Saturday, August 13, 2005

Now I Will Bore You With My Vacation Details

Speaking of European vacations, I've just returned from 2 weeks in Italy, and I'm only starting to mildly panic that my first year of law school starts in less than 48 hours.

The first part of our trip was split between Venice and Verona. The last half of the trip was spent in the Italian Dolomites.

Verona was nice, but compared with other Italian cities, I won't race to return. We saw Nabucco in Verona's Roman arena — a 30,000 seat venue in unbelievable shape for its great age.

Venice, though more a museum than a city, was a complete joy.

Venice is a Boy Scout's urban orienteering paradise. Other ancient cities may have the same number of alleys, but alleys are Venice's thoroughfares. Starting at the train station, getting anywhere in the city means negotiating cobblestone footpaths that vary in width from 6 to 60 feet.

Though the tourist-to-resident ratio in Venice is disturbingly high, I look forward to a return visit someday. That Venice was the most powerful city in the Western world for a time speaks to the myriad changes that we have taken place in the last 500 years.

The Dolomites
The Dolomites are a section of the Alps mountain range situated in far northwestern Italy, spread amongst a few provinces that are as Austrian as they are Italian.

Linguistically, the Dolomites were the most interesting place I've ever been. Though the province we were in, South Tyrol, is part of present-day Italy, it was annexed from Austria-Hungary after World War I. Thus, German is far-and-away the most dominant language in the regions. Signs are typically in Italian & German, with German being presented first.

Adding to the lovely complexity of tongues was Ladin, a language specific to the Dolomites that occasionally appeared on maps and other signage. Apparently, Ladin has only 30,000 speakers, so it was wonderful to encounter it.

The Dolomites are formed of gorgeous, broken limestone. Here's the Fanes Valley — if you squint at the larger version of the picture below, you may be able to make out Ücia Fanes, where we stayed during this leg of our trip.

Go to the Alps. Don't let your wife hang off the side of a mountain, as mine is in the picture below, but go to the Alps. You'll be glad you did.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Yes, Steph is safely standing on a lower part of the high alpine meadow.