Did That Title Lure You In Or What?
So guys, last month I wrote my little end-of-the-month post a couple days before the end of October— so you may remember that I was going to be too busy to write it on the final day of October since I’d be road tripping with friends. So let’s backtrack to October 29…
Just Casually Walking To The Bus Stop In A Tornado
Or you can read the above line and get the gist.
My friend Dan was supposed to land the evening of October 29 in Rome, the night before his birthday. I had decided to head up to Rome a few hours earlier than planned. Of course, the moment I go to step out the door the sky erupts into a torrential downpour, so I said fuck it and went back inside. After all, the forecast didn’t look crazy (Italy has on more than one occasion proven that they don’t have stellar meteorologists), I’ll wait it out and catch the next bus. After about 20 minutes, you know about the time the bus would be leaving the defunct Terracina Train Station, the rain stops. Just lovely.
So I give it a go again at 4 pm. Just a little drizzle, no big deal right? Well, about 1/3 of the way into the walk literal walls of water are now falling from the sky with gusts of wind completely sucking puddles of water off the ground and sending it airborne. The wind was blowing so hard I had to hide under an awning of a restaurant before continuing on. The trees around looked like they were going to rip out of the ground… Seriously it reminded me of all those nightly news reporters you see back in Florida reporting on a hurricane with lawn chairs rolling down the beach behind them, palm trees folded in half and the reporter themselves bracing to not be blown away and holding their rain jacket hood up. Before long the streets were completely flooded. So there I am trudging through water, mostly pissed off that I put on clean sweatpants so I could be comfy on the bus and train to Rome.
When I got to Rome I got several messages from friends back in Terracina asking if I was okay and that’s when I found out what had actually happened. Apparently not one, but two tornados had ripped through Terracina. In fact, you may have seen that the whole of Italy was being slammed by storms that day. Venice was underwater, areas around Rome were canceling schools, trees were falling on people in Naples… and more.
So in case you guys were wondering what I was doing October 29th– I was just walking to catch the bus in the first tornado that stuck Terracina. I literally just thought the weather was bad, not-catastrophic-storm-resulting-in-millions-of-Euros-damage bad.
I honestly had never heard of tornados happening outside that long flat strip of the USA that I’ve never really visited.
If you want to see a video of the aftermath, check it out below:
Southern Italy Roadtrip
So as the weather cleared (a smidge) Tay, Dan and I set out on a road trip of the ass-end of Southern Italy (okay, we did go to tourist central at the beginning but chill, it’s the off season). Here are a few of our favorites:
- Splurging on a room with a view at the Savoia Hotel in Positano (weren’t even planning to spend the night in Positano, but okaaaaay)
- Castelmezzano– the most beautiful place in Italy you’ve never heard of
- Walking around the Old Sassi in Matera at night
- Seeing the bizarre Trulli houses of Alberobello
- Wandering the empty streets of Martina Franco
- Eating what may be the cheapest meal in all of Italy in Massafra
- Driving along the countryside in Basilicata– one of Italy’s least visited regions (I can’t really figure out why!)
- Our amazing host in Maratea’s nearby village of Aquafredda, Gianni. Seriously if you ever plan to stay in Maratea area definitely rent his property. Gianni welcomed us in as if we were long lost friends.
Sorry that I’m not going into fine details about the road trip– I promise I’m working on a Southern Italy Road Trip Itinerary blog post.
A Side Trip To Portugal
Not 6 days after saying our goodbyes I was reunited with my friend Dan in Portugal. At this point I was free to leave Italy and not effect my citizenship application. I was ready to get out and explore something else in Europe. Dan moved to the Algarve about 1.5 years ago. So what did we do? Not much, and it was the best. But here are the things we did manage to do:
- Dan introduced me to Ginjinha. This glorious sour cherry liqueur is Lisbon’s answer to Porto’s Port wine apparently. It’s 1.30 euro for two shots served up in a chocolate cup. How was this not spread elsewhere?
