Tales of a wandering lesbian

The essentials

When I packed for my trip to Italy, I wasn’t sure exactly where I’d end up.  I knew I’d start the trip with my friends Deb and Sandra, but from there, I didn’t know if I’d be in homes, hostels, or five-star hotels.  So, I packed light and deep.  Warm clothes that I could layer and other items that would make life easy.  I agonized over which electronics could share cords, and which jackets to bring (settling on one light jacket and one technical, winter coat).

There are a few things I’ve taken grief over.  Yes, it’s a little strange that I packed toilet paper and tampons, but as I said, I wasn’t sure if I’d be backpacking around.  Plus, I brought a big suitcase to fill with treasures for the return trip, so I had room.

There are other things that really make my friends laugh.  My headlamp, for example, isn’t something everyone would have brought, but it’s dead useful.  It’s good for reading at night, and can save you from being squished when walking at dusk.  However, it also might make your friends act like they don’t know you.

Also, for some reason, only “professional cyclists” – the ones wearing brightly colored team jerseys and riding fancy, fast bikes – only they, wear helmets.  I noticed this last time I was here.  I also noticed how American drivers tend to run cyclists off the road.  Thinking I might like to pick up a nice used Italian bike and ride around a bit, I decided to pack my helmet.

Every day, I assess the weather, select a combination of clothing, jacket, electronics and books that will get me through the day comfortably, and pack up my little messenger bag.  However, when I packed yesterday, it was with the assumption that I would be back at the house before I headed to Lucca that evening.

Bad assumption.

So, I started the day with two layers of icebreaker, my light jacket, sunglasses, my laptop and camera, and an array of books to help me plan my Italian itinerary.  Heavy bag, but lightweight clothing.  Good for bumming around Barga on a glorious day.

After a fantastic, surprise lunch with a new friend, I met up with my ride to Lucca.  Lucca is a really cool walled city.  The walls are hugely thick to withstand cannon fire.  Thick enough to ride bikes on the wide boulevard that sits atop them.  We got to Lucca (which is having a huge, international comic festival) just as the sun was setting.  Fortunately, I had my little wool hat, which I happily pulled on.  The 80 degree day was settling into the high 40s, and my light jacket was not so warm.  It was black, however, as was my hat.  Super.

As it got darker and darker, we stopped to turn on headlights that some of the bikes had.  I reached into my little messenger bag to see if I had my headlamp.  Nope.  But I did have a laptop and about 8 books.  Bonus!  Here I was, wearing black, riding around in the pitch dark cold with no helmet, no light, no warm coat and a bag of books and electronics, through an insane crowd of wandering people who were dressed like comic and video game characters.  Well done.  I probably should have put on my sunglasses and snaked some of the electronics cords through my hair.  I would have fit right in.

When we reached the restaurant after our harrowing ride, we all gathered around the fire to warm ourselves.  It turned out that the adrenaline needed to keep oneself upright through all the twisting, turning, swerving insanity provided exactly the right amount of warmth in the dark city.  Also, books are really quite insulating.

At any rate, the ravioli was some of the best I’ve ever had outside my mom’s kitchen. And I had my camera with me to capture it.  Va bene.

Raviolo con burro i salvia - mmm

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November 1, 2009   4 Comments


One of the best dirty Italian exclamations I’ve learned is “cazzo!” It literally means “dick” but is used anywhere we’d say “shit!” It’s pronounced “catso!” It’s super handy. I always think of cats when I say it.

It came in handy this week. I’ve been sleeping on the sofa-bed, which means there is no bed-side table, or lamp. The closest lamp is a floor-lamp about 6 feet from the bed. This is very inconvenient for my night time ritual, which is reading Harry Potter until I’m drooling, and then reaching over to turn off the light.

This weekend I tried a new tactic: headlamp. It works perfectly when camping, so I thought I’d give it a go at home.

All was well for the first couple of minutes. I could read the book, and aside from blinding Libby, everything seemed cool.

Then I noticed one of the cats, Juniper, staring at me. Cat owners will know that this is not odd cat behavior. What was odd was that her head started swaying and she moved toward me on the bed.

Then I saw the bug.

A little green bug, attracted by my headlamp, landed on my chest and then darted up toward the light on my forehead.


Fortunately, I realized what was about to go down just before Juniper lunged. I tossed the headlamp and got out of bed to turn on the floor-lamp.

Better to have my face than to have convenience.

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August 18, 2009   6 Comments