One of the great things about being here with Chris, is I get to tag along when he goes somewhere for work. This adventure took us to Vicenza, Italy. We ended up driving, which was a great idea. Even though it was an eight hour drive, it was well worth it. We took a wrong turn somewhere along the way and ended up driving though Switzerland and Austria. Driving through the Alps was the most majestic experience I've had since coming to Europe. The sun was bright and the sky was so clear that it made the snow-capped mountains sparkle as we drove. I switched on the radio, and as we drove out of a tunnel, the sun hit our car and Enya began to flow out of the speakers. I felt like I was in a movie, it was almost too perfect to be true.
We arrived in Vicenza late in the afternoon. We checked into our hotel and met one of Chris's work colleagues for dinner. One thing we didn't know at the time was the way the Italians do dinner. In Italy, dinner is not just a meal. it's an event in its own. Here is the structure of an Italian meal:
1. Aperitivo - Typically an alcholoic beverage enjoyed as an appetizer usually before a large meal. This could be could be campari, cinzano, prosecco, aperol, spritz, or vermouth.
2. Antipasto "before (the) meal" - a hot or cold appetizer.
3. Primo "first course" - usually consists of a hot dish like pasta, risotto, gnocchi, or soup.
4. Secondo "second course" - the main dish, usually fish or meat.
5. Contorno "side dish" - may be a salad or cooked vegetable, this is served with the Secondo course.
6. Formaggio e frutta "cheese and fruits" - the first dessert.
7. Dolce "sweet" - such as cakes and cookies.
8. Caffè "coffee" - typically a shot of espresso.
9. Digestivo "digestives" - liquors/liqueurs, also known as "coffee killers"
Dinners typically start at 8:00 in the evening and get over around 10:30-11:00. When we ate out we didn't go for the full traditional meal, we typically just ordered an antipasto and secondo course.
One day I was on Facebook, and noticed a friend from my old Army Reserves unit in Minnesota was now active duty Army and stationed in Vicenzia! We met up and he showed me around town. He laughed when he saw me with my gold framed aviator sunglasses, "going local eh?" he then pulled out his aviators. It was great to see an old friend!
Italians have a very leisure-like attitude about everything. Buses were never on time, we waited for a bus for over an hour before it came. After living in Germany and using the punctual German public transit, this drove me crazy. When eating out (even though we never did the full courses) would take at least two hours. These are just a few reasons why I think Italy is one of those places that is great to visit on vacation, but would be difficult to live there!
From Vicenzia, Chris and I headed to Venice before going back to Germany. More on that next time!