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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vacation All I Ever Wanted, Vacation Have To Get Away

Ciao! I’m back from Italy a few pounds heavier (oh, the food) and a few Euros poorer (ouch, the conversion rate).

My husband and I had a wonderful vacation all the way from Rome to Tuscany to Venice. And I even did some work. Part of my WIP will be set in Italy, so I ran around a few cities scouting locations for upcoming scenes. It was a lot of fun. Forget the Internet, this is how you do research—sipping chianti and riding a gondola.

Now, while I could write an entire novel about the food (we had Bolognese sauce in Bologna and steak Florentine in Florence, ‘nuf said), I will keep my observations to these:

1. After you’ve seen the Vatican, everything else is just a duomo.
2. Burying popes in glass coffins on display in the middle of St. Peter’s Basilica is really, really weird.
3. If you’re looking to start up a new business, much of Italy could use a good power washer. Let’s face it, 2,000 years of soot (and graffiti) builds up.
4. $1 espressos, 10 times a day, rock.
5. A Fiat Punto can only drive so fast.
6. Those Italian spaghetti bowls at William Sonoma are actually MADE IN ITALY. We met the guy whose store hand makes them. He knows “William.” Coolest person ever!
7. Make sure you know when the last train out of Verona leaves and if you don’t, there’s a very helpful Best Western a few blocks away :-)
8. There is no place to lie down inside the Colosseum to reenact the death scene from Gladiator. “Go to them, Maximus…”
9. If you’re watching the next James Bond movie and you think you see some random person in the background who looks like me, it might just be! They were filming the next sequel while we were in Siena.
10. Watch that 20/20 special on the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel. I think I found at least two of the angels that Michelangelo painted to give the pope the finger.
11. If you’re on a bike tour in Chianti and everyone is passing you like lightening while you can’t move faster than a Slowsky in a Comcast commercial, you might want to speak up. Turns out that swishing sound your tire’s making could be a brake that’s been locked for several miles.
12. In Venice, the ratio of tourists to guys selling knock-off handbags is one-to-one. Avoid eye contact (and yes, a knock-off of an Italian bag bought in Italy is still fake – and still made in China).
13. Riding in a gondola at night kind of makes you feel like you’re in a scene from Phantom of the Opera.
14. I don’t care what sort of live music you’ve got going on in your outdoor café, but one beer is never worth 9.5 Euro (approx. $15 USD). I’m talking to you, San Marco’s Piazza.
15. All of Rome is constructed on cobblestone streets, and the Roman women walking around in four-inch heels deserve some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award from the fashion industry.
16. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is just a tower that leans– but it’s AWESOME!

And finally….
17. When you get back home and look at your photos, it’s hard to tell one vista from another. “Is that Cortona? Or Florence? No, maybe Chianti?” Yes, it is possible to over-vista.




POP-CULTURE RANT: David Cook, Whoo Hoo!

I am truly stunned. I’ve been a David Cook fan all season, but I thought it was a forgone conclusion that David Archuleta would win. I had a lengthy conversation with another American couple in Italy about this very fact (four grown adults discussing American Idol for an hour over dinner is somewhat embarrassing in retrospect). But, seriously, the judges practically gift wrapped the title and handed it to Archuleta last night with tears in their eyes. But I guess they weren’t the ones voting! The rocker took the title. And Simon ate his words—even better! Congrats Rocker David!

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