first day was spent in Milan where she and Trudy went to
the Duomo (not the minor Duomo, but the Major Duomo)
and saw 4,500 statues. We happen to know this old trick.
There are, really about six statues and they are moved around quickly
ahead of the tourists. They then had their first cappucini
(an Italian actress from the 60s) and were off to Lake
Como (I think there should be a question mark after Como
like there is in Spanish).
were told that Switzerland was just a short walk from the
hotel. Night was falling, but they looked across the lake and thought
they could see a few Switzers in the mist. Who can forget
Sigourney Weaver's performance in that memorable film? The 30
minute walk the next morning turned out to be only slightly less
strenuous than Hannibal's stroll, but that was only because they
had no elephants. The Alps were played by themselves.
demanding to have their passports stamped, thereby stirring up the
customs guards who really didn't want to be bothered, they returned
by bus to Como? and rented a car for the short 40km (2 US
miles) drive to Bellagio.
interesting town takes its name from two Italian words. Bella, meaning
"beautiful" and gio, meaning a magazine with a yellow border that
contains lavish photographs.
had been told by an Austin friend that this route was similar to
Austin's 2222. It turned out that the only resemblance was
the color of the road. Gail said that the road was "skinny", but
although I wasn't there, I'd say it was narrow. It would be nerve-wracking
if it had been a single lane one-way road, but it was a two-way
street and to prove to the world that they have a sense of humor,
the Italians omitted striping. Gail says her fingerprints are still
visible in the steering wheel and her knuckles are just now regaining
a little color. She said the trip could also be made by boat, which
is, no doubt, the way Jerry Seinfeld would go. Gail's observation
that the cars had a lot of chrome on the sides was partially true.
After repeated encounters of the closest kind, the sides of the
cars do in fact, shine like chrome.
witnessing "the most beautiful mountain/lake combination of my life"
(also known as Lake Combo), Gail, along with Trudy (who
we aren't sure shares Gail's assessment) got back into the car
and easily slid into the whitewater river of chocolate and caffeine
driven drivers to continue on to Venice. Gail answered one
of the questions we've always been afraid to ask, namely, where
does one park one's car in Venice? It turns out that one parks one's
car and then one takes a ferry.
the upper balcony of the ferry they saw a Venetian who wore
a regal looking cape and looked like the fourth tenor. Gail said,
"He was either in an opera company, or in the Mafia." Why not
both? He may have been paid by the chamber of commerce to come
out on rainy nights to provide color, but if he was, it was all
for naught, since they failed to get his photo.
debarking, they found their hotel and went to bed knowing that tomorrow
they would see St. Mark's Cathedral and the pigeons
that looked just like the ones back at Barton Springs in
Austin. This wouldn't seem like anything to get excited
about for you or me, but both Gail and Trudy speak pidgin Italian.
St. Marks and Venice, they went to Florence where they met
Gail's English friend, Robin. Maybe I misread and the friend was
Florence. Anyway she, (Robin or Florence) had just returned from
the police station since she had just been robbed after paying her
cab fare. Is that anyway to treat a visitor?
night, Gail said, they had "one of those family dinners in a
trattoria that you hear about." Well, I don't know about
you, but I haven't a clue what a trattoria is. It sounds like a
restraining device. At first I thought it was a highchair, but that's
The next day they went to the Uffize Gallery and from what
I could make out, they witnessed the birth of Venus. I
guess the delivery went well because she mentioned the Medici
family, which any idiot knows means "plural doctors."
says there was a woman sitting there who looked like she had been
cut from one of the paintings. They might make fun of Amon
Carter and his Remingtons, but at least they don't allow
that sort of foolishness in Fort Worth. Gail's description
described wide, crazy eyes, a high forehead and skinny eyebrows.
I would have said, "narrow". They then went to see someone
named David who doesn't sound at all Italian to me. Gail
was impressed and said that Mike Angelo must've loved men
started raining and they had a "gelatto on the move" which
I assume was some sort of live seafood. Gail picked up a cobblestone
from a road undergoing repairs. She has all the indicators of
becoming a champion brick collector. (See Brick
Collecting : Are You at Risk?)
Venice and Florence, when they were still driving, they didn't have
time to see Juliet's balcony, but they sure as hell found
time to stop at a Verona truckstop. I didn't want to be
the one to tell Gail that Juliet was a fictitious character. Romeo
too. Now an Italian truckstop intrigues us. It would have to be
a lot like a west Texas truckstop, except with more pasta dishes
and fewer guns. Bigger wallets too, for all that Lira. (One dollar
= 23 trillion Lira) I wonder if there's a grant available somewhere
for a comparison?
says the truckstop china there had a beautiful line drawing of Verona
on it and they asked if it was for sale. Sadly, no, it couldn't
be sold, said the waitress. As they were about to leave, the waitress
gave them two chipped plates that she had rounded up in the kitchen.
It made their day and it made our day hearing about it.
Gail celebrated her birthday the next day and found dormouse
and cockles on the menu of a restaurant. "What the heck",
said Gail, "you only live once." She then ordered fish. Hey,
we know what fish tastes like! What a rip-off! The dormouse in Alice
in Wonderland sure looked edible. Now we'll never know.
last view of Italy, as her big silver bird soared its way homeward,
was the rental car parking lot at the airport; the one with all
the freshly dented cars with the chrome stripes.