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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Italian Lovers & Irishmen

One of my favorite trips was taken without Greg and I have regretted it ever since.

Back in 1984, all my other artist buddies were plotting trips to Italy, the grand mecca of Renaissance art. I had no such funds so I could only dream with green-eyed envy.

Then out of nowhere, one of my sisters announced that she wanted to take a trip to Italy and would I be interested in joining her.

It was a dream come true. With her and I splitting the bills it wouldn't be as expensive as if Greg and I went together. He gave me his blessing and I didn't wait for him to change his mind.

Trouble was...this is the one sibling who grates on my last nerve. LOL.
But this was a chance of a lifetime so I sucked it up.

We were (and are) galaxies apart in our likes, our attitudes and our goals. Little sister wanted to shop. She was single and she also wanted know.

Me, of loftier aspirations, only wanted to commune with Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Raphael and Masaccio. Those were the only men I wanted to explore.

So although we traveled together, we hardly ever saw each other for more than a few hours. Once we even split up. She went to Pompeii and I went back to Firenze (Florence).

I had quite a few mini adventures along the way. There was that Irishman who didn't want to take no for an answer, and a whole carload of Italian hunks who kept following me and my sister and insisted they give us a ride to the top of one of the seven hills.

I could really WALK back then, and while my sister was anxious to take them up on their offer, I was content to keep hoofing it. Besides, I didn't think Greg would approve.

They were persistent though and their car crawled all the way up the hill with them asking questions about the US. I told them I was from Texas and their eyes lit up with that deer in the headlights look.

My sister ended up with her own hunk, some guy by the name
Gigolo, or something like that. I can't remember what his name was, but to the family, he was Gigolo from thereafter.

What was really funny was when he came to pick her up on a date and I was lying in bed braless and in my old sweats. She screamed at me. "Get dressed. He can't see you like this."

I looked at her like she was insane. "He's not taking me out. He came here for you." Though gentleman that he was, he did offer to take us both out to the movies. I declined, much to my sister's relief.

The good thing about Italy is that I had very little trouble communicating with the locals. Spanish is very similar to Italian, and many of the natives spoke Spanish as a second language.

I've always wanted to go back to Italy with Greg, but he's never had much interest in seeing the old country, the birthplace of his grandparents.

But when I was in Florence I rubbed the snout of Il Porcellino, the bronze cast of a giant boar. Legend has it that if you rub its snout, you'll return to Florence.

I'm still waiting.

What place have you always remembered fondly?


Mike Keyton said...

Me, of loftier aspirations, only wanted to commune with Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Raphael and Masaccio.

Caravaggio might have been interesting. Michelangelo, perhaps, disappointing. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: Caravaggio was the subject of my college thesis.

I could commune with him all day. :o)

Examining his work up close was the highlight of my trip.

Jennifer Shirk said...

That was a hilarious story! I love that he was known as Gigolo. LOL!!

I would love to go to Italy. I really remember going to Charleston, SC fondly. I still talk about going back there.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: Gigolo actually turned out to be a pretty nice guy. I think he even came to the states to visit her once.

Ref: SC
Now you got me wondering what was in South Carolina. :)

Falen said...

Ahahaha! Your italy memories are similiar to mine!
I was in hgihschool (we were there on an orchestra tour) and we also had a whole cadre of italian boys following us around, asking to carry our instruments, trying to get in our rooms.
And i too rubbed that's boar's nose, but i think my wish was something more juvenile.
I wonder if i could get a wish do-over...?

Maria Zannini said...

Italian guys are really insistent, but very sweet.

And I love to hear a man speak Italian. Very sexy.

Dru said...

I love Paris and I want to return not as part of a tour group, but on my own or with friends to explore it more to my liking.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: Tours are good for old people or those who are afraid to be on their own, but I'm with you. I don't like to be told what to look at. I like exploring.

Elana Johnson said...

Great post. I've never travelled outside the US. I always love going home, though.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

It was Japan for me. I'd been to London, and was amazed to feel a little culture shock. Japan, however, was like being on Mars to me. With no way to understand most things, I gave up trying, and I had a fantastic time.

I took my mom instead of my husband, though, because he hates leaving his own country. So, if you ever put together a group trip to Italy, I'm in.

Maria Zannini said...

Elana: Home is always the best trip.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: I have a friend who just got back from Japan and she said the same thing.

I'd love to go to the UK though. I have a few friends there who might be willing to let me crash at their---hey, where'd they go?


Kaz Augustin said...

Ireland. I hired a car and spent a month driving around Ireland by myself (single at the time), from Dingle to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. The Irish were charming, Connemara was especially breathtaking, I kissed the Blarney Stone, attended a hurling final (the only brown face in a crowd of 50,000!) and am determined to go back, but this time with J. Some time.

Maria Zannini said...

Everyone I know who's been says Ireland is a beautiful place.

And you kissed the Blarney Stone? Don't you have to hang upside down to kiss that thing?

I'll pass on that. :o)

J.K. Coi said...

That was a great story, Maria. I would LOVE to go to Italy. My husband is from Italy and the last time he was back there was just before we met. I think we've promised each other that for our 10th anniversary next year, this is the plan.

One of the only times I've been traveling without my husband was when I was in my first year of university and a friend and I took a road trip to Florida (we're from Ontario) for Spring Break. We weren't exactly the wild beach bunny types, but we had a great time and I always remember it fondly!

Maria Zannini said...

JK: Loved Italy. It was such a sensual place. You can't help but trip over something beautiful or magical. Hope you get to go next year.

Ref: Florida
Wow! That is one LONG road trip from Ontario.