Friday, April 06, 2012

My Trip to Italy!!!!

So. Many. Pictures. You’ve been warned.

My trip actually started out with a two-hour layover at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. It was rather futuristic-looking!

I didn’t get to stay long—Paris! I am coming back someday!!!!—but I did manage to grab a bit of lunch.

Brie and spinach quiche, cream of carrot soup, and a pecan tart. (Pastries, NOM!) Then it was off to Bologna where I had a dinner appointment that night. I needed a nap, but I had to go out and walk around a little bit first. Can you blame me? Bologna is gorgeous! I kept telling people all week that I loved being surrounded by so many old things because we just don’t have anything like that in Phoenix. Even the Native American and Spanish structures are mostly out of Phoenix. In Phoenix, a fifty-year-old building is “old.” So imagine my utter delight when one of the first things I saw was this!!!

Ruins in the middle of a busy neighborhood? No big deal.:D Seriously. Right there at the head of the Via Independenza! RUINS!!! I was very happy.

I went to a gorgeous restaurant with my Dutch publisher that had exquisite décor and even more exquisite food! (You’re going to hear a lot about food in this entry.:D)

Walked both to and from the restaurant on Via Independenza which is the busy street in Bologna. It (and most of the sidewalks) is topped by portici or arches because, although it did not rain while I was there, it apparently rains a lot.

And I got a huge kick out of the fact that the sidewalks are marble.

In other places the sidewalks were stone, but rarely did you see a cement sidewalk. All stones, bricks, and marble!

But this became my home away from home.

The agent center at the fair. The sheer number of books being pitched at the fair was rather intimidating. There are 104 agent tables and every table had about fifteen appointments each of the four days. Each. Table. It was amazing!!

And that’s just the agent center! On top of that, there were five enormous (think Costco-sized) halls full of booths upon booths of publishers. Like my German publisher, who had the first three books in their catalog as well as the first two on display.:D

Some fun sights from the fair—the long version of the red carpet.:D

Seriously, this carpet stretched for about a block to the entrance of the fair, and from there, it went all over the place, down aisles and corridors. They must have had about three miles of this carpet!

And every night my fabulous foreign rights agent, Cecilia, had a different publisher take me out to dinner. Which is how I landed here:

and here:

And on top of that, she let me accompany her to THE party of Bologna (The Dutch party—apparently it’s legendary and after attending, I know why!) which was at this gorgeous old manor with amazingly maintained décor.

And the food! Did I mention the food?

Profiteroles. These are like three of the best cream puffs you’ve ever had covered in the richest chocolate pudding ever made. And they were just at the Fair’s self-serve cafeteria. I may have eaten them two days in a row. *innocent look*

Breakfast. Our hotel put out an amazing breakfast every morning. Breakfast, most important meal of the day, so you should eat a lot, right? Right.:)

Then some traditional favorites:

Caprese (Tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil, topped with red vinegar and olive oil)

Ravioli stuffed with sausage in a cream sauce with Gorgonzola cheese.

Panna Cotta in caramel sauce. (The first thing I did upon getting home was find a good recipe for panna cotta. OMG SO GOOD!!!!!)

Despite the lovely time I had, I did go to Bologna to work, so for the first three days that’s mainly what I did. I spend all day pitching my next books to foreign publishers, subagents, and scouts. It was fun but exhausting. And I didn’t even have as many appointments as the agents did! Seriously, guys, a lot of work!

But once the fair was over (for me) I had a day to do what I wanted. On recommendation, I decided to get up early and go running to Studio Saint Luca, which is set high on a hill that overlooks the entire city. But in order to get there, you have to go through 660 portici that run down Via Saragozza and then up a very steep hill.

But first, of course, you have to get to Via Saragozza.:) So my run started with me going through Piazza Maggiore:

Normally filled to the brim with people, but empty at 7:00 in the morning. (Italians don’t rise early; no shops were open either.) It was nice to see the architecture completely uninterrupted.
After having to turn around once (I missed a road and got to go into a newspaper stand and ask for directions with my limited Italian and it worked!!!:D) I finally got there. The portici start before reaching this plaque:

But this is the point at which they stop being flat and start to climb.

