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Dear Diary: Italy Again!
a virtual postcard tour
by Dianne Kochenburg

Dear Diary, It's raining here in Milano. You can almost see it on this postcard. Il Duomo looks so formidable in bad weather. I peeked inside, it smells of the ages, and candles, grime. I shivered in the cold. A frightening place. I can feel the evil spirits from our hotel just a block away. A profound beginning of our grand tour of Italy.

The trains may run on time, but the planes don't. Got in late, our luggage lost, and then found, on its way to Rio. We will have it in a day or two. Lucky for us, there are lots of nice shops, so we'll buy a few things to get by until we are reunited with our globe trotting bags.

Dear Diary: The train to Firenze is quite luxurious compared to the one that took us to Lake Como yesterday. The dining car was elegant, right out of an old black and white movie. Such a treat. And then into Firenze, a medieval city meant for scholars, artists and lovers, not the two of us. We sat in the piazza and drank the wine, nearly fell asleep in the afternoon sun like a couple of old dogs.

We are footsore and tired, but will revive tomorrow for our trek through the Uffizi and a long walk along the Arno. Hordes of tourists, us among them. What must it be like to live among the travelers, who look so lost and awestruck. I cannot imagine living in this city and taking its beauty for granted.

Diary: I thought of you today, how trying it must be to read these mundane tourist comments. We are wandering through Italy, gawking here and there, seeing what everybody sees, trying to find the words to describe the immortal beauty. So trite and shopworn are the comments. How many trips have you stored away?

We are in Verona and this is Juliet's balcony. If you sit under it, legend has it that you will return to Verona some day. Will I? Probably not. But perhaps I will remember the worn brick, the trailing ivy and gorgeous street flowers. I will try to forget the annoying tourists with their Texas accents who quarreled and made silly jokes.

Oh dear diary! We had a spat today, in a restaurant exactly like this one, overlooking the Italian Rivera. We never raised our voices, just growled hateful remarks to each other. How civilized of us. It must have been the curvy road with the drop offs that set us on edge. A nail biter, and it took so long. I want to turn in the car and get out of here some other way. So painful to feel miserable in such a glorious setting.

Diary: I must apologize for being so cranky yesterday. We slept well. It must have been the restorative salt air, and both bottles of wine we had for dinner. I'm feeling a little fragile, but it good spirits. Portofino beckons. If I had my way I would spend the day under one of those umbrellas sipping cappuccino and reading. Perhaps I will suggest it for tomorrow. We are here for several days. I do not want to go out in a boat, or tramp up to the viewing station, or see the cathedral. Traveling can be so tiring.

Diary! I've been ignoring you. Here we are in Venezia, among the pigeons in the piazza San Marco. The pigeons strut and coo, then fly off, only to land a few feet away. Then the incessant cooing starts again. I chuckle. Perhaps they are tourists like us. Wandering a few feet here and a few feet there, stopping for something to eat, looking for the loo. And then doing it all over again.

You know, dearest Diary, one cannot take a bad photo here in this astonishing place. The gondola ride was lovely, we hired one who sang. All out, that's us. We are finally in full tourist mode. Buying up trinkets, eating from the food stalls, drinking every day, as though it were our last meal, our last glass of wine, our last remembrance. And now it is time to leave. Back to Milano tomorrow for the plane home.

I can't say I'm unhappy to leave Italy. It's been a wonderful adventure, but home is best, and I'm anxious to be there. You have been a wonderful Diary, as usual. You have nothing to say and you are always ready to listen. I do appreciate that, an unfailing quality in a diary. I won't forget you. We will be back on the road again before you know it.

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