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The Italy Chronicles

Your first time out of your country is a very special experience. It opens up a whole new facet of life before you. You want to just absorb everything that you see. My first (and, hopefully not the last) trip abroad was to Italy. I took in everything-the people, the place, the beautiful statues, piazzas, churches, castles, the food. Well, one has invariable read about all this already. But, when you experience it firsthand, it is something else! 


I was put up at ICTP in Trieste. And, the first thing you notice about Trieste is its calm blue sea. I took many walks along the sea shore, and when you're there, you feel there is no place else where you want to be. You can just sit and stare at the sea for hours. You see sea gulls gliding over or just sitting on the huge rocks, you see the ducks swimming about on the shallow waters next to the shore, you see someone sitting calmly with a fishing rod in one hand and a book in another, you see schools of small fish and jelly fish in the clear blue waters and you see boats and ships as tiny objects at a distance. When you see all this you wish you were blessed with at least some poetic genes, to capture all of it in a beautiful poem. But alas, not everyone can write poems and hence, this blog. This scene is clearly not specific to Trieste alone, but then, this was my first experience on a sea shore which was not all too crowded with people.

Another thing that I liked about this place was that ICTP is situated on a hill. So, one had to climb up and down all the time to go from one place to another. And, there were a few less frequented paths that we explored which had wild growth on both sides of the road, and which also gave us a view of the sea from the top, and it also made for a pretty good trek. 

What can I say about the people! They were really friendly. I know I'm raving about everything right now, but, people there had the word "Gracia" and "Ciao" at the tips of their tongues, and to a foreigner, they sounded really pleasant. All the non-Italians, including me had started using these words at every instance over there. And the food, I simply loved it! I loved the pastas, the lasagnas and the gelatos. I had pasta day in and day out for two weeks and didn't really miss Indian food at all. I did find the pizzas a little bland for my Indian palate, but had that too without any complaints.

There are so many beautiful churches all over the city, and the main piazza-Piazza Unita has lots of beautiful statues. And, right opposite this piazza across the road is the sea with some more statues on the shore's pavement. This is the place that tourists visit in the city.


What can I say about Venice that hasn't already been said! It is simply so different from any city that you can imagine. The stream of water right between two apartment buildings, the bridges, the various kinds of boats that one could see in its waters. It is something that I loved. But, like every beautiful place that is famous, it was crowded with tourists.   And, this I can say, because the most obvious sign of a tourist is the camera in the person's hand. We didn't do much else in Venice except for walking along all its small cramped pavements flanked by little cozy cafes on one side and water on the other. The houses again were really beautiful and different from what one finds here in India. I love Italian architecture. Each of the buildings somehow highlighted an old-world charm. Some of the house doors also make you think that each of it must at least be a century old. One look at Venice is enough to make you realize that it is the city of poets, artists and of course lovers. If only it wasn't so crowded, it would have been perfect!


Gorizia was a complete contrast of Venice. There were hardly any people walking on the streets. There were many many streets that we walked on with not a single person or car in sight. Here, we wanted to go to the Castello di Gorizia. It is a 14th century castle and it is known to give the view of the entire city from the top. We just followed the signs and the map and reached the place and over there, we did find at least some people. The castle is different from the ones that we see in India. This one was built from stones throughout and on the top there are some openings probably to keep a watch and also shoot at the enemies in the event of an invasion.

We were completely exhausted by the time we reached the castle, but, it was worth the effort. It looked majestic. On our way back we had thought we would go to the Italy-Slovenia border and get a photo of ourselves standing in "two countries at once", but alas, we missed the route and couldn't get it. Back at the railway station, we treated ourselves to Gelatos, and it tasted heavenly.

I made many friends at the conference, and we used to have a wonderful time together during our outings, our lunches and dinners, our after dinner chats at the guest house cafe, our ping pong games at the guest house, our walks on the sea shore and on the hilly areas of the ICTP campus and many more little things. All our trips in and out of Trieste had lots of adventure and fun and in the end it has given us some beautiful memories to cherish. And, this trip of mine I will cherish all my life.



  1. That's untrue! Venice certainly had one thing common with India - they had clothes hanging out to dry! :)
    Also, picture-wise, maybe you are a poor photographer, but I liked Trieste and its blue sea more than Venice and its "koovams" :p

  2. @ Didi: Yeah well, I wanted to be more lyrical about Trieste, but, you see, I can't write poems. :P And, Venice was way too crowded. I loved Trieste and its sea. :)) And yes, I am a poor photographer...can't do better than this. But, good observation! By the way, Vanice's "koovams" don't stink like the ones in Chennai. :P


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