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Italy: Ponte Mazzori (February 23, 2002)

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We have finally left France. It is sad, but Italy awaits us and we cannot ignore the fact that we are traveling. The villa that we are staying in is on the third floor of somebody's house. The Italian language is similar to French, but it is also very different. I can speak a few words of it: pizza, spaghetti and Roma. I don't think this will help very much.

We went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa (not pizza). The tower was built on unstable ground, and Dad said that it was leaning even before it was finished. This explains why the entire bottom of the tower is leaning, but the top is tilted so it is level with the ground. It was very cold when we got there, and we couldn't climb the tower because there were no more tickets (there seems to be a ticket shortage right now; first in Nice and now in Italy). That was okay, because we weren't planning on climbing it anyway. Dad took some trick pictures of Joss and I holding up the tower of Pisa, and I took one of Dad holding it up. We also bought some pins and patches for Italy and the Leaning Tower for our collections.

We also went to the Cinque Terre. Cinque in Italian means five, and Terre is ground. The Cinque Terre are five towns built along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. There is a little train that goes from town to town, but there are also hiking trails. Mom and Dad told us that we were going to start with the hardest walk, Monterosso to Vernazza. Joss and I were looking for gelato, Italian ice cream. We didn't find any, so Joss just got a popsicle and I got an ice cream sandwich. After we were done with that, we played at a small park for a while. Then we began our hike.

As the trail was right next to the Mediterranean Sea, there was a sheer drop off to one side of the trail. This made Mom extremely nervous, especially since there was no railing. Joss kept running ahead and out of our sight, so Mom kept sending me after him so that we knew he hadn't fallen off the cliff. After about an hour of hiking, we stopped for a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yum. And then we walked the rest of the trail…

Pant…Pant…Pant…Town ahead! These were the noises that we were making as we approached Vernazza. We walked into town, and this time Dad was leading. Again we looked for a Gelateria (a place that makes gelato) with no luck. Mom and Dad let Joss and I play on some rocks by the sea for a while, then we went to the train station to take the train back to Monterosso; we weren't about to walk all the way back.

This time, luckily, there was no ticket shortage. After getting on to the real train (it seems the Italians try to trick you by sending out three other fake trains before yours), however, Dad discovered that he had not validated our tickets. So we had to buy new ones. Mom and Dad let us play some more at the park when we arrived at Monterosso, and then we went back to our villa.

For our last adventure in Ponte Mazzori, we went to the Uffizi museum in Florence. We had finally found gelato, and it was really good! Dad decided to read to us about the paintings, that way Joss and I weren't just staring at a picture without even knowing who painted it. We learned how in the Medieval Ages, painters tried tipping the head of the main person forward to make it look 3-D (nice try) and how painters in the Renaissance learned perspective. It was a lot more fun than any other museum that I had visited in Europe and I am looking forward to more museums and other Italian adventures (and also more gelato!)


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