I sit in St. Marco’s square, at CafÃ© Quadri, and marvel at the tall milk glass. I pick it up to pour it into my coffee and the beads of condensation on the outside of the glass wet my hand. A waiter comes by and offers me a water pitcher. I thank him for doing so. I taste the bitter coffee and savor the moment. A nearby band is playing one of my favorite jazz songs. It’s near the end of my trip, and I am tired. However, the experience and the gelato were unforgettable.
Last year, my mom, sister, and I (with Rick Steves as a guide) took a 14 day trip through Italy. We started in Florence, seeing museums like the Accademia and the Science Museum as well as the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. We stayed with a charming elderly woman, Marcella, at Casa Rabatti who knew her way well around the city. We are opposites: while she has gotten to known a single place her entire life I have been to many places, but have not been able to get to know any of them deeply. The baptistery next to the Duomo was especially impressive; the gold doors’ dull shine reminded me of how religion, much like the doors themselves, seems to be less and less prominent in the bustling world. After a few days of browsing Florence with its statues and pigeon feeding squares, we took the early train to Rome.
In Rome, the Residence Adler had a large fountain in its breakfast room and a delicious pizzeria just across the street. We visited the typical attractions: The Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Museum of Roman history. I was especially impressed with the Pantheon. I walked inside; the air was surprisingly fresh and the ceiling was incredibly high. I looked around at brilliant frescoes of saints and detailed statues of the Virgin Mary and realized that this building is truly “pantheistic”: a building once bearing the effigies of the Roman gods, now shows the likenesses of the great holy people of the Roman Catholic Church. A plane carried us to Prague for the weekend.
The Ariston Hotel, on the tram route, was a grand building. Our room was luxury compared to Italy. We walked up and down Wenceslas Square and ate at blue collar buffets and bars. The food was spicy, meaty, and unbelievable foreign. I relished the taste of dumplings and kielbasa. We took a day trip to Kutna Hora, where I had Turkish coffee for the first time. It was black, acrid, and quite to my liking. I learned of the great masters of an ancient art in the Museum of Alchemy (alchemy has always fascinated me), as well as a church lined with human bones. We took the night train to Venice.
Here we walked about a mile through winding roads and over bridges until we arrived at Ca San Trovaso, our hotel. We looked in all the mask stores at the charming costumes which Venice is known for, and in leather shops because my mother wanted a bag. The biggest attraction in Venice was St. Marco’s square which, as I have mentioned, has amazing coffee shops all of which famous writers and artists have visited. We took yet another train to Milan.
We ended our trip in Milan. Apart from climbing many steps to the roof of the Cathedral, we attended an opera at La Scala opera house. As I sat on the top floor and listened to the opening chords of “Gianni Schicci,” I ascended into pure ecstasy. Yes, the trip was over, but it was wonderful.
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