A Week In Malaga, Spain!

Get a load of your Miss Expatria.

A treasured member of the Gay Mafia, whom we shall call Mr. Apricot, has quite a story to tell about his life. I really can’t get into the details of it as it has brought him to where he is today, which is in a sensitive and highly placed administrative position in the Italian military. That’s pretty much all I can say about that.

So, why bring it up at all, you ask?

Well. We’ve been talking for a while about collaborating on an English-language book written, naturally, by me, about his life. I think it’s an important story to tell, and a fascinating one, I think it would be well-received.

Mr. Apricot is visiting Rome this week, and once again we talked about the project as well as a few other ones we want to collaborate on. He asked me how we would work on this project by long distance (he no longer lives in Rome), and I explained a possible plan off the top of my head.

He said, “Wait, I have an idea. I’m going to Malaga, Spain next month – why don’t I just buy you a plane ticket, and you come stay with me, and we’ll get it done all at once?”

YES PLEASE.

Don’t you love it when someone treats you to a week in Malaga, Spain? I know I do. I also know that it doesn’t happen NEARLY often enough. But, I’ll take it where I can get it.

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Update! New Old Stuff Found In The Garden!

Remember when I wrote about the cool stuff Leo and Vincenzo found in their garden?

Well, the other day I went over and let myself in the house with my guest key. Everything was open, so I knew they must be home, but I didn’t see anyone. I walked out to the garden and there they were, waist-deep in a hole they were digging, coming up with new things every time – or should I say, very, very old things.

This is what it looked like when they removed the rosemary bush, per my previous post:

By the time I had come over that day, they had revealed this:

From left to right: A stone wall; the base of a Roman column; and another large stone block that none of us could figure out what it was there for.

For a perspective, I had Leo stand next to the base:

They also found sampietrini, terracotta vase handles, bits of marble, and a whole bunch of other amazing stuff:

Vincenzo asked me, “How do you feel being a guest at your own private archaeological dig?”

“Like Indiana Jones,” I replied.

Offshore Banking

I’ve done a lot of work recently for a company that arranges for their clients to conduct their finances in offshore jurisdictions. I must be writing great copy, because I’m starting to believe my own hype: I want an offshore bank account. I WANT ONE SO BAD.

The hilarious thing about this is, I don’t make a lot of money. I don’t make a lot of money by normal checking account standards, let alone the kind of cash one would need to possess in order to logically conclude that an offshore bank account is a sound financial decision.

I’m not sure what about it attracts me so much. It could be the Jason Bourne fan in me; I have previously written about how jazzed I would be if I found a Swiss bank account number embedded in my shoulder that gave me access to a dozen passports and enough currency to say to a perfect stranger, “I’ll give you ten thousand dollars to drive me to Paris.”

I’d actually have to say this, since I don’t drive. But that’s a story for another time.

The self-absorbed, snobby brat in me would love to pull out a completely blank debit card and say, “Oh, this? It’s linked to my anonymous offshore bank account.”

The travel addict in me wants any excuse to make frequent visits Vanuatu, or Mauritius, or the Caymans, or any of the other dozens of offshore havens there are out there. “Sorry, I won’t be available next week. My bank manager in the Seychelles wants to have a word with me.”

A number of offshore tax havens cater specifically to those who have recently come into a lot of money, whether by inheritance or the lottery or whatever. As I’m cranking out page after page of SEO-heavy drivel, I’m fantasizing about calling up this same client one day and saying, “Hi, remember me? I need an offshore bank account – fast.”

The thing I love best, though, is a service that companies like my client offer – the Virtual Office.

For many offshore banking activities, a registered address in that offshore jurisdiction is necessary. Because these companies are establishing themselves as experts in offshore banking, they have offices in these offshore locations that clients can use as official addresses. Which, OK, that’s pretty cool. I imagine – again, with the Bourne thing – Julia Stiles sitting in a charming apartment with a mother of a back room hooked up to every conceivable network on the planet, waiting to collect my L.L. Bean catalogs and letters from my dad.

But they can also send and receive faxes for you; answer a dedicated phone number as if they’re your secretary and either take a message or forward the call to you while you’re on your yacht or whatever; and, should you find yourself needing to completely fake someone out and pretend that your offshore shelf company is in fact operating at that address, you can use their conference room and auxiliary staff.

