The Adventures of Felix in Italy
Felix came to visit Jackson's family friends who live in Vicenza, Italy. Tyler and her husband Chris live in Italy because Chris works at a U.S. Military base named Caserma Ederle, that is located in the town of Vicenza.
They get to experience living in Italy while still having some of the comforts of being around an American community.
Here are some of the amazing adventures they got to have with Felix on his visit!
The City of Vicenza
Vicenza (VEE-chen-zah) is a city in northen Italy and it is in the Veneto region. (Italy has 20 regions that are similar to states in America, and Veneto is one of them.) This area has been populated for thousands of years! It was even a part of the huge ancient Roman Empire.
Vicenza is sometimes called "The City of Palladio"(pah-LAH-dio) because a very famous and important architect, Andrea Palladio, designed more than 20 buildings in the city during his life in the 1500s.
Here is Felix (on the left) in downtown Vicenza by the most famous building in the city, The Basilica Palladiana. The clock tower was originally built as early as 1172, but it was updated many times. The building itself was renovated by Palladio in the 1500s, hence it's name.
In the middle photo Felix went to a big hill, called Monte Berico (MON-tay BER-ico), that overlooks the city. The views are beautiful, but sometimes it's a little hazy. You can see the view on a clear day in the photo below. In the last photo (on the right) he was about to use the view-finder to look more closely at the mountains in the distance, called the Dolomites.
On top of the big hill with lovely views, is also The Church of St. Mary of Mount Berico. (photo on the left) It was built in 1428, but has been updated many times by lots of different architects including Palladio.
The large square, or piazza, in front of the church is called Piazzale della Vittoria. It was built after World War 1 to celebrate the victory (that's where the name Vittoria comes from, and where the English name Victoria comes from too) and to remember those who had died in the war. The monument with the statue is called the Angel of Victory. (middle photo)
There is a long covered walkway called an arcade, or portico, that goes all the way up Monte Berico to reach the church and piazza at the top. It was built in the 1700s so that people could walk up to the church in the shade. Porticos are very common to see in northern Italy, and one of the longest in the world is just a couple of hours away from Vicenza, in Bologna Italy.
Food in Vicenza
Every region of Italy has different foods that are popular. Have you ever been to an Italian restaurant in America? You might be surprised to find out that foods Americans think of as "Italian" aren't always as popular in Italy. For example, you would almost never find a meal called "spaghetti and meatballs". You can find spaghetti with a tomato or meat sauce, but you would have to order the meatballs separately, if they even have them on the menu!
In the Vicenza area a pasta dish called "bigoli con anatra" (BEE-go-lee cohn AHN-ah-tra) is one of the most popular things you'll find on restaurant menus. (left photo below) "Bigoli" is the type of pasta, and it's like a thicker spaghetti noodle. "Con anatra" means "with duck" and duck is very popular around here. It's ground up like beef and made into a ragu-type sauce. It's a mild, easy flavor that is eaten a lot. Felix was a good sport and tried it. He liked it too!
Something that is very popular all round Italy is gelato!! It's kind of like ice cream and it is delicious. Felix REALLY liked going out for gelato! You can get it in a cone or a cup and sometimes they'll put a little extra candy or cookie on top! (middle photo below)
Because Vicenza is not very far from the ocean (about an hour's drive), sea food is also extremely popular here and you'll find all kinds of sea food dishes at restaurants and lots of sea food to buy for yourself at grocery stores and local markets. Felix said "no thank you" to trying the octopus or squid he saw at the local grocery store! (photo right below)
Finally, one thing that IS Italian and is popular all around Italy, and in America too, is pizza! In most places in Italy the pizza has very thin crust and a sauce that is more tomato-y than in America. But it is just as delicious, if not more! Because it's so thin it's almost always eaten with a knife and fork, not just with your hands.
Where actually IS Italy?
In the picture on the right (below) you can see the country of Italy in red. What do you think it looks like? Does is look like a boot? Many people think it does. The rest of the area, in blue, is the continent of Europe. In the bottom picture you can see Europe in red and the rest of the world's countries are in gray.
In the photo on the left you can see Italy more up close. All of it's regions are shown with different colors. Veneto, where Vicenza is, is the pink one near the top where the red arrow is pointing.
It's nice because it has mountains, called the Dolomites, and it touches the Adriatic sea.
Below you can see Italy's flag. It is often called the "Tricolore" (try-col-OR-ay) because it has three different colors. What colors do you see?
Green, white and red! That's right!!!
In Italian it's verde, bianco, rosso.
