Last fall there was a New Yorker cartoon showing a couple sitting in their living room, one says to the other, "Let's go somewhere wonderful and not really experience it."
This is now my catch phrase for how I like to travel and especially on this trip I went to a zillion wonderful places and didn't have to actually experience any of them.
I was near Venice, Milano, Torino, Napoli, Roma, Pompeii, Siena, Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast - not in that order - and the only place even remotely Level One touristy I actually visited was Pisa, where we found a perfect miracle of a parking place a block from the tower, got there just as the good light disappeared, used the toilette and left. (Also, they've put some discrete scaffolding on it, ruining the images for DB.) That almost counts as "experiencing" it, but not quite.
Oh, but what I did experience, really experience, was the unexpected adventures. In the as yet unnamed city of wonder in the photo above, we were befriended by a man who spoke only Italian, who took us through the labryrinthes to his hen house/dove cote, then to his kitchen in another part of the maze to show us a photo, and then, finally, to his wine cellar in yet another area, and one which had sheltered his family in the big war. He poured us a sample from an enormous vat, showed us the place where the grapes were stomped in the old days and then gave us a 2-liter plastic water bottle of his vino, which we now have here in Paris and which I had with dinner last night.
All of this place was carved from a tufa mountain, first using natural caves, but then, as it was quarried over the centuries the stones were used to slowly build this ancient city along a deep canyon, much of the canyon probably of its own creation - though I don't know any of that for sure.
Would reading about it constitute experiencing it?
(click photo to enlarge - back arrow to return - more telling pix forthcoming, stay tuned)