First Vaca since the "Great Recession"... Italy.
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  1. #1
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    First Vaca since the "Great Recession"... Italy.

    It all started innocently enough--a contact who had a villa to rent in Tuscany, me bringing up said villa after a little too much wine, and next thing you know--we be there (two couples plus my wife and me).

    We used it as home base to travel out to see cities/attractions and most often returned to the villa to cook shared dinners and hang.

    It was shocking to return to Florence after almost 30 years--and see the mayhem of so many tourists--we saw a little, but we didn't linger--it was too hard to see stuff--tickets booked (or held by tour groups), long lines and crowded conditions.

    We spent parts of a couple of days in Lucca--fewer all star attractions, but the scale is right, and it is still a city of mainly Italians doing stuff.

    All in all--vacations are good! It was a blast to drive on the narrow roads and the Autostrada, eat at the Autogrill, shop in the Italian supermarkets, eat great food and try inexpensive, but very drinkable Italian table wine.

    Couple of shots--from Cinque Terra...

    SAM_0938_sm.jpg

    SAM_0925_sm.jpg
    Last edited by paredown; 1 Week Ago at 02:55 PM.
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  2. #2
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    So you have a bike handy?
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Touch0Gray View Post
    So you have a bike handy?
    Sadly, no. I would have been the only one--and it really was planned as a group vacation. I do wish that I had taken one though. I saw people schlepping their bike cases through Pisa both going and coming, and quite a few riders on the hill up to where we were staying--and some of them (the larger ones) looked American.

    The idea of riding over there seems less worrisome now that I have seen the roads and the drivers though, so next time for sure. The Italian drivers are pretty crazy--but they do seem to take a lot of care with cyclists. I never saw anyone get buzzed or yelled at, even on busy streets.
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  4. #4
    pmf
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    I'm going next week. My wife found $500 one stop tickets to Rome on British Airlines in December. I haven't been there since my honeymoon in 2000. We did a week long bike tour with Andy Hampsten and then flew to Sicily for a week. Best vacation of my life. I'd hesitate to ride in the cities there, but the countryside is awesome. The roads are great and Italians are good drivers who respect cyclists. We went a few years before and stayed in Florence and Rome for a 10 days. I had a buddy who was living in Rome at the time. I could be a tourist in that country for a year. Yeah, it can be crowded, but there's a reason for that.

    So this time around, we'll have a couple surly teenage boys with us.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by paredown View Post
    and see the mayhem of so many tourists
    Of course. It's a tour season.

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    So you haven't had beef to eat in over ten years?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    Of course. It's a tour season.
    Yes--but also it was the comparison with trips past for everyone in our party--we'd all been there in the late '70s or '80s, and it was a whole order of magnitude busier--almost unpleasantly so. In Siena, where I remember walking into the Duomo or the Palazzo Publico without a care, you now have to buy multiple tickets to visit, and there are still lines to see stuff... Florence too....

    There's a conversation going on about the growth in tourist visits for popular spots--and the numbers really are extraordinary--although I have not seen numbers for Italy.
    The middle class is global now, and tens of millions of people have acquired the means to travel over the past few decades. China is responsible for much of this growth, with the number of overseas trips made by its citizens rising from 10.5 million in 2000 to an estimated 156 million last year. But it is not solely responsible. International-tourist arrivals around the world have gone from a little less than 70 million as of 1960 to 1.4 billion today: Mass tourism, again, is a very new thing and a very big thing.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...nations/590767

    Italy--found a chart--1990 ~ 20 million visits, last year-- 61 million visits, so about tripled in the last 20 years...

    https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicato...sitor-arrivals
    Last edited by paredown; 1 Week Ago at 01:04 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Guerra di Cipro Hoş geldiniz

    Quote Originally Posted by paredown View Post
    Sadly, no.
    Those roads are narrow. You should be having olives and anchovies and taking pictures for us of magnificient terraced terrains.

    Enjoy.

    You both deserve it.
    Last edited by Eretz; 1 Week Ago at 02:17 AM.

  9. #9
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    I don't think I could suffer through another trip to Italy. Don't need it. I already got a Pizza Hut nearby.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapei View Post
    I don't think I could suffer through another trip to Italy.
    Go during winter. It's cheaper.
    Don't need it. I already got a Pizza Hut nearby.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    Go during winter. It's cheaper.

    I went to Rome for my forty-something birthday some time in the 1990's. End of February, the dead of winter. Was it cheaper? Was it the time me and Sogno stayed around the corner from the Pantheon? I can't remember. But I do remember how damn cold it was.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapei View Post
    I...But I do remember how damn cold it was.
    I asked, Hadrian and he said it wasn't THAT cold.
    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
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  13. #13
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    Back on topic
    Last edited by Eretz; 1 Week Ago at 02:16 AM.

  14. #14
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    Italy (specifically the Dolomites) is in the running for our next big trip. Also possibly New Zealand or the Mount Blanc area. We like to hike more on vacations these days.
    "I felt bad because I couldn't wheelie; until I met a man with no bicycle"

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eretz View Post
    ...
    I'd be all about how the past repeats itself and spend every moment studying it and all its splender.

    Though, I'm sure, you absolutely are.

    Magari! You both deserve it.
    Someone, somewhere used the phrase 'history thick on the ground'--and that would be Italy. To find a small town like San Miniato where there are Etruscan foundations, Roman walls and a tower built by the Germans because it is on the main trade route-- Via Francigena to Siena-- (and controls the high ground), or the Roman theater in Volterra, where there is a gate with Etruscan stones at its base, Roman stone to finish the top of the arch, and medieval decorations changes your sense of time and scale.

