The Worst Italian Souvenir, Ever (What is it?)

Here’s an example of great design put to an unfortunate use. The item in the photo below was given to me by the folks at the Piedmont tourism board, and I do appreciate the thought (really!). But as far as souvenirs go, it’s everything a souvenir shouldn’t be: bulky, somewhat heavy, occupies a lot of…

Posted by on Sep 23, 2009 in Italian Culture | 9 Comments

The Sounds of Italy: Tapparelle

There are certain sounds I associate with Italy: cicadas, from my summer in Brisighella; church bells, because I miss them every time I leave; the cacophony of a market; and – believe it or not – the sound of tapparelle being raised or lowered. When I arrived in Italy for the very first time, the tapparelle or…

Posted by on Sep 16, 2009 in Italian Culture | 6 Comments

Surprising things about Italy

One of the best things about traveling to a foreign country is that it makes you stop and think about all your own assumptions. Things you’ve taken for granted, assumed were correct, or never really gave much thought to — until you were faced with a completely different or opposite approach. At first, these differences…

Posted by on Sep 9, 2009 in Italian Culture | No Comments

The 5 Best Things to Do in Italy, Regardless of your Itinerary

It doesn’t matter whether you’re visiting Rome, Florence, and Venice or whether you’re spending 2 weeks in the countryside; whether you’re going to Italy in the height of summer or the middle of January; or whether you’re museum-hopping or spending your entire visit hiking or on a bicycle. Use the recommendations below on any trip to…

Posted by on Aug 26, 2009 in I Recommend, Italian Culture | 5 Comments

Make Time for the Locals

One of the best ways to get to know Italy is to get to know Italians, so if your waiter or barista or hotelier strikes up a conversation, I highly recommend making time for them. They are most likely not chatting with you in the name of Good Customer Service or because they want something…

Navigating the Bureaucracy: How Can I Work Legally in Italy?

Living in Italy is very different from being a tourist in Italy, in large part because of Italian bureaucracy. I have worked legally in Italy in a couple different jobs: first as a tour guide, and then as an expat. This post is about how I navigated the bureaucracy in order to work legally in…

In Search of Piazza Duomo

I was based in Vancouver before relocating to Italy for the third time, when a good Italian friend came to visit. I asked her what she wanted to see in Vancouver, and she pointed at the downtown skyscrapers.  Where? I said, a little puzzled, looking towards the maze of tall office and apartment buildings that…

Posted by on Mar 16, 2009 in I Recommend, Italian Culture | No Comments

Parking for Women

I took this photo in a parking garage in Turin. The sign translates as: Parking Spot Reserved for Women I had a couple different reactions to this sign: on one hand, I was grateful, because the spot was wider than the others, and because it was closer to the door. On the other hand, is…

Posted by on Dec 23, 2008 in Italian Culture | 2 Comments