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.
Here are just a few of my observations and thoughts about our trip to northern Italy:
1. There must be a law that, in settled areas, there can be no spot from which one cannot hit a Gelateria with a stone.
2. Essentially no American visitors up there. Lots of Scandinavians, Germans, Swiss and Brits - and Italians from the south. Plus some French and Japanese. A small handful of American honeymooners. All of the trattorias have some German stuff on the menu, like wiener schnitzel with French fries.
3. Never eat a pizza in Italy, except maybe around Naples. The Italians make terrible pizza. Domino's is far better, and Domino's ain't so good. The Dyl says that the California Pizza chain is the best, California Pizza Kitchen or whatever it is called. They should open some in Italy.
4. The driver who drove us to the airport in Milan (who had been a sous-chef in London in a previous life and who is planning a trip to Montana in September) brought us up to date on the Wall Street arrests. He said that the Italians were mightily impressed. "Here," he said, "businessmen and politicians never get arrested. That is why we have no trust in our institutions."
5. The microclimate around the large lakes of the Piedmont permits the growing of palms and citrus within view of snow-capped Alps. Quite unique. You can grow anything there, hence all of the famous gardens.
6. Internet access there is a major pain. They don't seem to have wireless anywhere, and the hotels charge you between 15-22 Euros per hour to use their half-assed and temperamental connections.
7. It was great fun to hang out with the Dyl. He has big energy and a strong sense of adventure, and his Italian came in handy at times, too. He beat me at chess on one of those outdoor giant-size boards you can walk on, on the edge of Lago Maggiore. I played White: my attack was overly aggressive and I stubbed my toe with my bishop. He knows how to exploit somebody's error.
More observations to come over the next week or so...and more photos, including ones from our side trip into the Italian Alps.
Here's one of the albino peacocks that inhabit the Borromeo islands, perched on an urn in the rain in the incredible gardens of Isola Bella. The cliche "proud as a peacock" is not without merit. The baroque style Italian gardens of Isola Bella are among the most famous gardens in the world, and parts of them are reminiscent (I think) of the hanging gardens of Babylon.
More photos of Isola Bella below:
A view of the gardens from a window in the palace:
A view of the Borromeo palace on the Island (built between 1500-1958 - yes, one grand hall was finally completed in 1958):
The crazily baroque structure which is the centerpiece of the garden:
and a view of one bit of the garden from the top of it:
Do you have an email I can respond to directly so I can send you my post? You might want to test out what might be wrong with your spam filter. I tried to post the item on this post but was blocked here too...hence my nonsequiter above...
OK, I took out the URL and it posted OK. Besides URLs and the obvious (extreme profanity, pictures, and real spam) is there anything else it doesn't like? I thought I'd seen URLs posted here before (perhaps I'm wrong?). Is it the "http" or the double slash it doesn't like?
Just getting around to reading this actual post (sorry for digressions above) and I must disagree with your comment on pizza in Italy (though I have heard such before). Or would perhaps suggest an additional exception along with Naples...wife and I had excellent pizza in Riomaggiore (or maybe one of the other Cinque Terre towns, can't quite remember exactly). Though on a similar note, as good as the food was in Italy, the best Italian meal I can recall was in a small family-style restaurant run by two brothers from Naples in (of all places) Bowness-upon-Windermere in the UK. Eggplant Parmigiana was excellent.
Curious about your only finding few Americans enjoying northern Italy. Maggiore, Lucarno, and Como and environs are some of my favorite places. When I was last there about five or seven years ago, this was also the case, despite the dollar being much stronger then. I wonder why.