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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Four Star Comfort in Bologna, Italy

 Rest and Relax in Bologna, Italy

If you have stopped by my blog before, you know on my extended trips I keep to a budget whenever possible.   I certainly save for each trip via a plan that most others would never enjoy.     However, at times it is necessary or desirable to go out of budget to enjoy some well needed rest.

After 2 weeks of travel while fighting the flue,, I planned to spend the two days prior to my adventure with Laura Massoni Travel, in a luxury hotel in Bologna.
Within 2 blocks of the train station and 1 block from the main
 street to the center of town

I prefer the old grand dames of European hotels but for this stay I selected a hotel with wifi, breakfast, a restaurant if I needed it and close to the train station.   Against all advice from every online traveler, I had packed too much and did not want to travel far.   In my defense, I shall be in two different climate, attend two travel shows, several business meetings as well as a walking adventure and a session picking olives!   All this requires appropriate equipment. 

But this post is about NH Hotel Bologna a part of the NH hotels     I expect  business travelers are familiar with NH Hotel chain.  With several meeting rooms, the hotel was busy with meetings the first day of my visit.

A good sized room after the min rooms I was given as a
solo travel in other hotels
As promised it was within two blocks of the train  station and an easy ‘roll’ for large suitcases.   This is a modern vs traditional hotel.  Check in was crowded but the two desk employees were very efficient.    One employee spoke English and was willing to try to understand my Italian (solely for my benefit to practice more). 

I was asked if i wanted to purchase an upgraded room (declined), given a membership into the NH club that I could not read (in Italian) but was assured it was free and my my electronic key was cut, My room number was written down NOT shouted out for everyone to hear (bravo) and the times and location for breakfast and dinner was shared. 

All set to enter the lap of luxury for 2 days.   My room was far away from the elevator which I had requested, faced away from the station, had windows that opened and air conditioning.   Heating in most Italian cities that I have visited is ofteb not turn the heat on prior to November    There are government regulations that can restrict times that heating is used, fortunately the hotel was very comfortable.

Additional benefits to the NH BOLOGNA

A wonderful bathroom the size you will find in higher end hotels.   A deep tub, a strong shower, lots of hot water and BIG fluffy towels.   A pleasant addition was a lighted magnification mirror.   After weeks of poorly lite bathrooms it was great to have every amenity with in one room.

A treat to find a make up mirror.

The Bed:

Although I believe  requested a full size bed the room had two twin beds.   I expect had i returned to the lobby my room might have been changed but I elected not to bother.   The bedding was plush with a  cushioned mattress pad ,crisp sheets and wonderful pillow.    All this can be appreciated after two weeks of standard housing.,

The Room:

Large flat screen TV with English news stations.

Carpeted (a little worn and needed a deep cleaning)

High ceilings

Windows that  open

What was missing:
There was no luggage rack that I could locate so your  suitcase remains on the floor
The closet was almost inaccessible with the door opening for just 1/4 of the space
The working desk was far too small for more than a laptop since the TV took up most of the surface (wall mounted TV can resolve this)

Only ONE electrical outlet at the desk.   The bathroom outlet required a plug adaptor I did not have.

I shall continue to look for other outlets tonight.   The problem with one outlet:  if you have a computer, camera and phone to recharge you must remember to alternate every few hours.    Women travelers who have electric appliances may find one outlet will delay morning rituals.

Breakfast:    I had declined dinner the night before but saw a few diners in the restaurant.   Bologna is know for the best food so I expect guests were out visiting one of the many restaurants

The dining area is very large with many tables for 2.   There is no need to tell the waitstaff you are traveling solo.  In the morning after giving your room number you are free to choose any table and select from the buffet.

The buffet was very large with a varied selection.   Each food station had several serving post to accommodate the large number of guests so you do not have to wait in a conga line while the guest in front  selects the best piece of fruit! 

I sat next to the coffee machine.  This is Italy and there is a coffee machine!   I understand it saves time.   Although the machine produced an acceptable cup of cappuccino, nothing replaces the hand prepared cup in the morning.  Sometimes the barrister is an artists and creates a design on the top to share a smile with you.

I arrived at the  end of the breakfast hours but was not limited to how much I could consume or how long i could remain in the breakfast room.  The staff continued to refill fruit and juice containers past the ‘end of breakfast’, instead of carting off the remaining food exactly at 9 am.

