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Old 10-27-2010   #1 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Touring Italy ~ Venice, Florence, Pompeii & Rome!

Mike and I returned from GLORIOUS ITALY less than 2 weeks ago. I've been playing EXTREME catch-up at work and at home since then, so haven't been able to get started on a trip report just yet ~ but I DO plan to do one!!!

I was quite apprehensive about going there, as I have NO knowledge of Italian....BUT...everything turned out FINE. In fact, we both could stay in Venice, Pompeii or Rome for MONTHS and not get tired of our surroundings!

Mike and I took over 42 GIGABYTES of photos. Mike's been working on putting slide shows together ever since we got back. For a special "sneak" preview of the Venice slide show (it's not on our "official" website yet) click HERE.

I've been mulling over various general observations we made while in Italy....

Just to get things started until I have time to get going on the actual trip report with photos, here are some of these observations....

Almost EVERYONE in Italy is currently wearing "Elvis Costello" glasses...rectangular, thick frames with wide side pieces....

Although you see very stylish fashions in store windows, THE current style for women seems to be VERY short skirts with tights/leggings most often worn with boots, and ALWAYS a thin, long printed scarf looped around the neck. Jeans are ALWAYS in and seen on LOADS of people. We hardly saw ANY ladies dressed in "high" fashion.

Men seem to favor striped shirts ~ especially with vertical, thin, blue and white stripes ~ with either jeans or suits.

Pizzas are NEVER served sliced! People eat them with a knife and fork. The ONLY place we saw a sliced pizza was in the snack bar at the Vatican museums..."Individual" pizzas are at least 12"+ across!

If you're planning on going to the Vatican museums, BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE FROM THEIR WEBSITE...or be prepared to stand in line for HOURS waiting to buy tickets!! (I bought ours in advance )

Nobody thinks it's weird if you order beer or wine EARLY in the morning. On several occasions, I enjoyed a grappa (grappe) at about 10am. BTW ~ GRAPPA tastes like TEQUILA to me! Which is a GOOD thing, because I like tequila!

THE drink in Italy ~ ESPECIALLY in Venice ~ is a Spritz Aperol ~ which I grew VERY fond of... I bought a bottle of Aperol last weekend so I can make spritz at home. When you order a spritz, you will almost always be served a large dish of potato chips and/or peanuts as a snack. In Pompeii, we also got a large dish of the bright green Sicilian olives. Most places serve a Spritz Aperol with a HUGE GREEN Sicilian olive on a stick as the stirrer. Here's one in an old fashioned glass, but they are commonly served in stemmed wine glasses as well.



Aperol Spritz have ice cubes, Aperol ~ which is a bitter-sweet apertif, Prosecco (light sparking wine) and seltzer water.



You CANNOT BUY ice in grocery stores, or convenience shops. I guess you could try buying ice from a bar, but we never got around to finding out if it's possible....

Public toilets in Venice (other cities as well) almost NEVER have seats and are VERY close to the floor....

When in Rome, go to the Trastevere area of the city to eat!

Anytime we approached a shop keeper, or got ready to order in a bar or restaurant, people would automatically start speaking to us in English....it was like American" was stamped on our foreheads, although we weren't wearing sneakers or shorts, and actually sort on "blended in." At least WE thought we did!

When speaking English, Italians almost always add a "A" to the end of words ending in a consonant.

We could NOT BELIEVE how many Italian women SMOKE. It seemed like there were WAY more women than men smoking and butts were all over the streets.

Venice is VERY quiet (except for the sounds of boat motors) because there aren't any cars or motorscooters. We LOVED it there!!

If you spot a bar, cafe, osteria, enoteca, bacaro, or other small eating establishment with a bunch of men hanging out there ~ GO there for a drink or food! Usually this indicates decent prices and GOOD quality eats!! We had a WONDERFUL chichetti lunch (Venetian version of Tapas) at several places.

