Trip Start Feb 28, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Giuliani's

Flag of Italy  , Trentino-Alto Adige,
Monday, May 16, 2011

The train ride from Milan to Trento was beautiful as we passed Italian vineyards and went through the valleys along the river. Once in Trento, my cousin Demis was waiting for me at the train station. I have never met Demis, but about fifteen years ago I was playing in a basketball tournament in Austria and I met his father Roberto who came to watch me play.  Roberto came to my game with his brother Luciano and sisters Bruna and Rosana but it had been a long time since I saw them. Once in Trento, Demis drove us for about forty-five minutes until we reached Malgolo. It is a perfect tiny Italian village of about 300 people situated on a mountain in a valley.  There are 360-degree views of the Dolomiti snow capped mountains. Once I got to Demis's home I was greeted by his mother, father and brother (Roberto, Vanda, Mirko). Demis speaks the best English so he acts as a translator. Before dinner we went out onto the balcony and it may be the best view I have ever seen. Looking out across the orange Italian rooftops, past the Malgolo castle and a church bell tower at the snow covered Dolomiti Mountains was just amazing. For dinner that night we ate breaded salame meatballs, goulash, salame, cheese, bread and drank red wine. All the food was locally produced and perfect. After dinner we watched Milan vs. Polamero in the Coppa Italia in the living room. After traveling around the world there are some things that are universal and soccer (football) is one of them. So it is good that it's my favorite sport and that I can talk about it no matter where I am. We talked for hours about Italian football and especially their favorite team, which is Juventus. Luciano and his wife Louisa came over and we had the best homemade tiramisu for desert.

The next day we headed to Bolzano, which is about 45 minutes away from, Malgolo and a beautiful drive through the Mendola pass. Winding up and down the mountain passing vineyards, small villages, castles and churches all while being surrounded by the Dolomiti Mountains. Once in Balzano we visited my cousin Diego and his wife Evelyn then to Bruna and Marcello house for a drink. This all lead up to lunch at Rosanna's house with her daughter Francesca. Lunch started with a few glasses of wine. Following the wine we ate the best lasagna of all time. I cannot imagine lasagna tasting any better any where in the world. Followed by chicken, salad and for desert, fresh strawberries that actually melt in your mouth. I was asleep on the couch ten minutes later, it was that good. About twenty minutes into my nap a strong Italian coffee waked me up and we then walked to old Bolzano. It is a mix of Italian, German and Austrian architecture and winding stone streets. The weather was perfect and there were shops and cafes every five feet .the most famous shopping arcade in Balzano on Via dei Portici Laubon. We came out at the Piazza Walther Platz which on the south west side of the square stands a Gothic Duomo which dates back to 1295. Balzano is a perfect town with a river running through it, ancient buildings, a mix of cultures, modern shops and cafes, with rolling hills in the background.

From Balzano Demis and I drove to Trento to visit my cousin Matteo, his wife Martina and son Ricardo. We also met up with Demis’ girlfriend Sylvia and walked around Trento that night. It is another amazing Italian town and you enter the center of the city by walking past a huge wall from medieval times. Once inside Trento the streets begin to wind around shops and restaurants and past the Duomo which is connected to a Piazza and castle Buon Consiglio. We then headed to a brewery one of Demis's favorite places for local pizza and beer.

