Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Now I'm all for sharing our lives with you guys, but photos of me sweating profusely while awkwardly navigating the attic beams or my living room looking like it has been hit by a tornado are not my idea of fun, internet-friendly memories. So instead you are getting the last installment of Italy...at least for a while. I've been using the stacked photo cache as a blog crutch of sorts. Posting new and more recent events on here forces me to get behind the camera and practice more often, so here's hoping I can be creative and come up with something entertaining!
And now I present Venice Part Deux (or however you say two in Italian)...
This is how you start the morning off in Venice, a cafe. Let me warn you that this is strong coffee, as in I used the entire packet of sugar to sweeten a cup that was smaller than the actual packet of sugar. Of course Dad didn't need no stinkin' sugar and drank it straight up. But I'm not that hard core.
Hungry for breakfast? Grab some fresh produce...off the boat.
Don't forget to put the laundry out to dry. This was beautiful, but it made me very grateful for my dryer.
Aren't they cute?! Hannah decided to stay home on this trip to Venice, so it was just Mom, Dad, Andreas, and me. We missed you Hannah!
Piazza San Marco, view from St. Mark's basilica. If you Wiki Piazza San Marco they have almost this exact same picture!
We took a tour of St. Peter's Basilica, which was absolutely breathtaking. The entire church was covered in these impossibly small stones...
...which combined to create these remarkable mosaics. It was truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
Mom and Andreas took a trip to the top to see the four horses while Dad and I hung out downstairs.
Pretty soon it was time for lunch. And do you know what there is no shortage of in all of Italy?
That's right. PIZZA. It is EVERYWHERE. This one is the Four Seasons - mushrooms, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and a pepperoni-like sausage*. Don't ask for pepperoni pizza though unless you want a bunch of red and yellow peppers. Take a cue from Hannah and order the Diavola.
Venice totally lived up to my expectations. It was beautiful and romantic, buzzing with people in certain areas and totally peaceful in others.
And I can't completely finish off Italy without putting a few other random pictures in here of our trip, so here it goes...
Mom and Dad's house! That's an olive tree on the right. And that tree on the left, I just loved it. Such a brilliant red. It looked like it was on fire! And see that corn field in the back right-hand corner?
No big deal. Just their INSANE view.
Pretty pink flowers cascading over a neighbor's window.
Yummy lunch. Pizza again, but I'm not complainin'. I think this time we got buffalo mozzarella and grape tomatoes!
One day we took a trip to a walled city. I cannot remember the name. Mom, help? I know you will remember. I love this picture. Sista, sista!
One of the city's main attractions was a basilica whose floor was entirely covered in a mosaic depicting the history of Christianity. Awesome.
Hannah, Dad, and I scaling the walled city lookouts.
And this picture isn't really related to anything except it was taken on the same day in the same general area. But it took a good 20 minutes to capture this moment, and I felt it deserved its own moment in the spotlight. And look, it still isn't right. But hey, we tried, and now we have the memory of Mom and Andreas directing us for a good long time while we just laughed and complained about our arms hurting. Better luck next time!
*The meat is actually prosciutto, which is a dry-cured ham and not at all like pepperoni. But it was late when I wrote this, and I didn't actually take the time to look at the picture before typing, so now you get this late disclaimer. Good thing I reread the post this morning. Please forgive the confusion.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
We started our tour in the winery, where they were in the full swing of things. Let me stop to mention that this was basically a private, casual tour with the Italian owner leading our family around while his staff just worked around us and he did his best to explain the process in English. He was great and totally hospitable. If you look closely at the picture, the third receptacle from the right may appear blurry. This is because the entire thing is covered in a thin film of water, which you can see spilling off towards the bottom. The owner explained that this piece of machinery was older than the others and therefore used a different, more antiquated cooling system.
We saw a machine that separated the grapes from their stems at an insanely quick speed and with what appeared to be incredible ease. It churned away, pumping the grapes towards a separate machine that removed the pulp and juice. The picture below is a truckbed filled entirely with grape skins. The owner explained that these skins were the byproduct of just 12 hours of work! He sells the skins to another company that makes grappa, a fragrant grape-based pomace brandy of between 37.5% and 60% alcohol by volume (according to Wikipedia).
Then he casually asked if we wanted to see the grapes. Of course we wanted to see the grapes! We followed him to basically what was his family's back yard. Rows and rows of grapevine, full of ripe fruit with the Alps creating a backdrop. It was so beautiful words cannot do it justice.
We strolled through the rows as he pointed out grapes calling them by name - Merlot, Chardonnay, and the vines that his wife had insisted on planting that grew table grapes! He would pluck a grape and eat it, comment on its flavor, and encourage us to do the same.
It was harvesting time and field workers were plucking grapes by hand. Our guide said picking by hand allows for a higher quality wine because the staff can discern between a good and bad bunch and leave the bad fruit on the vine. Most winemakers are using a more current process where a machine pulls the fruit, which is faster but does lower the quality of the end product. This particular vineyard had vines that were picked by hand and vines that used a machine for harvesting.
One of the really amazing facts he shared was the motivation behind planting these rose bushes at the end of each row. He said if there are any issues with soil quality, bugs, or any other potentially damaging variables they will affect the rose bushes around two days before they begin to affect the grapevines. For this reason they refer to the rose bushes as alarms!
Disclaimer: Some of the 'facts' in this post may be a litttttle off. The owner spoke English pretty well, but it's been a couple of weeks since our visit and I am not totally confident in my memory of the process.
Monday, September 14, 2009
After arriving at the airport from Copenhagen, we took a water taxi to the island. We docked near San Marco Plaza. The street was overflowing with people and vendors, lined in beautiful, bold buildings, and gondolas were everywhere.