The Overall Italian Odyssey Overview…

Pronto! As you may have noticed, I’ve been away recently. I spent a month in Italy doing some touristing, then training to teach English-language summer camp, then working at English-language summer camp, then spending time with old friends to recover from it all. It was a great big adventure made up of many great mini-adventures. I had a brilliant time and now I’d like to bore you into a coma by blah blah blahbling on about it and going over every single thing in highly elaborate detail…

No, actually I’m not for several reasons. Firstly, altogether I did a lot, saw a lot and experienced a lot. If I regurgitated all of it and told you of every single momentous little occurrence with extra annotation we’d be here until August and, y’know, we’ve all got lives to get on with. I could send you my personal journal to skimread if you wanted though I warn you that it’s iffy pseudo-Kerouac rambling done in illegible handwriting and the most frequent phrases are “beautiful!” and “I gotta look this up on Wikipedia when I get home!

Furthermore, friends, smug blogposts by people fortunate enough to travel and have extraordinary life-affirming experiences can get really irritating. The full-thwack should probably be reserved for family and the closest of close friends only. I’m saving all of this up for my anecdote stockpile, for personal encounters or for, erm, Facebook which is a social media network built on the foundation of “Look at all my photos! Like! Like! This is what I’m doing, guys! I may not have a baby or a marriage but, hey, these photos prop up my self-esteem and self-worth and act as evidence that I do have a worthwhile life of value! Give me your approval and show me that you’re impressed! Acknowledge my exciting existence! Like!

Having got home, sorted through photos and luggage and managed to semi-sync myself to the British (Sub)Standard it’s time to draw a line and get on wit’ the gettin’ on. If you’ll indulge me for a moment, this marks the seal-it-up blogpost to properly put a lid on my 2013 Italian Odyssey and it may be of interest and give you hints on some of the high times I had. I don’t want to be insufferable or smug so I’m trying to keep it short and sweet. To do this I’ve really condensed it all into a few succinct paragraphs – like an abbreviated Res Gestae illustrated with a few GPOYs (I’m sorry but I can’t feature photos of children and unconsenting adults for legal reasons. It’s mainly  just photos of me and the concept of ’embarrassment’ is now completely alien to me so, hey, bad photos). It acts as a personal reflection piece and may make intriguing reading for you. If you don’t want to know, don’t click “read more” (you chose wisely) and if you want to know more I’d be happy to hook up either in cyberspace, in real life or in the afterlife. Better yet, let’s get together and go on a new adventure together…

Allora and no more ado: here’s a quickfire graphic run-through of some stuff I did and stuff that did stuff to me in Italia…

First up, I flew into Milano with my brother and we spent a few days in the city hitting all the main sights, soaking up the art and history in the galleries and museums, having a moment with The Last Supper, eating the best pasta in the town’s best restaurants and generally being excited tourists. Here is an action photo of me on the roof of the Duomo to encapsulate all the intrepid touristing in one single shot…

"... and then in a single leap he jumps to the top of Castello Sforzesco and wrestles with Italian Spider-Man..."

“Top o’the world, Mama!”

Once exposed to the environmental conditions of Italy you get into the groove of the overall way of ‘being’ pretty quickly. You rapidly acclimitise to the lifestyle, the rhythms and the distinct la dolce vita Italian-ness of the everything and Milano is distinct as the country’s capital of style. It’s the city of cool, everyone’s attractive and they all conduct themselves with confident arrogant indifference and a relaxed “yeah, I don’t give a crap” attitude. You feel it, absorb it and start to assume the essence as you move through Milan on the underground Metro…

"Made it as a male model, Mama!"

“Made it as a male model, Mama!”

… and then I totally lost my cool when I went bananafruitloop-loopy teaching the kids’ camps a couple of weeks later…

"Made it to banana brain mashdown, Mama!"

“Made it to banana brain mashdown, Mama!”

