TRYING TO AVOID CLICHES....
For me, Italy was going to be a revisit of Venice which we had both loved (spent three days there years ago).
And what is Venice without it's waterways and gondolas?
For Rome I had images of Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren with the bonus of a crumbling ruin or two...Florence I thought would be the art hub....
One noted crumbling ruin....
and the Amalfi Coast a seascape of rugged cliffs and swarthy fishermen.
Cliches-----and that is the problem with cliches. They are correct...merely over used. But as always, if you look deeper you discover the small details that make the travel that much more interesting.
Yes Italy has history....lots of history...but look past that if you can....
see the story in the everyday. Everyday ordinary people going about their lives. I soon learnt that Italians talk fast, loud and passionate. They seem to be having a huge argument, with much gestures and facial expressions, even if they are merely talking about getting bread and milk on the way home from work.
And see what is really there. The subtle McDonalds...sitting cheek to jowl with a building hundreds of years old. Or the contradiction of the modern against the ancient.
When you travel, if you open your eyes and your mind...it is amazing what you will discover and learn.
Venice is a place of narrow laneways and alleys...dead ends and discoveries. All too often you follow a lane, hoping it will take you back to the Grande Canal or to your hotel, only to find yourself facing a blank wall....or a small water way with no way to cross.
Our hotel...the arrow pointing to the right....
was down this alleyway. Turn left at the green door, just where other half is photo bombing.... and there is our hotel. Who would have known?
And then when we visited the island of Burano, famous for it's lace making and it's rainbow coloured houses...I found I was more interested in the washing hanging out to dry. I couldn't help but notice that the washing, almost, colour co-ordinated with neighbours houses.
I began to take photo after photo...until I realised I was becoming obsessed with washing on the line (short story there I fear)
On the Amalfi Coast, this was part of our walk down to the beach. The beach where the nearest restaurant/ cafes were. Where the water taxi departed. Where we were picked up for our excursion to Capri...220 steps that made their way past houses and homes......
This yellow home that always seemed to have washing dripping onto us from the railings as we walked the steps below.
My trip was part cliche----yes there were ancient buildings and ruins----elegant people with suntans and attitude----history and churches----but there were also those surprises. Images that will remain with me.
Standing at a pedestrian crossing in Rome, wondering how on hell we were going to cross when none of the five lanes of fast moving traffic looked remotely like stopping. Then following an elderly woman who simply walked up, raised one hand imperiously then marched across.
Watching the fishermen bring their catch in for the morning.
The sunset over Capri.
Standing in front of Michelangelo's David....and asking 'is it my imagination or is his right hand too big for his body?'
Allow yourself to be surprised by what you do discover....
Then you return with so many thoughts and ideas, stories and poems that are just waiting to be captured. And hope that you can do justice to just a few.