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My general observations of 2 week trip to Italy

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Oct 14th, 2003, 10:21 AM
  #1
KMS
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My general observations of 2 week trip to Italy

Well, I'm back for a couple of days now and still reeling from the trip (Venice>Florence>Sinalunga>Rome). What an incredible experience - it was just perfect!!! I can't quite get into a trip report yet, but I did want to post some general observations that I had.

1. LUGGAGE: We decided to check 2 - 24" rollers and we had more than enough room. I could have fit into a carryon, but my husband couldn't make it happen, so we went with the bigger bags. They were not too big for trains, cobblestones or steps. So if you can't carry on and are worried about luggage size, I say 24" is ideal!

2. DRIVING: We rented a car to go from Florence, drive around Tuscany for a couple of days then finish in Rome. You must have a good navigator, then it's not too bad. While it is true you should stay in the right lane on the Autostrada, you will end up behind slow truck the entire time and will never get anywhere. Just pass them and get back over.

Oh, and believe it or not, we drove into Rome! Just to drop our rental car off which happened to be 1 block form our hotel. My husband is used to driving in Manhattan and SF, so it wasn't that bad. Again, the navigator must be doing their job!!!!

3. PEOPLE: The Italians are lovely, of course, but we couldn't help but notice that they are a little pushy! They cut in line a lot! I guess it's a personal space thing, but if there is even just a tiny space between you and a counter, someone will but in. No big deal, just a surprising observation.

4. LANGUAGE: Most people we encountered spoke English, but liked for you to make an effort before just assuming they did. At the very least, learn hello, good morning, good afternoon, do you speak English, etc. It is nice to know how to say these polite things.

5. BUDGET: The meals were less expensive than we had thought in a lot of cases, but we did not budget enough for museums. Just keep in mind that it's 6-10 Euro a head for each one - it adds up!

Full trip report coming soon - please ask if you have any questions!
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Oct 14th, 2003, 12:56 PM
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This brought back some memories. It's very true about Italians and personal space issues. Americans just like more of it, I guess. The Italians we encountered were consistently cutting in lines (the train station-- oy!) and standing right on top of you... I had to get a lot more aggressive by the end of my trip, just so I wouldn't get pushed around so much.

Lovely people, though-- and very friendly!
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Oct 14th, 2003, 01:10 PM
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Glad you had a great trip. We love Italy and went there on our first trip to Europe a few years back. Have gone back several times as nothing is like it! Be sure to go to the Amalfi coast sometime. Ahhhhhh Positano!!!!
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Oct 14th, 2003, 01:10 PM
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ira
 
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Hi KMS,

Thanks for your post. Looking forward to your report.

Politely standing on line is, I think, something unique to the English speaking world.
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Oct 14th, 2003, 01:42 PM
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Personal space doesn't have much to do with pushy Italians. Many are just fed up with ages-old "la dolce vita" service and won't tolerate waiting. Before ATM's, Italian bank service made NYC lines seem like fun. Tourists are usually very polite and patient because they don't wish to cause any trouble and most don't speak the language so they won't speak up. Many locals will simply ignore the meek and the mild-mannered (tourist or not) if it means getting something done faster.

I was on line at the Post Office near Largo Argentina and I dropped a card as I approached the window. In that brief moment, an older Italian man swept to the window and tried to push his letters through. As soon as I stood and realized what had happened, I said, "Kind sir, where are your manners today? Certainly your mother taught you not to step on the toes of a woman!" Of course, I said this in Italian and he immediately turned into melted marshmallow, profusely apologizing and begging forgiveness. I think everyone in line was surprised by this little show and the Italian women all smiled at me. I have blonde hair so nobody takes me for Italian.

A visit to any NYC bank or Post Office is a test of will, character and patience. You DON'T dare step in front of somebody in line here and expect to live to brag about it. I'm always ready to fight back even though I have tons of patience.
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Oct 14th, 2003, 01:51 PM
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Standing in line is a cultural thing in Italy. Lines are not respected in the same way. An American friend who lived there for many years told me it just isn't the same as n the US. Italians will not form a line, even in situations when one is most needed.

For example, imagine the line for a ski lift. . . . We visited one ski area where skiers had to go through a turnstile of sorts before approaching the lift. Difficult enough to do while wearing skis and carrying poles, but skiers also had to bend and swipe their lift passes at this turnstile. There was no line, just a crush of people, overlapping skis, tangling poles, all trying to cram into the turnstile, while also trying to swipe their tickets.

