Top 10 things to enjoy while stationed at Aviano

A participant prepares to start the 39th annual Pordenone Pedala bike ride Sept. 4 at Pordenone, Italy. Ninety members from Aviano Air Base participated in the 30-mile non-competitive bike ride. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

A participant prepares to start the 39th annual Pordenone Pedala bike ride Sept. 4 at Pordenone, Italy. Ninety members from Aviano Air Base participated in the 30-mile non-competitive bike ride. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

Being stationed at Aviano Air Base affords an opportunity to travel locally or continentally -- the base is in a great location to enable travel everywhere in Europe. However, there are things that you can actually do when you don't have time to hop on a plane or train or travel outside the 100-mile radius of the base.

I've been stationed at Aviano for less than two years and by my own assessment, I am quite a seasoned traveler (a must since I write for the Compass), but I still enjoy staying in the local areas once in a while.

I have compiled a list of my top 10 favorite things to enjoy locally while stationed at Aviano.

10. Eat pasta. I think this is a given. Italy is the home of pasta: Nowhere in the world has better pasta than Italy.

9. Shop at open markets. Every local Italian community or city hosts an open market atleast once a week. At these markets, you can find local Italian produce and other local specialties.

8. Visit Venice. I think almost all members of Aviano Air Base have visited Venice at least once. A one hour train ride can take you to one of the most spectacular and photographed cities in the world.

7. Drink wine, responsibly. We are pretty lucky to be stationed at one of the few U.S. Air Force bases surrounded by vineyards and wineries. In the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region, you can find some of the best wines in Italy made right in our backyard.

6. Share a pizza, or eat the whole thing. I was accustomed to pizza being shared; however, I found out that people don't really share their pizza here. As big as a medium-sized plate, you can keep the Italian pizza all for yourself.

5. Enjoy the festivals. Italians love their festivals. They celebrate almost anything, including cheese, wine, birds, saints, nuts and more. They even have an artichoke festival. Check out the weekly Wyvern for listings.

4. Climb the mountain, or drive to it. The beautiful backdrop to Aviano is the Carnic Alps. The most popular destination for Aviano members is Piancavallo, where, from the top, one can view almost all of the Friuli region.

3. Get some sun on the beach. Aviano is approximately an hour from a great selection of Italian beaches, including Jesolo, Lignano and Bibione. They are quite popular not only to Italians but also to other Europeans.

2. Ride a bike. Riding a bike through the beautiful Italian scenery is always refreshing. From wineries to old Italian architecture, cyclists get the best of seeing new things and enjoying an active lifestyle.

1. Slurp some gelato. I love food, as evidenced by three out of 10 food-related things to enjoy. Gelato is an Italian ice cream that comes in various flavors. Sure you can find some ice cream in the Commissary, but gelato is different - I'm pretty sure it comes from heaven.

People don't need to go as far as Paris or London to say they had the most amazing experiences in life. Life is not about things or places but with people you experience and enjoy it with. Most of the time, the best things in life are either free or simple.