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Quoting Pete Salts <[log in to unmask]>:

> However mine SU and I are headed to Italy this Sunday for 9
> days (the SU didn't want to be away from the munchkins for longer).
> Headed to Venice, Florence, Rome and a night in Paris on the way back.
> This is our first Italy trip - does anyone have any wisdom/info. they
> might like to share re: Italy?

Well I haven't been there since 1997, but back then I visited both Rome and Florence.  Here's my
subjective list of thoughts that occurr to me immediately.

(1) Bring a guidebook.  Don't necessarily live by it, but it's a good reference tool.  Also do research on
the web.  The more you know in advance, the more you will enjoy it.

(2) Get those wallets/pouches that hang around your neck and go under your shirt.  Keep your cc,
passport, large bills, and all else you don't want to lose there.  Small bills and change are ok for your
pockets, but don't put more than you'd be willing to lose.  I never was pick-pocketed myself, but I took
precautions.  Once on the subway, going to see the Pope, some old geezer caught the guy next to me
trying to pick someone else's pockets.

(3) When in Rome go to the Amex office right next to the base of the Spanish Steps (on the left as
you're facing the steps).  There you can pick up an _excellent_ free map of Rome.  At least you could
seven years ago...

(4) Don't wear shorts, because they won't let you into any of the churches.

(5) If you're going to visit the museums, consider buying an Art History book on Italian Renaissance art
and architecture to read beforehand and on the plane.  It'll help you orient yourself, and enjoy the
museums much more.

(6) Museums.  If you do go you MUST VISIT:

In Rome: The Vatican Museums - you should really check out: mv.vatican.va.  Click the link for "Vatican
Museums."  Some of the world's greatest and most famous works, esp. of the Renaissance, are here.
Including the Sistine Chapel.

In Florence: The Uffizi Gallery.  The greatest works not found in Rome are likely to be found here. The
Museo Nazionale del Bargello and Galleria dell'Accademia have other key works (eg: the former
Donatello's David and the latter Michelangelo's David)

(7) Churches: St. Peters Basilica, St. John Lateran (the REAL cathedral of Rome), San Lorenzo (Florence),
Santa Croce (Florence), The Florence Duomo (cathedral) & Baptistry, Santa Maria Novella

(8) Sights:

In Rome:

The Forum = the center of Ancient Rome.

The Pantheon = one of the most significant buildings of all-time.  The Jefferson Memorial, Monticello,
just about every single domed building in the Western World, are all indebted to this architectural
innovator.

Villa Borghese

(9) Get a map for each city, and then put it away and get lost in the city.  Walk off the beaten path, take
random streets.  Once you need to find yourself go ahead and pull out the map.  Walking is the best
way to get to know a city.

(10) DO NOT TRY TO DO TOO MUCH!!!!!!!!  I have learned this valuable lesson while hosting my parents
and others when I used to live abroad.  Pick one or two major things per day.  More than one museum
per day or in a row can be mentally exhausting.  Mix it up.  Take your time, relax, and enjoy yourself.
Eat lots (maybe small meals), stop at local cafes and bars.  You're only there for 9 days so you're going
to miss most of what is there to see.  Don't worry about it.

(11) Consider going to a soccer game when in Rome (Saturday or Sunday).  The two teams are AS Roma
and SS Lazio, AS Roma is one of the best in Europe.  There is no sports experience like it in the world.
Period.  You thought a Yankees-Red Sox game was exciting???

(12) Be humble, polite, warm, and friendly, and the people you encounter will be warm and friendly,
too.

(13) Be flexible.  Some things may not work out for one reason or another.  That's cool; have
alternatives.

(14) Tivoli is a beautiful old town outside of Rome.  There are two major sites there: the Roman
Emperor Hadrian's immense villa (Villa Adriana).  He invented the dome.  The other site is the Villa
d'Este which has some of the most amazing gardens and fountains you'll ever see.  One fountain is a
women with many breasts out of which water flows.  You should like that, Peter...

(15) Have fun! (Bastard)

El Scorpion

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