Yes, please!

Of A Personal Nature

I am loathe to publish personal things on this blog, but I haven’t been writing as often as I’d like, and I’d like to explain why.  Also, I think it’s important to show that the jet-setting life of an expat is not always a glamour parade.  Sometimes, it sucks just as much as everyone else’s life!

Here is a summary of the last six weeks of my life:

– Cal had to commit his best friend into a psychiatric hospital following a devastating saga best told over many, many drinks, but involved a Romanian violin player, Mary Magdelene, and the State Department. Then we both had to stand by impotently as this friend’s parents and doctors sabotaged her treatment and finally released her back into a world she clearly is not ready for. We can only pray she is getting the care she needs where she currently is, which we cannot disclose. The good news: We are able to get back to our regularly scheduled lives.

– I went to the gynie finally, and got a prescription for some homeopathic granule things that will hopefully make me stop with the four-month cycles followed by two weeks of hemorrhaging. I started taking them – it’s a very strict system of 5, 8, 14 days – and noticed after the first dose that the bottle expired LAST YEAR.  Went back and got new granules and have to start the process all over again.  The good news: I’m not dying of anything ovarian-related.  Also, the meds cost under 2 Euro.

– My mother had an alarming-sounding high blood pressure-related attack thing and had to go to the hospital, and when she got scanned they told her she had a brain tumor.  She had to go for like one million tests, and still has more tests.  The good news: She didn’t have a stroke, and the tumor is non-cancerous, has calcified and is totally not affecting her in any way.

– We paid our exorbitant electric bill. They took out double the amount, which with the completely crappy exchange rate almost wiped us out. No one is able to tell us why, or reverse it, or help us get onto a normal rate. The good news: We are paid up through the summer. Also, friends of ours found a non-government-run electric company and will help us get set up with an account there.

– Cal washed his card in a hot washing load and melted it. It looks like an overcooked piece of lasagna. The good news: Carrying it around with us and showing it has had a Jedi mind trick effect, and everyone has been really cool about waiting until we get the new card.

– He had another card sent out express, but UPS doesn’t deliver on Saturdays in the South of France, even though the package was marked OMG SUPER EXPRESS URGENT. Also, the card landed at Lyon, was in Paris for a while, and finally made it to our door yesterday. It took almost one week. The good news: We have the card!

– My bank card expired and I had not received a new one. I had an older one that expires next month, and they reactivated that and said they would send out a new-new one in two weeks. A few days later I called my bank to check my balance, only to find they had closed the account when I canceled the old card. Although this was not my request AT ALL, no one is able to do anything about it unless I personally stop into my bank branch, from which I am 4,000 miles away.  Yes, they know I’m in Europe.  No, there are no exceptions. No, I cannot open a new account with them.  Bye, bank account I’ve had for six years! The good news: Cal immediately called and got me on his account, and they’re sending out a new card with my own name on it.

– If I did not have three American friends who have planned for this for eight months, and are unreachable until I pick them up at the train station – in Rome – this weekend, I would have canceled my trip there.  Last year, two of them came in the middle of my work-related lawsuit and I was so broke I couldn’t pay attention.  This year, I’m arriving on the heels of the above-mentioned shit storms and will have to rely on Western Union payments from Cal when money comes in. The good news: I’ll be in Rome this weekend!

My mother has always told me that God gives you only what you can handle.

Dear God:

I get it.  You think I am strong and fierce.  I got the point. Please to stop now?

Love,

Miss Expatria 

Hangovers Around the World

In honor of my hungover friends today. Enjoy!

“Holy…where am I?”

If you’ve ever woken up and said that, most likely your next thought is the realization that you’ve got a hangover.

Now, usually the best way to cure a hangover is to avoid it – drink lots of water before, during and after your party time – but you don’t want to hear that right now, do you? Your liver just declared a jihad against you, and something crawled into your mouth and died there. You need relief.

The key is: GREASE. But it must be said that I have a different hangover cure depending on where I wake up – and by that I mean what country. When I’ve woken up and said, “Holy…where am I?” the answer is usually given to me in a language other than my own.

