Shitty Beds, Sexy Men, and Bastardized Balsamic {Italy, Part One}

Sunday & Monday August 28 & 29 // Venice, Italy

Sunday night we arrived in Venice late and immediately boarded a bus that would drop us at the water taxi. That ride was spectacular. It went down the grand canal and was right out of a movie. The scenery was stunning and it was amazing to see at night. It was like being in a dream. It didn't even look real and is unlike any other place in the world.

We got off in St. Mark's Square and walked around the corner into the idyllic, classic piazza. There was live music and it was very surreal.

venice 2016

Our hotel was not far from the square and was your typical tiny, old Italian place, but it was private, clean and fine for one night. 

Monday morning we went to a great cafe right off of the Rialto Bridge and had super delicious lattes and croissants overlooking the grand canal.

venice 2016

We went to the Rialto market afterwards and got fresh fruit that we ate while dangling our feet into the canal watching all of the boats go by. It was fucking magical. 

Then we walked around some more and took shit loads of pictures overlooking the canal:

venice 2016

And lots of pictures weaving through the network of tiny alleys and smaller canals:

Soon after it started to get super hot and we started to lose our spunk. The streets were tiny and packed solid with other dumbass tourists. We walked around as best we could, but it was quickly becoming miserable. Thankfully though we stumbled down an alley into this incredible cafe that had individual pieces of bruschetta in a hundred different flavors. We each loaded up a plate with different amazing bites and had one of the best lunches of the trip. 

Our train still wasn't for several hours, but we went to the train station anyway because it was just too hot for walking and being out in it. Thankfully the station was beautiful and had a really nice shaded outdoor cafe that we could lounge in until it was time for our train to Modena. 

Me: (drops pizza crust on floor of train car)
OH NOOOOOO! That crust was so good. Fuck. What do I do?

(Picks crust up, looks to him for guidance)
Can i eat it still?


Him: Off a train floor? Hellllll no. I can't even fucking BELIEVE you would consider that. 
(Opens train car trash can, impatiently awaits)

Put that crust in here right now. 

Monday, August 29-Thursday, September 1 // Modena, Italy

Our arrival in Modena was easy and our Airbnb apartment was beautiful and comfortable. It was very modern, but not without it’s quirks….

There were a couple of mystery things about the bathroom, in particular. There is a toilet and a bidet, of course. But next to the toilet is a hose. Elizabeth and I thought it was a sprayer for your crotch, though that did seem weird since there was a bidet. We each tried it on our crotches and it was unpleasant, way too powerful - it shoots a small, super hard stream of water out. Not a gentle spray like one would expect. There was also a remote in the bathroom that neither of us could figure out what to do with. 

At one point my darling boyfriend comes bounding out of the bathroom and says, "Ok. Two things: One, the little sprayer unit next to the toilet? That is a super high powered sprayer to replace a toilet brush. You know, so you can just spray the shit right off."

(Presumably he found this out because he used it to spray off the toilet bowl after we both pooped and didn't bother to. Because we didn't know.)

Me and her, "Ohhhhhhh. That's why it felt so violent on our vaginas."

Him, "Jesus. Just use the goddamn bidet. Don't spray yer pussies with the water jet. Or yer assholes. And number two - this remote is to open the blinds, the mechanical blinds.”

Me and her: "Ohhhhhh....." 

Sometimes it’s good to have a man around, you know?

We spent the next few days enjoying the wonderful town center. One of the days Kris hit a car museum by himself while Elizabeth and I went and had cocktails at a chic little sidewalk cafe in the center of town.

Here’s Kris recounting his visit after he got home later:

Another day the three of us hit the Enzo Ferrari museum.... (this is different than the one Kris went to alone)

Elizabeth and I found a beautiful man at the produce stand inside their daily farmer's market....

And of course, really beautiful produce:

modena 2016

Which turned into really delicious dinners….

Modena 2016

And we discovered an insane balsamic vinegar house - Acetaia Di Giorgio. We'd read about it online and decided to just show up. It turned out to just be a giant house though, and we stood outside the gate nervous about intruding. I just lurched forward and hit the buzzer, and thank fuck for that. A cute old Italian man came out and got us and said something about the tour having just strarted. We didn't know about any tour and weren't there for that, but it just worked out so perfectly and we jumped in like we were there on purpose. 

