Date: Friday, October 29, 1999 8:16 AMDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Subject: Treviso/Venice: Oct 14-15, 1999
Current Date/Location: Oct 29, 1999. Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Editorial Correction of my previous Editorial Correction: It has become known to the Editorial Board that Ali is neither from New Jersey nor Brooklyn as had been previously reported...she is from a particular part of Yankee-Land known as Manhattan, New York...she was only wearing a team jersey from the Brooklyn Blades (her team) but is certainly from Manhattan...touchy...touchy...eh? I apologize for any confusion...but hey...it is not like I am a freaking journalist...eh!???...so fogettaboutit!
NOTE on my Italian Skills: They stink. I never took Italian...I took Spanish...so you will probably easily find many spelling errors in the following with anything that resembles my poor attempts at Italian...live
Oct. 14, 1999
Woke in Firenze...walked leisurely from Archi Rossi Hostel to the train station to meet the girls...then all heck broke loose!
Did I mention that Eileen's nickname is Princess??? Well, that goes for her friends also! Have you ever known a princess to pack lightly???!!! NOOOOOOOO! So, there I am...trying to board a train carrying my backpack and trying to move, carry, pull, and drag the girls, their 3 huge suitcases, and day bags....ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!! I guess there really is no such thing as a free meal. Anyway...we all get on an extremely packed train and can't move due to the luggage...so I throw it all in a corner...and go scouting for a berth (or an exit...I couldn't decide which) for us. Finally found a train car with only 2 people in it...so I lugged all the luggage (now I know where the name came from) to our new home...and flopped in our seats. Talked with the really nice Italian folks in our car. Finally ended up in Treviso, Italy (just a little North of Venice) which is where Eileen's father is from and where that side of the family lives. Eileen's parents had gone directly to Treviso from the USA and were meeting us there.
Again...lugged all the &#@!@$ suitcases off the train and down the %#!@$# stairs and up the $#!@$# stairs and to the curb where we met Eileen's father, mother, and two uncles (Zio Bruno and Zio ? ...sorry, I can't remember...like Giovanni...but that wasn't it...started with a G...hmmm...don't know...but he was the father of the bride...by the way, Zio means uncle in Italian (spelling is probably wrong...cut me some slack!)).
Again, I heaved the $@!$#@ luggage into the #$@!$# trunks of the cars...and we were off! We went to Zio ?'s house and met the rest of the aunts and cousins. We were then first asked my favorite Italian question "Fame???" with a sideways hand gesture towards the lower part of your ribs...they were
not asking whether I was Famous as I originally had believed (hmmmm...wonder how they found out???), no...Fame? means are you hungry? ...like are you Famished? and the hand gesture indicates that your stomach is below empty. Ahhhhhh...yes...I could eat (a horse!)...but to be nice, I indicated that I
was only a "picolo" (small amount) hungry. Fortunately, the girls were Fame...so we were escorted into the kitchen and sat down...ahhhhh...Italy!
For the next 45 minutes were given plates of different kinds of cheeses, salamis, and ham...and always wanting to give us more wine. I drank water...but made up it by eating a lot. Mmmmmmmm...it was the first of many such wonderful force-feedings at the hands of Eileen's relentless relatives...ever hopeful that we would need more to eat.
We then went to the hotel that Eileen's parents had arranged for us. It was to have 2 rooms...and since Eileen and I were friends...we would be sharing a room...this is what we knew...what we didn't know was that both rooms had big "matrimonial" beds. Now, you must know that Eileen is 31 years old and
not yet married...which doesn't bother her much...but I joked with her that her parents were obviously wanting something to happen in her personal life...she said for me to shut-up and keep on my side of the bed! ...hmmmm...guess no sense of humor. The upside of the hotel was that the rooms were nice, big, had bathrooms ensuite, and most importantly...were a mere 1 block from Zio Bruno's house!!!!! (This is obviously foreshadowing for events to come...)
