language, which I have now decided is a "hobby" rather than a "goal!"