So, it turns out I’m a slacker. Over two weeks. No posts. Only a few random Facebook updates, and a handful of telephone calls to keep me connected with the outside world. It’s not writer’s block. Not boredom. Can’t really blame it on lack of inspiration either. I even have internet that, despite it’s sub-par connection, is perfectly capable of handling my blogger duties. Nothing really strikes me as a particularly suitable excuse for my lack of effort. Time is not a complication since I’m operating on a virtually schedule-less schedule at this point. Other than walking the dog, doing work for my online class, and managing a gradually increasing tutoring schedule, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to sit down and blog.
So, here I am. Without excuses, and ready to go. Finally…
A couple of weeks ago, maybe three, Kevin and I made our way to Asti. And though it may not seem so since I neglected to mention it sooner, it was an afternoon trip worth writing about. Located just over an hour Southeast of the Valpellice region, Asti is a city that prides itself on its vino. We arrived there just after the September harvest, and it was a spontaneous visit. These two factors prohibited us from taking a wine-tasting trip to a nearby vineyard where reservations are required. Instead, we headed straight for the historical old town.
Up until four days ago, Italy was experiencing a record-breaking stretch of warm weather. It had rained once since I landed in Milan, and only once before that since the beginning of August. Though I love Autumn weather, I didn’t mind that Summer was prolonging its visit. Wearing a tee-shirt and shorts well-into October is magnificent. That being said, the Sunday we headed into Alba was beautiful. The sun was warm and walking around the town was completely relaxing.
Though Asti is a large city, it’s town center is a quaint collection of adjacent piazzas. We stopped in one for coffee and Toast, and stopped in the next for gelato. There was even a little park with leaf-shaped chairs for lounging and a iron-wrought bee-hive surrounded by trees. Oh, and I should mention for clarification purposes that toast in Italy is not equivalent to toast back home. Toast here is actually a ham and cheese melt as opposed to a simple slice of toasted bread. And, given the quality of the cheese, bread, and prosciutto in this region, it’s an extraordinarily delicious ham and cheese melt! As note to travelers, this can be an inexpensive alternative to the traditional Italian pranzo should you be looking for something light and quick when you are on the go. Most cafes offer toast sandwiches for 2-4 Euro.
For the remainder of the afternoon, we walked down small sidestreets and explored the expo going on at the center of town. We stopped for a bit in front of a band that was rocking out to American ballads. Credence Clearwater Revival, Guns and Roses… classics all being performed by musicians singing outside of their native tongue. Though it was at times laughable, I was actually really impressed. I know that my performance of an Italian song wouldn’t come close to doing it a justice.
As we were leaving, we took a final look around the pretty town, still decorated from its annual celebration the week prior to our arrival. Every year, the third Sunday in September is the city’s annual horse race, the Palio. The event bears historical significance of which I am not completely educated. What I do know, however, is that Asti’s nemesis from the Middle-Ages, Alba, mocks the celebration with their own festival a couple weeks later. Alba’s festivities also include a race, but theirs features a different breed of Equine: the donkey. Had Kevin’s travel schedule been different at the beginning of the season, we may have made it a priority to see a bunch of asses running circles in ancient cobblestone piazza. We missed the event, but the idea was sparked that, if we saw Asti, we had to visit Alba as well. And October is the month of truffles in Alba, so I am hoping next week’s blog has something to say about that!