Saturday, 4 October 2008

To Italy, With Love

In my early, early days of blogging - like, about five years ago, using Xanga before I was even on Blogger - I backpacked across Italy for eight weeks as a researcher-writer for Let's Go. It was pretty much the best job ever for a scrappy, bright-eyed nineteen year old who'd never left the country. I got to see a ton of tiny towns along the way, but the tradeoff was that I missed Milan, Florence, Turin, and other big cities that weren't on my route.

This weekend, I had a retreat outside of Milan, in Stresa, at the hotel where most of A Farewell to Arms is set. (And now I have to read A Farewell to Arms, but whatever.) We got a bit of free time, but mostly we stuck around the hotel and learned stuff. This was fine, as it was a totally sweet, totally five star hotel, and everyone at the retreat was lovely.
So we got to spend a grand total of two hours in Stresa. My mission for the weekend was to hunt down gelato - straciatella or bacio, preferably - to relive my summer of eating gelato, oh, twice a day, sometimes instead of meals. I went hiking up through Stresa with a couple of the other people on the retreat, then ducked away as we reentered the city center to find gelato. (It was probably better that I did it alone. I was kind of a man possessed.) Anyway, I found it, and I got a scoop of each and I devoured it along the shore of Lake Maggiore and I was basically totally and completely content with my life and the universe and my existence at that moment. And that, for only two Euros.
So this was Lake Maggiore. Totally beautiful.
And this was Isola Bella, where we had dinner on Friday.
I like this guy. Way to drink at noon, sir.
I spent most of the working portion of the weekend in this villa. We got the room on the terrace, which was great until we were attacked by a single bee who drove us all inside. We're a pretty rugged bunch.
The chandelier in my room, which was pretty much never on because I was a) out, b) enjoying my bathtub, or c) watching post-VP debate updates.
Sigh. I think I need to go back to Italy at some point.

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