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Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 in Italy, Travel | 0 comments

Lisa In Italy: Ciao Ferocia Readers!

The obligatory Pisa picture!

Ciao Ferocia readers!  My name is Lisa and I’m honored and thrilled to be posting on Ferocia Fatale!   I always love reading about ferocia’s amazing journeys across the world.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anybody else I know that could pull off a trip to Japan with less than a week’s notice!  The girl makes things happen!  I applaud her veracious appetite for experiencing new things and her willingness to share her stories with others.  I also commend her for staying loyal to her readers and regularly posting.  Blogging is not easy!  I had a blog once upon a time, but it now sits in cyber space like an abandoned used car lot.  It takes a certain type of person to remain loyal to a blog, and I am not that person.  Ferocia is that person and I am perfectly content being a reader and occasional guest blogger on her wonderful corner of cyber space.

That being said, I love to travel!  I recently turned 30 years old and I feel like I’m on a mad dash to see the world before I have kids.  The thought of not seeing everything I want to see before kicking the proverbial bucket, sends me into a panic.  This, along with Ferocia’s inspiring post about bucket lists, led me to make my own list.  I’m not going to lie, I loved adding things to my bucket list that I’ve already done just so I could scratch them off.  It made me feel accomplished, even if it was something as silly as getting my palm read or smoking a hookah.  Number one on my list was to travel anywhere in Europe.  It didn’t really matter where, as long as it was in Europe.  Well, thanks to my amazing future-in-laws, I can now say that I’ve been to three countries in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, and Portugal!

The beautiful town of Vinigio.

There were six of us that went: me, my fiancé, his parents, his sister, and her husband.  My fiancé and his family have been to Italy multiple times.  His mother was born in a little town , Vinigo, high up in the Italian Alps very close to the Austrian border.  She moved to America when she was seven.  His father’s family came to America from Southern Italy.  It was helpful to travel with them since they knew their way around Italy and could speak in Italian.

The trusty "Jumpy."

The itinerary was as follows:  We Flew in to Milan and then made our way to Venice for a few days.  We then spent a day in Vinigo catching up with my future mother-in-law’s family and friends.  The next day we were off to Tuscany, after a quick stop in Marenello for the boys to visit the Ferrari museum (narrowly missing the earthquake in Modena).  While in Tuscany we visited the cities of Florence, Pisa, Lucca, and Livorno, which are all part of the Tuscan region.   After about five days in Tuscany we went to Rome for a couple of days.  We then took a train back to Northern Italy for Lake Como.  We spent a day in Switzerland before heading to Milan’s airport.  Our flight included a day layover in Lisbon, Portugal so we tried to cram as much sightseeing as we could in less than twenty four hours (which was not nearly enough!).  We traveled around Italy mostly in a massive nine passenger van we came to call “jumpy”.  I now know Europeans drive small cars because 1.) The streets and alleyways are barely big enough for a Smart Car and 2.) Gas is ridiculously expensive.  We had our share of near-death experiences in that van (more on that later), but we returned it at the end of the trip exactly how we had received it, thanks to the expert driving of my fiancé and his dad.

One of the many statues of David.

I have been home now for four days and I’m dying to go back already!  What I love most about Italy is that literally everywhere you turn is history, art, and architecture.  At a certain point you can’t help but become desensitized to the amazing statues and monuments plopped right in the middle of streets and buildings because they are simply everywhere you look.  You really have to try hard to appreciate each and every thing you see.  I’m a huge history and art nerd so seeing famous works of art by Michelangelo, Raphael, and Da Vinci were high on my list of things to do.  After seeing so many painting and statues though, I started to wonder what made one work of art more famous than others.  Everything was so beautiful!

Seafood gnocchi..yum!

Obviously the food is another thing I miss!  Who doesn’t love Italian food?  Being an ex-food blogger, I was very excited to try authentic Italian cuisine.  I honestly thought that Italians and their pizza was just a stereotype, but I was completely wrong.  Eight to ten euros gets you a full eight inch pizza, an affordable option since they are big enough to split between two people, and there are pizzerias everywhere.  Restaurant menus are split up by appetizers, first plate, second plate, and pizzas.  The first plates are usually pastas, risotto, and gnocchi.  Second plates are cuts of meat (chicken, fish, veal, and, less commonly, steak).  Italian portions are smaller than American portions, but I still can’t imagine ordering a first and second plate!  A first plate was more than enough for me and was usually much cheaper than the second plates (if you can’t tell by now, I like to save money).  The ingredients are fresh, the wine comes in carafes, and there is always bread served.  Tipping is not necessary, as it is included in the price of the meal.  Italian waiters are much different than American waiters.  Since their tips do not depend on their service, they don’t hover over you as much.  They take your order and serve your food.  It is up to you to flag them down and ask for more wine (vino) and the check (il conto, per favore).  For lunch, paninis are a popular choice and usually sell for around four euros.  I became sick of prosciutto fairly quickly because it’s in most of the paninis and on a lot of the pizzas!  I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a prosciutto flavored gelato, which brings me to my next meal, dessert.  You can get by in Italy with very little words in your Italian vocabulary but it is imperative that you learn these:

Una pallina= one scoop

Due palline= two scoops

Cono= cone

Coppa= cup

We tried to get gelato as often as possible, when we weren’t too stuffed from dinner!  I recommend the bacio flavor if you like chocolate and hazelnuts, it’s delightful!

Would you like some pizza with your prosciutto?

Italians have a phrase “la dolce vita”, which means the sweet life.  For two and a half weeks I lived the sweet life, sipping wine and eating pizza.  I can still smell the Venice canals, hear the horse and carriages on the cobblestone streets of Florence, and see the beautifully lit Coliseum in the night sky of Rome.  I can’t wait to tell you more about my travels and I hope that I can encourage you to experience it for yourselves.  Stay tuned because my next stop is Venice!

Ciao bella!

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