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Italy

Yuri has said something to the effect that not writing is OK, because it means you’re busy doing, and i think there’s some truth to that. The problem, of course, is that then you run the risk of forgetting things. Travel summary first: we spent two night in Venice, then slept next to a freeway off-ramp in Bologna, did most of two days in Rome, two nights in Naples (actually Portici, which is basically a suburb), and now we’re camping in Levanto, just north of the Cinque Terra National Park. The plan is to relax for a few days before we split up, me for Eastern Europe, Yuri a more sedate tour of Spain. Today we hiked about 15 km down the coastal trail, which was clogged with tourists, but beautiful nonetheless. I spent a few minutes on a nude beach trying, without much apparent success, to even out the farmer’s tan. Anyway, some highlights from the past week. Venice may well be my favorite place in Europe so far. It’s just so different from anywhere else in the world. By far the best times were at night, when the tide comes in and partially floods St. Mark’s Square. On a back alley, you can stand still and hear – nothing. There are no traffic noises, not even in the distance, just occasional echoing footsteps. I’m so grateful to my parents for paying to put us up on the island; left to our own devices, we could never have afforded it, and I would have missed out on those quiet moments, when the streets aren’t two-thirds tourists. Speaking of my parents, we were supposed to meet up with them in Venice, but for some reason my (UK) cell phone can’t call theirs. Eventually, we gave up and left the hotel to find something to eat, only to turn a corner a few blocks away and find ourselves face to face with them. We wandered around for a bit, had drinks and dinner, and agreed to meet the next day. A couple hours before we were supposed to meet, we turned another corner, and guess who? Weird, to be sure. That night at dinner, we got into a lengthy discussion about US politics and the place of America in the world in general. Either Yuri or I mentioned that Irish kids aren’t even taught about the role the US played in winning World War II. That led into Yuri and my mom talking about education (something she will indefinitely at the slightest provocation) and the conversation generally drifted away from there. As we left the restaurant, an old drunk Italian man tried to talk to my dad, who, on top of being “half-potted”, to quote Jilla, doesn’t speak a word of Italian. The waiter came to his rescue, translating as the guy asked where we were from and my dad told him. “Americani?” he asked, setting down his glass. Uh-oh, I thought, taking a step towards them. “Americani?” he repeated, then snapped off a perfect salute, which my dad, probably acting on instinct more than anything, returned. “Americani OK!” he added, giving a big thumbs up. I turned back to my mom. “That guy,” I said, “remembers World War II.” They call Rome the Eternal City, and it’s easy to see why: every time you turn a courner there’s something ancient and massive staring back at you. I don’t know what elese to say, really; two days wasn’t even enough time to do all the tourist stuff I wanted, and the city was just too expensive to get into the local culture the way I’d like. I’m sure it’s a place I will visit again, though, so I don’t feel too bad. I will say this: for the second time, showing up in a city with no idea where we were going to stay turned out to be a great thing. There’s a definite lesson there.
This is how you turn on the AC in an Italian hotel room.

This is how you turn on the AC in an Italian hotel room.

 
The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal

 
The entire fucking city looks like this.

The entire fucking city looks like this.

 
Yuri's favorite wall...

Yuri's favorite wall...

 
...and mine. Makes a great desktop!

...and mine. Makes a great desktop!

 
Venice from above

Venice from above

 
We're eating, so we must have met up with my parents.

We're eating, so we must have met up with my parents.

 
The unfinished Church of Bologna

The unfinished Church of Bologna

 
Cooling off

Cooling off

 
Yuri at the height of his empire

Yuri at the height of his empire

 
Inside the Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

 
Greek porn!

Greek porn!

 
Mausoleo Augusto

Mausoleo Augusto

 
St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square

 
Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill

 
Palatine Hill II

Palatine Hill II

 
Forum Romanum

Forum Romanum

 
The Pantheon

The Pantheon

 
Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

 
Italian trains are nast.

Italian trains are nast.

 
Mural at Pompeii

Mural at Pompeii

 
I could handle this being my backyard.

I could handle this being my backyard.

 
Until the volcano erupted, anyway.

Until the volcano erupted, anyway.

 
Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

 
Unreal, right?

Unreal, right?

 
The side postcards don't show

The side postcards don't show

 
Yuri in his natural habitat

Yuri in his natural habitat

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