A couple of weeks ago I got back from a trip I’ve waited for my entire life. Along with my husband, son, daughter-in-law and baby grand-daughter, I went to Italy. It was a return trip for me, since forty-some years ago I spent a summer in northern Italy, basically as an English tutor. I retained vivid memories of the cities of Milan and Como, and of Lake Como, which I’d been able to visit then. I’ve long regretted the other cities of Italy I didn’t get to, particularly Rome. This trip would rectify that omission.
|St. Peter's Square in Rome|
I have a series of posts about the trip over on my own blog at kmccullough.com/kblog. You can head over that way if you want to read about the whole thing, day by day. In this post I just want to talk about a few miscellaneous things noted on the trip.
Travel – Airplane travel sucks. Don’t believe it? Read my story about the flight to Rome here, but (warning) it may make you reluctant to ever fly again. On the other hand train travel in Italy is amazing. Where it was available, we paid a little extra for first class seats and it was so worth the small additional cost. Travel by train is much nicer and more comfortable than travel by airplane anyway, but paying a few Euros per person more for first class makes it even better. Seats were roomy, well padded, had power outlets, USB ports, tables and footrests. Even on the trains that didn’t offer first class service, the seats were comfortable and the amenities adequate. Plus the high-speed trains get you to your destination in surprisingly little time. I realize that the US is a lot bigger than Italy or even most of Europe, but still, more high speed trains would put some of the pleasure back into traveling around the country.
Gelato – Oh, yes! But first, you should know that some gelato places are better than others. Some so-called gelato isn’t much better than the ice cream you can get here in the US. But good gelato—oh my! It’s richer, creamier, and fresher-tasting than anything I can remember tasting at home. After hiking around the city on a hot day in Rome, nothing tastes better.
Coffee – Years ago when I was there, I developed a love for real Italian coffee, a thick brew served in tiny cups. Most of the Italians I knew then added large quantities of sugar to it. Espresso in the US is the closest thing you can get to it here, but it’s not exactly the same. And in all the hotels and most of the restaurants we frequented, they had machines that would produce Americano and Cappuccino as well as Espresso. Ask for just coffee, and it was a toss-up whether you’d get a half cup of a slightly stiffer brew than Americano or the coffee I remember from my last visit, which compressed all the coffee goodness (and caffeine) of a standard cup od Americano into about a quarter cup of liquid served in teeny tiny cups.
Wine – We sampled many of the local wines at meals, including a number of Chiantis. (Another leftover from my previous trip: I love Chianti!) After a few days, my husband said, “They clearly aren’t shipping the good stuff to the U.S.” So true. For a reasonable five Euros (a bit under six dollars US), you could get a glass of outstanding wine.
|Absolutely the best Tiramisu ever!|
And the desserts were sheer decadence. We’re all partial to Tiramisu, and just about every place we ate in Italy had it. But there were a lot of varieties, and a lot of different ways to serve it. We had Tiramisu on plates, in parfait glasses, and, memorably, in a large brandy snifter.
I have no idea when I’ll ever get back, but should I ever the chance, I’m totally up for it. (Except for the unfortunate necessity of having to fly over and back.)