I had many interesting adventures while wandering through Italy during the last three weeks. EVERYONE thought I was Italian. This caused a lot of disappointment and confusion, from both sides. People would ask me a question, which always took about two minutes, I would let them finish and then I would say “Non parlo l’italiano.” After that, various hand, arm and body language gestures bombarded me as the people stormed off. I wish I had video of these encounters, every time a person would run away my shoulders sunk to the ground because I was sorry to not be able to communicate. Then I would start laughing as I wandered into the next question. This happened over thirty times before I stopped counting. So, now I know – the next time I come to Italy I should either a) know Italian or b) change my wardrobe to sandals with white socks, khaki shorts, a sombrero, binoculars around my neck, oh, and an American flag tank top.
For me, Venice should have been a day trip from Florence. I did really enjoy walking off the main roads through the narrow laneways and discovering the beautiful and sometimes eerie canals. But, I was there for three days and it really isn’t that big and it is sort of stinky. I stayed outside of the historic city in Mestre. The train ride into Venice (the “floating city” part) was inexpensive and fast. But, if I stayed again, I would stay for one night in the popular area. Yes, I saved money but you get what you pay for in Italy. One star hotels in Mestre are rated properly. I did get some good snaps!
I took the fast train from Venice to Florence, which only took about two hours. Florence was my favorite city in Italy, by far! I stayed there for seven days. First, I rented a place from Airbnb and the hosts were so generous. They had snacks and wine waiting for me when I arrived and gave me a lot of good advice. I walked all over the city, Florence is a great walking city, especially at night. It felt very safe to me and the entire city is just beautiful. Museums, markets, gardens and art everywhere!
The highlights of my time in Florence came from hanging out with my new friends Georgette, Nico and Ginger (the humping female dog). Georgette is the cousin of one of my best friends and she is the “Girl in Florence.” Yes, she is a celebrity, her website is unbelievable. We were all walking around one night and someone stopped her, ”OMG, are you the Girl in Florence?!” When you go to Florence, or really anywhere in Italy, study her blog and take all of the advice from her website! I did and everything she recommended was perfect. I was lucky enough to spend some time with them and it was very inspiring. She has lived in Florence for over nine years and has created a sustainable business with her writing and social media expertise. I didn’t even know you could get a Visa as a self-employed entrepreneur. Nico is the nicest French-Italian guy I know 😉 and their hospitality was naturally kind-hearted. I wanted to move in with them but I wasn’t sure if that was appropriate in the Italian-French-Texan culture. I will just say thanks again and I miss you Ginger! Keep up the great work!
Rome was a sensory overload, in a good way. I was only there for three days to see all of the main sites. I did really like Rome, I think it would be an interesting place to live in. I was BUSY, always running to the next place with gelato dripping down my arm. Oh, and I was staying in another crap hotel so I always wanted to be outside. I saw the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and most of the famous villas and piazzas. I didn’t get much rest in Rome. Also, to confuse everyone in the country even more, I got a very Italian haircut. Yes, I saved money on accomodation but you get what you pay for in Italy. Two star hotels in Rome are rated properly.
One day I walked over to St. Peter’s Square to see what the action looked like at the entrance of the Vatican City. It was CRAZY! People everywhere!! I wasn’t surprised, well, yes, I was surprised because there were THOUSANDS of people. I quickly realized that I needed to book a quality tour so I would not have to wait in line for four hours just to get into some of the museums. I booked a tour with “Walks of Italy” and it was remarkable. The tour guide had an amazing amount of knowledge. The map room was my favorite! It is so unbelievable that people could make such accurate maps with no real photo references of the world. It was a four hour tour, skipped all of the lines, saw everything, perfect! I learned so much. But then, I thought back to my college days as a tour guide at Wonder World – the cave in San Marcos, Texas. I made up so many “facts” about that cave on my tours and I always got good tips: $$$. So, I tipped the tour guide ten euros to repay all of the people that supported me through that cave: €€€. Yes, I spent money to tour the Vatican City sites but you get what you pay for in Italy. Walks of Italy Complete Vatican Tours are rated properly.
I didn’t like Naples. It was scary, maybe that was just my experience. Yes, I saved money but you get what you pay for in Italy. One star hotels in Naples are rated properly. Ok, Naples has some beautiful historic sites and I did like the pizza and coffee! But, the walk from the train station to my “hotel” was not fun or clean. I literally stepped in dog poo twice. LOL. The struggle was real people!
One of my days in Naples I decided to get out of that crazy city and go for a self made tour of the Amalfi Coast. I created my own public transportation itinerary and spent all day on subways, trains, buses, and on foot to see this beautiful region! I also got some time on the beach! I left at 8AM and returned at 7PM and spent about 15€ total for the transportation that day. I am sure I set the record for the cheapest day on the Amalfi Coast! Of course it was inconvenient but I had a lot of fun. I actually like the moving part of traveling – riding buses, boats, trains, walking etc. Yeah, yeah, you get what you pay for in Italy. Either make a better plan for Naples or just pay to stay out by the coast.
Naples to Bari
My bad attitude towards Naples quickly created bad karma for my train ride across Italy to Bari. The initial plan was for me to leave Naples at 8AM on a regional train to Caserta and then catch a fast train from there to arrive in Bari at around Noon. Well, Naples loved me and wanted me to stay so my first train was delayed for two hours. I went to the ticket office and was confronted with a decision: “Do you want to wait four hours in Naples or go to Caserta and wait four hours there?” I quickly answered “Caserta!” I walked around Caserta for about one hour and then just hung out at the train station. The police at the train station must have thought I was crazy for sitting there that long so they eventually took me aside for a detailed inspection of my passport. They made a couple of phone calls to someone and kept flipping through my passport, rubbing the pages. One of them asked me “residency?” but I thought he asked “presidency?” so I shouted “Obama!!” Oh man, they did not speak English at all and my heart was pounding. Finally, one of the officers looked at the ugly hiking boots I had on and said: “U.S.A. – turista, ok, ok!!!” Yay, I’m free! But wait, when I missed my last train I lost my assigned seat…you win again Naples.
Eventually, I made it to Bari to relax for a night before I head out to my next country! Sell your TV so you have more money to spend as you travel through Italy. Oh, and just buy that business class train ticket. You get what you pay for in Italy.