La Mia Bella Italia - part I

Trip Start May 31, 2006
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Saturday, March 24, 2007

I've always had idyllic memories about Italy.  I remember Italy in the summer of '94 when I was a blooming teenager, stealing secret smiles from handsome Italian boys in the crooked streets of Rome; being turned down at St. Peters Basilica by members of the Swiss Guard for showing up with bare sun-kissed shoulders which I had to cover up; ordering the famous Tagliatelle Alfredo in the original Alfredo restaurant under a secluded bridge which we wouldn't have found even if we wanted to; seeing the Pope, face to face, give a speech in Italian which I didn't fully understand but just sounded so beautiful. 

So yeah, I've always had a weakness in my heart for Italy, that's why I vowed to return many a time to get to know this amazing country full of fiery passionate people, people who could be bankrupt or just been cheated on but will still always show you the beautiful part of life, with their characteristic brilliant smiles. That's why when a long weekend trip to Italy came up I couldn't have sounded more eager.

We planned the trip with our friend Adriano, whose folks live in Lanciano, a small city near Pescara in Central Italy.  Even though Adriano is South African, his father is Italian and with that wonderful hospitality that runs through their veins, we were warmly invited to spend 3 nights in their home. All we had to worry about was getting there.

In our preparation for the trip I looked up the weather forecast: rain, rain, rain all weekend long.  No problem though, we were used to it so I warned my travelling buddies to pack a jacket or jumper.  We found cheap Ryanair tickets for 65 and managed to get our bosses to agree with our 2 day leave.  All is now set to go.

There's only one thing I hate about travelling, and that's playing the waiting game.  I doubt there is time worst spent than waiting in airports.  Also, the new security measures are unbelievable!  I asked the grumpy lady at the X-ray machine if I should take off my belt which had a metal buckle, to which she replied "Nah, you'll be fine".

"Are you sure? I don't want to be held up." I insisted.

"Don't worry m'am, please pass through." 

I obeyed but of course the detector beeped.  A sweet-smelling lady approached me and proceeded to skilfully search me, investigating every corner, crevice and edge where I could be hiding an atomic bomb or an M16. Not only this, but once the profound search was finished, she went for the bag. 

We had to then proceed to another X-Ray machine and insert our shoes.  After the shoes came out there was no place where one could sit to set down your bag and put your shoes on without getting in everyone's way or exposing your plumber's crack.  No, we had to walk down the aisle in socks to where some tandem seats were.  By this time Ed was raging mad, as mad as I've seen him in quite a while, mumbling something about the culture of fear and paranoia.  I calmed him down by buying him two sandwiches (he can be like a puppy sometimes) and dragged him into the plane.

We touched down in Pescara D'Abruzzo Airport tired, hungry and eager to get out of that crammed airbus.  Nonetheless we were very excited when Adriano's brother was waiting in Arrivals to greet us.  It was a half an hour car ride to Lanciano which I wasn't really looking forward to, but then I saw the undulance of green hills upon green hills, raising and dipping but suddenly opening up to a glistening shard of ocean blue.  This was the Italy I wanted to see.
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