|First part 1, now a review of some important topics:
Food. I like eating, but I'm not picky, so I wasn't blown away by the food. The food was good; lots of pizza, pasta, and gelato. Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream, which people will try to explain as similar but different from ice cream. Short version: Gelato is ice cream. And it's good.
Wine. Italy is famous for its red wines, which I'm not really a fan of. Or at least, I didn't think I was. Italy's red wines are lively and full of flavor, instead of the typical dry and oaky flavor. Wendy discovered Brunello di Montalcino, which she'll share with you on a special occasion, and I discovered Raboso, which I'll share with you on my deathbed. (Just kidding; it's cheap but hard to find.) Bottom line, we drank wine frequently and never had a bad one, though not many really stood out.
Art. I'm not an art fan, and Wendy isn't enough of one to force me to pretend. That said, we went in several churches which were painted floor to ceiling with frescoes and filled with sculptures, so art was kind of unavoidable.
Money. The American dollar is worth a bit less than the Euro, so everything costs more. But we stayed in cheap hotels and checked menus before entering restaurants. I'm actually really pleased with my current credit card (Capital One), which charges no foreign transaction fees. But unfortunately, the very few places that accepted credit cards liked to somewhat angrily remind everyone how high their merchant fees are. Oh boo hoo; if it costs more, charge me more. An unexpected benefit of not readily accepting credit cards is that some services were offered at a discount if paid for with cash. We got an 8% discount on our hotel in Venice, which was nice.
People. The Italian people were nice. They wanted you to drink wine and have a good time. But one thing that stood out to me was that people had no awareness of their surroundings. If you were approaching someone on the street, they would walk right into you. Or if you were walking behind someone, they would suddenly stop walking for no reason. And the idea of common courtesy was absent. For example, if you were getting off a crowded plane, people sitting behind you would just plow down the aisle without offering anyone the chance to go before them. Concerning fellow travelers, a train rider (an Australian) made a comment to her friend about how Italy was so full of American tourists. If anything, there were more Australians than Americans, and there were quite possibly more Germans than all the rest of us combined. In other news, Germans smell. It's nothing personal; they just don't wear deodorant.
Language. We learned some Italian from a phrase book on the flight over. And even though the vast majority of people spoke English, we tried to speak our broken Italian when we could. I just liked the sound of it. It's so melodic and sing-songy. Ferrovia dello strato. Vino della casa bianchi, per favore. #travel