I flip through my old Italy travel photos and I’m instantly there. Was it just a year ago? My happy place where I frequently disappear. Perhaps this is what is, ‘wistful longing’!
Then it was euphoria, curiosity and anxiety. My old Whatsapp chats are proof.
“Am I packing right? Is it enough or too much? Will I starve surrounded with pork and beef? Will I have to join AA along with weight watchers since I’ll be subsisting on dessert and wine? Will I see all on my list or the crowd and weather, my rusty knees play a spoil sport? Will my mental maths abandon me as I grapple with euro exchange and daily budget allowance? Will I be able to sail through immigration without losing my cool, my bags or my precious creams and shampoos? Will my family survive without me?”
Now I laugh but those were pretty valid reasons then. I was Alice on an adventure, ready to go down the rabbit hole.
The signs were there. This one called out to ’embrace adventure’.
“The mask is creepy, Sheetal!” My friend in India messaged me when I sent her this. Is it? Maybe gladiator doesn’t work as well as a fancy Venetian one.
Walking was an adventure and so were learning Italian names, such as the name of the water bus stop near my hotel. Ponte de Guglia. I forgot on Day 1. Literally squeezed like a lemon, I looked out of a tiny port hole in a vaporetto, for any familiar landmark. At the end, I had to walk back to the hotel but the lesson was learnt.
A tip- follow the crowd when in doubt. Sometimes the Venetian lanes turn into a maze of narrow alleys. Thank god for all the tourists in Venice! (Don’t do that in India though).
This reminded me of a Roman bath, the kinds you see in Asterix comics, the senators in their toga guzzling wine and eating grapes around it. Or perhaps inside it.
I clicked this photo in Siena right near its Piazza del Campo so it just might be a fountain too. Actually, it was.
Smile, freeze, shoot!
The clothes were glamorous, the setting even more. Nerves of steel and blood pumped with patience, a must!
The things we do to capture perfection!
“Bring me AC Milan walla stuff, please”, the football nerd of the family pleaded. “It’s the biggest football club and you love Kaka!”
When I walked into this Football Store, I was not frazzled a wee bit. I knew my AC Milan from Inter Milan, Napoli from Juventus. The pilgrimage to San Siro didn’t happen but the goodie bag and my hazy pictures of the legendary football jerseys helped. “At least your Milan trip wasn’t a complete waste”, exclaimed my football nerd. Move over fashion capital Milan, wear your football colours instead.
Was Pinocchio crafted here? Italy, yes!
It could be this wooden shop for it was an absolute delight. The motorcycle carved down to its tiny details was its calling card. As for the puppet boy Pinocchio, saw many versions of him hanging from keychains and walls. I guess, he still waits for the Blue Fairy to turn him into a real boy.
An adventure in a Laundromat? Why not, if it is your first time ever in one and this one happens to be in Venice. You don’t speak or read Italian. The only other two locals doing their washing don’t speak English. Nerve – wracking, right ? So in goes the precious Euros into the different slots. 2 for soap,7 for washing and 8 for drying. The two silent natives came to our rescue. Action works when speech fails. The clothes that were pulled out are clean, steaming hot and wrinkle free.
Kindness was paid forward to the next two tourists, who came in after us, in English. The written instructions pasted on the walls were useless. Good deed done!
This tile was on a wall in Burano. If I look at the photo really hard, I can see its colourful houses reflected. A kindergartner set loose with a colour box. The Island of Burano was an elixir for joy!
A spitting contest and that too between the dragons and the imps. Close call, I’d say. The things you see while walking in Firenze.
All my train rides with or without my one ton suitcases crushing my toes were memorable. Unlike railway stations in India, there was no death match to be the first to get in or out of a carriage. And those trains flew at 300 km/h. I took a photo of the 300km/h to remind me of that ear popping experience. This one because double decker train exists.
The horse carriage driver looked so regal but I could imagine a different setting instead of the noisy Florence street.
“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding–
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.”
Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman
Giddy up Horsey!
This was a special Horsey, standing rather alone in a deserted shopping square in Milan. “My horse loving friend would love it.” So I took a quick snap along with its signboard that proclaimed, ‘The Leonardo Horse Project to commemorate 500th death anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci.’ ‘Woah! Did I just win the derby?’
Love notes on the walls proclaiming, ‘”I’m love-locked!” That’s Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. This strange ring like peg turned out to be where the people tied their horses or so the guide in Siena said. Today, I was drawn to the writing on the wall around it. “The complicated turns of love, will it fade away too?”
Honestly, here all the love was lavished on the pink, white and green exteriors of the Florence Cathedral, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The interiors with exception of the roof and the floor were dull. My favourite part, watching this golden beauty padding calmly alongside the mistress. Now that’s a sight I haven’t seen in a place of worship.
The Basilica di Santa Croche in Florence was my absolute favourite. I ran in glee, totally star struck at all the super celeb tombs and the gorgeous art. Thank you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for making Donny famous!
“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.”-Giotto di Bondone .
This was the last thing I saw peering out of the taxi window on my way to the Termini in Roma.
“The state of enchantment is one of certainty.” WH Auden wrote in his commonplace book. “When we are enchanted , we neither believe nor doubt nor deny:we know.”
Perhaps that’s what makes it so precious!
Lens- Artists Photo Challenge : Precious Moments