Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.
Mark Twain got that right.
I’ve just returned from Italy. And as is the case every time I travel somewhere outside of my zip code, I learned a lot about myself.
On this trip, I also learned that:
~Italians get a kick out of the fact that Americans (some of them, anyway) willingly eat Prego.
~In Italy, demonstrations are common. We witnessed at least three in the course of one day. Personally, I think that is a great thing. It was refreshing and inspiring to be around people who do more than just “talk the talk.”
~It is possible to have terrible (I am talking shockingly bad!) pizza in Italy.
~You should never agree to have your photo taken with someone dressed as a Roman soldier. They will curse and threaten you with bodily harm when you don’t want to pay for the opportunity.
~Even though you ask (beg, really) the hotel’s concierge to recommend a restaurant that locals frequent, there’s a very good chance you will wind up dining with other Americans.
~Not all gelato is created equally. I know this because my family made it their mission to sample different versions at least three times a day. (Don’t judge.)
~The Italian polizia are, as my 14-year-old son would say, badass. The polizia (even the word is testosterone-laden) are everywhere. Some of them carry uzis and more than a few drive Fiats. And their unis? I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they were designed by Prada. The police we met were very friendly. And, quite handsome…
~And while on the topic of 14-year-old boys…(we weren’t, but stick with me) those from Italy seem to make the same sounds and facial expressions as their American counterparts.
~Milan is highly underrated.
~Lake Como, probably because of George Clooney (way to screw things up for the rest of us, George), is probably overrated.
~The word grazie is pronounced: grazee-ah. Saying it without the “ah” on the end is equal to saying thank yo. Thought you might like to know.
~Depeche Mode was correct. People are people. Some are nice, some are not. Personally, I don’t believe the place you come from, or where you choose to live, has a lot to do with which category you fall into. I did not meet or encounter one unpleasant person (the exception being the aforementioned Roman soldiers) while in Italy. Doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just means it was my good fortune to avoid them this go round.
~Speaking of people… (this time I was!) they can make or break a vacation. It was wonderful to photograph, smile at and converse with the locals. The interactions I had on this trip made me feel like the world is a smaller and friendlier place. I’ll try to remember that the next time I encounter a tourist in my community.