The tour was eye opening and we learned so much about proper balsamic vinegar. It made me sad how much we have bastardized it and gotten so far away from this beautifully crafted product. Literally my eyes filled with tears when I tasted my first sample. It was one of those moments I'll always remember. And of course we bought a bottle. It was the best fifty bucks we've ever spent. 

Here were Elizabeth’s thoughts: Today we toured an authentic producer of Balsamic vinegar here in Modena. We learned that real Balsamic vinegar produced in this region can only be bottled in these very specific tiny little 100ml bottles like the one shown in the picture below. It is not offered in any other size or shape and all the local authentic producers are part of a consortium that uses the exact same bottle. Any other Balsamic vinegar from anywhere else cannot be bottled in these bottles, and it is not authentic. Then we tasted both 12 year and 25 year samples of this authentic vinegar and basically had our minds totally blown. I mean BLOWN. The taste is like nothing we've ever experienced. We are forever changed. The other stuff you buy in the stores all over the world is literally garbage compared to this. The fake stuff contains all kinds of artificial flavors and colors and who knows what else. Whereas the real stuff is so distinct, so layered, so sweet and tangy all at the same time. And so much thicker than the crap stuff. It's like tasting a fine scotch or something. There's just nothing else like it. The tour is free because they are so confident that once you taste it you will immediately buy a bottle or three, and I'm pretty sure that every single group on the tour did just that. I don't know what we're gonna do when we run out of this stuff back home. In the states it's like $200 for a bottle like this. Here it was about $50. Katie said she is gonna keep it hidden in her nightstand so people don't mistake it for some cheap $4 junk.

modena 2016

And Kris’ -

Today we toured a family owned, traditional balsamic vinegar production house. It was a life changing experience. We tasted balsamic vinegar aged 12+ and 25+ years, and learned so much about the aging process. They age the vinegar in these barrels made of various woods, and some are over a hundred years old. Plus, look at our adorable tour guide named Marcello - couldn't your heart just explode?! 

modena 2016

The people in Modena were just seriously chic. All of the people dressed so fucking stylish biking all over town just looked like a staged photo shoot:

And the coffee and pastries were just ridick:

It was just darling and I felt like we could’ve easily spent a couple of weeks there….

Thursday, September 1st // Perugia

After a few days in Modena, we made a quick stop in Perugia - a tiny hill town in Tuscany where we spent an emotional roller coaster of a month two years ago. It was really nice to go back there and visit some of our favorite spots. Our friend, Alessio, put us up in one of his family's apartments and it was beautiful - like the penthouse of the building and totally decked out. 

After we got settled we went to ABC cafe for some sandwiches

We walked around town afterwards and enjoyed the sunset:

perugia 2016

And then later got a pizza to go and ate in on the steps listening to a band play in one of the piazzas. It was pretty classic.

perugia 2016

The very next morning we had a magical coffee experience at our favorite spot, Sandri:

Then Alessio drove us down the hill to catch our train to Rome. From Rome we caught a second train to Naples and that was a real shit hole. It was stinky and hot and dirty and gross and we had a heck of a time figuring out the ferry to Sorrento. Kris got it all sorted though and we ended up sharing a bottle of Coke while we were on board. Ha.

sorrento 2016

Friday, September 2nd-Tuesday, September 6th // Sorrento, Italy

Our Airbnb host picked us up at the ferry in Sorrento and drove us around the town center for a little tour before heading up the hill to his villa where we were staying in a guest house on his property.  

The view from our patio was breathtaking and *almost* made up for the ninety five year old mattresses that we had to sleep on for four nights. It was nice being up in the hills though and we took the time to do tons of writing, cook at home, and basically do nothing for the weekend.

The one time we did venture down the hill, it totally sucked. Sorrento is a mixed bag and very touristy. We had shitty food at a cafe and the main drag in town was just commercial and crap.

The walk itself was nice though!

sorrento 2016
sorrento 2016

But the balcony saved us and it was great having a full kitchen so we just stocked up on groceries and stayed in our little bubble.

One afternoon we watched the most incredible storm roll in:

sorrento 2016
sorrento 2016

Our host was just the sweetest and would bring us a little tray of croissants and espresso every morning, but the espresso was pretty bad so we always ended up making our own:

All in all it was a really nice long weekend, but we were excited to get the fuck out of those shit beds.