Italian Tid Bits

Bellissima Italia!

Italy is a top choice for many when deciding where to go for vacation.

If you are planning a visit to Italy this summer, and it is your first time, I’ve put together a few tips that will hopefully help to get you through it all a little easier.

Based on my own experience:

1- Pack light. The smaller your bag, the better. (Very challenging for me btw.)

  • A large suitcase can be difficult to cram into a shared transfer or taxi.
  • In Venice for example, it’s likely you will need to walk at least a few blocks to and from your hotel. The sidewalks are narrow and broken, not to mention the many steps you’ll encounter lugging your bag over canal bridges.

2-When ordering your cappuccino or coffee, pay at the register first, and then take your receipt to the counter where drinks are being made.

  • Note- “caffe” is espresso
  • “Caffe Americano” is like American drip coffee.
  • Be prepared to possibly squeeze in between the patrons lining the bar enjoying their beverage.

 

3-When choosing a restaurant, avoid menus that are printed in several languages. And steer clear of the gentleman trying to lure you into his ristorante. It’ll cost you a lot more than it’s worth.

4- Before you go, learn some useful phrases like;

  • “Dov’è La toilette?”

“Where is the bathroom?”

  • “Dov’è stazione centrale?”

“Where is the central station?”

  • “Una pasta piatto, per favore.”

“A dish of pasta please.”

  • “Scusi! Non capisco.”

“Excuse me, I don’t understand.”

  • “Il Conto, per favore.”

“The bill please.”

 

5-If traveling by train, depending on the train company in which you are traveling, you may need to validate your ticket before you board. A ticket stamp machine is available just before you enter the platform.

If the conductor sees that you do not have a validated ticket, you will receive a fine. The fine is about 50 Euro if you can pay with cash on the spot. But pay the fine, always carry ample cash. A fine can be costly if police get involved.

Trenitalia I know is one of them. The Leonardo Express running from Rome airport to the Roma Termini station can be tricky too. Make sure your ticket is taking you exactly where you need to go. You can be charged a fine there too.

 

6-Enjoy the amazing wine, but not too much. Respect the culture and the Italian people.

Living Like a Local in Bologna

In the spring of 2017, I enrolled in an Italian language course in Bologna. I grabbed my best gal pal, and we boarded a plane headed for the home of tortellini.

Since our stay marked off all thirty days in April, we rented an apartment on Via Guglielmo Marconi.

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We quickly settled in and ventured out.

A few blocks up took us to Via Ugo Bassi, where we found shops, outdoor cafes’, and Piazza Maggiore. The piazza is the main square in town, and also one of the oldest in Italy. Within Piazza Maggiore stands the Basilica San Petronio, one of the world’s oldest churches. Renaissance government buildings encase the square, and to the left is Piazza del Nettuno; the Fountain of Neptune. The fountain was once deemed scandalous for its naked subjects. We however, only saw scaffolding,  because in 2017, the fountain was under restoration.

 

While I made my way up Strada Maggiore or Strada Santo Sefano, each day for language class, my roomy shopped for groceries at Pam, or the impressive outdoor market on Ugo Bassi. She would pick up these amazing extra-large strawberries,  which were among other stunning produce.

All the while, chatting with the locals, via the Google Translate app!

Meanwhile, I’m gurgling on unknown words in the immersion style of foreign language school.

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During our free time we wandered the city, enjoying cappuccino, pastas and Paninis. We ate tortellini that we ranked absolutely better than anything we’d ever experienced before. The scrumptious bread seemed to melt in our mouths. The food was always exquisite.

 

 

Bologna is home to the world’s oldest university, founded in 1088. Students from all over the world come here to study each year.

 

Of course we did our share of vino tasting/drinking. It was part of every dinner and sometimes lunch. I honestly don’t believe you can get a bad glass of wine in Italy. Impossible. We signed on for a few wine tours in the Emilia-Romagna region and Tuscany too. We’ve got the swirl, swish, swallow routine down!

 

 

Bologna Centrale was a quick ten minute walk from our apartment, and from there, it was a short train ride to just about anywhere.

We spent a weekend in Verona, another in Genoa and Portofino. We even took a few days and went to Florence.

Bologna

 

We accomplished quite a lot in our thirty marked off days.

But for the record, learning to parli italiano (speak Italian), it’s still on my bucket list.