Having returned to the United States from a trip to Italy a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been asked quite a few times how I enjoyed my trip. I did enjoy it immensely, as I got to travel with my mom, visit another country, and see lots of old and beautiful places. I’ll eventually toss some photos onto my blog so I don’t forget everything, but I haven’t had the energy to look through my photos yet. So, to get the juices flowing a bit, here are a few general reflections on my experience:
1) Going to Rome is sort of like going to New York City. You encounter a lot of rude people, especially those involved in the tourist & hospitality industries. However, like regular New Yorkers, the Roman locals are happy to help give directions and other help, and they even seem glad to be asked, even though we invaded their city, their home. I liked them.
2) Skip the shopping. Most everything is overpriced, and the rest of it is cheap junk. (Again, just like New York.)
3) I did not appreciate when the concierge at the Hotel Cicerone in Rome was unapologetically rude to my quiet, kind, elderly mother who politely asked for change (a few coins in exhange for a 5 Euro bill, nothing complicated) on a Sunday morning, so that she could take the subway to church. Very unimpressive.
4) I love Europe, and the lifestyle there is superior to that in the USA in many ways, but in the States, WE WIN in the department of cigarette smoking. I’m completely earnest when I say that inhaled more secondhand smoke in one day in Italy, than I ever have in an entire year in the United States. Italians of all ages smoke way too much—no wonder they’re thin, sickly, gray—and they blow their smoke anywhere. In the USA we frown on smokers. They need to be controlled and marginalized. They need to stay out of our way when they smoke. They should not be seen, heard, or smelled. This is the way I like it. Next time I go to Italy, I’ll need to bring a surgical mask.
5) Italians make it easy to recycle glass, plastic, and paper products. Recycling bins are easy to find and never overflowing. Why can’t we do this at home in the USA?
6) The terribly large and ugly spider in our hotel room in Florence. Can’t stop thinking about it. Horrifying. I scared him back into the wall whence he came.
7) Gelato wonderful and affordable.
8) Pizza delicious, much simpler and tastier than the grotesque, bready American pizza you can hardly avoid here.
9) The subway in Rome was very clean and efficient.
10) Traffic in Rome was horrible, even for pedestrians, even in the “low” tourist season.
11) You can double park in large Italian cities, if you’re in a hurry and just have to run in somewhere quick. If the person you trapped in comes out and needs to leave, he’ll just honk his horn a few times and you have to listen for it, and then you’ll come out and move your car. No ticket, no cops, no problem. Also, just park where you fit. If you need to creep up onto the sidewalk or block a pedestrian walkway, just do it. You need to park, don’t you? (Or so an Italian guy told me!)
12) “Winter” is 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the locals walk around in parkas.
13) There really are olives growing on trees.
14) No one was very happy with Silvio Berlusconi!
15) They might not have a lot of big houses, big roads, big cars, or big hotel rooms in Italy, but Italians seem to be getting along just fine.