Friday, March 1, 2013

So, I was in Italy, finale

I always start out these travelogues so enthusiastic and then peter out toward the end. I'm not exaggerating at all when I say I was at a club meeting a few weeks after school started, and when asked what I'd done over the summer, I completely forgot about going to Italy until someone else mentioned travelling.

Memory like a sieve, this one.

Sad, given that this last entry contains the highlights of the trip.

More text and many images after the cut.

There's this town in Italy, not far from Pontremoli by train, called Lucca. It didn't stand out too much from any of the other little towns, although it did have some neat big ol' walls, and some pretty (if fairly standard) Italian architecture.

quote-"Standard Italian Architecture"-unquote

Also, the Friday we visited, there was a comic and videogame convention being hosted. And, you see, unlike most American towns that host conventions, there aren't any convention halls or hotels large enough for that sort of thing... so instead Lucca Comix just took over the entire town. Large tents were set up in particular for artists and dealers and maybe some panels, although I don't know for sure, since all but one of said tents required a badge to enter. Otherwise, the convention-goers -- dressed in all sorts of costumes and carrying all sorts of props -- just milled around the streets or patronized the local businesses.

If that doesn't sound awesome to you, then we can't be friends.

a Corpse Bride and a Smurfette
I know they're not Slendermen, but the idea of
'Free Hugs' Slenderman tickles me too much to care.
There were emergency personnel on hand everywhere, just in case.
Also I find the Assassin's Creed tent in the small Italian town pretty cool.
Cons are the same everywhere.
Right down to the Homestuck trolls.
This was probably the first place in Italy that I didn't feel overdressed. In fact, sitting outside our restaurant in an ankle-length black velvet-and-lace-paneled pencil skirt, sleeveless black mock turtleneck, and thigh-high rainbow socks with matching (ex-sock) sleeves, and a black fedora with a bright purple band, I felt right at home.
This was the view while we had lunch. How rad is that?
Funny thing is, on the way there, we'd forgotten that Lucca was having the con -- so running into people in the train stations with shiny leather trenchcoats and multicoloured wigs was both cool and baffling. The comic-con cleared everything right up, though.

Getting out of Lucca at the end proved to be a bit of an adventure in itself. We wisely chose not to catch the *last* train, opting instead for I think the second- or third-to-last, or in any case one that was leaving while it was still reasonably light out. Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones to have that idea. Though we headed over with time to spare, the stop was already filling up with people -- many of whom had conswag or rather bulky props, including a multitude of ridiculously oversized anime swords, and one memorable person near us with a four- or five-foot papier-mache teaspoon with a (presumably sugar) cube in it -- and it only grew more crowded as it came time for the train to approach.

The time came. The time passed. The tired, hot conventionists, packed in like sardines and ready to head home already, began to grow restless. Ten minutes isn't a long time under normal circumstances, but these were hardly normal circumstances.

When the train finally pulled into the station -- I shit you not -- a cheer went up. It was the greatest thing.

So, yeah. Conventionists are basically the same no matter what language they speak or what country they live in, and that's pretty awesome.

We then returned to Pontremoli, where it proceeded to rain heavily for the rest of the weekend, although it warmed up quite a bit in the process. According to my notes, it was Sunday that was the nicest, and I was more than happy to prance about in the rain with my rainbow umbrella and my big ol' coat unbuttoned. While prancing about, we passed by a little shop called Legatoria Artigiana -- the Legatoria being a pun on the fact that they had a very visible calico store-cat -- wherein mom bought me a little ceramic owl that I'd squeed over earlier in the week.

Fat Little Owl! I haven't decided if his name is Pontremowli or Pontrowlmeli yet. Or just Pontremowl.
Also, consulting the business card that came with the Pontremowl, the Legatoria was on Via Garibaldi, which, having grown up on B5 and re-watched up through season 4 fairly recently, makes me happy.

After the rain there was fog. Imagine that.

Silly mountain, you're too big for hide-and-seek.

The river is a tad more enthusiastic than when we arrived.
Aforementioned me with aforementioned rainbow umbrella
Also at some point there was a plate of appetizers than involved a fried leaf. I'm not in the habit of taking pictures of my lunch, but this was just weird.

Fried leaf. Not a terribly memorable flavour, just... fried leaf.
One other thing I need to comment on from Pontremoli, although I only encountered it once: Turkish toilets. Be forewarned, if you ever travel to small Italian towns, that some of the places do not have what a contemporary American might consider a toilet. Rather, they have ceramic holes in the floor. The one that I ended up in also had little indentations in the floor for your feet. That one was also in an outhouse-y thing on a balcony and wasn't terribly well-insulated, so there was the added fun of a cool draft off the river.

After that last weekend we returned to Alex's native Bologna for a couple days. Only one thing stands out to me from that time.
Well, two things, because there was this hotel with the neat clockwork thinger, too.
See, we went to this outdoor cafe thinger for pre-lunch cocktails at some point (Wednesday, according to my notes). And there were pigeons.

These pigeons were not only completely unafraid of people, to the point that they would regular need to be shooed off of the tables -- not away from, mind you, but off--
Not only were they bold, but they were also smart. Now, I don't remember if I explained this before or not, because I don't think it was relevant before, but at Italian cafes, if you order a pre-lunch or pre-dinner cocktail (or really any drink, I think), you get complimentary snacks, of some variety as decided by your server. At this cafe, you got chips, olives, and a bowl of peanuts.

Now, these pigeons wanted those snacks, especially the bowls of peanuts. And they would watch the various patrons. And if you weren't actively paying attention to your snacks, they would land on your table -- and if you didn't shoo them away immediately, they would leap into your snacks and wreak havoc upon your table. Didn't matter if you shooed them away at that point, because they were in the zone at that point.

Fortunately, my umbrella has a little button that snaps it out to full length, and that served to dissuade any pigeons from pillaging our table.

While hanging out at this table, we happened to hear music, which I found quite familiar -- after a bit I realized that one of the pieces was the Imperial March as played by classical instruments. Thinking this was pretty darn cool, we sought out the source of the music and discovered a string quartet playing various pieces of pop culture music. We tipped the band well and continued on our way.

Nothing else stands out now from the trip, but upon returning home I was greeted with this little gentleman, and I know how the Internet loves kitties.

Skittles is the best at being adorable.

Thus ends the much-prolonged Italy Travelogue. Now I can go on to other things. (Didn't I promise Bunraku fanfic? I should either post what I've finished or re-watch the movie so I can finish the other parts... hrm...)

In the meantime, as long as I have you (imaginary though you may be), and since I'll take any chance to pimp out my other project, go check out my other blog, . I'm running a sporadically-updated adventure game over there and it's in need of participants.

Until next time: Cheers!

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