Saturday April 9
I got up at 6am to go to the train station. I arrived early and easily bought a round trip ticket for less than 20 Euros to go to Udine. Since I was early, I had time to check out the self-service train ticket machines, and they were really easy to utilize, so next trip that is what I will do.
Today I will be meeting Nerina, my Italian teacher’s longtime good friend. My teacher is from Udine, which is in the Friuli region of Italy. The train ride took almost two hours with nine stops, and it was interesting seeing all the vineyards, both individual and commercial. Friuli is well-known for its wines. There were a lot of green and rural areas, with purple flowers in bloom.
Nerina met me outside the train station and she was so friendly and welcoming, as though we had known each other for a long time. We walked around the center of Udine as it was a beautiful day, and we saw all the buildings that are smaller versions of some of the great buildings in Venice. We stopped for something to drink, and then she drove her car to the ancient medieval city of Cividale, which was the birthplace of my Italian teacher’s mother. Both cities were extremely clean.
Cividale was very charming and we had some typical food from this region, quiche, polenta, formaggio, and bruschetta at the wonderful Café Longobardo. Nerina insisted on treating me as her guest for the day and would not allow me to pay for anything. She also bought some strucchi, a sweet strudel-type pastry from this region. She sent me back with it, apparently aware of my sweet tooth.
She bought tickets and we toured the ancient Monastero Santa Maria and the Tesoro del Duomo. The entire day was an awesome experience, having a personal tour guide who lives in the area and seems to know everyone! We took photos at the mercato, walked along the waterfall, and crossed the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge), where we could see the snow-capped peaks in nearby Slovenia. We had some gelato, did some window shopping, had coffee in a piazza, and I met some of Nerina’s friends. Thank you Nerina for a day that I will remember forever.
At 8 pm I was on the train back to Venice after a wonderful day. I didn’t mention that we spoke Italian the entire day, about 95 percent of the time, which was good practice for me.
What a memorable day you have had, I bet your guide did too. Whenever you show off your town you gain in the enjoyment twice. Once for your guest and once for yourself. The food alone makes me want to load up for Italy.
As you have found, speaking the language is the way to hammer home the details to your neurons. It sticks in a way that a formal class or textbook cannot. The accent only comes from native speakers. And that too is going to make this jaunt a different memory than your other trips.
Great photo of Nerina. I am sure she made you laugh (she has a very ebullient character as I’m sure you noticed)! I am so glad that your experience early on into your trip, included meeting my dearest friend and exploring this gem of northeastern Italy: the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, which I call “home”. Nerina told me that you are doing a good job speaking Italian, so thanks Margie for making me look good, as a teacher!!! Buon proseguimento…..
Just wanted you to know how much I enjoy hearing about your adventures.