Category: Italy
Trip Report #: 102
Five weeks* in Italy
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*on Crutches!


In Nov-Dec 2010, I spent five weeks in northern Italy. The main reason for my trip was as a TA for a course in Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering, taught at the ROSE School in Pavia by Dr. Steve Kramer (my advisor at the University of Washington). Nevertheless, I managed to do several unique day trips to nearby areas (like Cinque Terre, Lake Como, Certosa di Pavia, Pisa, Lucca, Milan, Trento-Bolzano-Renon, and Venice), and I took lots and lots of photos.

My time in Italy was especially challenging because I was on crutches, due to a badly broken leg I suffered in a climbing accident a couple of months previous. Getting on and off buses and trains, shopping in crowded and narrow aisles, hopping out of the way of fast Fiats on narrow streets, carrying a backpack loaded with camera gear or textbooks, and negotiating wet cobblestones, uneven stairways, and 4-ft entryways — Italy was like a daily obstacle course! But I was determined not to let my broken leg stop me from enjoying this unique and beautiful country. A few shots of espresso always helped!

Since I plan on someday climbing in the Dolomites of northern Italy, I decided a trip report of my crutching adventures would be a good way to set up an Italy section for my webpage. This page gives
photos from the specific areas I went to in the area around Pavia.

Photos
My photos are arranged into photosets. Below are direct links to the photosets. These links are also provided on the itinerary to the right.

Photoset 1 - Old-town Pavia **
Photoset 2 - Cinque Terre **
Photoset 3 - Lake Como
Photoset 4 - Certosa di Pavia
Photoset 5 - Pisa
Photoset 6 - Lucca (Tuscany)
Photoset 7 - Milan
Photoset 8 - Trento - Bolzano - Rittner Horn di Renon
Photoset 9 - Venice **

(** = personal favorites)

Map
Below is a map showing where I went on my mostly day trip adventures in Italy. Click here for an interactive version of this map.


Crutches
The photos below show me and my crutches in Cinque Terre and Pisa, 9 and 10 weeks after my climbing accident.


Espressos (and Gelatos)
Anywhere along an Italian city street, you are not far from a cafe where you can sit down and enjoy an espresso. Referred to "caffes" in Italian, these bold and flavorful 1 oz shots are a true Italian experience. There really is no such thing as the North American 16-20 oz coffee in Italy, although you can order espressos in a watered down "Americano" form. My favorite form of caffe was a "Caffe Macchiato" which has steamed milk foam on top of the espresso. Coffee in Italy is not cheap, usually 1 euro (~$1.50) for a standard espresso (the most I paid was 3 euros for a couple of sips of caffeine in Milan, and the least I paid was 0.40 euros in a vending machine at school). But my generous coffee-drinking dad offered to fund to my goal of sampling all of the cafes within 10 min crutching distance, and an espresso addict was born.....

Speaking of goals, I've also got a goal of sampling all of the flavors of gelato (Italian ice cream) I come across — nocciola (hazelnut) is definitely my favorite so far.

Number of espressos, Macchiatos, Americanos, and Cappuccinos consumed: 40 *
(*a grand total of 40oz of espresso - just a normal Venti+refill day at Starbucks, right?...)

Gelato flavors sampled: nocciola (hazelnut), stracciatella (cookies n' cream), vaniglia (vanilla), cioccolato (chocolate), cocco (coconut), caffe (coffee), fior di soia (soy cream), fragola (strawberry), pistacchio, nutella, yogurt
Given my espresso and gelato intake thus far, it's probably a good thing I'm not much of a wine drinker or pasta or pastry eater....

Itinerary
Below is an itinerary for my five weeks in Italy. Click on the links to jump to photos from that area.


Nov 14 (Sun) - Fly from Seattle to Milan, and take a taxi to Pavia, where I would stay at the CAR College across town from the ROSE School.

Nov 15 - Touring old-town Pavia (Photoset 1).
Nov 16 - Touring old-town Pavia (Photoset 1).
Nov 17 - Exploring the colorful villages of Cinque Terre (Photoset 2).
Nov 18 - Rainy day photo processing and espresso drinking.
Nov 19 - Day trip to a tourist-free Lake Como (Photoset 3).
Nov 20 (Sat) - A no-photography-allowed morning at Certosa di Pavia (Photoset 4).
Nov 21 (Sun) - Church service at the cathedral, supermarket adventure, and exploring some old and beautiful churches and basilicas (Photoset 1).

Nov 22 - Class starts and I begin my tasks of teacher assisting.
Nov 23 - Teacher assisting.
Nov 24 - Teacher assisting. And some night photos of the streets of Pavia (Photoset 1).
Nov 25 - Teacher assisting. No Thanksgiving here.
Nov 26 - Climbing the 296 leaning stairs of the Tower of Pisa (no class on Fridays!). I then took a train to Lucca and stayed the night there (Photoset 5).
Nov 27 (Sat) - A day in the walled Tuscan town of Lucca (Photoset 6).
Nov 28 (Sun) - Rainy day photo processing.

Nov 29 - Sunny day grading and fielding homework questions. And some night photos of the Christmas lights in Pavia (Photoset 1).
Nov 30 - Teacher assisting.
Dec 1 - Teacher assisting. And discovering that crutches don't work too safely on snow.
Dec 2 - Teacher assisting.
Dec 3 - A museum, cathedral, and pigeons in the heat of Milan (Photoset 7).
Dec 4 (Sat) - Castles, markets, and cable cars in Trento (Photoset 8).
Dec 5 (Sun) - Dolomite views from a Bolzano to Rittner Horn di Renon cable car and mountain train (Photoset 8).

Dec 6 - Photo processing, fielding homework questions, and carrying 50lb of groceries across a few kilometers of slushy cobblestones.
Dec 7 - Teacher assisting.
Dec 8 - Teacher assisting. And some night photos of Christmas festivities in Pavia (Photoset 1).
Dec 9 - Teacher assisting.
Dec 10 - Exploring the canals and doing night photography in Venice (Photoset 9).
Dec 11 (Sat) - Markets and glass-blowing factories of Venice (Photoset 9).
Dec 12 (Sun) - Photo processing and fielding homework questions.

Dec 13 - Teacher assisting.
Dec 14 - Teacher assisting.
Dec 15 - Teacher assisting. Any my first cappuccino (Photoset 1).
Dec 16 - Final exam and real Italian pizza party (Photoset 1).
Dec 17 - Fly back to Seattle (leave Italy on Dec 17 and arrive in Seattle 26 hours later but still on Dec 17 due to time change). I was definitely not ready to leave Italy!

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