I’ve just been traveling, and so I have a few observations from the trip. Â It was hard to post from there – I got pictures up by leaving the computer on for long periods of time and then ignoring it. Â But anyway, here’s the short form:
- Italians are wonderful. Â Noisy, brisk, friendly, a bit defiant.
- Shopping is different. Â At least inside the Aurelian walls (the historic part of the city), the economy seems to run on small businesses. Â Small enough retail shops that a hundred of them would fit in our rather small Macy’s. Â We saw no Starbucks, and two McDonald’s that we wouldn’t recognize (with nice decor and largely different menus and not full of people). Â No Target. Â No Safeway. Â No Walmart. Â It’s a one-on-one experience. Â Shopping is done with cash, Â I suspect a rather big underground economy and lots of tax evasion. Â The variety of goods – from ultra-high-ened (where we actually couldn’t even get INTO the stores) to absolute junk is huge.
- The food (if you get off the beaten tourist paths) is fabulous. Â It’s as good as you hope it might be.
- It’s damned photogenic. Â I think Paris is the only other city I’ve ever been in that is so photogenic. Â Sydney was close.
- The history is absolutely amazing. Â I saw the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael paintings in the Vatican and visited Caravaggio’s hanging freely available on church walls. Â I stood and stared at David and I saw the Pieta. Â It was like a holy grail of western history. Â It was like looking at your actual ancestors and seeing what has changed (we no longer murder tigers or people in great public displays) and what is the same (our political challenges are eerily similar).