To avoid further confusing your gin-soaked minds, I’m going to give you my cures in pictures – these are my own, except for New York and Barcelona; the cheery location pictures were taken the day before while strolling around, and the food pictures taken the following morning in a haze of alcohol withdrawal and loathing.

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PARIS = CROQUE MADAME; NUTELLA CREPES.

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ROME = POLENTA, HOT PEPPERS.

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LONDON = BACON SARNIES; SCONES.

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NEW YORK = BACON EGG AND CHEE.
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VENICE = CICCHETTI; HAIR OF THE DOG.

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BARCELONA = PIG SANDWICH; HAIR OF THE DOG.

Feel free to print this out for your next vacation; then you can just hold your head and point to the picture, and a waiter will bring you what your body needs to get back on track and catch that flight back home.

Florence, Italy: A Kindred Soul Tells All

In which an honorary member of the Gay Mafia (West Coast, represent) reveals what I am unable to about Florence, a city he adores and I really just can’t seem to get into. However, after reading this I might have to give it another try!

When I was doing my research for places to stay in Florence, I came across two websites run by the same people: Sleeping in Florence and Florence Apartment Rentals. We rented the Medici Apartment on via della Pergola. Their prices were really good, my questions were answered promptly and the friendly service was fantastic. The property manager’s name is Gabriella and she never let us down, including helping us find a dentist when one of our group needed one. Later, I discovered that the Frommer’s Guide also mentions her specifically.

In Florence, there is a huge flea market that is not to be missed. Seriously, it’s worth building a trip around it. The Mercato delle Pulci on Piazza dei Ciompi, has all sorts of great stuff. Books, jewelry, cameras, art, antiques, furniture, wood and metal artifacts, everything you could imagine all sprawled out over several streets.

A nice half-day trip is to take the bus to Fiesole, in the hills north of the city. You can take bus #7 and it’s only 1 Euro each way. The views over the valley are stunning, the town is quiet and cool, and there’s a great museum with an ancient Roman amphitheater. We bought some meat and cheese at the Coop grocery store in town and had a nice picnic in the piazza.

For gelato, we loved Corona’s Café, between the Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Republica (via dei Calzaiuoli). [Ed.: Google maps spells the name of this street without the u, which is incorrect.] It’s easy to get to, and while we ate a lot of gelato in a lot of different cafes, this is the one we kept coming back to. They also have great espresso and cappuccino. I tried gelato at Vivoli, which you read about in all the guidebooks; it was good, but I thought it was really overpriced.

When you’re out shopping at the San Lorenzo Market (I keep dreaming about that place!), go into the Mercato Centrale food market and try Pork’s Café. The food was inexpensive, simple, fresh and really good. You eat at long tables seated with other diners and the family running it is really friendly. We had some great house wine there, too, and we bought a bottle to bring home. And the last time we went, we got a wink from mamma!

I also highly recommend checking out the grocery stores. They’ve got lots of cool stuff, usually for pretty good prices. You can pick up things for a snack or picnic, buy water cheaper than almost anywhere else, and you can find some pretty cool presents for people at home (jams, sauces, packages of pasta, dried soups, etc.). It’s also a little adventure to try and figure out what everything is. Be sure either to bring your own bag for your purchases, or you’ll need to buy a bag from the checker.

We had dinner a couple of times at Le Giubbe Rosse on the south side of Piazza della Repubblica. The food was reasonably priced and tasted pretty good. Huge pizzas and great wine. We bought some to bring home. We also had great cappuccino at a little cafe called “Paolo e Francesca” on one of the little streets near Piazza della Signoria, but I neglected to write down the address. Our last night in town we ate a pizza place called Yellow Bar on via del Proconsolo and while it looked a little American, the pizzas were enormous and wonderful.

One of the most interesting places we found by accident. We came around a corner and there was a big crowd of Italians ordering sandwiches from the tiny doorway of a building. We learned early on if there was a line of Italians waiting for something, it was worth it, and your best bet is to get in line and find out what everyone is waiting for. The entire shop was about the size of a closet, seriously; you shouted your order to one guy and picked up your food from the other. Most people had a glass of wine as well, and there was a little rack on the wall of the building where you put your glasses while you were eating. I had an awesome pork sandwich and some red wine. The place is called i Fratellini and it’s located on via dei Cimatori, very near the Piazza del Duomo.

