Lost towns?

Technology and urbanization. Now these two words might not seem to be very linked to each other, but we tell they are so. Because from our view, technology’s advancement is one of the developments alongside urbanization. True that there are many other factors for growing urban living, but today we are not debating this.

As the title of this post suggest, we are focused on towns. Villages if you will. Some months back we read this article about the dying towns of Italy (our interpretation). An interesting read if we may recommend.

Oh how we identify with this trend. The gradual and sometimes fast moving changes that decimate depopulate towns of people, mostly youths leaving to seek their fortunes in the big city. We’ve seen this in Japan, China and to much extent in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia too. Towns being “absorbed” by megacities as they grow fat large. We’ve seen almost entire towns inhabited mostly by elderly folks. And as these folks pass on, so does the towns that once bustled with life. And a loss that is not just people but also culture, heritage and traditions.

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing…. so goes an old song.

The article cited above also spoke about rejuvenation. And not just as specks of attractions that see thousands in the day and fall into still silence in the night. We’ve stated out view on how we’ve witnessed to much loss while living in China.

When will we ever learn?

Sing like a Lombard

They say that in a choir if there is no conductor moderating, one could end up singing louder than required. That dear friends, is the Lombard effect. And the title was to inform you that without moderation we would probably have sung like no tomorrow about our adventures in Lombardy…

We were fortunate that while based in Amsterdam, one of the cities Mel had to frequent for business was Cremona. Now the main gateway remains Milan (here), with two airports in the city (Malpensa and Linate) he preferred the latter since it was nearer to town. But flights to that airport were limited and sometimes of poor timing.

So what did he do?

Instead, Mel (and Suan) took budget flights to nearby Bergamo instead. While it was not nearer from a physical location standpoint, it was less crowded on the roads. After all, Milan is a metropolis and traffic conditions quite tough. And because of this we had the opportunity to drive the ‘countryside’ of Lombardy. Definitely recommended. Not quite like Tuscany, many a time the weather was gloomy, wet and cold.

However do not be mistaken that Lombardy is unwelcoming. For we climbed cliff-top towns, did ‘pilgrimages’ and pretended to be music students. All within this diverse and beautiful region. Have to admit it is not high up on the ranking of tourists but you would be missing out if you write off Lombardy.

Wanna know more? Perhaps read our story here to decided if you might want to add lombardy on your bucket list.

This is not a post promoting Lombardy. We are not paid to do so!

Anyway this ends our Italian series. Time to switch back to the good ole’ US of A. Watch out for it! We are surely a singing louder and louder…

Milanese Chic

The definition of being chic is to be stylish and elegant. Many a blogger out there have combined their travel stories with their OOTD. And nowhere have you gotta do this more in the city of Milan. Why?

Simply because it is a fashion capital that not only rivals its peers but also boasts of being a key sartorial hub.

Heheh… new word… Sartorial, NOT satirical. In case you are wondering about this new word yet again, it refers to the art of tailoring. Yeah we do research a little for our posts… For you see, fashion is not just on the drawing board (well computers these days), but also in the actual making of the outfit. While it may appear great on sketch, it might be less so in real life. So the tailor brings a sketch design to life, so to speak. No runway model will ever don a sketch…

Oh man that’s deep. What’s gotten into us recently?

Because we (ie Mel) came here on occasion for business when we lived in Holland, we had the good fortune to combine it with leisure. And it was definitely a city that Suan misses a lot, for she was truly at home in the boutiques that line the shopping streets of the city. Like they were everywhere in the city. It appeared like an infestation! Though Mel would not be too bothered to return since he had a bad experience. Wanna know what it was? Why not read all about that here?

Have you been to Milan? What did you like about the capital of fashion? Are you a fashionista?

Under the sunny Tuscan Sun

Heheh… inspiration for this title from somewhere… though we modified it a little. Like Xiaomi with the Mi-Pad… So you all know about Tuscany right? We assume that you know while Italy is said to be the country where the renaissance sprang forth, it was really in the city of Florence where the engines apparently were. Ok so debate with us about that…

For you see the Tuscan sun appeared to have set off a spark.

This spark ignited first a small fire. A fiery passion for learning and discovery. From which grew the vines of institutions, established by hot blooded patrons (read Medicis). It might be callous to say that it is obvious, but it should be. For this melange of talented & machiavellian individuals, powerful political patrons in a period of economic resurgence helped transform and propel medieval Europe out of her slumber towards the modern age. Of course a lot of money and power helped.

Waah. Chim siah = deep huh? Suppose we are in knee deep of ink water (墨水) today. For red dotters, don’t be ‘stunned like vegetable’ ok? Heheh…

This was the final leg of our round-the-boot tour of Italy from many a year back (here). And it was go…ood (try pulling and emphasizing this). For it had led us to the beautiful cities of Florence, Siena and Pisa. Yes we helped to hold up the leaning tower with our bare hands (and eye power), imagined riding the horses on the Palio and pretended to have made some sketches with Leonardo (not the turtle).

Did you not do any of that when you were there? In Tuscany we mean. What were you doing then?

P.S: Happy all fools day! Enjoy spoofing one another!

Warping through time in Italy

There are certainly many many corners of Italy that we’ve yet to touch. And we had hoped to cover as much ground as possible being part of a group tour that drove south towards Naples and eventually back up towards Venice.

This is a recount of one part of that journey. One that took us so tantalizingly close to the southern half of Italy that we’ve sworn since then to return. Only to have deferred it repeatedly because the siren call of so many other destinations put us into a trance of sort, preventing us from getting back to Italy. Well, maybe we did get back a few times… Anyway the point is; Italy is a land where one can truly “see” in time warp. Who knows what you might find there amidst the Roman era ruins. Perhaps erotic art? Does that prick you interest?

What do we mean?

Well you know that Rome was the seat of the mighty Roman civilization. Now that’s ancient. Would you also know that Italy was the home birthplace of the renaissance? Despite not being a unified country for almost 1385 years (if we use fall of Rome in 476AD as a start point), it produced some of the most acclaimed artists, scientists and humanists of Europe during that time.

Why not join us in this recount, as we share with you our journey from Rome to Naples (Napoli for Italianos) and its beautiful environs. One that will make you wish you could quit your job and become a traveler (wanna get certified?). Would you if you could?

Is Venice most serene?

Do you know what a Thalassocracy is?

To save you the trouble of Googling it, let us tell you. It essentially means a seaborne or maritime “country”. One whose realm is primarily consisting of dominance of the seas. Now given that the sea is the dominion, how could Venice be most serene?

The sea can be tempestuous, for she can turn at will against anyone who dares to ride the waves. Not quite Poseidon or his son Percy Jackson (heheh all made up recently). Though it gives a sense of what the Venetians were up against in order to hold their dominion together. For being the most serene republic actually meant sovereign independence.

You must remember that in those days, nobility held sway. To remain aloof from subservience to the the nobility held territories, republics such as Venice had to maintain sufficient power to stay ‘serene’, ie not being harrassed or accosted to become part of a noble dominion. How they did that and became an empire on their own is an intriguing story in itself. But today we are not delving into history.

Instead we want to share with you our take on Venice and the beautiful lagoon that is the city (here). For her highways are not roads but lanes of water. And her foundations most vulnerable these days. She is so visited that she is sinking, some say drowning. Not from the waters (yet) but from the feet of many a visitor.

Have you been to Venice? Would you not like it to be preserved? How?