Thoughts On Italy – Late Summer 2017 — Part II


No One Tips The Bag Checker At the Borghese Gallery?

DSC_0142The Borghese Gallery in Rome explicitly stated all bags, purses and water had to be checked in before visiting. It was our first day in Rome in the blistering heat having traveled from Pompeii and trying to traverse the Roman metro so our stamina and decision-making could have been questioned. After walking nearly 2 miles from our metro stop, I was determined to hold onto my water. Rules are rules so everything needed to be checked even if we didn’t stay long. About an hour later, we retrieved our belongings and I gave the man a euro for his trouble. He said in perfect English, “This is my first tip” and I stated, “You mean today?” He said, “Ever.” I must have made his day although I was just trying to be polite and considerate — knowing he must receive a lot of abuse from many tourists hell-bent on holding on to their possessions inside the Gallery.

DSC_0195 Vatican Gardens Dreamin’

Spent one morning in the Vatican gardens — the Vatican Garden tour has only been available to the public for the last 5 years, tours of only small groups. This was our 10th or so day in Italy and the last 9 had been hot, dry and dusty although mother nature had something else for us…our tour was from 9 until 11 am and we certainly had a great visit. About 30 minutes from the start, the weather became dark, windy and ominous and most of us sensed rain. As we continued to tour, we began to hear thunder and see lightning. Our petite and lovely Italian guide proceeded to tell us to be careful as thunder and lightning continued. I didn’t know what to think, should I hide underneath one of those thousands of trees lining these gardens? Should I take cover in the museum even though we had waited months for this tour? One other thought came to mind, perhaps our guide wanted me to dance around lightning, especially if it got close. After a while, I didn’t worry about it even though in the States many cities and organizations perhaps overreact to potential lightning strikes. DSC_0157Besides, if I did get struck by lightning, it wasn’t a bad place to die, perhaps being so close to holiness? As soon as our sore feet touched the museum entrance, the clouds began to dump rain on this parched landscape. Gave our tour guide €2 for three reasons. One, she was friendly and fun; two, she got us out of there alive; three, she made it rain once we were finished.

I Probably Should Not Wine About The Wine

Often while dining and especially in the Amalfi Coast region, my wife and I decided to split a liter of red or white wine. Being on a budget, we didn’t want to spend more than  €20 per liter. Over all the wine did not disappoint although we may have also been also intoxicated by the ambience and culture that surrounded us. I did notice at one restaurant with an open kitchen concept where hey DSC_0968actually filled the carafes with a large container of wine, roughly a gallon. Ok, I sometimes romanticize Italy and expected a little more sophistication in terms of how wine was stored and served but that wasn’t the case. I guess basic economics comes into play here. Restaurants may purchase white and red house wine in large quantities which may cost 5-10 Euros per container. If they charge 16 Euros for a liter, once you minus the expense, their profit might be in the neighborhood of 50 Euros per gallon. That doesn’t factor in the profit when guest merely order a glass of wine instead. Even though economically it’s best in many Italian restaurants to order a liter of wine, it still can be a significant profit center. I guess restaurants in the States are not the only places to eat where their significant profit results from liquor sales.