Quote:
Cichetti are the Venetian version of Spanish tapas, the small tastes of Venetian specialties - polenta topped with tiny shrimp, polpetta (small meatballs), bacala mantecato (cod), sardelle in saor (sardines).....
Italian trains?? THE WAY to travel between cities!! Clean, efficient, and reasonably priced. You cannot begin to compare them to USA's Amtrak!

Florence seem to be loaded with Roma (gypsies). We didn't notice them in other cities.

EVERY B&B and hotel seems to be required to have an emergency pull cord in the bath/shower. We were wondering just where the signal rings, as several of the B&Bs we stayed in were only staffed during certain hours. We were also wondering how many false alarms happen because people pull the cords, not knowing what they are...

That's it for right now...I hope to start in on my actual trip report in the next week.

Last edited by JoanieBlon; 10-28-2010 at 03:20 PM..
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Old 10-27-2010   #2 (permalink)
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I am looking forward to more of your report !
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Old 10-28-2010   #3 (permalink)
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Being married for little over a year to an Italian that I met only little over two years ago, and only having been to Turin for 2 short family visits I'm interested in your observations, Joanie!
We're planning to go to Italy by car next year and spend a couple of weeks there, and this time not just to see the family.
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Old 10-28-2010   #4 (permalink)
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Love your report and pics JB.

Ok, I want to do this when my daughter graduates from high school.

I would like to call you one day to discuss how you planned all this.
Or we could just meet at Deno's next time you are in cajun country !
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Old 10-28-2010   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by TAPPY View Post
Love your report and pics JB.

Ok, I want to do this when my daughter graduates from high school.

I would like to call you one day to discuss how you planned all this.
Or we could just meet at Deno's next time you are in cajun country !
Mike and I probably won't be headed for Cajun country anytime soon, as we have so many other trips in the works ~ BUT we DO need to get over to Kermit Le Jeune's Sausage Kitchen in Eunice to replenish our supply of smoked sausage which we LOVE.... Who knows, we might just pop over that way one weekend!

Feel free to call any time! I'll send you a PM with my phone numbers. I LOVE planning trips ~ the more detailed and complicated, the better!
Our trip to Italy went off without any problems.....AND....we even got upgraded into Business Class on our return flight from London! I had tried to upgrade with miles ~ then also tried with money ~ to no avail...and then at the gate got the upgrade for FREE! The perfect ending to a wonderful trip!
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Old 10-28-2010   #6 (permalink)
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Exclamation Florence Slide Show

Mike just uploaded the "sneak" preview of the Florence slide show (it's not on our "official" website yet). To view it click HERE

The music which accompanies this slide show is a medley of Medieval Italian dances.

The statue of Michaelangelo's David seen in the slide show is a copy which is now in place where the original stood for centuries ~ Piazza della Signoria. The original is now on display in the Accademia Gallery in Florence (with HUGE lines to see it!).
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Old 10-28-2010   #7 (permalink)
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Looking forward to your trip report...ahh the memories.
We went to Rome, Sorrento and the amalfi coast, Pompei, and Sicily...we never had a problem with public toilets..they all had proper seats.

I also got a kick out of how much Italians smoke.
So..the gypsies were if Florence? No wonder we never saw any in Rome.

Next time we will go to Florence and Venice and the Tuscany Area...and of course..back to Sicily.
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Old 10-28-2010   #8 (permalink)
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Wow! THanks so much for the slide shows of Florence and Venice! Absolutely amazing!
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Old 10-28-2010   #9 (permalink)
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Wow! THanks so much for the slide shows of Florence and Venice! Absolutely amazing!
Glad that you enjoyed them! Mike is currently working on slide shows for Pompeii, Vatican City, the Colosseum in Rome, and Rome itself.
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Old 10-28-2010   #10 (permalink)
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Love your observations, Jonie! Looking forward to your trip report!
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Old 10-28-2010   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JoanieBlon View Post
Glad that you enjoyed them! Mike is currently working on slide shows for Pompeii, Vatican City, the Colosseum in Rome, and Rome itself.
If I send him my pics..will he make me one??? I just don't have the patience for it.

