September 30 - My Favorite Things in Italy - continued

This is a continuation of my last download on Italian food. My other favorite things about Italy include the marvelous Tuscan landscape, the ancient Roman ruins, and the importance of football (soccer).

The landscape of Tuscany is extremely hard to describe. The everlasting rolling hills, olive groves, vineyards, distant mountains, and walled towns on the hilltops create an unforgettable memory for all. The wheat fields seem to extend far past the horizon and the small farmhouses on every hill look as if they are sitting on the edge of the world. The multicolored fields divide the dense forests and create tiny islands in the middle of a sea of wheat. The infinite blue skies and the long rows of Cyprus trees are truly jaw opening. Hikes through the dry tilled fields leading down to small ponds that seem like oases in the middle of a desert, are something we all will never forget. The beautiful landscape of Tuscany is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my entire life, and is already enticing me to visit once more.

The Roman ruins are also something that I will always remember about Italy. I love standing in the middle of ruins and trying to imagine what it was like 2000 years ago. I find it unbelievable how the ancient ruins are still standing today, and how much their accomplishments have shaped our world. I especially liked visiting the Coliseum, the agora (market place), and Ostia Antica (ancient city). In the Coliseum you can see the underground chambers where wild animals such as lions, tigers, elephants, and giraffes where kept waiting to be slaughtered by the gladiators. The floor was made of wood and covered with sand. The animals were let out through trap doors in the floor, so when they were released dust was thrown into the air and suddenly a beast appeared. The ancient agoras were entirely made of marble and several parts are almost completely in tact. My favorite ancient city was Ostia Antica because it was almost completely preserved. Sediments from a river bed near by completely covered the city. Mosaics, baths, toilets, temples, apartment buildings, shops and outdoor eating areas can still be seen and freely explored. I also liked seeing the aqueducts, the ancient amphitheatres, and the marble roads. The aqueducts brought fresh water to Rome from the mountains and stretched for hundreds of miles. In some of the amphitheatres, a coin can be dropped in the center and can be heard from the highest seat! It is said that if all the roads built by the Romans were put together, they would circle the world twice! I love the ancient Roman ruins, and will defiantly visit them again.

The importance of football (soccer) in Italy and all over Europe is another of my favorite things. To the Italians, life is football. Everyone is so enthusiastic about football that it seems as if that's all they care about. We tried multiple times to get a ticket to a football match in Siena, but failed. We were in Siena the day of a soccer match and watched the small stadium that only fit 2000 people fill up. Everyone was wearing black and white (Senesce colors) and singing at the top of their lungs. The tickets sell out months before a match and no one sells tickets by the entrance to the stadium. I think it would have been great to get to a game, and feel the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd. That leaves a reason to come back!

Italy is my favorite country that we have visited so far on our trip. I love Tuscany and Rome and most of all the food! I can't wait to come back very soon.