Wednesday, November 5

Travelblogue: The Italian Experience

I took about 20 pictures of this guy (who was talking animatedly to someone just to the left of the picture) by pretending to shoot St. Peter's Basilica in the background. Hoping to get a picturesque shot, I was going crazy on my cheap little camera as if someone were calling on the side, "Work it, nonno, I love it!" When he finally got up to leave I looked over and there were about 10 tourists waiting to pass by, politely not wanting to impose on my picture. Sheepishly I told them to go right ahead.

This guy redefined "street performer." I guess you had to be there, but if they gave Grammys/Emmys/Tonys/Oscars/Whatevers to Street Performers, he'd sweep in all categories: best costume, best posture, best jawline, best robot (statue?)-like movements, best staying in character, best keeping still between payments, best kiss on the cheek, and best overall entertainment value for a few cents.

Seemingly effortless beauty is EVERYWHERE (naturally I'm referring to me here, not this bench's breathtaking flowering canopy in the middle of nowhereville at a horse boarding stable/riding school)

My fondest Italian wish was to ride a cruiser bike around an Italian town; nothing could be more authentic. This was no secret to the family traveling party, and only time constraints, tired siblings, and financial considerations prevented us from renting bikes in Verona. I knew that our beach trip to touristy Rimini was probably my last chance at finding a rental shop, so I had mapped out a few places where I hoped to be able to rent a picturesque two-wheeled conveyance. Imagine my elation when upon check-in our hostel host indicated there were bikes out back to be borrowed first-come-first-ser­ve by hip, youthful Europhiles like ourselves FOR FREE. It was early to bed and early to rise that night, and despite unrestful sleep (we left the balcony door open on account of lodging on the third floor with no AC, so the train down the block might as well have been rumbling right past our feet all night, and 1:00 a.m. screeching from our backpacking hostelmates had a sleep-piercing effect)—so despite unrestful sleep we were the first (and only) in line to select our vehicles for the next day. The only functioning cruiser bike provided me a more genuine Italian ride than any rental shop could have offered: a wire basket, no gears, both tires slightly flat, one working brake, and every inch of it rusted completely through. So Mark and I went for an early morning cruise around Rimini, dodging cars and bipeds alike, stopping only for the open market, a downtown corner flautist, and the beach. With my family’s (air conditioned) hotel a good 20-minute walk from our hostel, and my dad gone with the car for most of the day, the cycling gods could not have selected a better day to bestow upon us such delightful and affordable transportation.

Speaking of sweet rides, the hour Mark, Alaina, and I spent on this beauty is a top contender for THE Italy Highlight Experience. Mark was in his element as our Rimini quadracycle chauffeur, racing down the streets and sidewalks of the town, careening past innocent beach goers with reckless abandon, and developing an exact science for how to ring the “here we come” bicycle bell (long ring from far away to announce our presence, two short rings from a moderate distance to say “excuse us,” and incessant ringing for “stay put at your own risk!”). A gaggle of Italian nonnas (grannies) walking four abreast along the boardwalk were the recipients of this latter bell call, and one had some choice words for us when they finally noticed us and stepped aside to let us pass. What those choice words were, I don’t know; whether they were a sanction or censure was beyond my limited Italian, so we just smiled and said “Grazie” as we sped away.


Katie Phelps said...

That sounds like you had so much fun. How exciting!

Lindsey Whiting said...

I love the pix. The one whith the flower canopy is essentially how I imagined a wedding(or my dream wedding, not that the temple isn't great, I'm talking about the reception) but December doesn't produce that type of beauty either does Utah...I also love the stories that go with each picture.

JaiJai Jillian said...

Love the street performers. When in Paris I saw one who dressed as King Tut in gold, then another was stood in as Charlie Chaplin. Must say, I wish we had people doing that more in America. Too fun!

Ann-Marie said...

I am still so jealous-I mean happy that you two got to go on such a fantastic trip.

heather said...

I love all of these pictures!! It sounds like such a fun adventure in Italy!! One question though - how did you get stuck in the hostel and your parents have a nice room in a hotel? :) Thanks for sharing these memories with us ... makes me feel like you're a little closer to me than Texas. :)