italy

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Okay I probably exaggerated a bit with the title but you know when you build something up in your head. Like the time your friend mentions that there is an annual pumpkin festival in the area where people get dressed up in medieval costume etc etc. And then you find out the event is cancelled. And then you find out the event is back on. And then you think to yourself it is probably going to be one little street with some bad twist on Halloween. Let’s not build it up.

So a few weekends back a little group of us headed to the Festa della Zucca in San Martino di Terzo d’Aquileia. And as the name might suggest it is a little village that is near a little village and we are driving around trying to find this spot that isn’t even on google maps when we see a sign. And so we follow the sign to the empty middle of a town and then we see another sign towards parking and then …

We come across (and I mean literally) hundreds of cars parked on a big field. And then we get out of the car and walk a bit and are greeted by strange pumpkin decor and then a whole town dressed in medieval garb, pumpkin related food, ‘medieval’ stalls with calligraphers, yarn sellers etc, old women dressed as washer women actually washing clothes by the town well, an old lady mixing polenta in a giant cauldron, pumpkin creme filled doughnuts.

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Yeah so it was pretty amazing.

I will definitely be keeping my eye out for next year as I didn’t get to taste the pumpkin gnocchi though.

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So you find yourself in Florence heading towards lunch time. You are getting hungry and you pass a gentlemen eating the most amazing looking sandwich made with creamy fluffy focaccia stuffed with quality looking fillings. You kindly ask him where he acquired this amazing sandwich and he points down to a road to a long queue and tells you it is worth it. It is worth it. You wait in the queue but it moves pretty quickly – only about 10 minutes. This gives you time to scout out whether there are some vegetarian options and a man from across the road walk over with a pile of fresh focaccia. You smile to yourself knowing you have made a good decision.

You get to the front and order a ‘vegateriana’ (with a question mark at the end). A friendly nod and a piece of fresh focaccia is grabbed, a sandwich size negotiated and fresh tomato, rocket, some vegetables and beautiful mozzarella piled on top. You hand over €5 for the biggest sandwich you have ever been given.

You walk happily down the street and find some free pavement to sit on and thoroughly enjoy what must surely be the best sandwich in Florence.

Maybe next time you will get a glass of wine from the help yourself counter.

If you haven’t eaten your whole sandwich (saving some for supper is a good idea) you might want to get some Gelato from Gelateria dei Neri

All’antico Vinaio, via dei Neri 74

Gelateria dei Neri, via dei Neri 22r

venice film festival

cinema screen at venice film festival

A couple weekends back I headed to Venice for the day to go to the Venice Film Festival with Tim, a work colleague and Eryn who I met through twitter. Being only a few hours from Venice we thought we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to the famous festival and maybe spot a celebrity or two. So a few months before the festival I checked out website but it didn’t prove very useful.

As it turns out the list of movies that will be shown are only made available a few weeks before the event and tickets are only available to buy online at around that time. (In retrospect it makes a sense as it is a competition that needs entries). Up until this point I had thought we would have to head to Venice the day before to buy tickets at the box office, which would have been a bit of a pain, especially if we couldn’t get tickets. However, buying tickets online was pretty easy and the tickets were emailed to us and we could just show the barcode to gain access. Tickets for the day time and not in the ‘Grand Cinema’ were very reasonably priced at €9 each. The earlier show was pretty empty so you could probably buy tickets on the day. Although we were there on the last day so don’t quote me on that!

When the day finally dawned we got the train and then a vaperetto from the main station to the Lido (after grabbing breakfast of course). The cinema complex is about a 15 minutes walk from the vaperetto stop through a residential section of the island. I quite like the Lido. It feels like a beach town and has some beautiful art deco architecture.

We arrived a few minutes before our first movie started, Words with Gods. This was a series of short films which explored various religions around the world. I didn’t ‘get’ all of the references I am sure but it was still really interesting.

