Aviano – Portogruaro – Pordenone Barcis – Desenzano del Garde
Compiled from various trips: 2000-2002
On many occasions, the band traveled to Northern Italy to perform outdoor public concerts. On the map below, you can see the area just north of Venice around Treviso and Padova. 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.
One day, three of us rode our bikes to today’s performance in Portogruaro, about 30 miles from Pordenone. It was a beautiful ride through small towns and lush farmland. We had a great spaghetti lunch there, played the concert, and then loaded our bikes into the truck for a ride back to the hotel. What a wonderful day!
Pordenone 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.
Two of the many original fresco paintings left uncovered during renovations.
The bell tower of St. Martin’s Cathedral. There is a wine shop in the base of the tower. I love the fountain!
DESENZANO DEL GARDE
Hope you enjoyed Part 1 of Northern Italy.
Please check back as I add more photos of traveling around Italy in Part 2 – Coming Soon!