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Living in Italy the end of 2014...beginning a New Year!

LisaK in VA

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First, I just want to thank you all for tolerating the postings of my life in Italy.  It has certainly taken some strange twists and turns!  2014, though it began with the disappointment of NOT moving into a house, and we would spend several more months living in a hotel, certainly ended better than it began!


November and December were bustling with visitors.  First came my in-laws.  The family (altogether, or various parts) went to Herculaneum, Vesuvius, down the Amalfi Coast, driving around Naples, visited castles and palaces, museums and parks.  I experienced traveling on the fly, during a national transportation strike, and the goodwill/assistance of total, or near-strangers.


December 9th, my parents arrived (they were supposed to arrive on the 8th, but they missed a connection in Paris, and then the 2nd plane turned around and went back to Paris after Italy's air traffic control system went down).  My father got sick 2 days after arriving, and was feeling better by the weekend, so we drove to Paestum to see the Greek ruins there (at which point, my mother got sick).  When we arrived home, my husband asked me to take him to the ER...where he was admitted to the hospital for several days.  The day my husband came home, my parents started their much delayed sight-seeing trips, taking trains to Florence, Rome, Pisa and Livorgno.  We tried to go to Herculaneum twice, but the first day it rained all day, and the next time we went, it was closed due to SNOW (now, it doesn't typically snow here...but I think even those in GA would chuckle over the snow closure).  We did get to the archaeological museum downtown, my parents also visited castles and palaces, and saw many of the local sights.  I had a birthday, the family celebrated Christmas, and we brought in the New Year by watching the fireworks around the Neapolitan skyline, which continued until well after 2am (we were home in bed by that time).


I knew my dad really wanted to see Venice, but there was no way the train trip he wanted to do was going to work out (most of the trips they did were day trips, leaving by train very early and getting back to Naples really late), so I looked at the calendar and offered to drive them to northern Italy on January 2nd, coming back on Sunday the 4th.   They were in.  So...we piled in the car and drove north stopping in Greve in Chianti (Tuscany...) on the way up.  Now, even though I've been driving in Italy for a year, I white-knuckled the drive into Greve.  Spotty guard rails, steep drop-offs, and signs that pictured the road falling away under the car give me pause.  There were, in fact, two places the road had fallen away.  The local drivers behind me were more than a little frustrated at my cautious driving.  We arrived a bit later in Verona than I had hoped, so we only had about an hour to look around before I felt we really needed to be on our way to the Vicenza Army Base where we were going to stay for two nights (I had to register with the base, and then fill out paperwork to sponsor my parents on...took about 45 minutes...and it was very dark and very cold).  We got a good night's sleep at least!


Saturday morning was spent with my mom shopping at the pottery stores in Nove (about 30 minutes from the base).  I purchased my mom her Christmas present, bought a couple of things for myself, and my mom got some presents, too...and then we rushed back to have a quick lunch before going to Venice.  I still feel like pinching myself...because it is that difficult to believe that I went to Venice!  I'm hoping we can go back with the kids in the spring.  It was beautiful.  We didn't go into a lot of places, but just walking the streets and soaking in the atmosphere was magical.  


The following morning, we were back on the road home, but we stopped in Orvieto (just north of Rome) on the way.   When you drive along the Autostrade in Italy and look up at the large hills/mountains, you will notice towns that seem to sprout up around the cliffsides.  Orvieto is one of those towns...I faithfully followed my Garmin, until I came to  a "T" -- a one-way street, and I knew there was no way I could turn.  A couple walking down the street noticed my dismay, as my dad got out of our car and walked up to look for a place I might be able to turn around.  The gentleman (probably Dutch), answered my concern about going the wrong way down a one-way street with, "You're in Italy!  Things like that don't matter..."  Of course about the time I mustered enough courage to try to turn left, a car started down the road towards me. At this point I had maybe an inch of clearance on my right side, and plenty of room on my left, but I was so flustered I just couldn't figure out how to turn my wheels to get me out of the very tight spot I was now in without leaving part of my car adorning the buildings my car was between.  At just the right moment, an Italian man (who worked at the hotel I had just passed), came out and told me the best thing to do was back up.  I just looked at him and said, "Will YOU do it?"  He chuckled and we traded places...and I gratefully watched from the side of the road as he quickly maneuvered my mini-van backwards down the narrow road we had just come, got it turned around and facing the right direction for me to go down the wrong way down a one-way street to the parking lot below.  WHEW!  We found a parking spot and hiked up the rest of the way to Orvieto where we were greeted by the most charming little town and a gorgeous 13th century church, complete with gargoyles and glittering mosaics.  We only had about an hour...and I wish we had more time...but it was well worth the visit.


My parents leave tomorrow morning, and we are valiantly trying to get back into routine this week.  No word on the job or move back home yet -- but we are trying to enjoy the time we have left (however much that may be!).


And, did I mention, I went to VENICE???


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