Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Random Italian facts

1. There was, apparently, a one day railway strike in Italy yesterday. We found out late in the day and it doesn't impact us. Still, our skepticism about the railway in Italy continues.

2. Did a daytrip tour of the Tuscan countryside yesterday. Very nice. The highlight was likely lunch at a winery, where they stuffed us full of pasta, bread, salomi, bruchetta, buscatti and three different kinds of wine. During the meal we could look across the Tuscan countryside at the fortified city of San Guermaro (sp). It was very, very good.

3. The anonymous guy who posted tips a couple of months back is two for two. Part of the trip included a one hour stop in Pisa. It was about 30 minutes too long at that. First time I lost my temper during the trip when a guy selling 10 euro watches wouldn't move out of the way of a picture I was trying to take. Gah.

4. The other thing he was right about was booking tickets in advance for the Uffizi museum. Always nice to skip that 2.5 hour long line and get your straight dose of massive culture shock. Dear god but that's a lot to absorb in a few hours. Stunning, though.

5. Best coversation overheard so far:
(young black woman, sounded like she was from New York): Yeah, we've only got two things in our bathroom. We've got a toilet and this other thing, I don't know what it is, a sink maybe...
(Older Aussie couple): Nah mate, that's a bidet.
Woman: A what?

6. Italians can also fight like no one's business. Best argument so far happened in Rome. A 30 minute knockdown, drag-out battle between a woman and, I hope, her boyfriend. Three times he tried to drive off on his scooter and she wouldn't let him. Once involved getting in front of it so he couldn't leave, the other involved punching him as he tried to leave and I think she actually grabbed him and stopped him from going. Plus she was point, jabbing and screaming at him quite a bit. All while wearing four inch heels and managing to flick her hair. You can't buy entertainment like that.

I think that's it for now. One more day in Florence. On Thursday, we're off to Venice. By the graces of the good lord and the whims of the Italian railway system.


Anonymous said...

And don't forget the Piazzele Michaelangelo...!

Take a taxi if your feet hurt.

In Iqaluit said...

It's great to read your updates. Something you wrote reminded me of something Bill Bryson wrote in "Neither Here Nor There" (I _love_ all of Bill Bryson's books). Sorry if the excerpt is long but it's funny (about parking in Rome):

"I love the way the Italians park. You turn any street corner in Rome and it looks as if you've just missed a parking competition for blind people. Cars are pointed in every direction, half on the pavements and half off, facing in, facing sideways, blocking garages and side-streets and phoneboxes, fitted into spaces so tight that the only possible way out would be through the sun roof. Romans park their cars the way I would park if I had just spilled a beaker of hydrochloric acid on my lap.

I was strolling along the Via Sistina one morning when a Fiat Croma shot past and screeched to a smoky halt a hundred feet up the road. Without pause the driver lurched into reverse and came barrelling backwards down the street in the direction of a parking space that was precisely the length of his Fiat, less two and a half feet. Without slowing even fractionally, he veered the car into the space and crashed resoundingly into a parked Renault.

Nothing happened for a minute. There was just the hiss of escaping steam. Then the driver leaped from his car, gazed in profound disbelief at the devastation before him - crumpled metal, splintered tail lights, the exhaust pipe of his own car limply grazing the pavement - and regarded it with as much mystification as if it had dropped on him from the sky.

Then he did what I suppose every Italian would do. He kicked the Renault in the side as hard as he could, denting the door, punishing its absent owner for having the gall to park it there, then leaped back in his Fiat and drove off as madly as he had arrived, and peace returned once again to the Via Sistina, apart from the occasional clank of a piece of metal dropping off the stricken Renault. No one but me batted and eye."

towniebastard said...

We are off to the Piazzele this evening, once we figure out how to pay for the bus. You would not figure that would be so challenging, but there you go...