Other comments: 

There is a strong wifi signal in the room which is important in a business hotel

There is a computer in the lobby that I did not need to use

I asked about the ‘business center’ listed in the listing:   there is no designated busines center and I asked for several documents to be printed for me via email to the front desk.  When I returned from dinner the documents were waiting for me.

My booking was through who did not compensate me for this visit.

The opinions represented above are my own.   I was not compensated by the hotel nor given any incentive to express these opinions.  As a solo traveler I have requirements of a hotel that other travelers may not need.

I would be wiling to return to NH B   when in Bologna again.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

On the road again: without wifi!

You become dependent on the internet to find information, store your photos, make reservations, download maps.

When you plan to write about your adventurers or misadventures wifi connections become paramount.   Have you passed on a hotel when you find they charge $5.00 or more for internet?

The past 7 weeks have been a challenge to find the time to back up photos, store information and write anything meaningful.   This last week particularly since the ship I am returning on will offer FREE laundry service but charges for wifi.     Stories may come to you in a blast or dribble in as I find places to post and time to upload photos.

Be sure to check both blogs for the ongoing saga of the UK world travel show and the Italian travel show in Rimini.     Learning so much in so little time makes your head hurt.

So sign up for posts at both and   I hope the stories make you smile or even laugh!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Florence Italy: La Missericordia di Firenze

The Misericordia has an ancient history in Florence although Thousands of tourist pass this building but have  no idea what is behind the ornate door across from the Duomo.

I visited the museum of the Misericordia on the only day there is an English tour:  Monday.  However, don't expect a fluent dialogue of the history and the items on display.   My host was most gracious and patient while I tried to interpret her information or ask questions in my very limited Italian.

There is an English brochure that gives a fascinating history behind the modern day ambulance workers.   All facts and information are from that brochure which was printed in May 2014 and texts by Silvia Nanni.

This sinister mode of dress hides the fundamental basis of the Misericordia, charity and service to their fellow man.

Such a low profile entrance only steps from the front of the Duomo

Zane:  baskets large enough to hold and carry a person

"Members of the Misericordia have assisted in the transportation of the ill to hospitals as well as in burying the dead".  "During the numerous plagues from 1325 onwards, the Misericordia showed great courage and kindness, walking through the streets to help those afflicted".

Their faces were covered to keep their identity hidden and to be anonymous.   To warn people that they were transporting a plague victim a bell was rung.    This alerted towns people to keep moving and not risk exposure.

 The Missericordia's services has included contemporary disasters:

WWI the provided transported wounded soldiers.  In WWII's aerial attacks and resistance fighting in the streets and during the flood in Florence they continued to serve the sick in Florence
Today services are offered with modern transport

“ The venerable Archconfraternity of the Misericordia of Florence is one of the oldest institutions of the city, having been founded in the 1200s.  An ancient legend tells us a most interesting story related to its origins.”

“Florence of the 1200’s was a city engrossed in its trade and commerce:  two important fairs were held each year and on such occasions a great number of men were employed for the transport of merchandise.   The porters usually sheltered themselves from the rain in the Adimari’s basement or cantina situated in Piazza San Giovanni. 

In the year 1240 among these workers was Pietro di Luca Borsi, a very devoted many that tired of hearing his fellow workers’ curses, suggested that each time the name of God or of the Virgin Mary was taken in vain, a coin (crazia) should be placed in a box as penitence for the offense committed.   (could this be our contemporary ‘swear jar’?)
Soon a large sum of money was accumulated and again prompted by Borsi, it was used to buy six baskets-zane- each capable of containing a person.It was established which porters had to carry the zane week by week, receiving a coin (giulio or paolo) for each trip they completed in carrying the sick to the hospital or any person that had been found on a road in need of medical assistance.  Note:  Historians proved Borsi did not accomplish the above)”

There is an extensive description of the political and social conflict and religious influences in Florence that finally led to the establishment of this organization who’s members always did the utmost in the transportation of ill to the hospital as well as in the burying of the dead.   Later its obligations spread to:  liberating debtors from prison, providing subsidies to the indigent ill, dowries to improvised girls as well as providing for the decent burial of the poor.”

“Perhaps the Misericordia did their most courageous work during the many plagues.  Walking the streets with their charateristic ‘buffa’ (hood) with the lower part covering the benefactors identity.   It was believed charity had to be done anonymously.     During the 1630 plague a member walked ahead of the  ill or corpse and rang a bell to warn the population and clear a path.”

Now I find the title Misericordia on the ambulances in Firenze.  I wonder if this is the foundation for modern day volunteers?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Have been away from wifi

Without wifi I have been 'out of the loop' for weeks.

