On many occasions in the past two years, the band has traveled to Northeast Italy to perform outdoor public concerts. On the map above, you can see the area just north of Venice around Treviso. We performed many concerts at beaches on the Adriatic Sea, and many more in inland communities. We drove the entire way (about 600 miles) through Salzburg, Austria. That, in itself, is a beautiful trip.
The first thing you notice about Italy in the summertime is the HEAT and HUMIDITY!!!! Our concerts were all in the evening, and around sunset, the humidity “rolls in” and coated everything in enough water to make you think it had rained. This is not good when you are touching electronic instruments that are plugged in to 220 volts (the European standard). But we survived with nobody getting zapped.
There are many interesting aspects of Italian life to explore. First, the idea of communities still exists here. There are no Wal Marts, Sam’s Clubs, Sears, or even McDonalds. Everything is Mom&Pop stores with the exception of a few grocery store chains. This really adds a “homey” individual touch to each village. Another very nice touch is the importance of the church in each community. Churches are open every day from sunrise to sunset, and are located at the very heart of town in the shopping/ sidewalk cafes area. People stop in for meditation during the course of their daily activities. Church is not just for Sunday mornings here.
The Italians are rightly famous for their fashion tastes. Watching people in the middle of town, I soon noticed that NOBODY was wearing old blue jeans or t-shirts. Everyone from kids to adults was dressed in comfortable slacks and nice shirts, and most women wore dresses. Nothing showy or glitzy, just nice, comfortable cotton summer clothes. When Italians visit America, they must be shocked at the sloppy way most people dress: ratty, torn clothes and “blue light special” t-shirts. I’m just as guilty myself. But it really made a positive impression of an entire city to see everyone dressed nice. There’s a lesson to be learned by all Americans.
Another aspect of Italian life that took a lot of getting use to on my part was the fact these people love the night! Walk downtown at 9:00 or 9:30 in the morning, and the place is deserted. Shops don’t start opening until around 10:00, and stay open until about 1:30 or 2:00. Then EVERYTHING closes for afternoon siesta (nap-time) until about 5:00. Then they reopen until about 8:00 or 9:00. But the restaurants don’t open for dinner (supper) until around 7:00 pm at the earliest, and stay open until about 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Where in the USA (except Denny’s) can you go out to eat at midnight and have a choice of restaurants? And meals are not the “chew and run” affairs we Americans are use to. Plan on spending at least 2-3 hours at dinner.
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A view of the Aviano area from a nearby mountain.
Aviano is the home to Aviano Air Base, where our activities were centered.
The large mountain in the background is the first mountain of the Alps.
Up to this point (coming from the south and east), it is very flat.
Main Street, Aviano. The Angelica is a hardware store that actually has a nice selection of hand-painted ceramic and pottery for sale.
I bought a flower vase and a set of salt/pepper shakers.
The Santuario Madonna Del Monte is visible on the hillside above Aviano.
One morning, I awoke to find a rainbow pointing to this beautiful church.
Here is a view down from the mountain behind the Santuario Madonna Del Monte.
Our hotel was in the upper right-hand corner of this picture.
The Santuario Madonna Del Monte church (from previous photos).
Inside the Santuario Madonna Del Monte church.
Continuing up the mountain from the Santuario Madonna Del Monte church, the winding road
leads to Piancavallo, a ski resort visible in the far background.
The winding road to Piancavallo is also very popular with the motorcyclists in the area.
Another scenic view on the way up Piancavallo.
There are several narrow roads winding through the mountains surrounding Piancavallo.
What a beautiful area! Biker heaven!
A nice view of a church bell tower on one of the narrow streets around Aviano.
Marsure is a small town along the foot of the mountain just down the road from Aviano.
This is the local grocery store.
Directly across the street from the grocery store is the church.
This is the view inside the church at Marsure. The most impressive view, though, is up.
(See the next picture)
This is the ceiling of the church at Marsure. Beautiful!
Podenone is located about 6 miles from Aviano Air Base. It is a city mixed with both old and new. While the city center is still a narrow street best suited for pedestrians, the outer areas have many new stores (sorry, no Wal Marts). We often stayed in Pordenone and used it as a “base camp” for our tours to other nearby cities.
Pordenone is the place we stayed most often.
This is the street that runs through the shopping district. It is lined with cafes and small shops.
At one end of the shopping district is the City Hall of Pordenone.
St. Martin’s Cathedral is a large church in Pordenone.
Inside St. Martin’s Cathedral in Pordenone. There are numerous old paintings on the walls
(note the bottom of the column on the right) that were preserved during renovations.
This is the column mentioned in the previous picture’s notes.
This painting was along the back wall. It was left uncovered during renovations.
One of many small naves along the side of the sanctuary.
The ceiling above the nave. Truly fantastic artwork!