After cleaning up and powdering our noses, we went with Eileen's father and Zio Bruno to walk around Treviso's downtown. Treviso turned out to be a lovely little Italian town...the kind that deserves tourism...but hasn't been found by the tourists...it was nice. Treviso's other claim to fame is that it is the home of the Benneton family and company (Yes...Benneton Clothing is headquartered in the tiny town of Treviso!)...in fact, Zio Bruno had been a driver for Benneton for many years and was now retired. Eileen's father had grown-up quickly as he found he needed to move to the USA for a better life and opportunities and was able to help his family by sending money back to Italy...hmmmmm...sounds like many stories of immigrants who have come to the USA as much for themselves as for their families that they left behind...the American Dream...makes me aware of how lucky I have been sometimes to have grown-up in a stable environment (family and government) and in a country where opportunity rises to meet the ambitious. I appreciated Eileen's father and entire family at many points in the upcoming days for sharing their lives and experiences with me...something I will never forget.
After the tour of Treviso...we did what I had only dreamed of: Sat Down for an Italian Dinner!!! Arrrgggghhhhh!!!! It was terrible! We went to Zio Bruno's house where they kept forcing me to eat (If I paused between bites...they would yell "MANGA! MANGA!" at me)...first formaggio (cheese)...then pastas...then various cooked meats...Oh, the horror! I thought my stomach would burst...oh, the pain I endured to satisfy these Italians...I was forced to eat 2-3 helpings of everything...but, in the
interests of good USA-Italy relations, I forced myself to continue eating...I did not want to insult my hosts...so I ate practically everything they put in front of me. Now, diplomatic relations almost broke down when Zio Bruno discovered I didn't drink wine...he suggested that the rest of them hold me down and he would pour it down my throat...but he seemed satisfied with my eating habits...and that I certainly appreciated the meat that he had cooked on his BBQ grill.
Zio Bruno was certainly a character! He epitomized all the best Italian stereotypes...he loved cigarettes, drink, food, and his family without apology. He was retired and was enjoying life...he would disappear...and return from smoking a cigarette outside...his wife and girls giving him grief...he would simply have the most satisfied look on his face...wink at me...and gesture that it had been a magnificent smoke and of unquestionable enjoyment. I almost took up smoking, just to experience the pleasure that
Zio Bruno seemed to exude. In the middle of dinner, he took me outside to show me his BBQ room. He had at least 3 different types of BBQ grills, all the utensils you would ever want, and a rotisserie for those occasions that called for it! He was born to baste!
We fairly rolled back to our hotel...a wonderful 1 block walk away...and simply fell into bed...as full as ticks off a blood-hound...burp!
Oct. 15, 1999
Woke up...arrrrrghhhh...urp! Ahhhhh...my stomach felt great...I rubbed it...I felt about 3 months pregnant...I love this Italy thing...
Anyway...we showered, shaved, and worked on shining...went to Zio Bruno's house for breakfast! Then, we were off to see Venice! We were guided by Eileen's father, mother, and cousin Vivianna.
Venice is everything you have ever heard. It is beautiful, romantic, full of canals, bridges, and gondolas. We walked around the city...first stop
was the Piazza San Marco. It is a huge square with the Basilica di San Marco (church) and all the pigeons that you can imagine. We visited the Basilica first...the inside is absolutely spectacular! NOTE: I have been in Europe for over 2 months at this point...churches are becoming ho-hum...for me to say it is spectacular...means it is freaking amazing! The mosaics and tiles are incredible and completely overwhelm you with their size, brilliance, and art. This is a seriously old church...built in the 11th century...with the famous 4 horses that were taken during the sack of Constantinople (now it is Istanbul, not Constantinople) in 1204. From the top of the Basilica is a fabulous view of the Piazza and overlooks the Grand Canal.
Crossed the Ponte di Rialto...a big bridge with many shops. We saw a glassblowing demonstration (remember, Venetian Glass is world famous). It was spectacular...in the span of a few minutes, the glass blower could make the most amazing things out of a glob of molten glass...needless to say, the prices were just about as spectacular...I would have bought Venetian glass for all of my family and friends despite the costs...but alas, it is hard to pack into a backpack...so I didn't buy...sorry.
We returned to Treviso just in time for...guess what??? Dinner at Zio Bruno's!!! It was again...horrible...more food that I ate...more people yelling Manga! and Fame!...Burp...ummmm...more eating...we had incredible Gnocchi...burp...formaggio...burp...proscutto ham)...burp...dessert...burp...ahhhhhh....we were joined by another Zio (Eileen's father is one of 6 kids...so lots of Zios and Zias running around) and everyone talked late into the night...
We stumbled the 1 block back to our hotel...and as usual...fell into beds happier than dung beetles in pile of fresh manure. Burp!