Italy feels to me like two different memories: one great, one not so much. It was filled with beautiful art, awesome architecture, and tasty food. Unfortunately it was also filled with confused tourists (we were among them), expensive seat-less toilets, long lines, and little signage. It was so expensive, our host in Greece implored us to buy as much food as we could carry in Athens to take with us. The relics and ancient sites were fantastic and well maintained, but the management of the sites was horrible. They are adding a new subway line (much needed), but the construction adds to the chaos, since it will run right through the heart of the area with the most attractions (the Forum area). It may turn out to be a disaster, as each time they dig they have to worry about discovering a new or weakening an existing relic. I feel like 20 years from now – after the tourists have thinned because Asia has opened up more and Eastern Europe becomes more of an attraction, and after the subway construction has finished – would be a better time to visit this historical treasure. Hopefully by then the government can figure out how to run things. 🙂
They are a beautiful people, much more fashion-conscious than I will ever be. It seems clear that beauty was considered in each aspect of their lives. The clothing, hair styles, vehicles, buildings and furnishings are all gorgeous. I honestly don’t know how the average Italian affords it, but it makes for beautiful scenery everywhere. My plaids and walking shoes have never felt more out of place.
Concerning costs, again we were able to find reasonably priced accommodations ($50-60/night with full kitchens), with bikes in Pisa and near a metro in Rome. Our hosts were great, and left us snacks, wine, and other amenities that were a very welcoming touch. Many of the attractions required payment to enter, and entry fees did not necessarily include bathroom dues. We were able, however, to catch a cheap flight into Milan from Athens, and then bused our way to Pisa, Rome, and out toward Prague. Pizza (and bread) was sold by weight, so there was never a fear of over-buying or leftovers, but the daily gelato runs added about 11 Euros (almost 10%) to the daily costs. Oh well. YOLO, and we are still better than plan. – ALaff