When I first started to think about the theme for this month’s Italy Roundtable, BUGS I thought of mosquitoes and immediately wrote about them.
They are not my favorite, but I love the * word.
Then I discovered a side-track in my brain that led me to a strange little secret. I went from bugs being actual bugs to bugs being something annoying.
We are now.
Oh, and I also included some photos of bugs.
There are always things we don’t like about something. These small things may seem manageable at first, and they might be charming, but when you get tired, hungry, or frustrated, these little infractions can become more serious.
Yes, Italy can sometimes drive you crazy.
What do you find most annoying about Italy? It is often things we don’t understand or have a good understanding of. Here are some of the responses I received. I hope they help you to turn your frustrations into lessons that can help you avoid the same fate.
Before I get into the details, I want to clarify: This article is not intended to be a diatribe about all the things that Italy does. I welcome your comments. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns about Italy. Keep it positive, okay? All of us need to be kinder.
It’s a bit of a mystery, isn’t it?
“Eating the same food from different countries is a good habit. Although I love Italian food, it can get boring to eat every day.
– Kerstin, MsMarmiteLover.com
Although you may have read my article stating that there is no Italian food, Kerstin is correct – you won’t find the same variety of Italian cuisine in Italy as in a multi-cultural city such as London or New York.
These are some tips to help you take a break when you’re looking at a Italy menu.
- When you can, eat regional cuisines. You should research what is seasonal and regional, and make sure you order it (especially if it’s not pasta). ).
- You can skip the first course. For a change of pace, skip the first course, which is almost always full of pasta (and sometimes risotto). Instead, check out the second course, which is usually meat or fish.
- A meal of appetizers can be made. Aperitivo bars can be enough food to make dinner in some cities. Sometimes, smaller plates and side dishes can be enough to make a meal. This is often more enjoyable when shared.
- Take a picnic. Grab whatever you like at the local outdoor food marketplace.
- You should try any foreign restaurant you can find. If all else fails, try the Chinese restaurants and kebab take-out places in larger cities.
“How rigid is the food culture. Travelers sometimes feel hungry when certain foods are available at specific times of the day. One day, we were starving and found a cafe that had plenty of bruschetta. It looked delicious, but I wanted something smaller. I was not allowed to buy any from her because it was only for aperitivo.”
– Ali, Travel-Made-Simple.com
I’ve made the error of getting on a train at 11am without food, and with a 2-hour train ride ahead of me more times than I can remember. The result is that I arrive at my destination hungry, sometimes well into the hours of Italy’s lunch hour, and have very limited options for food other than fast food.
This is not a pleasant feeling.
It seems that Italy enjoys making tourists adjust to its peculiarities. While I have learned a lot from Italy about how to relax and follow the flow, it is best to have some solid plans to get you started. This means that you eat when the Italians eat.
Perhaps you eat a large breakfast. Italians don’t eat big breakfasts so it is important to have snacks and fruit on hand to keep you going after your small coffee and cornetto have gone. Outdoor food markets are your best friend for snack-y items. This should last you until about 1pm, when Italians have lunch.
Don’t limit yourself to a small snack. Even if you don’t normally eat large meals, you’re still being active while traveling. Walking everywhere is more fun than sitting at a desk. You need to eat healthy, so pack your calories! You can make it to aperitivo faster by packing a bigger lunch. This bridges the gap between dinner and aperitivo.
“Bureaucracy. It’s sometimes very heavily followed and applied, while other times it’s totally ignored when you’re ready. It is difficult for Italians to gather information and self-inform.
– Sara, MsAdventuresInItaly.com
Sara went on to give her advice. “Never accept any answer that you don’t like, except it’s the right one.”
Mama won’t allow you to have dessert so ask Dad. We’ve all played this game.
Visitors often overlook much of the bureaucratic chaos that Italy is. If you don’t live in Italy, there won’t be any lines at the post office for paying utility bills. You might notice your trash cans filling up when the garbage company goes on strike, but that’s only temporary. You can move on in a few more days.
Travelers who don’t know or understand enough Italian can have trouble in the bureaucracy department. Ask your question at a ticket counter at a train station, and you will get a partial answer (or brushed off). Next, find another employee to help. If you have to, ask another.
It’s important to be polite and firm, even when it can be frustrating. You can learn polite Italian phrases and use them in any request you make. It is possible. Be prepared to accept that the final answer may not be what you want. We can’t always get our way.
“Restaurant bathrooms are almost always disgusting in Italy.”
– Johanna, TravelEater.net
I was blessed with a large bladder. I’m great for road trips. Some people are not as picky as me about their toilets. If you need to go frequently, you might find some unattractive lavatories in Italy.
A cramped bathroom stall might be half the size, a small toilet without a seat or a hole in a floor. This is commonly known as a “squatty pitty”. You should be extremely grateful if you can find enough toilet paper, regardless of the type of commode. These are some ways to make the Italian public toilet experience less frightening.
- Always keep a pack of tissues and, if possible, wet wipes with you. As needed, replenish. Italian grocery stores sell packs of about 10 travel-sized tissue bags. Make sure to stock up before you leave for your trip. If you don’t have any hand soap, it is a good idea to bring some.
- No matter if you have to go, always check out the options for bathrooms. Find the bathroom when you stop for coffee, a meal, or to visit a gallery or museum. You should use it if it’s clean before you go. You have options. You won’t have the ability to use the restroom in a coffee shop or restaurant until you purchase something.
- To use the restroom, take advantage of a newly renovated museum. The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence was home to one of the best lavs that I’ve seen since my last trip to Italy. They had not only renovated the museum spaces but also remodeled the toilets. It was beautiful.
- You should always have small change, usually one to two euros coins, on hand for toilets that charge an entrance fee (often at train stations). These are usually the cleanest options. Those coins pay someone to keep them tidy, so don’t be too stingy about paying for your pee.
- McDonalds and Burger King are the best options. You won’t find them begging you to buy something if you need it. They’re also usually clean. However, they don’t always have toilet paper.
- Centrally located. You can easily make a pit-stop between museums if your apartment or hotel is located in a central location.
Johanna also complained about Johanna’s inability to understand why Italian women walk on cobblestone streets wearing high heels.
What are your biggest problems?
There were so many wonderful responses to my initial questions, that I had to pick just a few to feature here. This means that there will be more articles like these in the future. This also means that I may feature your comments on Italy in future articles. Keep it light, everyone.
You can leave a comment below and tell me something you dislike about Italy. Or email me.
Italy Roundtable: Other Voices
I am curious to see what bugs my coworkers are discussing this month. Click the links below to follow me. Please leave comments and share your posts with your friends. And don’t forget to tune in next month to another Italy Blogging Roundtable topic.
- ArtTrav The Bugs look like jewels at La Specola
- Home in Tuscany Tuscany through Seasons (and Bugs)
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- Brigolante HTML3_ HTML4_ HTML5_ HTML6_ HTML7_ HTML8_ – Of Flowers, Bees and Dreams: Il Lavandeto di Assisi
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* It is zanzara by the way. That’s mosquito in Italian. If you are referring to a swarm, Zanzare is the correct term. That sounds great, doesn’t it?