Ah, Italia, the moment i got on the bus i was already there. Jovial, well-dressed folks chattering and laughing. I don't think Slovenians laugh. Or chat. Huh.
This morning was cold and wet. I guess i was lucky to catch a little sun yesterday. Now we're crossing some damp hills to Italy. I know all this green keeps our planet habitable, but i'm happy to leave it to the Alpine nuts.
Pine nuts make pesto. Pesto is green.
It still surprises me when i cross a border how the houses change. In Europe, border crossings are ancient history, but the building trends remain. Here in Italy they have white-washed homes with red tiled rooves, and they don't have that inexplicable chopped-off corner like in Austria, Czech Republic or Slovenia.
I can see the sea! It's gray.
God, the ocean. It still looks cold out there, and it's definitely windy, but it's the ocean.
When i was young i was scared of the sea. In New Zealand i was teased mercilessly - a nerd, a "pom" (Brit), a poor swimmer. I will never forget one weekend at the beach when i was bodysurfing and a wave dumped me hardcore. I didn't know which way was up. I thought i was going to die. The currents terrified me after that. I didn't swim in the sea again for almost 15 years.
But looking out on the ocean does bring peace. It's like the desert. Clean. Pure. Lots of perfect nothing.
That little Italian girl just gave me un dolce. Chocolate money, the universal candy. I wonder when they switched from the chocolate Lire to the chocolate Euros? There's something comforting about kids all over Europe eating the same currency. I can't decide if it's capitalist or anti-capitalist. Anyway. Chocolate.
I wish i knew a little more Italian. Everyone is so animated. They're like Americans.
Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncini. Aside from pizza marinara it's the only vegan-ish thing on the menu.
Sitting alone on the Lido drinking my half liter of rosé, bitch.
It's the only affordable way to drink here. God knows what the affordable way to eat is. That small plate of pasta was 8€. I will definitely need to supplement this nonsense with some fruit or nuts. Fortunately there are plenty of fruit shops, and a grocery store around the corner.
Bloody awful. Breakfast. The coffee is 3/4 froth. It's a fucking black coffee, for God's sake. The Italians invented espresso, how can you mess up black coffee?
Nothing for breakfast. Some canned fruit and dry bread. No olive oil. No margarine. No nothing. Just butter and meat. Fuck Venice.
Well, don't fuck it too hard. Last night i had a very long and hilarious drunken chat with one of those charming Med Men. You know, the guys who hang out at bars on the Med - locals - looking to pick up tourists on their holiday fling. Great sources of conversation and (often) free drinks.
He worked at a hotel. Made some mistakes in his life. Getting anything out of him was like trying to find coffee in this godawful cup of foam. He did the typical pick-up artist/con man technique of turning every question back on you, and trying to answer every question with your own words. It must drive people like that nuts when i don't have a simple answer to "where are you from?"
Anywho, i have a feeling there was some truth to the story that he was divorced with several kids, and that although he was born here he grew up elsewhere. There was some regret, or sadness there. He loved his nonna. "A pure love." I spoke to him about how important it is for me to respect other people's lives and choices and he kept coming back to that all night. I felt like i was in a mafia movie, with this Tony Bourdain looking guy buying me drinks and talking to me about rispetto.
I'm not sure where he was really from. The only place in Italy he told me to visit was Venaria Reale, a small town near Torino. I am going to assume it meant something to him. Turin would be interesting to visit because the mayor recently declared it a vegetarian city, but sadly it is not on my way.
In the past i have followed whimsical suggestions from drunken strangers. For example, visiting Battle Mountain, Nevada on the advice of a trucker in Cheyenne, Wyoming. That was a pretty damn fine chicken-fried steak.
Oh God, what i would do for a chicken-fried steak right now. What i would do for any meal that didn't cost a fortune only to be Italian. I fucking hate Italian food. Why did i come here again?
Oh yeah. I have a blistering hangover. The absolute worst. And last night i smashed my phone, so i also have no camera and no map. You all will have to enjoy Venice through the power of my prose. I will enjoy it with a headache and an empty stomach, once the whole place stops spinning.