As per the norm, it has been far too long since I wrote a blog (not that anyone gives a shit or looks forward to these blogs…). My vacation has come and gone, and it was honestly the best vacation I’ve ever had. I wish it had never ended and that I was still in Italy, but here I am – back in Brooklyn and back to work. On the upside, I came home to a new Job lined up, and which I have now been at for almost three weeks – so things are improving for me in that area of life.
It was so nice to be back in Venice and to see my boyfriend’s parents after three very long years, as well as his friends. It was also nice to be able to travel, after not being able to do so for over a year and a half as the result of COVID restrictions. It certainly was a hassle getting multiple COVID tests before flying out and again before flying home, making sure the carrying around our vaccine cards, negative test results, passports, and the additional documentation required (something akin to a “Green Pass”) in my purse at all times, but it was worth it.
While we were in Venice, the highlight (apart from seeing his parents and friends) was the cicheti and affordable wine. We went to town on both… how could you not?! I think the hardest thing since returning to the US, and more specifically returning to NYC, has been the memory of such affordable food and drink when a glass of wine here will set you back $15. We drank good-quality wine for 3 Euros a glass, and filled up our stomachs on delicious food for less than 10 euros a piece. It is a travesty that dining out or drinking in NYC will set you back over $100 on a night out.
I developed a bit of an obsession with seppia (cuttlefish) this time, if I wasn’t already slightly obsessed before, and I don’t just mean eating them. I bought a little cuttlefish (seppia) pin from SEPA, and, as Venice is known for the Murano glass, an adorable little glass seppia. I saw it in the window of a shop and just couldn’t resist!
As Venice is on the water, there is no shortage of seafood everywhere you go, which suits me well, since it is what I love to eat. There are cuttlefish dishes galore, mantis shrimp (which are different and more delectable than regular shrimp), prawns, fish, sardines, scallops, octopus, clams, etc. offered on every menu. It is food paradise for a seafood lover like myself.
The original plan was to spend the last four days of our trip in France: we were going to fly from Venice to Nice, rent a car, and drive to Paris over the course of three days. That was going to be one hell of a hassle, with days that would require 5-6 hours of driving in order to get us to the towns we wanted to visit and eventually put us in Paris the night before we flew home. We decided to nix this plan, and instead spend a couple of days in Tuscany. This made way more sense since we already had plans to visit a friend in Bologna. We changed the plane tickets to fly from Venice to Paris on the last day of our vacation, since we still needed to fly out of Paris.
My boyfriend’s parents were nice enough to let us borrow their car, and we drove to Bologna to visit our friend, before driving to the Chianti region of Tuscany for two nights. It was so good to see our friend in Bologna and catch up, even if it was only for one night. The hotel we had was amazing – a huge suite with a full kitchen and a huge bath tub in the bedroom. It is a shame that we didn’t spend more time in the hotel room, as we were out most of the night! After one night in Bologna, we set out for Chianti.
We are now ruined for life after paying only $135 for a night at Giovanni’s agritourismo (farm/vineyard/lodging) in Greve in Chianti. I was expecting we would be staying in a small cottage, but the 300 year old stone house could have easily accommodated 10 more guests. There were four bedrooms, and three full bathrooms – I think my jaw dropped open when I walked in and saw the place…
Not only was the house itself amazing, but the property was situated on a hilltop, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. There were only a handful of other guests, so it was super quiet and peaceful. Giovanni gave us a tour, the history of his vineyard and the property, and was beyond accommodating and gracious. He gave us recommendations for dinner as well as suggestions for how to spend our short stay in Tuscany.
I don’t think that I have ever felt as relaxed and at such peace as I did during my time in Tuscany. The land, the scenery and the local way of life are such that it is impossible not to live in the moment and to appreciate all that surrounds you, in terms of nature, beauty, and good food and wine. I am considering moving to Tuscany in the next couple of years, if I can save enough to buy a property. I have never felt so inspired to GTFO of NYC as I did while in Tuscany.
My only complaint about my time in Tuscany, is that there are no options for vegetarians or really even pescatarians. And if you happen to be a vegan? Fucking forget about it! When in Rome do as the Romans do, right? While in Tuscany, eat as the locals eat. I went TO FUCKING TOWN eating meat while I was in Tuscany. I mean, how could I not? I ate more meat in three days than I had eaten in the past three years while I was Tuscany. Popular dishes were bolognese, ragu, rabbit, wild boar, beef (and tartare… my favorite), pasta, pork, etc. There was nary a vegetable to be found on most menus, apart from ordering as a side dish. I ordered a salad one night as a side, hoping to get some fiber into my system, and the salad consisted of three leaves of lettuce, a pickled slice of pepper, one cherry tomato, and a smoked herring and huge piece of goat cheese. Needless to say, my digestive system was beyond fucked up after a few days of living on meat and carbs and wine. I was severely bloated and uncomfortable for the remainder of our trip.