After our first movie we had 10 minutes before our second movie The President, which is the story of a dictator attempting to escape with his little grandson from a country that has turned against him. Dachi Orvelashvili played the role of the grandson absolutely brilliantly.

Both movies were subtitled, which meant this was they were the first movies we had actually seen in Italy since moving here and that made it even more of a treat!

Sadly we didn’t spot any celebrities …

After the movies we headed back to the main island groups and had an apertivo at a converted greenhouse where Tim and I had gone on my birthday and Eryn was keen to visit. We then took up our friend’s food suggestion and headed to Osteria al Portego where I was finally able to try chichetti (Venetian pre-dinner nibbles) and had a delicious plate of pasta with mushrooms. The chalkboard menu didn’t have any vegetarian options but when we phoned to make a reservation we were informed of several options (a rarity for veggies going out on the Continent). I would definitely recommend this place if you are in Venice.

I then promptly fell asleep for the two hour train ride home!

travel | venice on film

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Before I share some bits on the Venice Film Festival and our trip at the weekend I thought I would share some film photos I took while we were on our familymoon. I am really happy with how these ones came out. I think in future all photos of Venice should be taken with film.

My favourite is the photo I took of the little boy sitting (dangerously I might add) on the edge of the vaparetto stop with his captain’s hat and mini gondola. It isn’t a perfect picture but it just feels so right.

I also love how the black and white so perfectly captures the texture of the city.

Like this? Check out my thoughts on how shooting on film can improve your photography.

read ‘em and eat

kranz dal ciocolato from Dal Mas Pasticerria in Venice

This week was mostly about working at my new job. I am working some extra hours to start as some things need to get done before the kids roll in on Tuesday. It is really great been back in an environment where I actually get to speak to people every day (Tim aside). I am looking forward to getting into more of a routine though once the school year relaxes into ‘normality’ (whatever that is).

Yesterday we went to the Venice Film Festival which is where this breakfast shot is taken. Need to work on food photography that is taken while eaten while walking to catch a waterbus.

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READ ‘EM >>>

No ‘real’ reading this week. Hopefully I will get back into my Gabriel Garcia Marquez book this week.

EAT >>>

Generally the first thing I know do when I arrive in Venice (okay this is only the second time I have done it, but still) is turn left out the station, walk for about 5 minutes and on your right you will find a, likely busy, Pasticerria called Dal Mas. Inside order a kranz dal ciocolato. You pay by weight and it is a little pricey. One of these bad boys rocks in at about €4.50 to €5.00 but they are good! Like seriously good. We ate ours at the Vaperetto stop waiting for a waterbus to the LIdo before 10 in the morning and it did keep me going until we had dinner at 7pm.

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Well the summer holidays are kind of at an end with me working (although I am hoping there are still a good month, or two!, of summer here still), but I thought it was time to share some of what I got up to in the summer. Aside from our familymoon which I will share photos of later (I only had my film camera for that), we did a few little trips on our own.

First up was one of our ‘local’ towns which is about an hour away called Aquiliea. It was an important town in Roman times, was one of the biggest cities in the world in the second century AD and was an important Christian centre during that period. Now the town is a lot more modest with a population of only 3,500. The main ‘pull’ of the town is the Roman town that is slowly being uncovered (where possible). There is a self-guided tour around the town on which you see the ancient forum, some roads and a harbour.

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There are also a beautiful basilica and a former convent that have absolutely beautiful fifth century mosaics that cover a large expanse of floor. The floor is kind of warped in some places but it is amazing how much of the mosaic is still around. It kind of makes me feel like I should take up mosaic. I am sure there are trendier ways of it being done than I remember from my childhood. Aren’t all those ‘old crafts’ cool now?

We climbed up the bell tower which isn’t too many steps, but they are always so narrow. I suppose back in the day it was just used by one guy going to ring a bell and who wasn’t competing with other tourists coming back down or going up.

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Plus there is a cute cat.

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And a pizza restaurant which advertises itself with a giant pizza slice.

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We didn’t go to the archeological museum but there is always next time.