But I shall return soon with many new photos from my trip Home to Italy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Italy's Friday the 13th

I should have know today was a special day.    Mercolode dice sette is the equivalent  to Friday the  13th in the USA.

Nothing seemed to go right:

1. found I had NO ticket for my flight to Brindisi due to an error in the spelling of my name on the reservation.  To correct this I had to call the airlines.
2.  no answer at the Vueling web site on any of their 3 telephone numbers:  Spain, London, Italy
3.  The web site clearly states "No one will be allowed to fly if the ID does not match your ticket"

I have no respect for Expedia who would NOT help since the ticket was purchased via British Air who was code sharing with Vueling.

Solution:  buy a second ticket at twice the cost of the first ticket!

So all is well………….no, no, no…………..that would be too easy

Staff at check in says ‘it should be no problem to use the ticket with the wrong name’ and issues me a boarding pass
Adding more horror to the events, they give me a middle seat and ‘cant change it becaue you checked in’ (with the ticket with the wrong name)

I have 3 or 4 more check points to test the ability to fly with a name NOT on your passport

Never got past checking my luggage before the name error is noted.
At this point I give up and ask to use the new ticket with the CORRECT name and get on with it.

With my new boarding pass with my old correct name I stand in line at security for 1/2 hour and set off the alarm when passing through..

At 5 foot 3 i ONLY have 1.5 inches before I hit the seat back

What else can and will go wrong?

Plane is delayed.
Water at the airport is $2.50 a bottle
Food on the plane and water are for sale
Plane is dirty and some strange stains on the wall i wont go near
My seat does not recline because it is broken but at least the plastic armrest is not torn and a hazard for cuts as are the other two seats in my row.
the leg room is LESS than Delta and I am short
How is the passenger in the middle to every get out of this small space

I have NO idea what the passenger left in the seat pocket but NO one cleaned the plane
But the Staff are very pretty woman with a pleasant attitude and the plane is not full

Can not wait to see what Friday the 17th will continue to give me

Friday, October 10, 2014

Desert Italian Style in Sorrento, Italy

 From Santa Anna Sorrento Lingue:   Let them eat cake!

The first thing most people think of when they think of desserts in Italy is gelato. Who wouldn’t? It has the cool, creamy sweet taste we all know and love in ice cream, but somehow it’s just better in Sorrento. Maybe it’s the scoop they use to place the delicious creation in a simple sugar cone or mini paper cup and how it looks nothing like the ice cream cones in the U.S. It could be that not only do you not feel strange asking for two flavors but in fact, they encourage it.   Pineapple and coconut? Delicious.   My personal favorite, mint and milk chocolate. It’s like a Junior Mint in ice cream form.    What could be better?

Or maybe what makes gelato so much better than ice cream is the fact that you can get gelato in Sorrento whenever you want. Eleven A.M? Sure. Two in the afternoon? Absolutely. Midnight? Why not? Whenever you have a hankering for it, there’s always somewhere right around the corner to grab a few scoops. Other delicious desserts in Sorrento include Tiramisu, cannolis, lemon cake and the delicious waffles served at David’s Gelateria. Nutella and whipped cream on a giant homemade waffle, what could be better? 

Autumn has fallen here in Sorrento. The wind has picked up, temperatures have dropped, and the humidity has finally broken. Though the leaves on the trees haven’t drastically changed color, there are only four short weeks left in the month of October. Starting in November and lasting throughout the winter months in Sorrento Torroncini is a popular dessert for natives and passersby.   Made with pure fresh ingredients:  honey, sugar egg whites and nuts, torroncini is made in two ways, hard and crunchy or soft and chewy. Some toroncini   is even covered in chocolate.  This treat is so popular it can be purchased online and delivered to your door!

With the holidays fast approaching tourists and locals alike are starting to think of how they will be celebrating in true Italian fashion, with food!
Being in the heart of historic Sorrento makes the options endless. If you’re in the mood for a light flaky pastry with a bit of chocolate added for some extra decadence, mustacciuoli is the way to go.

If you are looking for something with more of a salty, nutty taste, rococo would be a fabulous option as it is a pastry with almonds. It still gives that light texture of a traditional Italian pastry while giving just the right amount of salt and nutty taste with a little extra crunch!  For something a bit more adventurous try sapienza a dessert featuring biscuits, nuts, and oversized citrus fruits such as lemons.     Of course lemons, this is Sorrento after all!

