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first stop: gelato!

my adventures in italy and beyond…

I arrived in Prague today, so no more gelato for now.  Ironically, besides one chinese place and obviously all of the traditional czech restaurants, the only other cuisine that I saw on my first walk around the city was Italian.  Italy is following me! I don’t think I’ll bother with the pizza here, though.

I’ve been to several different places since Rome, so I’m going to write this post in stages, like the long letters I used to write my pen pal when I was 12:

May 23 (Mantua):

Not much to say about Florence, since I was there only briefly.  I climbed the dome of the famous duomo and finito — done with Florence and on to lovely Lucca!  I jumped on a bike as soon as I arrived and rode along the walls of the old city before meeting up with a most hospitable last-minute couch surfer.  We wined and dined and talked politics.  Did you know that Berlusconi owns 3 of the 7  national TV stations??

on the duomo in florence

After Lucca, I went to the famous Cinque Terre, a series of quaint villages on the Ligurian coast, connected by national park trails.  I met a great crew of San Fransiscans at the hostel, which wasn’t really a hostel at all, but more like an apartment converted into a crash pad.  It was ‘intimate’ to say the least, especially the night when the owners overbooked and we had an extra guy (from Boston no less!) crash on the floor.  I’m really glad that I liked everyone.  We cooked together a bunch, which was a nice change of pace.   I made a dessert one night with biscotti, strawberries and sweet lemony ricotta which made me feel a little less jealous of anyone who’s eating strawberry shortcake right now.   As for 5 Terre itself, I did a whole lot of walking and hiking! That’s the thing to do there.  My calves got a workout on all the hills, but it was totally worth it.  The views are spectacular and the towns are impossibly cute.

pretty 5 terre

May 25 (Padua)

Yesterday, I took it pretty easy in Mantua.  I wasn’t feeling great, so I slept late, moved slowly and ate boring food.  I did make it out to Palazzo Te, one of the palaces of the ruling Gonzaga clan of Mantua from the 16th century.  And now I’m in the other city that ends in ‘ova’ or ‘ua’ depending on your language.  (Mantua/Mantova and Padua/Padova.)  I went to Piazza del Santo, the Santo being St. Anthony, where pilgrims flock to make their prayers and buy really expensive statues in the gift shop, and Scrovegni’s Chapel, which is famous for the Giotto frescoes that include an incredible inferno scene, complete with demons eating babies.

— ok, back to the present for a moment —

I’m not done catching you up, but I have reliable computer access here in Prague, so I’ll post again before leaving.  Mom’s coming tomorrow! But before I leave, here are some of the Casale photos I promised you:

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