Couch Surfing in Treviso

Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Accommodations, Advice + Tips, Entertainment, Excursions, Hospitality, Local Color, Wine, Wineries | 0 comments

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What do you do when you want to go to Venice, but the hotels are way out of your budget, and you’d really rather get to know the locals anyway, than stay in an anonymous hotel in a crazy tourist area? You try couch surfing!

Couch surfing is more of a cultural exchange than a free place to stay. True, there is no charge (although it’s suggested that you bring your host a small gift, or cook them a meal). If you are not familiar with couch surfing, go to the website for all kinds of information. You become a member (free, or a nominal charge if you want to be “verified”) and then you can host or surf or both. It’s not like a home exchange, you can surf and not host, or host and not surf, and it’s a fantastic way to meet people from all different cultures and make travel more affordable as well.

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I unofficially couch surfed at the beginning of my trip last year, staying with a woman in Australia that I’d never met, and then several of her friends (see my Australia posts with Amazing Amanda and company). But this was my first official couch surf using the Couch Surfing site. And what a great experience it turned out to be! My host, Tiziana, an Italian woman about my age, welcomed me with a smile and a big hug, and whisked me off to a huge late night party where I was the only non-local and non-Italian, and I got to try my very first “spritz,” (prosecco and Aperol), then the next night she invited several Couch Surfing friends, both hosts living in the area, as well as their guests, to a dinner at her home to welcome me.

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She cooked for me, her grandmother’s pasta recipe (I cooked for her as well, although it’s not my area of expertise, so I also gave her a watercolor that I’d painted, and took her out for lunch).

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She showed me around the city of Treviso, where we dined like the locals in a restaurant full of old phones, checked out the market, and she showed me the architecture as well as telling me a little about the city’s history – Treviso is known as home of the famous Pinarello bikes.

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She took me to the beach…

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…and she invited me to come watch her gospel choir rehearsal (who would expect to find themselves at a gospel rehearsal in Italy, with a bunch of Italians singing an Elvis medley in perfect English, then jabbering excitedly in between in rapid-fire Italian?!)

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We got to go out on a vintage boat with her brother and his friend to swim in the lagoons of Venice…

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and drink prosecco…

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…and we sped past the colorful island of Burano, where the houses are painted like a rainbow so the drunken sailors had no excuse for not showing up at the right residence upon their return from sea.

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We docked and wandered around the ancient church on the island of Torcello, and ended up at a nearby restaurant with a fabulous meal of Italian specialties…

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I did get to go visit Venice for 2 of the days that I stayed in Treviso, once on my own, and once with a couple of lovely young couch surfing girls from Germany, but I’ll save that for later as Venice deserves a couple of posts of her own! Typically, a couch surf is for 1 to 3 days, and Tiziana had agreed to host me for 2. But we were having so much fun, that she kept extending the invitation to stay longer. We still had to go wine tasting, she told me…

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The area is known for it’s famous prosecco, and we were told to go to a small, boutique winery known for the best. It’s the kind of place where the owner is also the winemaker, and tasting room host, in his home, with old family portraits on the walls. His mother and daughter came to say hello, and we were given several wines to taste, and not only not charged, but when we tried to buy some wine to take with us, he insisted on giving it as a gift. There was even a small sculpture garden nearby that he and his daughter showed us on our way out.

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But the fun didn’t end there…also nearby was a tiny but famous restaurant, where there are no employees, you just help yourself to what you want – bread, cheese, wine, charcuterie, hard boiled eggs – and then you check yourself out on their register. In the barn attached to the restaurant, a couple of cows lay snoozing, and the view outside where the few tables lay scattered is spectacular!

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One of the other local couch surfing hosts invited me to a dinner with even more couch surfing guests. We all pitched in to help with the cooking, Francesco taught us how to play cards, a game called Buracco, and we realized that out of the group of us, we were from 6 different countries, including Italy, France, Romania, Azerbaijan, Albania, and the US.

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It’s nice to help pay for gas when your host takes you touring places, and also to offer to help around the house, like doing dishes, cooking prep, laundry, or whatever special skills you might have to offer. Tiziana asked me to help her out with my art skills and create a sign for her school where she teaches English, and I was happy to oblige. We visited her school, which had just let out for the summer, and she introduced me to some of her colleagues, and provided me with endless amounts of art supplies. Again, not your typical tourist experience.

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The 2 days turned into 9, until finally it was time to move on, but not without a fond farewell, and a pizza party to send me on my way.

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Grazie mille, Tiziana and friends!!! My couch surfing experience was so amazing, that I lined up my next couch surf while still in Treviso – next stop? Paris!! But first a couple of posts about the dream that is Venice…

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