The bell tower of St. Martin’s Cathedral. There is a wine shop in the base of the tower.
Many balconies and windows around Pordenone were decorated with flowers.
This is Italy, and everyone is very style-conscious – even the Carabinieri (Police).
No old Ford or Chevy for these guys. This guy drives an Alfa Romeo!
The Holy Trinity church is the oldest in Pordenone.
A very creative sign for a local tavern.
I was fortunate to be in Pordenone on Market Day. This traveling market sets up in 6 different towns each week on a rotating basis.
Thursday was Market Day in Pordenone.
Pordenone Market Day – the flower ladies.
This is what makes Italy famous – grapes for wine!
We made a stop at one of the local wineries. They make the wine and bottle it
right at the vineyard. Jugs and bottles of all sizes – up to 5 gallons!
There are many great wines for $3-$5 per bottle.
Don’t know what you want? Try before you buy! (Unless you’re driving)
I’ll take this jug!!!
OK, I thought I’d throw this one in just for the heck of it. In most Italian hotel restrooms, you will find you have a choice of fixtures when you need to get rid of all that wine.
Well, I don’t know exactly how it’s used, but the one on the left is.. uhhh… for “washing” afterwards (and I don’t mean your hands).
A couple of us took our bikes to Italy.
Here, I stopped by a cornfield for a break from the heat.
One day I drove up to Barcis, one of the most beautiful settings in all of Europe!
This lakeside resort is nestled in the Italian Alps just a 30 minute drive from Aviano and Pordenone.
This is the highway bridge across the lake at Barcis. Yes, it’s for cars!
Look at the next picture if you don’t believe me.
OK, but one at a time only.
To the side of the bridge is this swimming pier.
What a great setting for a cool swim!
When you’re done looking at the beautiful scenery, you can wander through the village of
Barcis and look at the many shops.
Desenzano del Garda, a beautiful lakeside resort town in North-central Italy.
A view by the boat harbor of Desenzano del Garda.
My hotel room came with its own private patio and lakeside view to enjoy the sunrise.
Out for one of my early morning walks, I met this swan on the city square.
Narrow sidestreets like this show why Vespa scooters are so popular.
Another narrow street as I walked toward the town overlook.
The climb up to the hill above town was worth it.
The lake was hidden behind the misty veil.
What do you think of when someone mentions Italy?
I think – PIZZA! This is the real stuff!
Italy is not just pizza, though. One day, I found this great restaurant hidden on a narrow sidestreet.
Inside the restaurant.
I ordered Spaghetti Frutti de Marre (Fruit of the Sea). Fresh shrimp and clams.
After my big lunch, I needed to walk, so I headed out on the rocks by the lake.
The Alps bordering Northern Italy and Austria are in the background. So peaceful!
On our last morning in Desenzano del Garda, we had a beautiful sunrise.
One day, three of us rode our bikes to the concert site in Lignano Sabbia dOro, about 40 miles from Pordenone.
It was a beautiful ride through places like Portogruaro (above). We had a great spaghetti lunch there, and then rode off through a heavy downpour for the last leg of the ride.
Then the sun came out and we dried off.
In Portogruaro, this lady stepped out of her doorway to just have a look around.
In Portogruaro, these punts made a colorful addition to an already nice scene.
In Casarsa, I met a nice gentleman named Allesandro who is the original owner
of this magnificent 1957 Moto Guzzi.
Middle America? Nope! This is an American diner in Casarsa, Italy.
The next few pictures were taken as we left Northern Italy on our way back through Brenner Pass into Austria. In the foreground is a vineyard as large as an Iowa cornfield.
Pardon the glare – this was taken out the bus window.
Of course, no European road trip would be complete without a traffic jam.
Brenner Pass, the infamous route from northern Italy into Austria.
The Autostrada can be seen in the background going from the bridge
on the right through the pass into Italy.
Vittorio is located at the foot of the Alps just an hour’s drive from the Adriatic Sea.
Here, the band was setting up the evening concert.
Vittorio’s Main Street.
One of the many stone arches on the narrow Vittorio streets.
This church was just behind the stage where the band performed in Vittorio.
This is the view of the alter inside the church at Vittorio.
The church ceiling. Simply incredible!
The stream runs right through the center of town, right past this person’s doorway.
Caorle was one of our frequent stops. This is the chapel along the beachfront levee.
Caorle chapel. Pretty elaborate for a beachfront chapel, eh?
The seaside theme continues to the ceiling of the chapel.
Artists have turned the large stones on the beachfront levee into works of art.
One of the many small streets in Caorle. Lots of small cafes.
Caorle is very famous for its beautiful beach. People come from all over Europe.
This was the site of my last concert with an Air Force band in August 2001.
What a nice setting!
Hope you enjoyed Northeast Italy!