BTw... we toured the Vatican and museums with Thru Eternity. We met our guide at 10 am..he walked us over to the ticket booth and we sipped the line. He was also an art history major and really gave us an interesting and non-boring tour...We learned alot about art the easy way.
It was cheap too..25 euros plus entry tickets. ( our group had 7 people) We were there till 6 pm. I could spend a month just walking around the Vatican.
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Old 10-28-2010   #12 (permalink)
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I LOVE Italy.
and very acute observations! And so true!
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Old 10-28-2010   #13 (permalink)
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I'm heading to Florence and Venice next June. Joining my niece and my sister for my niece's high school trip. We're going to Vienna, Salzburg, Venice, Florence, Paris and a few places in between. Reading your post really has me excited.

My sister and her other daughter went to Greece & Italy last year and my sister fell in love with Italy - she especially loved Florence.

Going now to check out your pics! Thanks for posting!
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Old 10-29-2010   #14 (permalink)
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I LOVED Vienna. AND YOU CANNOT NOT GO TO PRAGUE. Its only 4 hours awayt by train, and SUPER BEAUTIFUL...

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Originally Posted by u2girlie View Post
I'm heading to Florence and Venice next June. Joining my niece and my sister for my niece's high school trip. We're going to Vienna, Salzburg, Venice, Florence, Paris and a few places in between. Reading your post really has me excited.

My sister and her other daughter went to Greece & Italy last year and my sister fell in love with Italy - she especially loved Florence.

Going now to check out your pics! Thanks for posting!
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Old 11-03-2010   #15 (permalink)
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Exclamation All the Slide Shows Are Up!

Mike has finished all of the slide shows for Italy ~ Venice, Florence, Pompeii, Rome, and the museum in Vatican City.

To view the slide shows go HERE, then click on ITALY. From there, you'll be taken to a menu with the various cities we visited. Enjoy!

I'm just about ready to start on my trip report! In the meantime, here are a few more personal observations I made about Italy.....

I don't know if it was the time of year, but almost everyone dressed in dark colors.

Even if it was warm, many people wore jackets or coats.

I didn't see ANY women with fake fingernails! Most of the time, fingernails were "au natural" ~ no polish.

Italians didn't seem to be OBSESSED with their cell phones like people are here in the USA. I saw VERY few people actually talking on them, and I NEVER saw anyone texting. We did notice Italian businessmen on the train between Florence and Rome, and between Rome and Naples making a few brief business calls.

It seemed that EVERY cafe (in EVERY city) we ate at used EXACTLY the same yellow ochre paper place mat covering on the tables over the tables cloths or over the plain table....I'll post a picture in my trip report showing these.

It also seemed that there was only ONE brand of toilet paper. ALL of the rolls looked exactly the same ~ plain in the middle, with pressed lines along the sides which bonded the two layers to each other.

We NEVER saw ONE CAT in Venice. Lots of dogs ~ mainly small ones ~ but no cats.

Italian food in the cities we ate at was VERY different than the "Italian" food that's served up in the USA. The dishes were prepared in a much simpler manner ~ not overloaded with all sorts of EXTRAS.

Unless you ate a "Turistico" meal ~ which might have 3 courses, everything was a la carte, which we REALLY liked! You could order exactly what you wanted to eat, and not have extras that you didn't want.

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar was always available. Bread was NEVER served with "dipping herbs" mixed with oil like many of the chain Italian restaurants here bring out before a meal.

CANNED CORN was frequently an ingrediant in tossed salads. Once we saw that, we never ordered a tossed salad.

That's it for right now....I *HOPE* to be starting on my actual trip report in a couple of hours.

Last edited by JoanieBlon; 11-03-2010 at 01:01 PM..
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