It's just another interesting aspect of Italian life.
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Oct 14th, 2003, 01:56 PM
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LOL!

This reminds me of the mob scene at the ticket pickup window for the greek theatre in Siracusa. When it was finally my turn, a woman literally tried to shove me out of the way. I shoved back and she just shrugged and moved aside - it was a worth a try in her book I guess
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Oct 14th, 2003, 02:17 PM
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"Italians will not form a line..."

This isn't an absolute and is contrary to much of my experience with local friends. I've witnessed many Italian men and women berate another Italian for not respecting their place in line. Yes, certain members of Italian society like to pretend they don't know how to behave in an orderly, civilized world. There are plenty of Italians who do know how to behave and speak up about it when necessary. This past May, when I went to ACTV offices to renew my Corporate Card I went with a local friend and the lines were long and slow going. They were all Italians who waited their turn.
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Oct 14th, 2003, 02:23 PM
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Our enjoyrome tour guide clued us in on our first night in Rome about lines and traffic. And like you, KMS, we learned pretty fast that if you lined up the way your kindergarten teacher taught you, you'd be the last one there. If you were lucky--otherwise you wouldn't get anywhere at all! The trick is to mosey up the middle, and don't let up. I got so good at it that my husband wryly commented that I was becoming more Italian than the Italians. Hey, it worked. I was the one who nabbed us a seat on the SITA bus when everyone else was standing up and jammed in closer than sardines.
 
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Oct 14th, 2003, 09:00 PM
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"I have blonde hair so nobody takes me for Italian."

This is an amazing statement for someone as sophisticated as you seem to be. There is a large segment of blond Italians (natural or not), especially in Northern Italy.
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Oct 14th, 2003, 10:45 PM
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SantaChiara,

Thank your for the laugh you gave me...there's so much I could say...but I'll keep on smiling. Thank you again for the right on observation! You're my new hero!

>> "I have blonde hair so nobody takes me for Italian."

This is an amazing statement for someone as sophisticated as you seem to be. There is a large segment of blond Italians (natural or not), especially in Northern Italy.<<

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Oct 15th, 2003, 03:17 AM
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Such histrionics, SantaChiara? "Amazing"????? Are you that simple? I could think of plenty more amazing things than any statement regarding the color of my hair. Yes, many Roman women wish they could be blonde and try almost desperately to achieve it, usually with obvious and very mediocre results. (Have you seen Donatella lately?) I don't know one society dame in NYC who goes to Rome to get her hair colored and for good reason. And, yes, my dear friend, a native Venetian, has Nordic blonde hair, all natural, and when she visits Rome, many Roman men are surprised to find she's a native Venetian. The last time I looked Rome didn't appear to be anywhere near the Swiss border. Agree with it or not, I speak from personal experience.
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Oct 15th, 2003, 07:12 AM
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If you want to learn a little bit more about the italian attitude towards lines and rules in general, watch this video: http://www.infonegocio.com/xeron/bruno/italy.html
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Oct 15th, 2003, 09:52 AM
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Thank you, Mommo, for giving me the best laugh of the day. What a precious piece of animation. Many segments reminded me of NYC.
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Oct 15th, 2003, 10:24 AM
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ira
 
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Thanks mommo,

It was worth waiting for the download.
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Oct 15th, 2003, 06:39 PM
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Molto funny! Thanks, Mommo.

Also, KMS, I've enjoyed your observations. Look forward to your full report.
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Oct 16th, 2003, 10:16 AM
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You'll even have blondes in the south. The Normans(French Vikings) conquered Sicily and parts of southern Italy and obviously some of their bloodlines are intertwined with the native Italian population. Think of the late Gene Tierney in "A Bell for Adano" playing a blonde fisherman's daughter. After seeing the movie, I can see why Cong. John F. Kennedy found her alluring and considered dropping his political career to marry her.
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Jan 23rd, 2004, 08:01 AM
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My first time in Italy was 3 years ago to visit my fathers side of the family in Sicily. I am half Sicilian and half Finnish so my hair is blonde. I'm telling the truth when I tell you my family thought my husband looked more Italian than I do because he has dark hair....they constantly remarked how I didnt look a bit Italian. I dont remember seeing any blonde Italians while I was in Sicily. We are going back next month and I fully expect to stand out once again as a tourist just because of my blonde hair. Oh well. Its ok.
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