Lesson #1: Is it just me, or is the word “Pronto” just about the best word in Italian? I think I used Pronto for Hello, Soon, Ready, Speed Up… I mean, if anyone asks you a question, and you don’t understand I’m thinking you have a 50/50 shot that “Pronto” is an appropriate response.
Lesson #2: Along the same language lines, I can’t believe my Spanish occassionally gets me further here than my English! (read: in taxis)
Lesson #3: Italian, Italian, Italian. Food that is… Is this the only place in the world that really your only option is, well, Italian? When you think about it, most other places in the world if there were going to only have one food outside of the local flare would it actually most likely be… Italian? And so then it would make sense, but really I love my pizza and my pasta and good thing since I don’t eat meat there’s really not that many other options. Correction: There is… Gelato.
Lesson #4: Do NOT rent from Hertz. I mean just don’t do it…. this would take an entire post to explain why. Let me just shorten the story by telling you you won’t get the car you ordered, you’ll get one that’s smaller. But they’ll charge you the same amount. If this happens to you expect the answer to be “Me, I am good. You, Meeahhh… not so good.” LOL, oh great so now how exactly do we get five people into a 2 seater Fiat and drive 3 hours to the Italian wedding we’re here for??? You’ll probably not be able to park the car when you return it anywhere near the rental location. Provided the rental location is open. Don’t worry if it’s not open they’ll leave a note to throw the keys through the open window at the top of the door. Not that you know if they’ll find your car because well there’s no parking lot so you’ll need to find a spot somewhere and hope they find it. Which isn’t as great as the other part of the sign “To our Gentleman Clients…” Ohhhh, K. So I suppose because I’m not a man I shouldn’t have been driving the car in the first place!??
Lesson #5: Trains… there are little yellow boxes outside the train that you must validate your ticket on before getting on the train. If you don’t, it’s a major fine…. you will not see signs that tell you of the requirement, so please just know. Also, don’t do what my friend did and unexpectedly jump off the train when you think it’s your stop. It might not be!!
Lesson #6: Strikes Happen. Often… in Lake Garda there was a two day ferry strike. Followed by a train strike. Not really convenient when this is how you’re supposed to get from Lake Garda to Milan for your flight. Good thing for taxi drivers!!!
Lesson #7: Visit Cinque Terre. Amazing, amazing, amazing. *Update: Now 3 of 5 hikes are closed, I was lucky enough to go before the floods*
Lesson #8: In Rome, get to the Vatican EARLY and bring sunblock or shade. Also, you have to be covered – they won’t let you in with short skirts and sleeveless tops. It’s going to be crowded and a wait, the line goes really quickly but you don’t want to get to the beginning of the line and be told you can’t get in because of what you’re wearing.
Lesson #9: Buy a bottle of wine from a road-side truck and drink it on the Spanish steps…. but do it before I think 10pm when the stairs close and the security/police kicks you off the steps. Great people watching, great friends and great spot to chill.
Lesson #10: Find a lake, rent a boat…. make sure you’re given two roaps to tie-up to some of the marina’s (and you might just have to jump in as wel did). Lake garda, old wooden antique boat, fantastic.
Bonus #11: Find a friend, convince them to have their wedding in a castle in Italy. Truly a magical setting (thanks to Jesse & Nicole for making the decision themselves!)