I have been in Italy 10 days now. The weather is now warmer and sunny most days. I have also recovered from jet lag but still enjoying not having that alarm clock each morning. I'm going to borrow an idea from Mary Beth's blog and make a list of a few things that I have learned or been particularly impressed by since I have arrived in Italy only a short time ago.
1. It will be important that I learn the language. This time we will be living off base and in the Italian community. I am going to need to speak some Italian and quickly. It would have been much easier to learn Italian about 20 years ago since these days more information seems to be leaving my brain than staying in.
2. I expected the Italian food to be very good. I have not been disappointed yet. Delicious! Note to remember though is that we should always know what we are ordering if the menu is not in English. Steve forgot that pomodoro was tomatoes and not cheese last night so he was served a nice big bowl of sliced tomatoes (he doesn't really like tomatoes much at all). He was a trooper though and ate quite a few :-)
3. We were told the train system wasn't very efficient, wasn't reliable and couldn't be counted on. Listen when people who know tell you things. Or just have a lot of patience and look on it all as an experience. We chose the later yesterday on our trip to Florence :-)
4. There are a lot of naked people in Italy, i.e. statues, DVD's in the snack store, magazines openly displayed, etc. I knew that from previous European travels but forgot until it's all at eye level lol
5. Heated towel racks are very nice. I plan to implement them into my next U.S. home in retirement.
6. If you have things to accomplish with an Italian office gird yourself with ALL of your patience and assume it will take 3X longer than you anticipate. Forget your sense of American efficiency and sense of the "customer is always" right. You are in Italy now. "When in Rome do as the Romans".....and you will if you want to get anything done!
7. Looking at houses is interesting, whether it is online or in person. Should we live in a city, a small town or in the country side? Should we live closer to base or further away? Do we want a smaller Italian home with "character" (and all that entails :-) ) or a "new built" (with the perks that come along). House or apt.? Do they take pets (a deal breaker for us)? Most have little or no closets/storage. The kitchens may be non-existent or have no cabinets. Security has to be considered. Finding the right house will make a huge difference as to how satisfied we are while living and working in Italy.
8. The price of gas here is 1.67 a litre. Without quoting all the math that translate to about $8.00 a gallon. No, I didn't do the math wrong or mis quote anything. Italians and Europeans in general drive very small and energy efficient cars and have for years. They've been paying high gas prices for years. I think there's something we might can learn here, maybe?? If we try?
9. The countryside is just beautiful in this area. They grow olives, grapes and lots of vegetables in this area (Tuscany). I can't wait to see what happens in the months to come as everything begins to bloom!
10. Italian children are so very cute when eating out with their parents and generally have good manners. Steve and I are particularly smitten with little dark haired curly headed girls. We have good memories of two of our own!
11. Living in a hotel on base makes you familiar with: cereal on a frequent basis, convincing yourself that Ramen noodles really are what you wanted for lunch today, someone else to clean your room (yes sir), AFN commercials over and over and over again, Italian TV shows that you can't understand but can't quit watching because they are so fascinating, a tub full of hot water up to the brim if you
want it :-), someone walking in high heels very loudly down the hall way too early in the morning, free internet, convenience to most everything I need within a 10 minute walk. Life is good.
12. After one trip to Florence yesterday I think I can make a prediction that it is going to be one of my favorite cities to continue to return to and peel back the layers on. So much history there! So beautiful! There is still an operating farmacia (pharmacy) that is 500 years old! That is just amazing to me. It has been in that same spot for 500 years! They have prescriptions posted for famous people. I am going back and just walk around with my mouth hanging open I am sure lol The building and architecture itself is just amazing.
I will end with an even dozen observations today. My intentions are to publish some photos in my next entry since I know that I like to see pictures in blogs I read. So my to do list this week includes:
1. Study and pass my drivers test.
2. Continue to work with the Housing Office to go out and look at houses
3. Go sit on GEICO's front step when they open tomorrow a.m. and don't leave until we have the right to drive our car (that's been sitting outside for 3 weeks now)!
4. Take care of some business with some things back stateside, always interesting with the time difference and making the phone calls :-)
5. Maybe make a trip alone back to Florence on Thursday or Friday and explore on my own.
6. Keep going to the gym every day and the fitness classes they offer. Get in some good habits NOW!
7. Figure out the best method to begin learning Italian and establish a plan to spend a part of each day learning a little bit...seriously....really. Gotta do it :-)