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Surprise of surprises, I'm actually alive.

For the last three weeks, I've been off in Italy, courtesy of my parents. They were going, and wanted me to come along. I know, I am incredibly fortunate.

Of course, that did mean far less internet than normal for me. But I'm not complaining, as I always enjoy Italy. Tuscany was no exception.

We started the vacation off in this lovely place known as Marina di Massa, where we'd rented an apartment. We do that a lot when we go on vacation. Hotels aren't really our thing. My parents love to cook for themselves when we can, and you can't do that in a hotel room.

Not that I mind. I love my dad's cooking, and I enjoy the privacy the apartment granted. I got my own room, naturally. Always good to have a place of your own you can retire to when the fancy takes you.

Marina di Massa was a fairly small place, which I like. Crowds can be quite stressful. Though with our usual impeccable timing, we'd arrived right in the middle of this weekly market thing, so the streets were packed with people and stalls selling practically everything. Italians definitely take their purses seriously. Even if they have no clue whatsoever about properly long purse straps. Is there any wonder that in Rome, purse snatchers on motorcycles drive past women and snatch their purses? I like my purses to have long enough straps that the strap can co from one shoulder down to the other hip, and the purse can be hidden under the jacket. But most of the purses we saw in Italy had these short-short straps, so even those tiny Italians would have to carry it in their hand. But enough on the topic of purses.

We did go through the market for a bit, having a look at everything. Always fun to see, even if it tired me out something fierce. Naturally, we retired early.

The next few days were spent getting to know the neighboring area. Which we found quite enjoyable.

And then, the highlight of that first week. Going to Florence. We'd managed to get tickets to the Uffizi. Note to anyone else attempting this: Do not think you can visit Pisa and Florence in one day. The Uffizi itself is gigantic. I don't think any of us three realized how big it is. Clearly those Medicis did not mess around with their mansions. They liked it BIG.

Of course, a lot of the art would not have existed without their patronage, or been around for us to look at without their collection mania, so I suppose it's all good.

The first few rooms seemed to be packed with religious art. I know mom and I were both suffering from total overdoses after a while. We were joking that the Virgin Mary looked so tired in some of the pictures because of she sheer number of pictures she'd had to be in.

But then, we got to the Botticelli room. Sure, I'd seen reproductions of his paintings before, but I had no idea how impressive they were in person. I've earned a new appreciation for Botticelli.

Another artist I gained a lot of appreciation for was Titian. I swear his paintings practically glow.

In between those two rooms, of course, there was lots of walking. And lots of paintings and statues. Lots of artists whose names I can't remember at the moment. But we bought a book about the art collection of the Uffizi, so I'll have to refresh my memory and post some of the other names that impressed me at some point. It was just so much.

When we got to the third hour of looking at art, we skipped a couple rooms. We were just done. No chance of moving on to Pisa, we were all full to the brim of impressions.

Oddly enough, the sheer number of people there did not bother me that much. Maybe because I was mostly preoccupied with the art.

We could take no pictures in the Uffizi, but we have a couple pictures of us outside. I'll have to post them when I get a chance. Such as the ones of me with the famous "David" by Michelangelo.

The rest of the week was spent in quiet enjoyment, as we were all worn out.

Second week, we actually had to move. We were heading north. Into the Barolo district. I'd miss Marina di Massa, but I knew dad had arranged for us to visit several wineyards, and we were meeting friends up there. So we got our stuff into our rental car, and drove off.

We found the place, and met up with my parents' friends. And everyone had a good laugh about how every single wineyard my dad had asked had decided to let him visit. So we'd have seven places to visit.

Not that I went to every place, but I found the ones I did go to fairly interesting. Always nice to see how wines are produced. I did not realize how gigantic those wine barrels are. You could fit a small apartment into one of the bigger sizes.

Of course, there was wine tasting galore. And being the horribly unprofessional taster I am, I swallowed. So on the days we visited wineyards, I did not exactly end up sober. But I found it to be worth it. Though my dad tells me that Barolo is not for complete beginners to wine-tasting. I can understand why. The Barolo wines tend to be rather strong and complex. If you're new to it all, it could get horribly overwhelming. It did overwhelm me a little at first, but I was enjoying it quite a lot by the time we were done with the week of wine-tasting.

What I failed to mention before was that my dad managed to forget his camera in Marina di Massa. Fortunately, our friends took lots of pictures, which they promised to share. So there should be much to share. Of course, in one way, it worked out wonderfully, as we decided to return to Marina di Massa for that last week. Was good to be back in that same apartment. With everything within reach. Even if I found our view of the Barolo district incredible. If I'd been the one with the camera, there would have been three million landscape pictures.

We never did get to Pisa, but that's maybe for another time.

