Traveling lessons: Italy
Traveling is supposed to broaden one’s mind (while narrowing one’s wallet). So I never travel outside the country without returning with some important new experiences and lessons to share.
Here’s what I learned in my visit to Italy:
- The five key phrases one should learn in the local language, anywhere, are “hello,” “excuse me,” “thank you,” “where’s the toilet,” and “check, please.”
- When driving an Italian rental in Tuscany, find a gear you like and stick with it. Unsure? Try third.
- After two glasses of Chianti, all food tastes great; after four glasses, so does the toviglia.*
- After the ooing and ahhing subside, one Tuscan hill town is pretty much like another.
- The Euro has greatly contributed to the standardization of how American tourists get bilked traveling in the E.U.
- The person who coined the saying “All roads lead to Rome” probably never drove through Umbria (and that “wasn’t built in a day” thing? Damned obvious once you’ve been there — it looks like they’ll never finish).
- To appear learned to lovers of Renaissance art, you only need to learn a few key names, like Caravagio, and choice words, like “chiaroscuro.” For example: “I appreciate the neoclassical chiaroscuro effect achieved by artists like Caravagio by combining stracciatella with bacio.” Or: “Donatella uses color like Titian, but lacks the perspective of Tintoretto and the passion of Nocciola.”**
- In Venice you should never run for a gondola, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the canals— there’ll always be another (gondola and canal).
- When a waiter asks “gas or no gas?” he wants to know which bottled water you prefer and is not inquiring about your digestion.
* Italian for “tablecloth.”
** Stracciatella, bacio and nocciola are flavors of the Italian ice cream known as “gelato.”