Elna in Europe – Firenze

copyright Elna SchutzMy third stop in Italy was going to be beautiful Lake Como, I admit in part because it’s been the filming location for several beautiful scenes, including the wedding in Star Wars Episode II.
That bucket list wish will have to wait for next time (sigh, I hope). I’d loved the buzz of Venice and Rome so much that I changed my plans last minute and got on a train to Florence instead.

copyright Elna SchutzThe Tuscan home of food, architecture and art rings true to its reputation with countless rustic restaurants, amazing galleries and the famous cathedral’s red Duomo. Combining the first and the last, I took to sitting in front of the unusual pink, white and green church at night, munching on a Sicilian cannoli (my number one recommended Italian dessert. I’m serious, go find one!)

copyright Elna Schutz

For my fill of Florentine art, it had to be David. We’ve all seen Michelangelo’s masterpiece a dozen times, and there are several replicas around the city, so you may be surprised how much the original manages to enthral. You walk up to the confident, strong warrior the postcards always show, but circle around to face him and David’s expression is one of worry and fear much more fitting for a young man facing a giant. Beautiful.

Never content with the tourist offering, I trekked across the city for lunch at a local marketplace. What a find, with its shouting locals offering truffles and cow’s heads, just the way you’d expect from Tuscany. At the little restaurant inside you sit down beside whoever else is wolfing down some of today’s dishes, as the usual big jug of wine gets passed around. How the owners always know how many glasses to charge you, I have no idea.

copyright Elna Schutz

copyright Elna Schutzcopyright Elna Schutz

I sit with a British couple that has long since taken the plunge and bought a house here. They try to decide which gelato place to recommend and argue in that typical Italian way – expressive but never really angry. I have no problem seeing how one could want to start a life here.

copyright Elna Schutz

I leave Italy with a bucket load of photos and even more memories of places and moments I shared with no one but loved even more for it perhaps. My head is heavy with the thought that the specific magic of a trip can never quite be expressed and I’m alright with that.

*copyright Elna Schütz 2014*


Elna in Europe – Venezia

Elna Schutz venice boatEditing my photographs from Venice stunned me a little.
Sometimes something is so beautiful that you can’t really take the credit for taking a nice pic, you’re just incredibly glad that you managed to catch it. Like when you photograph somebody you love in the way that they really look to you.

Elna Schutz venice sunsetVenice at sunset is like that. It’s a pretty city during the day of course, with the canals and building and what not, but start dimming the lights and oh honey, this is Venice as you imagined it. Everything becomes a little quiet like in an art gallery and the constant tourist throng turns into a few meandering couples.

san stefano

I did my fair share of meandering, to the point that I woke up with sore feet, but nothing could’ve kept me from carrying on walking. I’d take the vaporetto up the Grand Canal and snake my way along the shore as the scene turns from blue to pink to purple as if it were trying on outfits.

Don’t get put off Venice by rumours of stinking canals (false) and perpetually getting lost (true, but in a good way).  This is a beautiful, romantic place with a hundred little corners and surprises to make your trip feel special and unique.

Elna Schutz venice canal

This was my first taste of Italy and since I was travelling without a significant other, I fell in love with the food. It didn’t disappoint.
My first pizza was from a tiny shop that I’d probably never find again, but sells slices bigger than my face (my face!). I quickly learned that a kind or maternal looking face behind the gelato counter directly relates to the giantness of your scoop. Black squid spaghetti is possibly the most fishy tasting thing I have ever had and wonderfully squishy.
Needless to say, my newly attained Italian vocabulary consisted mostly of ‘house wine’, ‘can I please have…’ and ‘this is delicious.’

san marco square

When it comes to my Italy trip, I have no problem with giving a positive, gushy review. The only real negative I could think of is that I wish this country were an undiscovered, tiny travel destination no one had ever heard of. I did a lot of trying to imagine away the tourists that are EVERYWHERE.

More shamelessly gushy Italian reporting soon.

*Photos etc copyrighted to Elna M Schütz. Don’t steal my stuff. It’s mean.*