Monday, August 07, 2006

Buon giorno (part 1)

I love visiting places. I have come to hate the process of traveling.

The trip over to Italy wasn't too bad, I guess. The check-in area for Eurofly--remember that name, and then never fly that airline--was a bit of a mob scene, but we got through in plenty of time.

The seats on the Airbus plane were ridiculously close together, however. When the guy in front of me put down the back of his seat, it felt like it was six inches from my face. He left it down in that position for the entire flight. Fortunately, there was one empty seat beside us, and Will and I moved over.

When a young Italian-Italian guy did the same thing to an older Italian-American woman in the aisle to the side of us, her husband and the young guy screamed at each other pretty much on and off for the entire trip. A flight attendant intervened a couple of times. It was ridiculous.

If you're sleeping for a while, fine. But to shove your seat in someone's face for the duration of an almost 9-hour flight is beyond rude, if you ask me.

Please, airlines, listen: We need more room!

When we landed in Rome, we waited over two hours for my bag, and one of Will's two bags. The other bag was lost, so he had to fill out forms and give the airline the address of the house we were visiting in Ortona, a seaside town on the Adriatic, about 3-plus hours from the city. The bag didn't arrive till two days later (no indication where it had been hiding), and then the courier had trouble finding the house (understandable, given where it was located), so we waited around for half the day.

I'll be posting about the trip pretty much in chronological order, so I'll just say this about the journey home, as foreshadowing: Ugh.

But now, enough of my bitching, because actually being in Italy was wonderful.

Here are a few pictures from the start of the trip:

Italy is surpringly (well, to me, anyway) mountainous. Here's the view from the car, just a little ways from Rome.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Oh, yes, driving. I made it clear to Will that I was NOT driving in Italy unless he was attacked by rabid dogs and I had to get him to the hospital. The Long Island Expressway is scary enough, thanks.

But we rented a car, the absolutely adorable Smart car--seriously, you just want to pick it up and put it in your pocket ... and you probably could--and we made out fine. Fortunately, I don't know the kilometers/miles conversion, so I have no idea how fast he was driving. Also fortunately, there was surprisingly little traffic on the highway.

We were a bit exhausted from the flight and the time difference, so we decided to break up the drive to Ortona by stopping in a lovely town called Sulmona. The ostensible reason was that Will had heard there are some ruins there worth seeing. But we couldn't find them, so we had some gelato instead. Gelato is tastier than ruins, anyway.

Two shots in Sulmona:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The directions to Ortona were fine, except once we finally got there and had to find the house, which turned out to be up a dirt road and hidden by some huge hedges. But, oh, what a nice house (but did I think to get a shot of the outside? no.) and the location could not have been prettier. The view from the terrace:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I take a lot of pictures through doors or windows. So here's the first of many:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

More to come in dribs and drabs over the coming days.


NYPinTA said...

Wow. I am officialy jealous! :D Did you bring home one of those Smart Cars as a souvenir?

Jim Donahue said...

An SUV could drive over one of them and not notice. All the cars in Italy (and, I think, Europe in general--well, maybe not Germany) are small, so it doesn't seem so extreme. We had the larger four-door variety, BTW, not the two-door model that's on the main page of the Smart site.

Oh, and they were designed by the CEO of the Swatch watch company!

Gina said...

The process of getting to and into the country is maddening, however, it all melts away after your first peek at the beauty and first taste of the food. Italy, all is forgiven.

trinamick said...

Once again, I'm living vicariously through another. I've always wanted to go to Italy. Unfortunately, my wallet only gets me as far as North Dakota. Beautiful pics!

punkinsmom said...

Should you or Will ever need a beard, PLEASE (I'll beg) let me know. I promise not to embarrass you.
Gorgeous view.

Will said...

The Smart car was a blast to drive. It was zippy in the city, but on the open road, I felt a little nervous about the car's ability to accelerate fast in order to pass. I soon got the hang of it though.

I drove on the Italian autobahn between 90 and 125 kilometers an hour, except when we hit a rainstorm after Sulmona and I slowed way, way down. Driving in that little car in the rain was a rush. Thankfully, the rain passed in a half hour. I can't imagine how the car would handle driving uphill in the snow.

I would own a Smart car except it would never leave the driveway. I could picture myself on the Long Island Expressway sandwiched between an SUV and a Hummer and if there were an accident... The Smart car wouldn't be so smart.