Piazza della Loggia
In 2009, due to a familial connection and the power of the “All-High-and-Mighty Facebook,” I had the opportunity to get in contact with one of my distant relatives from the Old Country. I am of the the third generation of my maternal side of the family to be born in America. This is–fortunately–the same with my father’s side, also. Some of my friends are firsts and seconds, their families coming from any European country, but I am just as happy to be the third rung of the ladder. However, my mom hadn’t seen her side of the family, that is traveling to Italy, since the early 1970’s. So, even speaking to such an individual, Adriano, seemed a bit unimaginable.
This is where I applaud technology.
While communicating with Adriano, he convinced me to travel to Italia in probably less than a week’s time. Yes, he technically had me traveling abroad, again, “at hello.” I said: sure, why not?
Anyone can travel to Italia, and those individuals can get excited because of simply that. I was going to meet relatives, and I was going to explore the part of the country where my family came from. That is what intrigued me the most. Having “met” a distant relative, who is generally the same age, made the anticipation that much greater in the aspect of actually traveling. Purchasing my round trip tickets made my dream more tangible. Getting on the departing plane from Syracuse’s Hancock International got my heart racing, knowing that I had time to turn back, and I did not want to. Landing in Germany established my wanting to travel there. The “home stretch” of flying over the Alps into Milan was breathtaking. Walking into the airport yielded a smile upon my face.
However, there was no Adriano. Families stood watch for relatives, drivers held signs with names written in black marker, and tour groups were clotting together. I don’t speak fluent Italian. Dove l’inferno vado?
I walked into an adjacent hall, where I was seemed to be the only being around, which could have worsened my situation as much as it could have benefitted.
However, I did find my cousin and his girlfriend at the time, Francesca. They found me easily, because I glowed foreigner. However, in the mix of it all, I was greeted by smiles and hugs.
What does one first do when meeting someone they never have met, or thought to ever be meeting? We drink to the occasion!
Our first stop, before making movement to Toscolano-Maderno e Lago de Garda, we make our way to the lovely city of Brescia (pronounced “Bray-sha”). Francesca and Adriano both studied at the university, and they had every right to show off the small city in all its glory. I forgot the place we stopped at, but it fit the view of a quaint Italian bar with a beautiful patio decorated with umbrella-covered tables. We shared the Brescian specialty: Pirlo.
Pirlo is simple to make, but it’s not for the individual with weak taste buds. The beverage, moreover an aspirtif, contains white wine (usually prosecco), the red Compari or the orange Aperol, and spritzer. I had initially tried the Pirlo with the Aperol. My eyes lit up, because I had no idea it was going to be bitter. Adriano encouraged me to try the Pirlo with the Compari later in the day, which I enjoyed much better. It may not be your drink of choice, but this is more proof that Italians are not wussies. Just because most Americans would immediately think the beverage isn’t to their liking, we’re just not used to it.
Especially due to the fact of my research: not being able to find a bar/bartender who actually knows what this drink is.
It was great to hang out with Adriano and his friends when spending a couple days in Brescia. I was able to get a tour of the city with Adriano and Francesca, showing me many of the landmarks to fill my desire for history, and to give me a better sense of my surroundings. A couple days I would have to bide my time alone, so exploring would be a must.
Adriano showed me the remains of the Roman Capitolium, the ruins above and below the ground. These ruins would have to stay due to following the rules when it comes to preservation. Francesca brought me around to Piazza della Loggia, which is featured as the first picture in this entry. If I remember correctly, but correct me if I am wrong, the statues atop the clock of the Town Hall hammer the bell upon the hour. You can see them clearly in the picture. She, also, took me into see the Duomo Vecchio, or Old Cathedral. It was absolutely beautiful in there, which meant it fell into the subconscious category of my Places to Get Married.
Lastly, the three of us visted the castle in Brescia, and got some great pictures overlooking the city. There is so much history that I took in, and I don’t remember it all. However, that’s the beauty of inspired research.
Out of respect, I forced myself to not take pictures when in the cathedral. I did, however, make a wish upon stepping into the church, because it was my first time there. That’s what my mom says: make a wish when you enter a church you have never entered before. I had to light candles for my relatives, also. That was a no if-and-or-but given.
The tourist attraction level was not up there, which I loved. It was as though I had this city to myself. I don’t remember coming across any English speakers. I was finally away from America.
As I previously stated, I had some time to kill. Adriano had to go to class, so I had to somehow entertain myself. Boy, was that a difficult thing to do.
Man, was that statement over-exaggerated… just a leetle bit.
What does one do in Brescia?
When you finish this passage, you will notice the final picture: a cappuccino. I must have had… well, lets just say we thankfully have two hands to count with instead of promoting my caffiene over indulgence… err, addiction. However, take a minute to look at its perfection. If you don’t think that’s beautiful, you obviously don’t have as much passion as you may think you have. I’ll get back to this in a bit.
I, however, did walk around a lot and did not manage to get lost. I found a cafe here and there to settle in, sometimes one right after the other, because I just wanted to sit in as many Italian cafes as I could. Hey, I’m just being honest, and it has little to do with espressos or cappuccinos. I tried to make conversation with the baristas, one of which was really cute; I purposely make a joke of myself being an American. Here, in the states, it would be common knowledge to anyone that I would have came off as a dork. However, it worked a bit, because she came out of her shell to speak English. I love being a dork, because it works sometimes.
This reluctance to speak Enlish came up numerous times during the trip. I loved assuring those I spoke to that there was no way I would judge them. This was due to the fact I cannot speak English well. I’m glad I was friendly enough to get along with to have Adriano’s friends speak English to me. Everyone spoke very well.
Adriano, on the other hand, had no problem speaking to me. He told me often that I should speak more. I told him I would, only if he spoke more in Italian. It’s either one way or the other, of course. It was great to joke around about that.
However, let’s go back to biding my time.
After making the barista smile, I ventured out and sat next to the building where Adriano had classes. I sat down, with more caffeinated beverages, and let my mind go. I thought. I wrote. I daydreamed and meditated in a sense. I sketched.
I never sketch anymore. I used to, but it just goes to show you how Italia is so inspiring.
I originally wanted to incorporate some passages from the travel log I kept, but since I cannot find it at the moment, you’ll have to wait another time. Instead, I will share with you some final remarks:
Being in such a place really makes you appreciate life more. It brings out a side of you that you wish you consistently showed more often: your true self trying to break free. You’re in a new place, you’re out of your comfort zone, but you’re collected. You want to be a part of that couple eating lunch together, or enjoying dinner under dim lighting from candles or lights dressing a patio while accenting leafy ivy features upon weathered brick. You want a musician, a violinist or a gentleman with an accordion, to not just personally play for you and your better half, but for the others around you so everyone can enjoy the atmosphere as well. Equal enjoyment adds to the aura. While you eat dinner, you would like it to rain; not only would you get wet and people would be scrambling to get inside the ristaurante, but it would be a nice story to joke about later on. As the rain cascades around you, falling like a draping final curtain call, you hold your significant other’s hands and stare into each other’s eyes. The two of you pull closer to a kiss, synchronizing the speed to which your persons approach each other to harmonize with the ever important slowly closing of eyes before contact. At that minute moment, that blink in time, the space between lovers’ lips form a heart shape similar to the one found in the foam of a decorated cappucino.
I play with words and invisible objects.
A mind, a pen and a piece paper have the best relationship ever.
"Remember this--if you shut your mouth, you have your choice."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald