I am such a liar.
My last post said that I’d update this blog from Italy. I didn’t.
What happened was I got over there and realized that it’s much easier to just use my phone to upload videos, pics, and shorty updates directly onto Facebook, rather than try to type blog entries on my little screen.
And I didn’t really want to use computers set up for Internet use at the places we stayed. Because they’re germy. Also, I’m lazy.
But I’m going to make it up to you by writing a blog post about each city we visited. Ben’s going to do something unprecedented and get some pics ready for public viewing within the next day or so (unprecedented because he still hasn’t finished messing with his Egypt/Israel pics yet), so you’ll get to see some of the things we saw.
And if you haven’t already been to Italy, start planning your trip, even if you don’t have the funds right now. There are some places you should see in your life, and this is one of them. If you only have time or funds for a short trip, make it a two city hop and visit Rome for a few days, then go chill at the Cinque Terre or a hill town. It’s worth it!
Before I write much about the specific places we visited, I’ll just write a few overall impressions/thoughts here:
1. The. Romans. Terrible, fascinating, powerful – nothing drives this home like being among the ancient ruins of their capitol and seeing just how HUGE everything was, and realizing how innovative and even modern they were. It was also fascinating to connect what we were seeing with biblical accounts in the New Testament. More on that later.
They had also been almost everywhere we went – medieval and then modern squares and piazzas built on the foundations of Roman ruins, different ages all stacked on top of and intermingled with each other. In Assisi we went under the street level and stood on the original Roman square, then went back up and looked at the columns of the temple to Minerva that still prominently overlooked the modern piazza. It was mind blowing.
2. Coffee. Their coffee culture is vastly different from ours – you drink coffee at the restaurant, and you sit over it and chat (yes, we do that here, but read on). Nobody walks around with to go cups. If you want a fast cup of coffee, you order one shot and throw it down.
When we first arrived, we made the mistake of just ordering “coffee.” If you do this, you will get the aforementioned one shot of coffee in a shot sized coffee cup. As you can imagine, this was traumatic for two Northwesterners, and it took us awhile to figure out that if we wanted anything more than just a tiny cup of coffee, we had to order a cappuccino or a latte macchiato. Delicious, but everything still contained just…one…shot. We had to learn to wake up without an IV worth of coffee in our veins.
That was harder than I really want to admit. 😉
All that said, my verdict is: Italian coffee is good…but I like ours better (gasp!).
3. We also learned that if you want to get anything done, you have to be aggressive. Also, if you’re at the front of a line to order food and you haven’t chosen yet, someone behind you who does know what they want will push ahead and order. Which totally makes sense, I think. It saves time, and also forces you to choose quickly rather than hem and haw over a decision that probably won’t change your life (although we did have some life changing food while we were there).
4. Nightlife is a family affair. It’s too darn hot to do anything during the day there, so families come out with their kids well after dark, when it’s cool. The result is a nightlife that isn’t scary and sketchy, but a vibrant one where families and friends are walking around laughing, talking, eating, having gelato, well into the early morning hours.
5. Italians aren’t overweight because it would be darn hard to get that way. Granted, locals aren’t usually hardcore sight seeing like tourists, but still, they walk a lot. And if you walk a lot, it’s hard to gain weight, even if you’re eating like…well, like an Italian (carbs carbs and CARBS and gelato). Why do they walk so much? My guess is because in most Italian cities, it sucks to drive. Tiny tiny streets and pedestrians everywhere. Also, a lot of streets aren’t streets – they’re just stairs…I’ve never climbed so many stairs in my whole life. That said, traveling over there is an excellent weight loss regime. And you can even eat amazing food while doing it.
6. FOOD. They know food. And of course, it didn’t hurt that I already loved Italian food…but YUM.
So what are we doing on our first day back? Well, right now Ben’s playing Civilization V – as Rome, of course. We got up at 6:30 because our brains thought it was 3:30 p.m.
Actually, the first thing I did when we got back yesterday was jump in the pool. I kind of didn’t know what to do with myself, so I suited up and went for a swim while Ben finished reading The Road. We bought it for me for the trip home – and both had read it within about 30 hours. It was good, but I don’t recommend it for a long airplane ride with inevitable jet lag waiting for you at the end. It kind of put me in a weird mood – and super long days are weird enough on their own!
We tried to go to a birthday party last night, but realized that both our bodies were in shut down mode and had to cancel. And I had even baked a cake for it! An amazing feat in and of itself, seeing as I was barely conscious enough to frost the thing after it had cooled. So we’re taking it to a going away party tonight.
And with that, I end. I’ll try to get those blog posts up soon!