Monday, October 25, 2010

Viva l'Italia, 9/7-9/24: Denouement

Much to the relief of some, we're coming to the end of this series of blog posts on mio viaggio attraverso d'Italia (my journey through Italy), so I thought I'd wrap up with a few observations on my wondrous and enlightening 17 days in the land of my forebears.

Some learnings: going to Italy solo is a good news/bad news proposition. The good news is that you can go where you want -- when you want. The bad news is that you're on your own, and there's a steep learning curve. I'll be much more efficient the next time.

Walking around the streets of Old Genoa, I thought the most noteworthy aspect is that people there love their dogs, and many take them everywhere they go. Canines of all varieties of breeds escorted young and old Italians alike.

Oddly, it seems like virtually everybody in Italy smokes, yet the life expectancy of an Italian is two years longer that an American (79 versus 77, respectively). Go figure. Their longevity must be attributable to diet and exercise.

At one of my breakfast sessions on the terrace, I met a nice French couple that was interested in my experience of the boat ride to Cinque Terre. When they found out that I taught college journalism, the woman said: "Oh, you must be a liberal." I thought: "What? Do I have a reader board on my forehead?"

Of course, the term "liberal" has a sometwhat different connotation as it related to politics in Europe, but she knew what she meant: one of those "doughy-handed, bleeding-heart liberals from that festering sinkhole of socialism that is Eugene."

It's funny. Some Italians looked like they wanted to kill me at times, or at least rough me up a bit; others wanted to practice their English and learn new stuff, saying they loved my West Coast U.S. accent.

I also like how Italians say "pronto" when they answer their telephones. It's like, "hurry up and talk or I'm hanging up."

Many have asked about the "bottom line" when it comes to a trip like this. The total cost of my trip to Italy? Just under $3,000.

Roundtrip airfare to Italy was $950, hotel expenses totaled about $1,000 for three- and four-star hotels. The cost of incidentals -- including dinners, train tickets, taxicabs, souvenirs, boat ride to Cinque Terre and other miscellaneous expenses -- was about $1,000.

The memories that will last a lifetime? Priceless. As I bade farewell to my hosts at the Hotel Cristoforo Colombo, I told them -- with my best Arnold Schwarzenegger accent -- "I'll be back."

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