* I made eight “ascents” on the trip: 1) Florence cathedral’s dome and 2) bell tower, 3) the bell tower of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, 4) Monte di Firenze where the church of San Miniato al Monte is, 5) the bell tower of Siena’s town hall, 6) the façade of Siena’s cathedral museum, 7) the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, and 8) Mt. Vesuvius
* Italian shows some interesting U-raising in certain words: uffizi (“offices”), udienza (“audience”), and uscita (“exit”), for some examples with their cognate English words that are closer to Latin
* Would I go back again someday? I think so, yes, but only after some time decompressing and perhaps studying the language more; the hill towns of central Italy and the island of Sicily are definitely calling my name!
* Surprisingly, I was able to understand 80% of the Pope’s Midnight Mass homily, which was in Italian…a language I haven’t even really studied!!!
* I am truly privileged to speak English as a native language because it is the language of tourism that both Asian tourists and native Italians have to learn to communicate in the industry
* In ancient Rome, emperors would write their names on buildings, arches, columns, obelisks, etc., that they ordered built; in medieval and modern Rome, however, the popes stamped their names everywhere (I’m looking at you, Sixtus V!)
* In Italy, you buy your public transport tickets (bus, tram, etc.) not in a machine near the train or on the bus…but in a café or tobacconist, because that makes logical sense, Italy, of course…
* Paying up to 1€ just to use the bathroom should be outlawed
* Food and museum tickets were outrageously marked-up; I am spoiled here in Spain with cheap eats (and free tapas!) and 1,50€ entrances
* For example, like Spain, Italy organizes its dinners around drinks, first courses, second courses, and desserts…but whereas in Spain this would cost you 9-12€ in an all-inclusive menú del día, you can bet on paying 25-30€ for the exact same thing in Italy!
|Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome|
* While traveling, I switch to taking showers at night rather than the morning
* While traveling, 11 at night seems SOOO late but it’s nothing out of the ordinary at home
* Salve! is a typical greeting, just like it was in Latin!
|Pizza margherita, Naples|
* I felt uneasily comfortable saying ciao! for “goodbye” because that’s the exact same thing you say here in Galicia
* High speed rail is the bomb dot com; a 3-hour trip from Rome to Naples on the regional train only took an hour on the Frecciarossa train, reaching speeds of 300kph (180mph!)
* Favorite parts: in Florence, the views from all the hikes up and the whole Duomo complex; in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Borghese Gallery; in Naples, Pompeii and pizza
* Favorite gelato flavor: pistacchio (pistachio) and crema (eggs & vanilla)
* I grew to appreciate sparkling mineral water (think Pellegrino) which I formerly hated for its bitterness
* Those Indian street sellers are amazing; at the first drop of rain they drop their laser pointers and touristy junk and pop out of nowhere with umbrellas hanging all over their arms!
* I did a lot more planning for this trip than I did for France last year, and I think it saved me a lot of money and stress not worrying about hostel bookings or train journeys; I’m not opposed to spontaneity but when you’re running on a tight budget I’m a big Type A person
* It is still beyond me how people can travel or backpack “long-term,” like a month or longer at a time; this introvert needs time to chill out, recharge, and edit photos/blog; of course, I’m sure long-term backpackers take days off from sightseeing and all, but I simply need a nest to return to after 1-2 weeks on the road
|Street in Pompeii|