Leaving Venice

Venice is beautiful and relaxing, as I remember it. But as I explore and tal=
k to locals I feel a profound sadness. This city is transforming into nothin=
g more than an ancient theme park. Without tourism, what economy would they h=
ave? Especially since fishing restrictions are tightening with all the overf=
The next time we visit Italy, I will be happy to skip t=
he sinking city of Venice. Ciao!

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Venice Apartment

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Our apartment in Venice is adorable, but has three floors. One bedroom and bathroom on second floor, one bedroom on third. So to use the bathroom in the night, I had to descend a steep flight of stairs. No matter – the location could hardly be more residential. In the evening we hear neighbors talking to each other, the sounds of dinner being prepared, and the soft flapping of pigeon wings as they perch on the roof outside our window.

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Farmhouse Dinner

Diane’s cousins met us at the train station in Schio and were unbelievably hospitable. Southern hospitality has nothing on this. They drove our luggage to the hotel, walked us to lunch and some historic sites around town, helped us buy some necessities at the farmacia, then returned to pick us up for dinner.
There is a farmhouse restaurant in nearby Malo that is owned by a family friend. Normally, it is closed on Tuesdays, but the owner, Sonia,  and her daughters opened the place just for us. It’s near the top of a high hill that overlooks Malo, Schio, and the surrounding area – a gorgeous view when we arrived just after sunset.
With 10 Italians, only three of which spoke any English, we were treated to a six-course family style meal. The wine flowed like water, language barriers were broken, and the farmhouse atop the hill filled with laughter and conversation.
Eventually, there was nothing more to eat, and we all made our goodbyes. Sonia heard about our love of good, local food, and about Laura’s love of GOATS. Turns out Sonia raises pigs and goats, and wanted to show us.
By this time, it was very dark, about midnight. Sonia slipped on her crocs to enter the pig pen and call them out, trying to entice them with the scraps from our four-hour dinner. No luck. So Sonia insisted that we come in to the pen ourselves. Without any crocs of our own, we walked in with our shoes (which eventually had to be packed in our bags with the rest of our stuff).
We saw goats in the darkness, square eyes glinting eerily, but they were skittish and fled into the bushes. We climbed a steep path toward the pig house and heard an ominously loud rustling and snorting just before a huge disgruntled pig charged out of the house. Sonia yelled, “Andiamo!” And we fled like skittish goats before the groggy pig.
Before we drove back to our hotel, we saw the pigs enjoying their midnight snack, but we never got a good look at those goats. Unfortunately, we took a little of the pig pen with us.
And that’s how we ended up using our bidet to clean pig poo of our shoes at 1:00 a.m.
The dinner menu was as follows:
-Prosciutto Crudo with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
-Spaghetti with a light Bolognese Sauce
-Tagliatelli with Basil Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes
-Buffet of prosciutto, salami, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, shredded carrots, olives, turnips, cheese, roasted peppers, grilled eggplant, and more
-Roast Pork Tenderloin (raised by Sonia) with some sort of magical carrot sauce made with pan drippings
-Apple Streudel (because Northern Italy is very close to Austria) and Italian Bread Pudding
Drinks, in order:
-Aperitif of Prosecco and Campari
-Prosecco, Red Wine, White Wine
-Fragolino Vino (Strawberry Wine)
-Caffe with Grappa or Plum Licquor
-Limoncello (made by Sonia and so good) and Licorice Licquor

Trains 2 (or How We Really Didn’t Ride on the Train)

Italian trains running late strikes us again!
On our way to Schio we had a train change in Vicenza. Again, from a high speed train to a regional one, and we should have had about 25 minutes to change trains. Like last time, our train was late, really late, we pulled info the station with about 3 minutes to change trains. We round the departure board, platform 2 Giard. So we ran for platform 2, there was no train there. We read the departure board again, “what does giard. mean?” John asked. Then my Mom saw a sign saying giardino (garden) platforms and an arrow pointing to the left.
So we ran off again following those signs. We found the right platform, ran for the train, got to the door, pressed the button to open the door and it wouldn’t open. Instead the train blew it’s whistle and pulled away. I think we all let out a collective “Noooooo!” as it left us behind. No worries however, the next train was a half an hour away and we made it into Schio just a bit later then planned.


Farmhouse Dinner with Italian Relatives

It’s one in the morning, and I’m squatting over the bidet in our hotel room futilely trying to wash poo off my shoes. But I’m still naming this (Tuesday) the best day of our trip so far. The poo in question belonged to an eight-month-old pig whose sleep I disturbed at midnight after finishing a six course meal at a farmhouse restaurant near Schio.

The pig was compensated with a heap of table scraps from our dinner, which hardly seems fair, since I probably ate one of his cousins in the fifth course. Unlike the pig, who willingly accepted a late night snack, the goats fled into the woods, much to Laura’s disappointment. (Laura loves goats!)

How in the world did we end up in this situation? More on that later…

Farmhouse Restaurant: Agriturismo al Castello

Very Happy Pigs at Night

Laura & John visit Seville, Spain, for a true Spanish wedding, then explore Lisbon, Portugal.