Jonah was a bug for Halloween this year. He was adorable, he really understood the concept of trick or treating this year too (no they don’t trick or treat in Italy, we went on base to do that 🙂 He ran from house to house and ate candy in between. By the time we got home he was in a sugar coma I think.
I love Europe and their festivals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nick and I were downtown having some family photos taken and happened to wander through the mains square only to find a “Eurofest” with booths representing all different countries. We bought a cheesy pretzel from the Germany booth and continued on our way. So wonderful.
Not too far from here (about an hour) is a city that has the best preserved medieval walls in Europe. It’s called Mantagnana. Aneesa and I decided to go check it out. The town itself was pretty quiet…there wasn’t much to see besides the walls. But they were neat walls! For only 1 Euro you can climb to the top of the tallest tower and look out over the town. There were knights’ armors in the stairs on the way up.
Even though there wasn’t much to see in Montagnana I really enjoyed the drive. Italy is so beautiful right now alive with all the fall colors. Even the vineyards change colors, I had to stop to get a photo with this beautiful vineyard on our way home.
So I accidentally volunteered to be in charge of a “trips and tours” club here on post. I say accidentally because I said I would help and then I showed up to a meeting and apparently I was the only volunteer so I was by default in charge. They have a “Vicenza Community Club” here that is actually pretty awesome. They run the thrift shop and donate the money back to the community in different ways. They also have lot’s of social activities and specific “mini-clubs” like the travel one. We had our first event this weekend, it was a tour of a town called Costozza, only a few miles from Vicenza. It was actually very interesting, Italy has so much history it’s overwhelming sometimes.
|The tower where Galileo invented the telescope|
|Neat old church with that has a piece of the Cross on display|
|Old Tuscan wagon, beautiful!|
|House built in a cave, built originally for the prisoners who quarried the rock|
|Big cave, rock quarry where Palladio personally picked his rocks|
|Neat ceiling in the Villa da Schio|
I love festivals in Italy. They are so wonderful. As it turns out, there is a chocolate festival right here in Vicenza the week after Perugia’s big one. It was actually quite a bit different from the one in Perugia. The one in Perugia was very “corporate”, lot’s of big companies. But the one here in Vicenza was very mom and pop local. There were all kinds of chocolate sculptures. You can buy chocolate shoes, chocolate egg, chocolate tools, chocolate cheese or sausage…you name it. Loved it.
We drove up to Lake Garda, intending to ride the gondola to the top of Monte Baldo, see the view and hike around a bit. When we got there there was a sign that said they were closed for repairs until December. Of course there was nothing on their website about this. Oh well, such is Italy. So we decided to go back to a little castle we had passed on the way and check it out. It was in Torri Del Benaco and it was only a few euro to enter the 1383 Scaliger Castle. My favorite part was the Lemon grove, one of the oldest in existence (started in 1753) and still tended to using the old methods. They were setting up for a wedding in the grove, it was beautiful!
Torri Del Benaco was adorable. You can see the cute little port with the sailboats in it, and the beautiful colors of the town. It was fun to just wander the streets and walk along the lake front.
|An old Olive press|
Jonah is getting too smart. While we were walking around Torri I told him he had to hold someone’s hand. So he gave me a defiant look and grabbed his own hand and said “I got it Mom”. I couldn’t stop laughing, too funny. He now does this on a regular basis and truly believes that it is a great solution…I do not agree as he is very bad at keeping himself out of trouble and traffic.
We still had a little time to spare so we drove to a medieval town just a little further around the lake that had some neat walls. We wandered around a bit, there was a market going on and we bought some yummy local olive oil. The whole area was covered in olive groves and as we drove around you could see lot’s of people up in the trees picking the olives.
When I heard about the Perugia Chocolate festival (supposedly the biggest one in Europe) I decided to plan a girls weekend! I wasn’t sure it was going to happen but then at the last minute everything came together. Me and three lovely ladies drove 4 hours south and enjoyed lot’s of CHOCOLATE!
|Yes, it’s real|
|Chocolate shavings for chocolate kebaps|
|Yetti dude…something to do with Philadelphia cream cheeses new chocolate flavor advertising|
Perugia was up on top of a mountain so we had to take a “mini metro” to get up there. It was so beautiful on top, even if it was freeeezing cold (at least the chocolate wasn’t melting!).
We then spent the night in a lovely little farmhouse near Assisi owned by a wonderfully kind Italian man named Marcello. In the morning we explored Assisi, (as in Francis of…) it is a beautiful city! Complete with lot’s of churches, two castles and even a roman tunnel leading into the parking garage where we parked (my guess is they found it when they built the parking garage, lol).
Last weekend we decided to take advantage of the three day weekend and head up north a bit. We have some friends in Garmisch so the plan was to meet up with them and explore the area. We arrived Saturday night and set up our tent. We put on every piece of clothing that we had and climbed into our sleeping bags preparing for a cold night, and that it was. Bavaria got their first snow that very night and we were juuuust below the snow line. I’m pretty sure I need a better sleeping bag if we intend to do anymore winter camping.
In the morning we still hadn’t made contact with our friends, so we started to explore Garmisch. We went to Partnach Gorge, it was beautiful. Waterfalls everywhere. The place where we parked to get up to the gorge was at the Arena for the 1936 olympics, the very first televised one that Hitler used for advertising.
|Olympic stadium 1936|
We finally got a hold of our friends and we all piled in their van and headed to Munich. We went to see Dachau Concentrarion camp, which was of course sobering. It was one of the first and longest running camps. It was a school of terror, they taught nazi soldiers how to torture people there. Jonah slept…
|“Work brings freedom” written on the gate to Dachau|
Then we went and “enjoyed” some German food in Munich. Well everyone else enjoyed it while Nick and I sat there feeling like we were gonna lose it…not sure what happened there. I knew I didn’t like sausage but I didn’t know just the smell of it could make me that sick. (Nah I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the sausage since Nick was sick too…maybe the concentration camp?)
Monday morning Jason and Marianne fed us yummy pancakes and we said our goodbyes. We were off to see the Castles of Crazy King Ludwig. We toured the Linderhoff castle which was reminiscent of a French estate. Ludwig was a bit of a loner and had a table that lowered down for the servants to put food on it and then came back up. So that he never had to see anyone. He also had this crazy “opera cave” built. He wanted to feel like he was part of the opera while he listened to it so he had a fake cave with a grotto in it, complete with a seashell boat that he used to sit in. It even had lights that could change colors to give it different feels, crazy dude.
Then we did a drive by of his other two castles, Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. The N one is the castle that Disney based his castle off of. I didn’t get a good picture of it but if you look it up you can see pictures that resemble the disney castle.
Then as per usual we drifted back over the Italian border on gas fumes, making it to an Agip (the only gas station we can use with our coupons, and only in Italy) just in time. Home again home again.
Last weekend Aneesa said she wanted to hike. So hike we did. We went up 4,444 steps and then back down. And my calves are KILLING me!
They were actually pretty neat old steps, with a log chute next to them. I guess they used to send logs down the mountain using this trail. We had an interesting time…Jonah threw up right before we got to the top (he was coughing so hard it triggered it) and then pooped, and I didn’t have a diaper. So we used some leaves and hurried back down the mountain. Poor little guy, I need to be more prepared!