Some Italian candy and dessert companies have recently made their way across the pond to grace to red white and blue with their scrumptious treats. Bindi is a dessert and pastry company that distributes their products from a plant in Italy as well as one in the United States. The company began in Milan in 1946 when founder Attilo Bindi opened his first location, a small storefront. Now more than sixty years later, Bindi is a worldwide distributor of some of the best sweet treats Italy has to offer.

Sometimes the easiest go-to gift after going on an exotic trip is a gift basket. It embodies the essence of your experience in the simplest yet elegant way. Walking the streets of Sorrento it is clear that gift baskets are just as popular here as they are around the world. As a town with an influx of tourists from June until the end of October shopkeepers know what their clients look for when shopping for souvenirs. They create gift baskets filled with cheese, wine, limoncello and sometimes dried fruit, pastries, crackers or breads.

Traveling to Sorrento is a magical experience filled with some of the most delicious desserts you’ll ever try, especially during the fall and winter months. Bringing gifts home can be the perfect way to remember the magic of your Italian adventure while bringing it home to share with others. Hopefully, once you share the food and stories with loved ones back home, they’ll want to come with you on your next trip!

by Shannon Devaney 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sorrento: The grape festival


  The festival of Grapes is a cultural event that takes place in the early fall just a thirty-minute shuttle ride from Piazza Laro in Sorrento. A completely outdoor festival complete with wine tasting,
Italian festival foods and of course, live music make it a season staple for locals as well as tourists.

Two new stories from Santa Anna Sorrento Lingue 
by Shannon Devaney

Grape Festival in Sorrento

           The light display which I realized seems to be used at all local festivals lit the way from the drop off point up the path to the festival entrance. It was there that long tables filled with candy, cheese, meat and other festival goodies were laid out for sale. A small table distributed samples of red wine from a plastic jug, and a small group of young Italian children stomped on piles of grapes that would later be used for making white wine, giggling the whole time.

            Food was also available. Up above the hustle and bustle of the festival grounds a catering staff prepared one of two Panini’s for festival goers who bought a meal ticket for 4 euros. Sandwich options included either a pork or sausage sandwich with sauteed broccoli on top all on a think Italian roll. Though the line was long, it was well worth it for the warm sandwich on such a chilly October night.

            Neapolitan folk music was the highlight of the night for most guests. The excitement from the band emanated through the audience as they played. The upbeat songs and interactive band members who went into the audience brought a personal lively twist to the show. 

           Fall is certainly overtaking Sorrento and everyone in town is loving it. Free festivals, delicious food, great music, what else could you ask for? Fall in Sorrento truly is wonderful!

I’ve been told more than once that late summer/early autumn in Sorrento is the height of tourist season. The small side streets as well as the main street are constantly cluttered with tourists and the occasional local. When spending the day shopping in Sorrento there was one very important thing I realized. No one knows exactly where he or she is going or exactly what he or she or she is looking for. Everyone is content to wander the small side streets looking at scarves, oils, toys, fruits and vegetables and so on, spending their morning/afternoon going into tiny shops, try free samples of food and drink, and really living in the southern Italian culture.

Shops are filled with souvenirs such as paintings, wine, ceramics, clothing, Italian leather bags and other accessories. Most shops are packed with these items and therefore can keep you busy all afternoon going from one to the next. Prices also vary depending on where you buy things and how much of something you buy. 

My personal favorite thing that is sold in many small shops on the small side streets of Sorrento are the oils. Olive oil, balsamic oil, lemon or citrus oil, garlic oil, the list goes on and on. 

One small shop I found on my shopping adventure yesterday was soaps and candles. Lemon scented ones seemed to be the most popular while there were other citrus scents available. These candles and soaps would be the perfect take home gift. They are solid (no need to worry about the liquid constrictions when flying back home, they are light so they won’t weigh down your suitcase very much, and they are small, so they won’t take up much space in your bag. 

All of these are positive aspects of bringing home candles, soaps or other body care products sold and made in Sorrento that can truly embody the essence of being here and experiencing the lively atmosphere of life in Sorrento.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Embarrassed in Italy

Do you ever promise people you meet " I will call".  At one time we promised to write!  Now a quick email is all you will likely see.

Back in Florence today I had that moment when you are reluctant to visit a store or a restaurant because you had promised to do a service and did NOT produce.   How a year had passed and I still had not posted the story on a coop I found on a street behind the Duomo (cathedral).