- Trying all the foods at Time Out Market in Lisbon. It’s just one big open room with heaps of different food stalls
- Bar hopping in Barrio Alto, Lisbon. I actually don’t like going out, but this was an absolute blast. I’m not even going to elaborate as I think its an experience everyone should have once
- Walked along the jagged coastlines of Carvoeiro and Lagos in Portugal’s Algarve.
- Two words: honey liqueur. You’re welcome
Getting Recognized As An Italian Citizen
On November 16 I got the news, I was officially now a recognized Italian citizen. What do I mean by that? Well whether you like it or not I’m gonna tell you– I’ve actually been an Italian citizen since birth. As was my mother and grandmother. Italy has no limit on how many generations you can go back (unless of course your ancestor left Italy before Italy officially unified as a country in 1861, then which Italy didn’t actually exist…or renounced Italian citizenship), and still claim jure sanguinis citizenship. Of course, this is fairly simplified, but the take away is that I didn’t apply for citizenship, I just applied for it to be recognized.
Oh… & I Snuck Off To Malta
I did another short side trip, this one to Malta. The ability to fly for dirt cheap within Europe is hard to resist (seriously I’ve seen Rome-Malta tickets for as low as 12 euro each way)! Truth be told, I didn’t fall in love with Malta. Did I think it was a bad place? No. With that said I didn’t hate it, I did find a handful of things that I enjoyed, and even one beach that I thought was much more intriguing than the famed Lagoon (in addition to the sweet Brazilian kids I shared a hostel dorm with). Traveling around Malta was a welcomed change-up from Italy… Oh and the delight known as pastizzi. Don’t worry, I do have grand plans for a couple of different posts to share how to travel around Malta (it’s really not that difficult).
What’s In Store For December?
I am finally going home… but not for long. A week after arriving home I’m being sent off to the Dominican Republic to cover some off the beaten path secrets that you’ll see covered here and on Instagram. Don’t fret– I’ll only be in the Dominican Republic for a week. After that It’s back to my day job, you know the one that has me knuckle deep in people’s mouths… Aside from work, I’ll be spending time with all my family and friends back home that I haven’t seen in 3 months. Hopefully, I’ll get some posts completed here too as well, I didn’t do a great job of staying on top of things (thankfully I had pre-wrote nearly 3 months worth of posts before I left home at the end of August), so I have stacks of content I’m sitting on that still needs written, heaps of photos that I haven’t touched, and a trail of still-not-responded-to e-mails.
But alas, after the week in the DR I’ll be back home until March 4-14 when I take a group of you to explore Socotra Island, and March 17-29 to celebrate Nowruz in Afghanistan. There still are a couple spots left on each trip, so if interested click the links to find out prices, itineraries, and more.
What Posts To Expect To See In December?
Honestly, I’ve got a draft box stuffed with half-written posts and countless outlines. I’m big on ideas and short on time… For a great example, if you follow any travel bloggers at all you’ve probably seen people’s affiliate link laden Traveler Xmas Gift Guides sliding into your inboxes and RSS feeds (do people still use RSS feeds? I honestly am not quite sure what they were in the first place anyway) over the past weekend. I’ve written them in the past, I normally update it and re-share each year. But in 2018? I honestly don’t have time for that, and I can’t really think of any gadget that’s changed my life in the travel realm in the last year that I’d add to it.
What do I think I’ll get out there for content? I’m shooting for posts on my travels in Afghanistan, photos from Socotra, useful information on traveling in The Dominican Republic, and hopefully more content from Southern Italy and maybe some Italy off the beaten path? Who knows? Will I fail? More than likely, only time will tell. But my friend Dan of danflyingsolo.com who road tripped Southern Italy with Tay & I, and gave me a tour of the Algarve beat me to a Hidden Gems of Italy post (damn you Dan!) that just published a few days ago, so check that out here.