At Caserma Ederle
Caserma Ederle or Camp Ederle (ED-air-lay) is a military base in Vicenza, Italy, where the United States Army has troops stationed. The Vicenza Military Community is made up of soldiers, family members, civilians and military retirees. The post serves as the headquarters of United States Army Africa and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Caserma Ederle also serves as the headquarters of U.S. Army Garrison Italy. The post is named after Major Carlo Ederle, an Italian hero of World War I.
After World War 2, the U.S. agreed to establish a force in northeastern Italy and on 2 October 1955, the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force (SETAF) was activated.
The winged lion is on the SETAF crest and is known as the “Lion of St. Mark”. It is a symbol of peace through strength. It is also a symbol of the famous city of Venice, and you can find statues and carvings of these winged lions all over the city. On the book part of the statue you can see the word "Pax", which means peace, in Latin.
Also at Ederle is an eternal flame that burns in remembrance of all the soldiers that fought and died for both Italy and the United States. Felix got to go to Ederle often and he visited the lion statue and the eternal flame.
Money and Language
In America the money we use is called US Dollars, but in Italy and most other countries in Europe they use money called Euros. In the pictures below you can see their coins and some of their paper money. The coins start with the largest amount and the biggest coin on the left, €2, and then it goes down in value and in size. So even if you are from a place that doesn't use Euros you can tell which coin is worth more because it's bigger.
Their paper money is the same. The bigger the amount it's worth, the bigger the bill.
In America the main language is English, even though there are a lot of people who speak other languages too. In Italy the main language spoken is Italian. You have probably already heard some Italian words like "spaghetti", "pizza", or "lasagna". So you already know a little bit of the Italian language! In Italian instead of "yes" they say, "si", but just like in English "no" is also "no". To say "hi" to friends Italians say "Ciao" (CHOW) and to say "thank you" they say
"Grazie" (GRAHT-see-eh). There is a chart below with more common words and phrases.
Around The Neighborhood
Felix's friends don't live right in the middle of Vicenza, but in an area about 15 minutes from the city center called Monticello Conte Otto (mon-tee-CHE-lo con-TAY OH-ttoh). And the closest town is very cute. There is always a church in the center of every town (photo below) and you can see some of the other things in town listed on the signs (photo below on right) - a pool, nursery school, secondary school (like junior high or middle school), and the library.
Something else that you'll see on corners all around Italy are street shrines, called Madonnelle (ma-don-EL-ay), that show a statue or painting of Mary, Jesus's mother. (photo on left below) They are usually covered by glass or a canopy so they'll be protected from the weather and they have lights on them at night. They are there to inspire people to be good and not commit crimes because Mother Mary is always watching. As you can see in the photo, people will bring flowers and sometimes candles as offerings to her or to thank her for protection. This Madonnelle is at the corner of the street where Felix's friends live.
Other Places in Northern Italy
When you move to a new place it's always a good idea to get out and see what is nearby. Luckily in Italy it's not hard to find interesting, historic places practically around the corner.
We didn't have time to take Felix to a whole lot of places outside of Vicenza, but here are some pictures of other places in Italy that are wonderful to visit.
Do you think you want to come visit Italy one day?
A town called Bassano del Grappa is about 30 mins north of Vicenza. It's on the beautiful Brenta River and has a famous red, covered bridge crossing the river.
About an hour from Vicenza is the largest lake in Italy, Lago di Garda. The photo on the left above was taken in the lovely town of Limone sul Garda. There are ferry boats to help you get around the lake. In the photo on the right above you can see a rock formation in the Dolomite mountains.
In the photo on the left you can see the town of Vernazza in a region called Cinque Terre. Have you ever seen the movie Luca? The town in that movie was inspired by Vernazza.
In the photo above is another town in Cinque Terre called Riomaggiore. People like how colorful the buildings are and how they are built on cliffs by the sea.
The three photo above are all from Venice, a city built on water! In Venice there are no cars to get around, only boats or walking. In the photo on the left above is the famous Rialto Bridge. It is one of the biggest, most important bridges in Venice that crosses the Grand Canal. In the photo on the right you can see one of the smaller, but still interesting, bridges that cross smaller canals. The photo in the bottom center is St Mark's Square in the middle of Venice. The church (the building with the domes) is hundreds of years old. The tall bell tower is newer, but still over one hundred years old because the original tower collapsed. It is the tallest structure in Venice.
Last Thoughts on Italy
What an adventure to get to visit such a beautiful and interesting country! Jackson's family friends had so much fun showing Felix around and sharing these experiences!
We hope you get the opportunity to visit Italy or other countries,
and travel to beautiful and exciting places one day!
Photos from around the Veneto countryside.