I had been in Spain for 5 months and I still hadn’t been to Italy to visit my friend, Matteo, and his family. I have been friends with Matteo since 2000 when his high school class came to Lee’s Summit High School to do a student exchange. The following February, I took a trip to Udine (his city) to make the same exchange. Not only have we stayed in touch and visited each other nearly 10 times over the past 10 years, but his family takes care of me like I’m one of their own children.
I had imagined that I’d be able to see him more often since I’m so close, but that hasn’t been the case at all. Even though I would have like more time, I could only visit on a weekend. You would think that flights are so cheap between these countries since they are so close, but that isn’t always the case!
This visit was very low key, but probably the best yet. We have each grown a lot over the past few years and hadn’t seen each since 2011, so we had a lot to catch up on. I think we stayed awake, talking, until around 4 am the first night! On Saturday we went to his parent’s home for lunch. As always, the food was amazing and his parents absolutely spoil me. Everything I ate was completely vegan and fresh from their garden. They even made an Italian-style gazpacho with an edible flower that they picked!
That afternoon, with the day being excruciatingly hot, we decided to take a short drive to Alessio. Alessio has a very interesting story. It was devastated by an earthquake many years ago and many of the people didn’t want to leave, so most of the homes you see in the town were completely rebuilt. Alessio is gorgeous. Situated right between a few small mountains, there’s a river that is created from all of the natural springs that come from the mountains. The water is crystal clear and fresh. We didn’t want to leave!
That evening we met up with another friend from our high school exchange, Daniele. Again, there was so much for us to catch up on. And we shared some family stories that we shared in common that I never even realized before. The evening was made even better by the fact that we took bicycles to and from the city center. Over the past few years, Udine has really cracked down on the amount of traffic due to the damage the cars cause on the historical sites and cobblestone. Here are a few photos of us being goofy.
On Sunday, we took another short drive to Trieste. What I love about the Friuli-Venezia region of Italy is that there is so much to see and do. In just a 30 minute drive you can be hiking or skiing on a mountain or even at the beach swimming! So back to Trieste. Trieste was/is a seaport city. It is the capital of the province and you can find its extensive history here. We headed straight to the beach. Some of this beach is sand, but the majority is “untouched” so it has the original, small pebbles. This was my nice few from under a tree. The water is so clear that you can see the bottom of the sea (about 30 feet).
Just writing this post is making me homesick…well, from my second home, Udine.