Saturday, January 3, 2009

Eurotrip - San Martino Alfieri, Italy - Snow Sphinx!

After seeing Eataly, I was off to catch my third train of the day, from Turin to Asti. Barbara, a Dutch friend of mine that I had met in Costa Rica two years ago, and her friend Mic picked me up at the Asti train station and we drove to Mic’s house in the snowy Italian wine hills of San Martino Alfieri.

The house is quite isolated up in the hills – Mic has only one Italian neighbor with whom communication is quite difficult. I was planning on going to Florence for a very brief visit on Thursday but I had had just about enough of Italian trains and needed a train-free day to unwind, so I stayed an extra day in San Martino.

We went to the supermarket to buy gloves and food for our two days there. Instead of the more adventurous sliced shark meat – see pic below - we chose ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner.

People were literally coming up to the counter and getting slices of shark meat

After eating, we considered our options for possible activities. There were multiple feet of snow on the ground, but it was drizzling rather steadily, making for the best packing snow I have ever seen. So, very content to not act our age, we decided to build a snowman. After some deliberation, we modified our plan from building a simple snowman with corncob pipe to the rather ambitious plan of a to-scale recreation of the ENTIRE GIZA PLATEAU (the Sphinx and the three pyramids)!

Being the most detailed and requiring the most work, we started with the Sphinx.

I mentioned the ideal snow conditions before, but I had no idea how much it would affect our building process. I started with a snowball the size of a fist, and after rolling it downhill 30 feet or so, it got so big and heavy that it was literally absorbing all of the snow in front of it to the point that it was ripping up the grass AND the mud underneath the grass, and becoming a dirty snow-mud-grass ball.

The second problem was that if we started too far away from our allotted area for the Sphinx, it got to the point where the snowball was simply too heavy to roll, and we had to cut it down or try to slide it by using a shovel as a sled, as was the case in the next picture.

Slowly the Sphinx began to take shape, and once the body was in place, we had to heave a giant snowball on top for the head.

Mic and Barbara beginning to carve out the face of the Sphinx

The final result! The lighting was horrific for photos but you get the idea.

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