Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Things I Learned in Italy

1. There is a particular bus in Rome that is nicknamed the pickpocket special. You want to avoid using that bus.

2.  Watch out for pickpockets at the Trevi fountain.  It's usually very crowded there, but there is a great gelato shop there as well.

3.  If you stand with 1 foot in Vatican City and the other foot in Rome you can stand in two countries at the same time  -- you're in two places at once!

4.  Venice in July makes you feel like you're walking in a stone pizza oven.  Drink lots of water.

5.  Don't even let the costumed performers who pose for pictures see you taking a picture of them as you walk by. Some of them can get violent and demand €10 just because you walked by.  Be assertive and get away from them.

6.  If you're going to see the Sistine Chapel, bring a hand mirror. That way you can comfortably look at the ceiling without straining your neck while leaning backwards.  

7.  In Florence, UPS has miniature trucks. A lot of the vehicles have to be tiny because of the narrow alleyways between buildings.

8.  You are allowed to go up to the roof of the Duomo.   It provides a beautiful view of Florence. 

9.  The Michelangelo statue of David is awe inspiring.  If you don't make it to the Accademia to see it in person, and walk all around the statue, there is a smaller replica at the Piazza Della Signorina. It is right in front of the building in Hannibal where Inspector Pazzi was killed.

10.  A Room With A View features the same piazza and some other amazing statues.

11.  You can't go into the Chanel store to browse.  You must have an appointment (and probably be dressed for the occasion.). :D. Get over it.  Lol

12.  The mascot for Hogwarts is based on Florence's il Porcelino, and you can put coins in the boar's mouth for good luck.  The money benefits an orphanage.

13.  If the bratty kid from another school is next to you on the bus, it won't be a bad thing to give permission for him to sample the monks' wine. He needs a nap.  ;)

14.  The basilica of St. Francis in Assisi has three massive levels.  The tomb, the middle section, representing earthly life, and the upper level. I didn't know beforehand, but when I looked up and saw the ceiling, I realized, this is Heaven.  Take some tissues.  I couldn't avoid crying.

15.  Eat gelato every day.  You'll burn off the calories, and you really should try all the flavors you can.  Brightly colored, neon gelato is mass-produced and isn't authentic.  Less intensely colored gelato is likely made fresh in the shop without a bunch of chemical colors or preservatives.  It will taste the best! Gelato is healthier than ice cream.

16.  There are beggars walking around asking for money.  They'll change outfits and keep coming back.  Don't give them anything.  They are mostly con artists and thieves and will pester you.

17.  Study up on where you're going before your trip so you can better enjoy the sights.

18.  Sometimes it is better to throw away a smelly pair of socks (or other item of clothing) than to wash them in the sink or tote them in your bag for another 9 days!

19. Pack holey old stained socks and throw them away after you wear them.  The same goes for your underwear.  Maybe even for some of your tops and bottoms. Just make sure to hide them in the trash so housekeeping doesn't have them laundered and shipped back to you at your expense.

20.  When you're dissatisfied, don't tell the locals you're an American and have rights.  It gives them the wrong impression and they don't want to help you, even when you have every right to be frustrated and upset.  Not everyone out there likes Americans.  

21.  Take your own washcloth.  Most hotels won't provide them.  Disposable washcloths might come in handy.

22.  If you can freshen up in the airport restroom right after a long flight, you'll feel much better.

23.  Caprese sandwiches are heavenly.

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