We had so many wonderful experiences. We started in Verona and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that even though I am fully aware that the whole Juliet's house thing is made up I really enjoyed it. There were sets and costumes from the Zeffirelli version of the film and after watching "Letters to Juliet" it was fun to see the place where the club writes people back. This is a town that seems like a perfect summer destination... bikers have the right of way here and it was a very friendly place to be.
After Verona came Padua and the churches we visited there didn't allow photos. Our main destination however was absolutely stunning. The Scrovegni Chapel is literally covered in frescoes by Giotto that were mostly about the live of Jesus. Groups of 20 people are let in for only 15 minutes at a time. This was painted in the very first part of the 1300's! Amazing. Look it up on line if you want to see what it looks like! We also went to see the Church of St. Anthony (the patron saint of Padua) who is known as a great speaker. To that end they have in this church as a "relic" his tongue! It took all of my restraint not to walk through the Basilica sticking my tongue in and out like a lizard! I'm such a bad example! :0)
After Padua we spent three days in Venice... There is no city like it. We didn't see a car or a scooter for the entire time. Although there are lots of people - it is a really quiet city since there is no traffic noise! We saw many more churches... amazing art. I think the Doge's palace might have been my favorite here in terms of buildings - it houses one of the biggest single rooms in all of Europe, and then of course there is the jail cell and fascinating escape of the one and only Casanova! Just walking around through the city however was amazing. All of the little bridges and small alleys are so cool. There are many plazas, wells gathering places... but no parks or trees. We splurged on a lunch on the Grand Canal and then bargained for a reduced rate on a Gondola ride... we don't want to go home with any regrets.
I was really ready to head "home" to Gilio after a week away. The dogs were thrilled to see us and it feels nice to just chill out. I was immediately reminded however of what small village life in Italy is like. It is nothing like the tourist areas. As I have mentioned before Gilio is pretty small and has olive groves everywhere. When we first arrived in December it was harvesting time and every weekend and many evenings families were all out picking their olives to press. Here we are in January and now it is pruning time... for weeks people have been out trimming the trees. For the last couple of weeks as we look off of our terrace we can see and smell small fires burning. Hazy days. Once the olives are pruned everybody burns the branches... but these people have other jobs, and it looks like really hard work. Something I'm not sure I know anything about.
When we got home yesterday one of the cousins in the family was up on our hillside burning branches. She is probably in her 60's maybe older. She is wearing her black dress (I've not seen her in anything else) and work boots. Her husband is the shepherd that brings his sheep to "mow" the grass and makes cheese.
I am reminded of how thankful I am for this amazing opportunity to be relaxing in this amazing country.