BUT ITALY! It was pretty great. Not so much Rome, which was dirty and stuffed with a line of people trying to aggressively sell me bootleg water and random old ladies trying to touch my face in the hopes I would buy their rosaries or whatever, but southern Italy was pretty spectacular.
I went on a vegan tour with twenty-three other people and it was amazing and soul-soothing and stomach-expanding. Seriously, vegans can eat a lot on our own but you add Italian food--which seems to be based around making you super full in the first place--into the mix and you end up with me gaining 10lbs in ten days.
|Spops grocery section|
|Delicious bruschetta that challenged my dislike of tomatoes|
I'm still not sure if he's an astronaut or just a gardener in a protective suit, but I'm with it either way.
After that we made our way to Matera, the oldest living city in the world. It was initially settled 10,000 years ago by people living in the natural caves in the site of the mountain, surviving off the river that slowly carved its way through a ravine.
From there, people moved on to carving out their own homes across the river, creating cisterns for storing rain water and living ~ten humans and a donkey to every one-room home. They lived mostly the same for thousands of years until they were forcibly removed by the Italian government in the '50s, their homes barred up so they couldn't sneak back in during the night.
The Italian government has since realized what an important, historic site Matera is and worked with other European countries to get money into revitalizing the place and making it livable again. Many of the dwellings are still unlivable, but if you're looking for an investment opportunity you can lease a cave dwelling rent-free for 90 years as long as you're willing to restore it! Such a deal!
|You do have to stick to green as the door/shutter paint color,|
but it's so beautiful, I say go for it!
|Puttering around in leggings, my dress from the day, my|
sweater, and socks because it was chilly.
|Just running casually up a wall, NBD|
|This angel hid under my skirt and wouldn't come out.|
|Being ignored by an Italian cat was an honor!|
|This trulli was in Lecce at the winery, but it's the only picture of one I have, oops.|
|The trees get a disease that will kill them if you don't|
carve out the insides. (Or so we were told.)
|Borgo San Marco|
|Instead of drinking the free wine, I tried to make friends with winery-kitty, but he got cranky|
and attacked one of the other tour group members instead. Oops.
|Orecchiette I made by hand! It wasn't good enough cook, so we ate professionally-made ones for dinner.|
|Italian Mama prepping to teach us how to cook|
|Miyoko taught us to make fried squash blossoms, a peach galette, and soup!|
Rome was worth visiting, even though it was so busy and dirty. The Colosseum is the only monument I've seen that really was as impressive as I thought it would be. I loved every monument in DC, of course, but somehow they all seemed smaller than I thought they would be. The Colosseum was exactly as it should be and I did really enjoy walking by it any chance I got.
Now that I'm home, I've got to concentrate on the real world again. Sigh. More about all that later!