I really, really, love Italy. And Greece, and Germany, and the UK. I'm starting to daydream here........
Pordenone is a city in NE Italy, near the Austrian and Slovenian borders and equidistant from Venice and the Italian Alps. I used to go there frequently when I was in the Air Force, and it is one of the most wonderful places I've ever been. A city of 200,000, Pordenone is an absolutely wonderful off-the-beaten path place that I am eager to see again.
Our standard trip would be as follows- show up at the Best Western Pordenone (a cheap but clean hotel) near dinnertime, and head off to eat the best pizza you've ever had in a place that looked like a cross between a convenience store, a disco, and a family restaurant. I know the setting has some influence, but with good food, great wine for $4/bottle (IN A RESTAURANT!) and good friends, the first night was usually a long one.
The next day would usually be a down day, meaning a short (1hour) train ride to Venice or just exploring Pordenone, with a mandatory trip to Il Nappo Winery. The good folks at Il Nappo were part of one of my best Air Force memories ever; we were coming back from the Middle East, and the aircraft I flew at the time was mostly empty. A friend of mine claimed to speak Italian, and claimed he could coordinate with Il Nappo to deliver wine to the airfield while we were stopping in Pordenone to get gas before continuing on to England. We landed in the midst of the Italian Air Force's Tricolori aerial demonstration team practicing. Here they are.
It was a beautiful spring day, the aircraft were practically dancing overhead, and we loaded about 200 cases of wine in record time. It turns out my friend spoke no italian; he pulled it off though. Good on you, Jimmy Ricci. The U.S. Customs officer was quite curious about all the wine, but the numbers worked out.
Most trips were a bit more traditional; as I mentioned, Venice is one hour of beautiful train riding away. Venice is amazing, and the Piazza San Marco is incredible. I got harassed by pigeons there, and I hate birds. There is nothing less romantic than taking a gondola ride with four of your hairy-assed male friends. Oh well, I was getting paid to be there! I suppose I need to go back with Mrs. French......