In the evenings, there was always a gypsy band playing in Piazza della Republica, and some of our best memories are of those nights. Lots of people out walking with a gelato, some dancing in the piazza. Just a lovely place for live music.

Florence is a walking city, so you rarely need to use public transportation. We only rented a taxi once, and that was because we weren’t sure how to find the apartment. The buses are on time and really cheap, and we probably could have used them more but it was more fun to walk all over the place. Bring some good shoes.

Our favorite museum was the Bargello; we practically had the place to ourselves. There were hundreds of marble and bronze sculptures and it turned out to be a highlight of the trip. So many things to see – and no crowds!

I’m sure I’m leaving a bunch of stuff out, but we saw lots and lots of beautiful things. It surpassed my expectations.

Fun With Blog Stats

I love looking at my blog stats. Not for the number of hits I get; whatever, they come and go, I’ll keep writing anyway – but for the hilarious peek into the minds of people who use search engines.

I’ve posted about this before, I know – but today’s are plain wacky and just too good to pass up. People who searched for the following things came upon my blog:

GIRL PRICE FOR ONE NIGHT IN Istanbul

This no doubt brought a desperate man to Jason’s story – and he was no doubt disappointed in the distinct lack of both girls and their relative value.

i hate frances mayes
Honey! That’s such strong language. Oh wait, I hate her too.

how do you say poo head in italian
You know, with all the other stupid stuff I translated, I forgot poo head! I’ve actually never said that in Italian. Let’s see, it’d probably be “testa di merda” although that’s a bit stronger. I’ll have to check with the Gay Mafia and get back to you.

both shrug chilly and chilly shrug
I have no idea what this means. It sounds like a tiny rap star. I just Googled this myself, and I’m not even in the first 15 pages of results. Which means that someone not only had to work diligently to get to my page from this search, but did it twice.

Dagney Taggart where are you?
OMG so sad and wistful! She doesn’t really exist, though.

What to do in Paris on Mondays?
Lots of things – Ill let you know on Tuesday when I come back from my weekend with the famous MK!

Discount Airlines in Europe

Does everyone know about wikitravel?

I’m sure everyone does, but I feel like it’s my own little secret. It’s basically wikipedia, but for traveling. I really love it and find it immensely useful, but the thing I don’t love is that there is not a specific section describing the gay community in its city descriptions. (Someone has to look out for my gay mafia. They didn’t elect me doyenne and head muse for nothing.)

Anyway, they have travel topics as well as guides, and an excellent example of the former is called Discount Airlines in Europe. There are just SO MANY WAYS to get around Europe these days, and this page is a huge help in sorting all of your options.

Sometimes it can be impossible to divine which airline can serve you, and you don’t want to miss out on a spectacular flight deal (as in, FREE – you just pay the taxes) (yes, really) just because you didn’t know a certain airline flies to your desired location.

I have a secret for this. Ready?

For whichever city I am interested in, I go to that city’s airport’s website. (If it’s in a different language that you can’t figure out at all, pop the page into a translator.) Smaller airports can actually have the day’s flight schedule on their sites, and you can see which airlines use the airport – or even find the exact flight you’re looking for! Large airports usually have a page on their website that simply list all the airlines they host, with links to their pages.

When you’re looking for flights, start checking on RETURN flights first – on almost all of the discount airlines’ websites, when you type in your departure city, the drop down menu changes to show ONLY the cities that you can get to from there. Seeing a list of exactly how you can get to your destination might reveal an alternate city you hadn’t thought of before.

Hypothetical example #1: Let’s say I wanted a getaway weekend, but I had no idea where I wanted to go. The first thing I’d do is go to my local airport’s web page and check out where I can get to. Once I saw a flight I liked, I’d go to that airline’s website to book it.

Hypothetical example #2: Let’s say I wanted to go to Venice. (I always want to go to Venice, but let’s say I actually was planning a trip.) I’d go to Venice’s airport’s website and see what flights are on schedule there, and check if any of the cities are near me.

Hypothetical example #3: I could also go to a discount airline’s website and find their route map, then slide my mouse over Venice and see what cities are connected to it.

