Oooh, a scandalous title, right? So here’s the deal. Because this trip to Italy was kinda a last minute booking, John and I did very minimal trip planning. But what little research I DID do, Rick Steves fucking scared me straight. Pickpockets, pickpockets, pickpockets. Yes, so all of these warnings (also on the forums) made me paranoid, similar to when I did my solo language immersion trip to Spain in 2009. Back then as precautions, I ordered an ankle wallet, a door stop, and a rape whistle… I even prepped a fake wallet with expired credit cards. I know, I’m fucking crazy. So this time, I got worried all over again. I didn’t go as overboard as with Spain, but I did do the ankle wallet, and also, I left my wedding ring at home. Not that it’s some ridic, blinged out rock, but I dunno, the books said to be “low-key.” I know, those of you who know me would probably say that I’m always low-key, trying to be all in incognito or whatever. Point is, I just didn’t want to be inconvenienced with having to worry and deal with the consequences of petty theft. So, the ring stayed home.
After we survived (barely) the 20 hours of traveling discomfort, Florence was totally fine. Yeah, lots of tourists but I never saw any pickpockets. I mean, I know they are all skilled and undercover, but I feel like even in Shanghai and Barcelona, I witnessed some sketch. None in Florence– none anywhere we went in Italy. Maybe they are just that good. Needless to say, my worries were for naught, as John told me several times. Yes, it was typical Vicky overkill. Shrug. Blame it on my OCD. So then, the fun idea was that… haha, here I am traveling in a romantic place sans wedding ring, but John is wearing his… Won’t people suspect some funny business? I mean, I might be perceived as the other woman, right?? Can you tell that being unemployed has totally killed my once abundant source for drama? Yeah, so now I have to go around creating drama. Well, don’t you worry. The Italians were about as intrigued as you are. Nothing. Why? Because no one fucking gives a damn. I mean, I just thought maybe it could be interesting/curious, but no. It became clear pretty fast that many Europeans have an unconventional take on marriage anyway… married/unmarried/child out of wedlock, who cares?! So, that was the end of that story line. Ah well, it was amusing (albeit short-lived) for me.
Overall, Italy was a good time. I have to say: I can’t really articulate the expectations we had going into the trip, but coming out, the real Italy certainly wasn’t what I had envisioned. Maybe I thought it was going to be totally different from any other place I’d been (the way Wyoming was), but stepping into town, I easily saw glimpses of Spain, Taiwan, Shanghai even. And the food? I was wanting every meal to blow my socks off. The pasta indeed is very different (better), and while we had a few amazing, superb meals, we also had several bombs. That’s the trouble with expectations, right?
In a week, we hit three cities: Florence, Bologna, and Venice– a pretty diverse slice. In Florence, we stayed four nights. The city was laid out pretty logically. We hit most of the major tourist sights. The weather was cloudy, sometimes drizzly and downright sopping wet, but we still covered a lot: we hit Boboli Gardens, did a sculpture museum, the Galileo museum, saw the David. We saw David the last morning we were there. Yeah, we weren’t able to get in the day before, so we got up super early to wait in line the next day. In my head, I was complaining about not sleeping in and blah, blah, this sculpture is so over-hyped. Boy was I dead wrong. Holy crap: David is a masterpiece! I must have stared at him for 15 whole minutes– totally unheard of for an uncultured rogue like me. I was in awe. Michelangelo is a genius for realz! Yeah, the art and architecture there is just so mind-blowing– even by modern day standards, what we saw was nothing short of amazing. And to know that people created/built that stuff in like the 14-16th centuries??? Speechless. Seriously, whaa???
Food-wise: Our first night in Florence, I had an incredible ravioli truffle dish; John had spaghetti carbonara. Both totally hit the spot after an annoyingly long and anti-optimized journey (Never again, CDG!!). Yeah, the pasta was so savory: my mouth is watering thinking of it now (even though I’m supposedly “overdosed” on pasta). A few nights later, we had the famous bistecca Florentina (a monster slab of t-bone, incredibly seasoned and then seared on all sides and rare inside). That was a really memorable meal, and we definitely paid a price for it the next morning.
Bologna was the least touristy of the cities. It’s a university town, so there was a nice youthful vibe and energy. We stayed at an AirBnb joint there. We found an incredible gelato shop and also indulged in a ridiculous quantity of salami and prosciutto. John insists he was on the English system rather than the metric system when he told the meat monger 1/2 a kilo. (And that was just the salami!)
Venice was easily the most beautiful of the three cities. There is just something so unique and picturesque about the canals and all the bridges and boats. The city was very difficult to navigate (we got lost a lot) and the narrow walkways were even more packed with tourists than elsewhere, but we had a good time exploring. We found an expensive chocolate shop and got an enormous bar of nougat. Sadly, it didn’t even last all the way back to the States. I was not good about rationing.
The image tiles below are limited to the first 30 pics. The full photo set is on Flickr.