After searching 4 long streets for the this very interesting location I found it and hesitated to enter in the event the kind woman I spoke with asked 'what happened to that article'.

In addition to a wide selection of items crafted by local artisans, the shop has a self service lunch and dinner menu in the wine section of the store.    What a GREAT place for a solo diner.  Since it had taken me an hour and 1 gelato to find the store, I was too late for lunch.   But I shall try again tomorrow.

Here is the embarrassing part:  I walk in the store and first person I meet, you guess right.   This year she has longer hair but is just as kind as last year.  AND SHE REMEMBERED ME!   I must be the most annoying tourist that ever visits Florence.

How can you remember someone you met for 5 minutes a year ago?  Now that I think of it, I remember all the people I meet on the road.   No they do not all become friends, but i remember the location and the encounter.  The day before I stopped in at the former "American Desert' store that now has a new name, and was not remembered.....must have been less annoying that day.

When you fail to full fill a promise what do you do?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sorrento, Italy: learn while traveling

With great pleasure I shall be able to share a monthly feature from Sant'Anna Sorrento Lingue: Learn While Traveling

      I met the wonderful teachers and staff at Santa Anna Sorrento Lingue while on sabbatical in Sorrento, Italy.   They have stayed in touch with me over the years and always welcome my unannounced visits to the campus when I am Home to Italy.

     We will be posting wonderful photos of a magical place you will be sad to leave.   I asked many of the locals if they wanted to live anywhere else and the answer was always, perche? (why)  And I have to agree.  From the sea views, the nightly passaggiata in the center of town and the wonderful festivals I have not found another town to match Sorrento.    Be sure to sign up for new posts and welcome SASL to our stories on life in Italy.

"Paradise. Utopia.  These are words that you do not often use especially to explain a place you could choose to study.  But these are words that you will wisely choose to explain Sorrento and especially the study experience at Sant’Anna Institute-Sorrento Lingue. 

The city of Sorrento is vibrant with the hustle of people, both the locals and tourists.  The smell of the oranges that grow on trees lining the streets mixes with the fresh salty air blowing off the Mediterranean.  It is truly a magical place.

The ability to study in such a place is, in itself, a gift.  When added in the experience that Sant’Anna contributes, it would seem daft to go anywhere else.  The professors, all native, are willing and enthusiastic to share their knowledge and to make all students practice the language, making the learning experience vibrant and captivating.
The staff at Sant’Anna make the time spent in the classroom well worth it, and then the excursions truly bring the experience together, letting you discover the surrounding area and the hidden treasures of the Peninsula."
written by a traveler who studied at Sant’Anna Institute in Summer 2014

On top of this are the locals. They are so open and excited to share their city and culture that it is difficult not to become fast friends and soon enough you will be introduced to things you didn’t know existed, such as a favorite swimming spot or the best place for a late night snack. Being such a small town, only in Sorrento you will be able to experience traditions and leave not as a tourist, because bigger locations like Salerno or Naples will not allow you to live the experience of a lifetime and become a Sorrentino!!

For example, only in Sorrento you can experience the harvesting of olives and grapes (in Sorrento they produce one of the best DOP olive oils of the country) and even Sant’Anna past students participated to the harvesting! The Grape Festival is organized in Sorrento every year at the beginning of October; but also, both in summer and in winter the Town Hall organizes “sagre contadine” , that would be festivals promoting the typical local products, to taste “zero kilometers” fruit and vegetables.

            Spending time in Sorrento will be the best decision that you could ever made.  As soon as you get back to your home town, you will notice that the sun is not as bright and the air not as sweet. You will be just looking forward to your next time in Sorrento.


Sorrento is a perfect destination for a language-study holiday, a vacation not as a tourist and for Italian Americans to experience the traditions of Southern Italy.    
Only Sorrento is capable of offering experiences close to Capri  and the Amalfi Coast.  less known to travelers, you can experience the harvesting of grapes and olives.   Few travelers know that Sorrento produces one of the best DOP olive oils in Italy.    And everyone knows about the famous 'lemons' in the area.  Come and enjoy the incredible foods and perhaps learn to prepare your favorite dishes.   
Contact SASL for opportunities to learn while traveling.
Explore being Italian! 
contact Olga Stinga at
Sant'Anna Institute
Italian courses:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Italian American In America

One Foot In America  One Foot in Italia

By Lee Laurino,

The viewpoint of an Italian American     

As an Italian American, do you feel that you have one foot in America and one foot in Italia?  