In a stroke of horrible timing, just before departure, we all came down with some sort of stomach ailment. Though we did make it back to Oslo in one piece, with our luggage and everything. Even if I did throw up in a trashcan at the Malpensa airport in Milan. If anyone reads this who works there...sorry.

But we all made it without further incident, and so did our luggage. Thankfully.

There's bound to be more details later, as I post pictures, and crossreference with my parents' travel notes.

But for now, this is it.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC)
I have missed you sooo much! Very glad to hear you're back.

Apr. 22nd, 2007 01:22 pm (UTC)
I do need to post a lot more often. *hugs*
Apr. 22nd, 2007 01:48 pm (UTC)
This entry completely reminded me of this song...
... which is set in Rome, but you get the idea!

"Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
Where I got me a date with Botticelli's niece
She promised she'd be right there with me
When I paint my masterpiece"

-- Bob Dylan, "When I Paint My Masterpiece"
Apr. 22nd, 2007 01:52 pm (UTC)
Re: This entry completely reminded me of this song...
Ooh, I'd never heard that song. It's nifty. Thank you so much for sharing!
Apr. 22nd, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
That's so cooool! I need to get to Italy at some point...I'll probably go as part of my major/minor.

I'm glad you're back, I've been thinking about you, recently! <3
Apr. 22nd, 2007 03:36 pm (UTC)
Aww, you have? I've been thinking about you too.
Apr. 22nd, 2007 06:14 pm (UTC)
*squish* Yes!! :D

Also, Botticelli is made of win. As is the entire Uffizi gallery, really. homgwin. The Medici are GREAT. Yeah, man! Yeah!! >D
Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:15 pm (UTC)
Agreed, I did not know there was that much great art. So it was a huge eye-opener. Made me want to read more about the Medici.
Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
Do it! The internet is a handy place to start...google things and whatnot. That's how I put together my Italian project on Botticelli two semesters ago. XDXDXD
Apr. 23rd, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
As soon as I have some time, I definitely will.

Been a long time since I did projects, but these days, I can't imagine them without the Internet.
Apr. 22nd, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
Funny, yesterday I was just thinking of nudging you, and then this morning lo and behold. And I can say that an Italian vacation is one of the best excuses for being AWOL, ever! ;)

It's also very awesome to see someone who loves the art history too and can spell Michelangelo! See, I had to go back and fix my spelling.

I'm not too into wine-tasting myself, because of the spitting necessary. Though I'm there there are people who know how to do it but swallow anyway ... in order to get tipsy. :)

Your descriptions were beautiful, I loved what you said about e.g. the paintings. Would love to hear more!
Apr. 22nd, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
Heh, nice timing. I wouldn't have minded a nudge, though.

I know how to do the wine tasting, but I swallow anyway. Mostly.

I hope to write more later, when I'm less busy. I have a job interview tomorrow, so I got to prepare.
Apr. 22nd, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC)
Sweet! What's the job? Anything library-related? Were you still interested in being a librarian? I work at a university library, myself, it's fun working on academic books.
Apr. 23rd, 2007 05:35 am (UTC)
Nothing library-related as far as I know. The library jobs are a bit hard to find around here, so I had to start applying to office jobs and such as well. I got a job interview with the Department of Finance. Apparently they do need someone with my skills.
Apr. 23rd, 2007 12:27 pm (UTC)
Glad you had fun.
Apr. 23rd, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you. There will be more later, but this was a good start.
Apr. 23rd, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
*gnaws onna Sphynx* Missed you!! <3
Apr. 24th, 2007 06:50 am (UTC)
Missed you too. I was thinking of you just recently. We do need to get in touch soon, and I hope we can. I'm feeling a little bit under the weather at the moment, though, and I don't want to get you sick.
Apr. 26th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)
*HUGS* Welcome back!!!! :)

I LOVED Florence and Pisa when I went a couple of years ago! Awesome!!

Hee. I went to a wine tasting in Hilton Head and was very drunk for about three hours afterwards. ;)

Sorry y'all were sick.
Apr. 26th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC)
*hugs* We're on the mend, so we'll be fine. Lovely to hear from you again.
Jun. 3rd, 2007 06:04 am (UTC)
Happy somewhat late birthday! :D
Jun. 3rd, 2007 07:59 am (UTC)
Thanks! Do remind me to make a post soon.
Jun. 3rd, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
:D I'll try to remember, but I can't seem to keep track of my brain lately...XD
Jun. 4th, 2007 10:41 am (UTC)
Eep! I missed your birthday! O_o So sorry, sis!! But I hope you had a great one! *snuggles tight*
Jun. 4th, 2007 11:12 am (UTC)
No worries, Swansis. I know I haven't been around much lately.

Do drop me an e-mail and let me know when's a good time for me to pop in for a visit? I've got several books of yours I'd like to return. And it's been too long since we've spent time together.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )