“Two households, both alike in dignity / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” So begins Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set in Verona in Italy’s northern region of Veneto, a city so beautiful it inspired the greatest of bards.
One of the great clichés of travel writing is starting a story with an overly dramatic sentence meant to draw in the reader, so I won’t begin by mentioning the explosives mishap or firing a shotgun at dead cacti. But such was my Fourth of July in Austin, part of my lifelong quest for the quintessential American experience. Could anything scream red, white and blue more than Independence Day in Texas? I’ll get to that later.
One of my favorite memories of my time in Trieste was simply sitting along the pier, feet dangling over the Adriatic as the rising tide splashed water upon my shoes, jellyfish floating below us like ethereal dancers in a separate universe. The Italian word for “jellyfish” is medusa, yet I kept mistakenly saying lampedusa after the Italian island that was at the center of the migrant crisis. It just goes to show how much my language skills need work.
It’s hard to believe now that my first experience in Italy was five years ago, a Mediterranean adventure that started in Venice. I remember arriving into Venice Marco Polo Airport unsure of what to expect of the city and how my shabby Italian skills would hold up. Spoiler alert: I fell in love with Venice and they did not hold up well.
I recently found myself back in Florence, perhaps my favorite city in Italy, one year after my previous visit. This time I stayed close to Firenze Santa Maria Novella, the city’s main train station, in a bustling neighborhood of hotels and eateries. While I did more running around a year prior (check out my previous article on the city for more in-depth coverage of Florence’s top attractions and on visiting popular Tuscan towns), I was able to catch many things I had missed, namely several churches and David, while revisiting my favorite locales in the city.
Located in the northwestern section of Italy, Turin is, like Milan, more European than the traditional idea of the country. Unlike Milan, it’s smaller and arguably more charming. Turin features many of the aspects that make other Italian cities lovely, like a beautiful river, energy-filled piazze, world-class museums and the ever-revered aperitivo.
As I entered Germany by train, it seemed like a year ago that I began this Europe trip in London when really it had only been two-and-a-half months. The constant moving and reshuffling of living quarters (not to mention flatmates) made it seem more like a series of many trips interconnected rather than a single journey. Each stop was a fresh start with a new city and a different way of life. My transition from my time in Switzerland to that of Alsfeld would be my last, save for the subsequent long voyage home.
The train from Milano Centrale into Switzerland was by far the most breathtaking voyage by rail I have ever embarked on. Lakes. Waterfalls. Roads elevated to the heights of grandiose mountains. Gasps of wonder were not uncommon from our train carriage. Also, it was burning hot in Milan when I left, and by then I was longing for the Swiss chill, the idea of being in the mountains sans burning skin and free from the hell spawn that is the mosquito.