Saturday, July 30, 2016

A couple of weeks of planning and re-planning

I have been busy writing advice for the footworn at TripAdvisor, brushing up my recall of how to get around, especially how to get around Rome, and along the way being a bit seduced by other people's ideas.

We decided to shift from our plan to visit Rapallo, in the Italian riviera, perhaps because we are just not resort town people, perhaps because the maddening crowds desperate to go to the Cinque Terre made me want to go somewhere far away.

This photo of ancient Lecce apartment presents a wonderful dilemma
of things to look at from the sofa, if you rent it :
impossible Italian TV or the stunning fresco? Click to enlarge.
I then grew apprehensive about the prospect of the north being still chill in the end of March and saw that we could go to Lecce, way down in the boot heel of Italy, five and a half hours at rocket speed in a Frecciaargento (Silver Arrow) salubrious insulated race through the environment. To stay somewhere like this for $AUD100 a night
... a lovely town.

And I discovered that from there we could take a not quite so fast but also salubrious White Arrow at 8 in the morning all the way up the coast to plonk us in the centre of Bologna just after 3. Writing this brings on the hankering again.

Then I gave thought to taking a rental car through snowy mountain peaks from Venice and Vicenza to Rovereto and Trento in the Alto-Adige, etc etc. But then, reflecting on having once long ago spun a car through about 600+ degrees on sudden ice, hastening for a ferry in Dunkirk, my mind went to the closing scenes of Michael Caine's 1969 The Italian Job.

But then a realisation of my persistent inclination to over-complicate things (though not nearly as much as people arriving at TripAdvisor wanting three countries in seven days, Italy to include Venice, Rome, Florence).

So back to the life principle: you can't have everything. Which is also the first law to apply when standing in the gelateria trying to make up your mind. With the second rule: maybe you can grab at everything, but you'll regret it. Even in a small and remarkable gelateria, like the Gelateria del Teatro in Rome, whose proprietor is quoted as having this perspective, which applies to touring as well as eating gelato:
"Il gelato è una magia che nasce dalla combinazione di solidi e liquidi che per loro natura non amano stare insieme; il segreto è trovare un equilibrio, il giusto bilanciamento che li faccia rimanere insieme”.
"Gelato is a spell, born of combining solids and liquids which from their nature do not like to be together; the secret is to find a balance, a just balance that makes them hang together."

Well, you can't have everything on one visit, but if you can visit often you are very fortunate.

So: adopt a fresh and slightly more languorous perspective with time to let flavours have their way.

To arrive in Rome on Friday 17 March, just for a few days to refresh memories, to walk about.

To proceed on Tuesday 21 March by insulated salubrious Freccia red or silver to Bologna.

To stay at Bologna for a week. This is a fabulous piece of blog writing, on staying a while somewhere in Italy.

Then a car for a week basing ourselves in Forli, a good base from which to scout a number of places in the lower Po valley and adjacent hills including Ravenna, and itself a different kind of small city, next to the smaller home town of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini lavished Forli with projects and institutes.

Then drop the car, take the train to Chioggia, with the hope of a sunny day to take a day trip to Venice over the water.

From Chioggia to Mantova by small and slower trains.

A week in Mantova, a difficult choice between Verona and Mantova: perhaps elegance victorious over romance, also fewer tourists.

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