Couch Surfing in Treviso, Italy

By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales

 

25-1-300x225What 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, too.

 

26I unofficially couch surfed at the beginning of my trip in 2014, staying with a woman in Australia that I’d never met, and then with several of her friends. 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). The next night she invited her Couch Surfing friends, both hosts living in the area, as well as their guests, to a dinner at her home to welcome me.

 

39She cooked her grandmother’s pasta recipe for me (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). 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.

 

(continued below slideshow)

 

 

 

 

  • Couch surfing is more of a cultural exchange than a free place to stay.
  • This was my first official couch surf using the Couch Surfing site. And what a great experience it turned out to be!
  • Tiziana cooked her grandmother’s pasta recipe for me.
  • She showed me around the city of Treviso, where we dined like the locals in a restaurant full of old phones...
  • ...and checked out the market.
  • She showed me the architecture and told me a little about the city’s history.
  • She took me to the beach…
  • …and she invited me to come watch her gospel choir rehearsal. Who would expect to find themselves at a gospel rehearsal in Italy?
  • We went out on a vintage boat with her brother and his friend to swim in the lagoons of Venice.
  • 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.
  • We docked and wandered around the ancient church on the island of Torcello.
  • And we ended up at a nearby restaurant with a fabulous meal of Italian specialties.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It’s nice to help pay for gas when your host takes you touring places, and also offer to help around the house.
  • Tiziana asked me to help her out with my art skills and create a sign for her school where she teaches English.
  • The two days turned into nine, until finally it was time to move on, but not without a fond farewell, and a pizza party to send me on my way.

 

 

I did get to go visit Venice for two 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. Typically, a couch surf is for one to three days, and Tiziana had agreed to host me for two. 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.

 

17The area is known for its 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. We were 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.

 

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.

 

7One 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 six different countries, including Italy, France, Romania, Azerbaijan, Albania, and the U.S.

 

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.

 

My couch surfing experience was so amazing that I lined up my next couch surf while still in Treviso –- next stop? Paris!

 

8-1-300x225About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50-something-year-old woman whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.

 

“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”

 

travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission

 

 

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