After our first night in Chianti, we did a short day-trip to Siena. I loved this little city, and the few hours we spent there were not nearly long enough. I definitely need to go back!
Siena is truly a beautiful and small medieval city. I absolutely must return, hopefully sooner than later.
We originally planned to stay just one night in Tuscany, but while we were in Siena, we decided to book another Airbnb and stay a second night, as we were loving it all so much. The second Airbnb, while still cheap compared to American standards, was slightly more than the cost of our first one, and not nearly as nice. It was still beautiful – don’t get me wrong. I guess our standards were set too high by comparison of of Giovanni’s place! The second Airbnb was also an agritourismo (working farm – lodging situation), not too far from the first place. It was much more rustic, and a lot smaller of an apartment, but the views were (once again) breath-taking.
After our trip to Tuscany, we headed back to Venice for a few more days with my boyfriend’s parents. I finally visited the INSIDE of St. Marco’s cathedral. This was my fourth trip to Venice, and the first time I saw the inside of the cathedral, as opposed to just the outside. Needless to say, my mind was blown by the beauty, the history, and the age of the artifacts.
As our last few days in Venice grew close to ending, we became sad at the prospect of returning back to NYC, but determined we needed to make the most of the time we had left. This included nightly walks and wine, more cicheti and dinner with my boyfriend’s parents.
As always, it was very sad leaving Venice and leaving behind Christian’s parents. I hope we can go back early next year to visit. We flew to Paris the day before our flight back to the U.S., so we still had one night in Paris to look forward to, even though the post-vacation blues were settling in fast and we weren’t even done with our travels yet….
When we arrived in Paris, we were exhausted from our early morning flight and general lack of sleep. I was also bloated AF and unable to go to the bathroom, which put me in a rather sour mood. I’m sorry if that is TMI, but my diet of wine, meat and not enough water or fiber truly had me fucked up. The hotel room in Paris was more than our Airbnb costs combined, and so tiny it was a joke. We put our stuff down, refreshed, and headed out for a full day and abbreviated tour of the city.
Paris is a beautiful city, but it is huge and clearly impossible to thoroughly explore in such a short time frame. Prior to our flight from Venice to Paris, we were on the fence about how to spend our very short time there. We did the Louvre last time (which takes up a full day). Versailles is on my list of things to see, but unfortunately that would have required a FULL day. I also considered the catacombs, and dancing on Jim Morrison’s grave. I think next time I’ll have to dance on Jim Morrison’s grave….
After our second abbreviated tour of Paris, I decided I much prefer Venice, although as my boyfriend kept pointing out, they’re two totally different cities and vibes and therefore cannot really be compared to each other.
Naturally we were both miserable to return to disgusting NYC and our even more disgusting Brooklyn neighborhood. I also returned to a life in which I am still helping the two street cats I rescued back in May. Somehow I am still involved fundraising and bringing them to vet appointments. The end does seem to be in sight, however. Gracie (the more feral cat that went to live with her feeder), is going for her dental extractions next Wednesday. Naturally, I somehow find myself (once again) responsible for catching her from under the bed at her home, taking her to and from the upcoming appointment, and for raising the funds to cover the appointment. All of this after I threw down my own cash and time for the vet appointment I brought her to this past Saturday.
Honestly, I cannot wait until she is done with this appointment. I hope that not only will she feel much better, but maybe she will become friendlier and happier in general. I’m also hoping that this is the last I will ever have to be involved with either cat.
If anyone reading this has it in their heart (and pocket) to kindly donate $10 or $20 to her upcoming appointment, it would be BEYOND appreciated, and you will go on my list of real-life heroes. Below is a link to her GoFundMe:
DONATE TO GRACIE’S DENTAL:
I did have a couple of great things to keep me motivated and to look forward to after returning from my vacation. Apart from my new job, which has been great so far, I went home the first weekend of October to attend my Aunt and Uncle’s annual “family picnic.” It is always so nice to see my family – at the end of the day, I always know my family has my back and wants what is best for me. I am thankful that I am so close with my family…. they are not perfect (who’s family is???), but they are supportive and they love me (I think…), and sometimes in this crazy fucked up world, their love and support is what I need to feel OK when shit hits the fan in other aspects of my life.
Anyhow, I digress. Here are some pics of my aunt and uncle’s cozy cottage on the Susquehanna river, and shots from the BBQ.
Would it be a blog if I didn’t throw in some selfies? It would be, but not my blog. Here you go:
I’m too sad to write this recipe right now, so I’ll have to get back you in my next blog. Stay tuned.