Tag: statues

The stuff of Italy

The stuff of Italy

Surely it’s impossible not to love Italy.

I remember the first time we came – our plan was to spend a few days, then head to Brindisi and catch the ferry to Greece. But Italy sucked us in; we bought one of those limited kilometres train tickets, carefully counted our lira and camped all over the place.

And now Italy has sucked us into its big, bold warmth again. Every city we’ve been in so far I’ve turned to the others and just grinned with the sheer happiness of being here, with my friends, in the sunshine, exploring, eating, relaxing, learning. I’ve had these moments in other places too, but Italy is special.

Because Italy is jam packed with stuff. Crammed into every corner, stuff. From the west to the east, down to the toe and through the islands, great stuff upon even better stuff. Old stuff, new stuff, delicious stuff. Painted stuff, historic stuff, ruined stuff. Pretty and designer stuff. Famous stuff to see, secret stuff to discover.

And in all of that stuff, I can’t think of a single thing that’s wrong. Sure, there are lots of tourists, and some things can be expensive, but whatever. It’s all a part of it. You want history? Italy’s got it. You want food? Every restaurant, cafe, gelateria is a winner. Art? More than covered. Shopping? Don’t get me started. Wine? Don’t make me laugh.

We’ve eaten pasta, pizza, pastries, gelato, cheeses, meats. We’ve seen paintings, frescoes and statues, visited churches, palaces, towers, ruins and monasteries. It’s never-ending – people-watching piazzas, rich, perfect coffee, beautiful wine, scenic landscapes. Quirky little shops, designer stores to look but not buy, markets to haggle in. Big cities, little towns, each with its own identity, its own showstoppers.

And now we are in Livorno, coastal town, with other close friends and even more to explore – canals, markets, food, day trips.

So much stuff.

For the third time in my life I threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain. A guarantee I’ll be doing the turn and grin again.

All that plus a marching band

All that plus a marching band


We didn’t really know much about Philadelphia, so on our first full day we chose to wander our way to the art gallery and back and just see what we could find along the way. And this is how Philadelphia proved to us that sometimes you just happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Let me present the evidence.

Exhibit A: The Discoveries

On our walk we stumbled upon: the murals of Philadelphia, the Amor statue, the Rodin Museum, ‘create your own monument’ pedestals, a pop-up dance exhibition by Philadelphia’s premier ballet company, the quirky ‘Your Move’ sculpture of giant board game pieces, a dancing fountain, Philadelphia’s city hall (the largest in the world), and the impressive Washington Monument Fountain.

Exhibit B: The Weather

It was the most beautiful, beautiful day. The colour of the sky was a clear, bright blue, not one cloud anywhere. It wasn’t humid, it wasn’t hot, it was bright and sparkling and beautiful. People were out and about and happy; I like to think because the weather was perfect.

Exhibit C: The Food

A cute little organic bakery with (real) coffee, spicy Cajun at the Reading Terminal markets, sneaky handmade chocolate truffles and a sensational local Greek restaurant.

Exhibit D: The Parade

And the pièce de résistance? As we walked back down Benjamin Franklin Parkway, we saw a marching band. A big, bold, red and white, loud, feathers in their caps, brass blaring, marching band. We stood in the sunshine bouncing along as they marched past. They were followed by a whole parade, including flag twirling rainbow girls, vintage cars, dancers, streetcars and a six banjo double accordion band. Turns out it was Pulaski Day – the annual parade honouring the Polish patriot known as the ‘father of the American Cavalry’.

Philadelphia – right place, right time.