(For wimps they did have a road.;))

And along the way were about a dozen little arched alcoves with old paintings in them! (Excuse the bars.)

Once you reached the top their was a gorgeous church and a gorgeous view!!!
Of the city:

And the hillsides:

And then it was time to go back down.

I made MUCH better time on the way down.:D

For lunch the lovely Jessica of Wings Italia:

came to join me for lunch and we went to have real Italian pizza at a place recommended to me by some of the people from my Italian publisher (Sperling and Kupfer) the previous night. And ya’all, it was amazing!

Also, huge! They recommended I try the classic pizza Margherita and it was fabulous! But when I go back, I will definitely try something bolder!

One of my favorite things about Italy were the beautiful Catholic churches. I’m not Catholic, but I enjoyed taking a few minutes to duck into just about every church I came across to have a few minutes of peace and quiet and to observe the amazing architecture. I have scads of pictures, but this is one of my favorites.

I loved just walking in Italy and seeing the old buildings. I like staying off the main road because I think you find better—and, let’s face it—more authentic things a little away from the crowds. (I can’t imagine being a tourist who never strays from the Via Independenza and the Piazza Maggiore, but apparently most of them don’t.) And when you don’t get off the beaten path, you don’t get to see things like this:

Or this:

And you might just miss something like this too!:D

However, speaking of the Piazza Maggiore, I did find this in the bookshop there.:D

But, alas, all good things do come to an end. 5:00 AM found me at the airport, ordering a glass of orange juice and a croissant. And this is what I got:

Blood orange juice! Never had it before! It was fabulous.:)

Then I proceeded to fly two hours back to Paris, and then 10.5 hours back to SLC where my family was with my in-laws. And, um, my feet were not happy with me. When I tried to put my shoes back on after landing, they barely fit!!!

Apparently your feet swelling on a long flight is common. Who knew? Well *I* do now.:D

Whew! So that is a really fast rundown of my trip to Italy! (And well, only about a fourth of the pictures I actually took.) It was amazing and wonderful and from both a personal and business standpoint, I’m so glad I went!!!! (And I can't believe you got this far!)

Ciao! (And yes, everyone does say that there.)


Graham said...

Looks like a lot of fun! Could use some of that food right now...

More News at the Funny Farm said...

Grandma feet?

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

How fun that you got to go. It's gorgeous there! And yes, the flight is a killer!. My brother threw up twice (once on the first, then again on the connecting flight, and both times on the same man!) Thanks for sharing the pics. The food looks yummy! How can you eat that way and stay so tiny??

Simmons Family said...

Wow, I love the pictures! Looks like you had an awesome trip!

C. Issy said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful trip! (And, now that you've tasted some of the amazing stuff over there, you've been spoiled for our American food. Just the chocolate alone made me go on crazy hunts for a supermarket that had similar goodies!

Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

J.R. Johansson said...

So jealous! What a fantastic trip. I've never heard of an author pitching their book at a foreign rights fair. I thought they just left it up to the agent. Very cool!

Robin Weeks said...

Gorgeous! Thanks for letting us live vicariously! :)

barmybex said...

WOW it looks incredible, I would love to go there one day. :D

nea barabea said...

Glad you've enjoyed it! :) :) Italy is great :) Next time you need to go to Rome :) It's fabulous! :)

Sally said...

WOW!! every thing there seems so amazing! IT's so weird that here in America (or at least where i live) every thing historical and "old" is like 300 years old max! and Europe has ruins that are thousands of years old! definitely not fair!!

Erin said...

Italy!! So glad you posted pictures. This post made me hungry- all the food pictures cracked me up. I can tell you had a fabulous time!

Fish/Bluebird said...

I used to live in italy, and it's just like I remembered! Oh how I miss it! And the food! I agree, panna cotta and Caprese salad are sooo good!