On my last day in Italy I rode a bus into the mountains and debarked at a stop in the Val Rosandra Nature Reserve, moderately far from any signs of civilization. Unable to find directions in English, I asked a few climbers along the way and they were more than helpful. The canyon was breathtaking with it’s silvery trees and golden riverbed, home to a thin emerald line of water winding below the steep rocky trail. I reached the road in Rosandra just before sunset, starving, and lucky enough to find a delicious, modestly priced café. I accidentally bought something with meat in it. I didn’t care, I ate it anyway. The bus ride back to Trieste was an introspective one. I spent the last few hours before my train to Prague napping by the water.
Slovenia stole my heart. The all-night train from Belgrade traversed Croatia in darkness then eased into Slovenia as the sun rose. I leaned out the window and let the cold March air touch my face as the train wound through along the breathtaking Sava river. When I arrived in Ljubljana I had hardly sleep, but I was too restless to stay in my hostel. I walked around the quaint city for 2 hours, enthralled with the inventive architecture and brightly painted exteriors. In the center of town sits a local market complete with a milk dispensing machine that is refilled every 4 hours with fresh, unpasteurized milk from a nearby farm. That night I went out by myself to a bar on the outskirts of town nicknamed the “Graffiti Bar”. It was worth the walk. I befriended a small group of Slovenians who whole-heartedly adopted me for the night. We drank Lasko and “Bear Blood”, danced inside and played music outside around the bonfire till 4am.
The next day I left for Lake Bled, a haven known as The Jewel of Slovenia. The name is not an exaggeration. The calm beauty of Bled was unparalleled on this trip. Abound with castles, placid water, and stunning views of the Alps, Bled was the kind of place I’d like to return to and stay a while. The 20 Czech hockey players in my hostel added an edge to the experience. I was talked into joining them for a late-night visit to the casino, which turned out being somewhat lucrative for me at the blackjack table. They were a rowdy bunch of characters if I’ve ever seen one. Undoubtedly a loving bunch. My next move was the Alpe Adia. The hike was primarily in nature, but it ended in the Italian port town of Trieste. Trieste is not a tourist town. I hardly met a soul who spoke English, and after days of hiking, I was used to minimal conversing. These two kind men below picked me up hitch-hiking over the Italian border from Slovenia. I’d veered from the trail and was nowhere close to the town I was supposed to be in. They laughed at my story and decided that I would go to lunch at a pizzeria with them and they would take me to San Lorenzo. In a patchwork version of Italian, Spanish and English, they told me about their grandchildren and asked about my parents, my travels, and my work. I was informed that I was their granddaughter for the day, and that if I needed anything while I was in the region I was to call or email them. When they dropped me off in San Lorenzo I was strangely glad I had gotten lost.
I encountered this man walking down the ragged, rain-coated steps that lead Marella, O. and me to the house in the succeeding pictures. He and the rest of the men in the tiny mountain town were lingering around the Café bar drinking stinging Grapa and Moscato at 4 in the afternoon as an authentic Italian should.
The House was build into the hillside amongst the old homes that appear to be sinking into the very earth. From the outside it looks 40 plus years old, inside is a balance of modest and venerable architecture that adapts to the terrain rather than carving into it. Of the many houses O. and I photographed in Italy, this was surely my favorite. Overlooking a small valley in the Etruscan Mountains with the sound of rain making rivers in the streets and a glass of red wine warming my lips, I’d have stayed for weeks.
This Family home has been passed down for three generations. I learned the word Tutti here – or at least I think I did – it means all.
I saw the Coliseum from the passenger window. I was in Rome for 3 days and I felt the intoxicating history it exudes, but I was not able to experience it the way I might have liked. This is why I promised myself that I will go back one day and revisit what there was no time for this year. I was able to visit this quaint park overlooking the city and grab a few shots. I’ll be back.
A few weeks ago while I was in Italy I was able to visit the homes of very talented artists in various parts of Italy and photograph their art and their homes. This quaint apartment in Rome is the home of a famous lamp designer, I don’t know how to beging to spell her name so I won’t. Above she (right) and Marella, the editor I was working with, are having a very authentic Italian conversation, hand gestures and all. She makes lamps out of everything from tissue paper flowers to glazed newspaper collages and has made her entire house a treat for the eyes, and the nose. The scent of fresh baked cherry pie and cappuccino was subtly present all afternoon.