This is my Italian American dilemma…..  I have always thought of myself as Italian American, no less  an American but also an Italian.   

In New Jersey, where I grew up,  there was no Italian neighborhood  but we shopped at the Italian bakery, the Italian food store for cheese and meats that were part of every holiday or important Sunday dinner.     Stores were often identified by the owners last name:  Caputo’s or Fuggio’s.    Everyone knew where to find the  best pizza ‘pie’ and we all went to the same neighborhood church and even used a designated florist or funeral home.   This was just part of our daily life and we did not talk about being Italian.


In the USA I am rarely asked if I am of Italian heritage.  But while in Italy I am often asked if I have Italian “relatives”.       The concept of being Italian American is strange for most Italians I meet.   Once I establish where my grandfather was born,  there is a certain level of ‘acceptance’  but after years of returning Home to Italy I do not believe  Italians think I belong in Italy.   The few I have asked, do not understand an  interest to obtain dual citizenship and live part time in Italy.   Perhaps they prefer to keep their Italian heritage only for Italian born.


Tracing my Italian Roots:

On each visit I come closer to my Italian roots.     After several years of research  I was finally able to visit the village my grandfather emigrated from when he was 7 years old.     Driving up the narrow road to the top of the small mountain where Petina is located, I tried to think how difficult the ride to the port of Napoli was for this family.  The cart that took them and their limited possessions to a country they had never visited, could not speak the language and may have had only a few relatives or friends.  The steep road must have been packed dirt, the horse or mule pulling the wagon must have taken more than a day to make the hour(by car) drive to Napoli.    Even today the 
Bus only goes to the village once a day and does not always return the same day


Petina, Italy

My visit to this rural town was the reverse of my great grandfathers.  I had taken a ship to Italy and although I did not use a wagon, I approached the small village with some wonder.    The elderly village women were waiting on a bench when we arrived.  But not waiting for the daily bus.  They waited for the weekly visit from the fish monger.   Today he arrives in a refrigerated van.     The village was silent in the middle of the day.   Fortunately we arrived before the closing hour for the city hall.  Once I had requested the documents I needed to apply for Italian dual citizenship, the clerk was absent for a very long time.  Finally she returned with a large, old book.

 There were some 1980 desk top computers in the office, but the birth records are ALL kept in hand written ledgers.   They were beautiful.   You could trace the birth of everyone in the town and the house they were born in.   I began to feel more connected.    Unfortunately the village priest was out of town that day or we would have also found the baptismal record for Edwardo.    The kind clerk suggested we visit the next town to search for any relatives.   The next town was over the mountains through endless fields of chestnut trees.   After just mentioning a name the town hall clerk made a phone call and a short time later my second or third cousin arrived!     A lovely surprise.    Tracing your roots on a trip home to Italy is truly a moving experience.    Over the years I have found some wonderful locals who will help Italian Americans in the process.   

Life in an Italian Town

While on a sabbatical in Sorrento, Italy a few years ago I daily observed lifestyle trends that were Italian.   At the Tuesday market local housewives shopped with a vendor their mother may have used.  There was the daily passegiata where the entire town came out EVERY night and greeted neighbors, family and friends.   The main street was closed to turn an 8 block area into an ‘Italian living room’    It was explained to me by an Italian living in the USA that most apartments are very small and the entire family might live together.   So Italians spend time socializing in the piazza or main street of a town as well as over a meal in a café or restaurant.      In the USA it would not have been unusual  to be invited to ‘stop by the house’ even by a casual acquaintance.  During one visit I was invited to lunch at a colleagues home.  It meant a great deal to me to be included with the family for a meal.

Death notices you will find in each town
Living in Italy vs spending a vacation in Italy allows time to try to understand  daily life in Italy.   I watched many weddings from the countless church fronts, saw fresh manifesto (death notices) posted on walls or announcement billboards, watched the entire town close shop doors during a funeral procession, Sundays spent visiting the immaculately tended graves of relatives, daily wash hung on balconies on every apartment building, visiting multiple stores daily to buy bread, vegetables or a housewares,  receiving a greeting from complete strangers on the streets.  All of this were charming events.   If I had to conduct business I may have had a different attitude:  the crowds for the post office and bank………no concept of a line, slow is the only speed on the street the opposite on a motorini, the men’s clubs that no women ever entered, the TV shows that even without a full understanding of Italian, were totally senseless, the  lack of a dishwasher or having all the lights go out if you plugged in too many appliances.        But I loved every minute of it and look forward to going Home to Italy.