… and then I finished summer camp and was sent back in time at a medieval festa where I was brought back into line and punished for my perverse silliness…

Stock Photo

Stock Photo

… and in the same place (Porto Venere) and in a more stable state of mind I found natural peace by meditating for a moment at Lord Byron’s grotto…

The elderly gentleman photobombing the picturesque scene is not Lord Byron.

The elderly gentleman photobombing the picturesque scene is not Lord Byron.

But I’m skipping ahead. Back to the near-beginning, after Milan I went on to the Ligurian coast to meet other would-be English tutors. All of us were trained to do the job in the field and given the tools to fully succeed as A-grade action educators with a special skillset of dance moves. It’s great when a diverse set of grown adults from various farflung parts gather together to sing children’s songs at the seaside. It was good craic and we all enjoyed each other’s company while going through a fast-track metamorphosis/psychological unblocking procedure that turns you into a creature like this…

Style and professionalism.

A Serious Man.

After a week of that I was despatched to the village of Candiolo near  Torino to rock the summer camp rock ‘n’ roll show as one member of a Fab Four unit (I think I was Ringo). The kids liked me and I liked the kids and altogether, as I made efforts to educate and entertain them, we had a lot of fun playing games and singing songs. I sketched with ’em, challenged them in Rock Paper Scissors knockout tournaments, made a human lasagna with ’em (I was the base layer) and ended up getting soaked by them on water fight day (they chased me all the way around the school). The fortnight climaxed in a show for parents and I scripted up ‘The Pirates vs. the Giant Crab of Treasure Island‘ while they constructed a pirate ship, crafted cardboard treasure chests and prepared buccaneer costumes (complemented by tattoos I inked all over their little arms). Sadly the kid set to play the Giant Crab was ill for the grand finale so I had to fill in with no time to go through the normal extensive method prep I usually put into roles…

"Alright Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up..."

“Alright Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up…”

Outside of school, I got to be a tourist in Torino and soaked up most of the sublime baroque city’s sights, palaces and museums in a 2-day mad-rush culture binge. As far as Italian metropolitan centres go it’s quite possibly the perfect city for me in terms of its size, attractions, aesthetics and attitude.  Out of all its treasures my favourite thing in it all was the Mole Antonelliana monument which houses the Museo Nazionale del Cinema. I geeked out on all the film museum had to offer and got a bit emotional as I thrilled at the relics and exhibits within (the actual Red Shoes! The letter that Travis Bickle sent to his parents in Taxi Driver! Scorsese script notes! Archaic magic lantern show paraphernalia and other proto-cinema technology! Much, much more and my movie nerd mind is blown!).

Scorsese exhibit bits including Travis' letter "To a couple of good scouts!"

Scorsese exhibit bits including Travis’ letter “To a couple of good scouts!”

After my time in Piemonte province I took my weary bones and sore throat down to the Emilia-Romagna countryside to stay with the family who hosted me when I worked at summer camps two years again. It was the perfect way to wind down the trip – in a beautiful place with beautiful people…

Liliana - my Italian 2nd grandmother - is just one of the supremely lovely people I had the pleasure of hanging out with in June.

Liliana – my Italian 2nd grandmother – is just one of the supremely lovely people I had the pleasure of hanging out with in June.

The whole trip was wonderful and I’ll cherish the memories. There’s a lot more but I’ve gone on more than enough and so I’ll wrap it up there and move on with fresh matter. Thanks for reading my indulgent post-holiday blog ramble. Now, when and where’s our next adventure?

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3 Comments

  1. Duolingo and Language Learning like a Game Fronted by a Friendly Green Owl… | ENTER... JAMES CLAYTON
  2. The Total 2013 Backtrack Trip Before We Bring the Axe Down Ahead of New Year Revolutions… | ENTER... JAMES CLAYTON
  3. Andiamo! Abandon the Internet, Amico, and Escape to Italy… | ENTER... JAMES CLAYTON

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