Life in the Ferrari Fast Lane

ferrari_museum
I climb into the cherry road cockpit of the Ferrari, nervous.

“I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car in months,” I explain to my instructor, clad in a jumpsuit the same bright red color as the car, the Ferrari emblem on his chest.

He smiles and then leans over the car, showing me the various gadgets in front of me. I’d tell you what they were, but it’s car talk, and I don’t speak car talk. The only thing I remember is the switch to hit when I want to go fast (I don’t) and to kick it into manual (which I have never driven before).

“OK,” he says after his how-to-drive-a-Ferrari tutorial. “Ready?”

I cringe, smile, and then I’m off.

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History and charm: Riomaggiore’s Alla Marina

riomaggiore_alla_marina
We stand outside the cafe, a gorgeous stone terrace with little tables, overlooking the tranquil blue water of the Ligurian Sea (a far cry from the tumultuous experience the day before when attempting to take Cinque Terre’s water ferry). Mom and I stand waiting, our suitcases at our sides, when the owner of Alla Marina comes up to us. We’re renting an apartment in Riomaggiore for our last night in the gorgeous region of Italy, and moved from our Flipkey rental in Vernazza to the most southern of the five towns to enjoy a the remaining moments of our mother-daughter Italian vacation.

“Hello, hello,” Sandro Pasini greets us. He’s one of the two brothers who run the Alla Marina, a small cluster of rooms and apartments in the village. Sandro is tall, his English perfect, and his willingness to help us is apparent immediately.

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Photos of Venice, Italy

photos of Venice

Venice, Italy is quite a photographers dream.

With the sparkling lagoons, tiny car-free lanes, buildings in a state of beautiful erosion, colors, lights, the historic landmarks and buildings … it is hard not to simply see Venice through the lens of a camera versus simply experiencing the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Of course, during my visit to the city, when I wasn’t trying to dodge the tourists, I was snapping photos and making sure I didn’t trip and fall head first into one of the canals. ‘Cause I totally could have.

With hundreds of photos of Venice to choose from, it was difficult to narrow it down. The city is that photogenic.

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Things to do in Venice: Alone in St. Marks Basilica Tour

Alone in St Marks
The thick doors of St. Mark’s Basilica close behind us, shutting us off to the whir and clamor of the throngs of people in Venice and we step into the entryway of the historical and iconic St. Mark’s. Located in Piazzo San Marco and connected to the Doge’s Palace, in the most recognizable city in the world (according to moi), tonight our visit to Venice’s St. Mark’s is blessedly quiet. Being one of the most popular things to do in Venice, the tourists which flock to this well-known attraction by the thousands during the day, are not standing here with us tonight. In fact, it is only a handful of us in this building, which dates back to the 800s. I’m really not one for visiting churches, but this opportunity is different; this is a Walks of Italy guided tour with an art historian through this massive, guide-book-recommended must in Venice … at night.

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Are tourists ruining Venice?

Asking the question are tourists ruining Venice?

In front of me, a sea of people spans in all directions, even as the gray clouds above us threaten to burst.

Deep in the heart of San Marco Square, and what I deem the heart of the touristic center of the main island which makes up the step-back-in-time Venice, the tourists are unavoidable. In fact, here they are more in my face than any other place I have visited (and I am counting the mass of people gaping at Mona Lisa at the Louvre). It is shoulder-to-shoulder packed and puts me into the throes of those tense, pre-anxiety attack moments where all I want to do is throw elbows and make my way from where my packed water taxi has deposited myself along with the other throngs of tourists, through the massive square, and down into the veins of the town where my hotel is.

But, I can’t.

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Mourning and the Adriatic

Trieste, Italy

One of the last memories I have of the Adriatic Sea is standing on its rocky shore in Trogir, Croatia, bending down and picking up a smooth stone to take back to America with me. To place on my grandmother’s freshly dug grave.

It was a beautiful day in September. Blue sky. Bluer water. And, that day, I just knew she was going to pass away. The thought hung over my head much like the gray clouds which tended to rush over the green hills surrounding the beach in the late afternoons there.

She was dead, and I was in Croatia. Alone. Love, life, loss … far, far from home.

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Returning to the world of solo travel

I step into my salmon pink room at Affittacamere alls Stazione where the smell of stale smoke lingers and am brought back to another time along the shore of the Adriatic Sea. Apparently, the only person in this little guest house tucked into the third floor 150 meters from the train station, I am thankful for the piercing sound of silence, only marred by the creaking of the wood floor as the owner herself likely prepares for sleep.

Affittacamere alla Stazione

It’s been a long day traveling from Israel. An emotional day. And I am exhausted from travel and thinking and thinking some more. I’m angry at the cigarette I smoked, but there is this rapid fire going off in my brain as I tried to reason my life out over pasta and red wine on the patio of a cafe at the Milan train station … tried to recall the excitement I used to have for hitting the world by myself. Knowing I would not succumb again, I gave in and let the foul taste hit my tongue, then the smoke dance into my lungs. I just stared at the impostor perched between my pointer and middle finger.
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