    I saw some of the same things that I had seen before, but they were different because I'm different. My 'monument Latin' has faded, but I felt like I had a better sense of history, in part because I'm older.

    One thing that everyone interested in the American Republic should see is the 'Allegory of Good and Bad Government' fresco in the Palazzo Publico in Siena--it has been studied by academics that I knew--but it is the touchstone for the notion of the connection between republican government, the virtues, and the necessity of balance and the prosperity that results from that balance. The idea that a flourishing city state was governed by a council and maintained itself (until defeat by Florence) is a remarkable thing--the wealth that was spun off from trade, the anti-Rome messages in the Duomo floor marbles, the lavishness of the Palazzo itself--all without the need for a prince to direct--this is one of the traditions that feed into the American founding.
    ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Al...Bad_Government )

    I'm not sure that we 'deserved' it--but we definitely needed it--our world had become a little to small. Time to think about big things again!
    Last edited by paredown; 1 Week Ago at 02:31 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nOOky View Post
    Italy (specifically the Dolomites) is in the running for our next big trip. Also possibly New Zealand or the Mount Blanc area. We like to hike more on vacations these days.
    Even where we were staying there are some nice hikes--info found easily online--and from what I saw of our brief trip north to the Lake Maggiore region/Locarno--there is a lifetime's worth of hiking in Italy, (We had planned to do a couple of local hikes, but the rest of our group couldn't be persuaded...)

    And the advantage would be--once the hike is done, you get to eat Italian food. In all the snacking and eating, we had one indifferent grab and go pizza, but the regular lunches (we cooked most dinners ourselves) were all good and some were outstanding. And 4 Euro bottles of wine from the Esselunga were very nice... Even the food at the Autogrill on the highways was good!
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by paredown View Post
    Someone, somewhere used the phrase 'history thick on the ground'--and that would be Italy.....
    Great post. Just read the link. Paid attention to the "Disagreements with Location" section. Holds true that history can be rewritten. Or maybe not. I'm very happy you're enjoying yourselves. There's truth in the founding of these united states acquired from everywhere in that bigger picture.

    Enjoy lunch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapei View Post
    But I do remember how damn cold it was.
    I guess that depends on what you are used to. I grew up in places where it snows a lot and gets pretty darn cold during winter months. I was in Rome and Florence during late December and thought it was much milder than late December that I was used to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    I guess that depends on what you are used to. I grew up in places where it snows a lot and gets pretty darn cold during winter months. I was in Rome and Florence during late December and thought it was much milder than late December that I was used to.
    Born in L.A. Retired in Hawaii.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

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    Sounds like a great trip Paredown but, man, you need to take vacations more often!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    Sounds like a great trip Paredown but, man, you need to take vacations more often!
    I know, right. Clearly I had pent-up demand!!
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    ... I was in Rome and Florence during late December and thought it was much milder than late December that I was used to.
    I was living in Paris, FR and often flew into Los Angeles for business during the fall and winter months. The "air" is soooo dry and thin [as in no weight to the skin]. After the morning overcast breaks through, it is absolutely magnificent. You get days that can reach mid 70F to 80F while maintaining at least 10 full hours of sunshine. My first impression getting off in LAX or VNY is Israel or Morroco. Same smell and brightness. Look for yourself.

    The dampness in the winter is what kills a person from a dry city like Los Angeles. When friends would visit us in Paris from Israel or Morocco, they said the wind and humidity would go right through them during winter months. Riding a road bike winters in Paris was a wet endevour and the only word to describe it would be the word "raw." I found Rome the same way. Sun was low, city buildings in long shadows and the second most rainest month of the year. Add overcast, wind and wetness and it brews wrapping oneself up like a mummy for those streaming in from low humid areas of the world.

    It's not the heat, it's the humidity, or ...it's not the cold, it's the dampness.


  23. #23
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    Not to get off topic or start a sentence with a negative, but seriously, I worked with a guy who lived all his life in Los Feliz, above east Hollywood, CA. He worked with us in France. Before I bought a place on Wilshire he'd let me crash at his place. One evening/late afternoon he asked if I could help him check out his convertible top before returning the company leased car he owned for the past 2 years. I went down to the garage and he pulled out the owner manual, not joking. He wanted to check that the window glass was still in the retracted sun roof. Puzzled, I asked why? He responded by saying, "I never have had the top up and someone in the office said to check the window glass because they're often stolen." The roof top was still wrapped in plastic on his BMW. No joking. Never had it up once.

  24. #24
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    Eretz, yeah I gotta say that the earth's climate is generally pretty nice in the latitudes of the lower-to-mid thirties. You just don't have to fight the weather as much. Does this result in a lack of character and virtue? Or does it allow people to concentrate more on building civilizations than on just trying to survive?
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eretz View Post
    ...

    It's not the heat, it's the humidity, or ...it's not the cold, it's the dampness.
    Absolutely--we get real winter here in the NE (as you well know)--but the place where I used to feel the coldest was Vancouver when I was growing up, when you would get a low 30s day with a drizzle and you had to be outside. Raw is the right word, especially if you threw in a little wind.

    People lost on the local mountains used to die from exposure/hypothermia because they would get soaked, and the cold and damp would sap their strength--even though there was no danger of "freezing to death."

    I remember tramping around Paris on a drizzly February day (Valentine's Day weekend), and it was just like being back in Vancouver--and not in a good way. Views and food were better though...
    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity
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