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Insights from Italy (and beyond)―Day 19: Nice

 

Enjoying Nice

 

I wish I had paid more attention in high-school. I know six years of French classes must be stored in my subconscious somewhere, but I’m sure it would take weeks or months of being submerged in the culture for me to remember it. Fortunately, the basics have come back easily enough and most people we’ve encountered speak at least some English, so we’re doing fine.

For the first time in our three week holiday, Ron and I went our separate ways today. He wanted to hike to a point of land we could see from the waterfront area and I wanted to meander through the old city, check out the morning markets and then find a bench by the sea to read and/or write.

I enjoyed the old city with its narrow streets lined with tables of pottery and racks of clothing and shopkeepers standing in the doorways having a cigarette (okay I didn’t particularly enjoy that part, but it does seem sooo French!)

Walking down the long narrow market street, I was greeted with the most amazing array of smells. The herbs and spices in cloth-lined baskets filled my nostrils with their bold earthy scents. Home-made soaps and bags of lavender offered a delicate fragrance. Ripe fruit and vegetables gave off a pleasing aroma. Freshly baked panini and pizza made my mouth water.

 

Market in Nice

 

I had to walk quickly by the fish table. The odor was so strong and flies landing on the uncovered fish made it very unappetizing.

Fresh flowers, homemade jams and preserves, embroidered towels and aprons trimmed with delicate lace added visual appeal to the market.

 

Mediterranean blue

 

Now I’m staring at the endless expanse of water before me. I know now what color Mediterranean blue is! A color so cool and fresh that it lures bathers—even on this windy cloudy day. I’ve seen pictures of this stretch of beach completely filled with chairs and umbrellas, but today only a handful of diehard sun-worshipers lay on striped towels, hoping, I guess, for the sun to penetrate the cloud cover and add color to their already bronzed bodies.

It’s actually a great day for pictures. With breaks in the cloud, the sun peeks through, illuminating bits of the city here and there. I glance over at the high-rises on the curve of the bay to my right and see them gleaming. On my left just minutes ago, the rocky point of land where Ron is hiking was lit up. Now its my turn. I close my eyes to breathe deeply as the sun caresses my skin and wraps me in a loving embrace. J’amour la soleil!

Insights from Italy―Day 17: Lago Di Garda

 

Lago Di Garda

Lago Di Garda: one of Italy’s lovely northern lakes (but obviously less popular than Como or Maggiore because it’s not even mentioned in my guide book). We took a train from San Martino where we’re staying to Peschiera, a small town on the southern tip of the lake and spent the day wandering around, chilling out and enjoying the pleasant fall weather.

Enjoying the sunshine at Peschiera Del Garda

 

Catching the train in Italy

We’re getting pretty good at finding our way around here. The train system is great, now that we know a few important words in Italian, like binari (track) – very important when there are 20 different tracks at some of the larger staziones (stations). Biglietti (tickets), Quanto costa (how much) are good words to know as well.

Not knowing the language hasn’t been too much of a hindrance. We’ve managed with my little cheat sheet that I keep in my purse and Ron’s Italian app on his I-phone. We’re learning to recognize words as we see and hear them repeated, but we still manage to trip up sometimes. Bottled water here comes in naturale and frizzante. The bottles look the same and more than once we’ve picked up the fizzy stuff (not bad when it’s cold but dreadful when warm). Kleenex (or any tissues) are not that abundant here. Only one hotel we’ve stayed in had them. So I looked for those small purse-size packets at a store. I finally found a multipack of six and bought them only to realize later that they are menthol (who wants a menthol scented kleenex?)

Jeane at Paschiera Del Garda

We bought leather jackets today. Despite what we’d heard about buying leather jackets in Italy (you pay too much; they’re just as cheap at home), we couldn’t resist. We found a little market in Peschiera with nice looking lamb skin jackets and both tried some on. They fit well and the quality is good. Best of all, because it is the end of the season here, all of the merchants who set up at these outdoor markets were selling off their products at really good prices.

Tomorrow morning we head to Nice, France, for our last three days before flying home. So good-bye Italy. We loved your food, your wine, your gelato. We appreciated your friendliness. We liked your time-honored customs: reposo (a three hour break in the afternoon when shops close and people go home to spend time with family and friends – what a good idea!); passaggiata (a ritual evening stroll); and my favorite—il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing).

Arrivederci bella Italia!

Il dolce far niente

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