One morning Demis and I went for a run in through the fields from Romeno to Cavareno in the Valle Di Non. I don't know if there is a better place in the world to go for a run. The sun was out and no clouds in the sky as we ran through the empty fields, rolling hills and had the mountains as our backdrop. We came home to a light lunch of spaghetti, breaded turkey and wine. There is really no way for me to describe the food because its not food, its an experience. After lunch Roberto drew out the family tree at the kitchen table to show how we were all related. We were sitting at the table looking at old black and white photographs of my great great grandparents and the house they lived in. From the table I was sitting at I could look out the window down the driveway and across the Piazza to see the home of my great great grandparents. There were also pictures of the house we were sitting in being built many years ago. It was a great moment, a hand drawn family tree with my name on it going back to my Italian great great grandparents.
Later that day Demis took me to San Romedio, which is a sanctuary on a cliff about five minutes from there home. The sanctuary was built high atop the rocky cliff but in a valley so it is high up and surrounded by mountains at the same time. Its a long walk to get to the top of San Romedio and on the way out of the sanctuary on the back of an arch as I was walking down the ancient steps was a saying, it said, "Dove vai tu?" It's not easy to notice but I stopped and asked Demis what it meant and he told me and then we just stood there for a minute. It was just another amazing moment that I can't describe.
We meet Matteo, Maria and Ricardo for dinner in Trento that night and Maria who is from Verona made a typical Verona dish risotto and roast veal. To say it was great would be an understatement. After dinner Matteo and I saluted and down with grappa. Grappa is something I had to try in Italy but it is a very, very strong liquor.  The following morning I went for a walk with Roberto and Vanda through the endless apple fields that they own in the Valle Di Non. One of the quietest and most tranquil places in the world as Vanda says. As we finished out walk Luciano drove by and picked me and Roberto up. I wasn't sure where we were going but Luciano has more energy than any person I know so I knew it would be great. We went down the valley to a bigger village that had a local bar, it was about 12pm so there were a few people inside drinking wine for lunch. We had a drink and picked up one of Luciano's friends and in the back of the car , was a huge empty wine jug. About five minutes later we walked down a stone path towards a house, Luciano was talking to someone who was hanging out the widow of the old home. We went into a basement that was like a small wine cellar that had three containers distilling homemade wine. The basement was made of stone uneven walls and had old bottles of wine everywhere. We were there to fill the jug of wine that we brought but before we filled it we needed to try the wine first. We just put a small glass under the nozzle and turn and the red wine flows, a few glasses later it was the best wine in the best place I have ever had. To be in a small village drinking homemade wine in a basement that feels thousands of years old with salame hanging from the ceiling, was perfect.

From there we headed to Luciano's house for lunch where his wife Louisa was cooking. We started with fresh proscuiotto, cheese, pickles and salame. Next Polenta was dished out on my plate, your supposed to put the gorgonzola cheese under the polenta so it melts the cheese, then on top of the polenta I put porcini mushrooms and sausages. There is honestly no way to describe how good it was. I had to force myself to stop eating because if I ate anymore it would be reaching unhealthy levels. We took a short break and had fresh fruit with home made vanilla gelato. I will never forget that gelato, it was the best I ever had. Finally we finished with an Italian liquor and coffee. What a lunch.

The following day we went to Garda Lake to spend the day and night camping. Garda lake is the biggest lake in Italy and that night we had dinner in a small waterfront village. "The champion of the pizza" is what Rosana called the cook at the pizzeria and there were trophies and pictures on the walls. I order a pizza with just about everything you could on it. Pomodora, mozzarella, samale, prosciutto, mushrooms, garlic, etc. I don't think I need to say it was good. The next morning we made the short drive to Verona and walked through the narrow streets. In the center of Verona there is an arena, it is a smaller version of the coliseum in Rome. Verona also is home to Juliet and the actually house she lived. The house is tucked away on a tiny side street but you’re able to see the famous balcony where Romeo was with Juliet. Not where they filmed the movie it but the actually balcony where it happened hundred of years ago. Following yet another pizza for lunch I headed to Stadio Bentegodi Verona for the soccer (football) match between Chievo Verona and Udinese. The stadium was one used to host World Cup games in Italy in 1990. It was the last home game of the season for Chievo, so tickets were half price as a way to give back to the fans. I got a ticket for only 5 Euros and it was the best seat in the stadium. Udinese had thousands of traveling fans at the game and were blocked off in there own area separated by iron fences. It was the most important game of the year for Udinese if they won they would qualify for next seasons European Champions League. I have been to soccer games all in Brazil, England, USA and other parts of Italy but the Udinese fans were the loudest I can remember. They were signing, chanting, waving flags, setting off flares, and popping balloons so it sounded like fireworks for 90 minutes.

There really is no way to sum up my time in Magolo and Bolzano with my family. During the week I met fifteem family members many of which share the last name Giuliani. I am truly blessed to have such an incredible family in Italy, they opened their homes and kitchens to me. Even though not everyone speaks English there was never a language barrier. To be in a place where time ceases to exist and to see my last name on the front door of homes is indescribable. I don't know if there is anything more special than sitting around the kitchen table eating and drinking with family surrounded by apple fields and snow capped mountains in the Italian sun.

"Dove vai tu?" = "Where do you go?"-San Romedio
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