Today Christer got a ride to work so we could take the car and go to the market or Ikea or wherever our hearts desired. They only have one company car right now, so if we have somewhere to go during the day, Christine has to drive Christer to work, or he has to come home on his lunch break (which is from 12-3, just like the rest of Italy) and Christine has to drive him back to work. We decided to check out the market in Sacile, 2 towns over. It's pronounced Suh-chie-lay, and is also called 'The Little Venice' because of all the bridges and water running through town. Every town has a day of the week when the piazza is taken over by street vendors and turns into a market from 9-12 (because, again, at 12, EVERYTHING shuts down for lunch). Sacile is not a big town, but it's larger than Caneva, where we live, and has one of the best markets in the area. Christine described the market as an Italian version of the flea market, but let me tell you something, unless I'm just a crazy American, I've never seen a flea market sell some of the stuff that was for sale here. There were multiple fresh flower booths, refrigerated trucks selling meats and cheeses, knock off clothes from the Milan runways, and even a booth selling grape presses, corks, bottles, and everything else you'd need to make your own wine. Here's a picture of some of the booths and all the people shopping. (That's Christine in the blue shirt, and Jameson's little hand sticking out of the stroller--if you click on the picture it will enlarge)
Aside from being awed at all the booths and goods for sale (I love Flea World in Sanford so this was overload for me) I experienced and saw my first real Italian piazza. Sacile is big enough to have a real piazza, and today it was overrun with booths. There is a hotel, a bunch of stores and some coffee shops, and the square is off limits to cars unless you're delivering to a store or being dropped off at the hotel. Picture Church St. Station back when the stores were open, only this piazza had beautiful cobblestone and old rustic buildings, and it didn't have a giant fake gorilla trying to break free hanging overhead from the second story building (Jungle Jim's...remember??). This was the best picture I could get, which isn't very good because it's overrun with people and market goods, but I guess that's characteristic of a piazza.
We had to cross several bridges along the path that the street vendors follow (it's not called the Little Venice for nothing) and some of them were beautiful. Here's a picture of the river flowing through the city with one of the bridges in the background.
One of the bridges had a beautiful view of the city, and happened to be right in front of one of the best gelato shops. Christine said it was the best, and then Christer later told me this shop has the second best gelato in the world. And they have indeed been all over and tried gelato everywhere, so I'm inclined to believe them. (The number 1 gelato shop in the world, according to Christer, is in Verona, which we should be visiting later in the summer.) I had the mascarpone pear flavor, and there's just no way I can describe how good it was. Nothing like the Jeremiah's Italian Ice you can get at home. The gelato shop was right next to this bridge that overlooks the same river in the picture above, but there's a beautiful church in the background that has ancient Roman ruins next to it. We didn't venture over to the Roman ruins because it was nearing Jameson's nap time, but we'll be back to see them some other time.
While we were eating our gelato these uniformed men walked by who happen to be the Italian Polizia (police), and of course, I had to take their picture. Aren't they cute??
There was a beautiful original painting on the inside overhangs of one of the churches. It just shows how old these buildings are.
After our walk around Sacile, we went home, put Jameson down for his nap, and put our beautiful market sunflowers in a pitcher of water.
Exciting news of the day I learned while putting the sunflowers into Christine's Tiffany pitcher: The Tiffany pottery goods are manufactured in a factory about 20 minutes from here. You can actually buy 100% genuine Tiffany plates, bowls, vases, etc. for dirt cheap, they just don't have a Tiffany box. There's a piggy bank in the Tiffany catalog right now for $90 that Christine said is in the factory store for $10. Drats! I wish I had an empty suitcase!
In the afternoon we took Levi (the pretty golden retriever) and Jameson up to a teeny town called Santissima for a walk. It's a very small town and the road has very little traffic so it's safe to walk with a stroller and a dog, unlike most roads around here. We were right at the base of the mountains which made for a very pretty walk. The walk was scenic but the mosquitoes were horrendous!! Holy moly these things are huge! Italian mosquitoes are like Florida mosquitoes on steroids. They put those suckers to shame. They're probably 3 times as big, and just as vicious. Christine said they leave welts for bites too, and so far I think I've escaped unscathed, thank goodness.
It still amazes me how many houses around here have vineyards. I would say about 50% of the houses have a small vineyard growing somewhere on their property. We're not sure if these families make their own wine or what exactly they do with the grapes, but there are tons of them. This is a picture of one of the vineyards we passed along our walk.
There is a river that runs through Santissima with some of the clearest water I've ever seen. Clearer than Wekiwa Springs and Blue Springs even. It's a flowing river, and we're not sure why the water is so crystal clear, but you can literally see every depth of the floor and the color changes in the water because of the depth. It was so pretty I wanted to jump right in!
Ida brought over pasta for lunch which was delicious, of course. I'm excited for a real Italian restaurant tomorrow night. The daughter of one of Christer's co-workers might be coming over to watch Jameson while Christine, Christer, and I go back to Sacile to eat at one of their favorite restaurants.
The weather here is so nice that we're able to keep the windows open all the time. It's really refreshing to let the air in, but my bedroom can only be partially opened. I have two windows, and I keep one shut all the time because there's a little bird's nest between the iron and the screen. I could technically open the window and the screen would keep the bird out, but the nest has 2 little eggs in it, and I don't want to disturb them. (sweet, right?) Christine said she researched it, and it's the male bird that sits on the nest during the day to protect the eggs while the female goes off and does what birds do. The poor guy got scared away once, so I was able to get a picture of all of my roommates. I'll post pictures when the eggs hatch.
Today my favorite thing about Italy is: The markets. Like there was any question.