We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Street scene, early morning, Verona a week or two ago. Everybody loves Verona.What Verona lacks is a 24-hr Dunkin Donuts.
- GPS is very handy in Europe, but 10% of the time she will direct you to the most direct route instead of the most sensible route. I got some grey hairs from her direct route up in the Alps. No guardrails, cliffs, etc. Then a narrow tunnel. Exciting. Wakes you up. The locals zoom their beemers and Harleys along the edge of the cliffs.
- In addition to la bella figura, you can tell Italians from tourists because in town they ride bikes, Vespas, or motorcycles, have dogs, and are constantly smoking and drinking. Their dogs are always arguing in the street. And they kiss each other when they meet friends on the passagiatta.
- For Alpine hiking, you need Medium Weight hiking boots and a backpack with water.
- Nobody takes an AmEx card in Europe anymore
- Your cash evaporates while traveling. Bring more than you think you'll need, and inform your credit cards about your trip or they might freeze them when you use an ATM. Generally speaking, they want cash. Especially the restaurants. Many of the good ones, for locals, will not take any credit cards.
- In northern Italy, they only provide balsamic vinegar. Fine with me.
- In the Milan airport, we saw at least three women with burkhas and all that. One had a Ferragamo bag, the other two had Prada. Mrs. BD was impressed that they had found a way to show off. Their husbands looked like terrorists, and their kids acted bratty and out of control. They rushed off when the Emirates Air flight was announced.
- A reader asked why we "always" go to Italy. We don't only go there (our trips this year have included Georgia and Cape Cod), but there is no one Italy. There are a bunch of provinces and old city states with their own traditions and cultures that have only been politically united for 100 years, and are still far from socially united. As you saw in my travelogue, we spent 4 days in a purely German-speaking part of Italy (well, German and Ladin) where they make German food. Think Scotland vs. England, or Vermont vs. Texas.
- Food: In northern Italy (ie north of Siena and Emilia-Romagna) they cook mostly with butter, not olive oil. Their pastas are tagliatelle egg noodles (real good) and tortellini (which I hate). For carbs, they are big on risotto, polenta, and gnocchi (all good). Their very fine Lasagnas are soft, and have nutmeg. They like to cook with truffle and truffle oil, and they love their Porcinis. They like meat (steak, roast beef, rabbit, and horse) and seafood. Most menus have octopus in some form. I like any seafood. Italian foods are designed to be consumed with wine and I can attest that they are not as tasty without it.
- Weather: Generally, I'd try to avoid southern Europe in July and August. Too hot, and too many tourists.
I've taken 7 vacations in Italy in the past 23 years and I wish I could afford to go every year. Need to see more of the country side. Never been to the Marches. Only spent one day in Umbria, and need to see Calabria, more of Sicily, more of Apulia, Sardinia, and Naples (Campania.)
That's strange. My wife and I just got back from a one month holiday in Europe, having visited nine countries from the Netherlands to Romania, and we used our American Express card in lots of shops and restaurants. At least in the major cities in Europe, there should be little problem using AmEx.
I had not thought of Italy as anything other than a country in Europe, until I took a class with an Italian in it. That's when I learned they have a social split and the Northern Italian I knew made it clear she had nothing to do with anything associated with the Southern Italy. Interesting. We were taking a psychology class. It probably would have made better discussion in a sociology class.