Phew. I hope that was not too confusing!

Where to Eat in Venice

Venice is my favorite place on earth. However, there are very limited food options around the places where you’re most likely to want to eat. The best thing by FAR is to go cicchetti hopping – cicchetti is Venice’s version of the Spanish tapas, and you will find the most amazing places here (if you listen to me!). Invest in a really detailed map that has all the street names. About 24 percent of them will be wrong, and I promise you, you will get lost; but it is the best time you will ever have.

— As for other actual meals in Venice, the Campo Santa Margherita area is a solid bet, or up near Ca’ D’Oro.

–Take the Grand Canal boat ride on the public boat – both at night and in the daytime – so so so worth it and not as terrifying, expensive or cheesy as the gondolas.

Harry’s Bar at Hotel Cipriani – If you are a Hemingway fan, you have to go there and have an overpriced Bellini – they were invented here and worth every centesimo. It’s on the water right between the S. Marco and S. Zaccharia stops on the ACTV boat. Sit or stand at the bar, don’t go to the tables. The tables are lame.

Vino Vino – San Marco 2007/A (between Teatro La Fenice and via XXII Marzo) 041 2417688 This place is an awesome, cheap wine bar and “tavola calda” (literally, hot table) with yummy prepared foods. Just pick your wine, point to what you want and they heat it up and bring it to you. Also, they are open continuously – so it’s a good place to go and snack if you are hungry at a weird time.

If you ask really nicely, they will also sell you a bottle of wine, open it for you, and give you two plastic cups to go. (Not that I have ever done that.)

Alla Vedova – Cannaregio, 3912-3952 at Ca’ D’Oro 041 5285324 This place is at the end of a tiny steet facing you as you walk down it. Such amazing tiny little yummy foods, tons of seafood, and they also have actual meals. Get there close to 6ish if you want to see a bunch of old men have their cocktails, or later for a more stylish crowd.

(Note: I know that link above is to Fodor’s, which automatically turns off many of Miss Expatria’s gentle readers. But I’ve noticed form my own experience that in general, people don’t really stray too far from Piazza San Marco, for whatever reason. Start walking away from that area and all of a sudden you’ll feel the difference; it’s bizarre. I ate at Alla Vedova with my friend Ben, and the place was packed – but the only non-Venetian voices I heard were ours and 2 tiny Japanese girls who were literally trembling with foodie excitement.)

–OK, this is an awesome place for early afternoon, like if you are going to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Now bear with me on this because in the traditional Venice style, I don’t know the name of it but I can tell you how to get there.

Cross the Accademia bridge (awesome bridge, wooden; on your way over, stop halfway, turn left, gasp, take a picture) and go to the RIGHT of the Accademia museum. Follow that street down to the end (it curves to the right and should become Calle de Nani). At this point, you should hit a canal. Make a left and that should be Fondamenta Nani. Stay on the near side of the canal and follow it down towards more open water in front of you. At some point on the other side of the canal you should see a single-family, wooden, dark brown home with a second story porch, with boats in the yard, it’s a boat builder’s house. If you can distract yourself from the utter beauty and Italian-ness of this guy and his house, next to you on your left should be a wine shop. The wines are on the left, the bar is on the right, with the food is behind glass in the front part of the bar.

This picture should be what you see as you’re walking down Fondamenta Nani – the boathouse would be out of frame on the right of this picture, and judging from this photo, the place I am talking about is about 100 yards behind you.

There are two kinds of things to eat here: Cicchetti at 1 Euro a piece, and hand-cut meat sandwiches on fresh bread. The old lady makes everything, the old man tends bar and their devastatingly handsome son is the sommelier – if you want to buy Italian wine this is the place to do it, he speaks lovely English and is very helpful and SO HANDSOME.

Anyway, I know these directions are sketchy but I assure you it is so worth the trip. This is one of my top five food experiences in all of Europe. When you find it, can you PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IT IS CALLED or get a business card or something???

Check back for the next post, when Miss Expatria teaches you how to sound like a native when attempting to speak Italian!

Where to Eat in Rome

As promised, here are some of my closely guarded secrets to dove si mangia bene – where one eats well in Rome.

Definitely have a drink on the roof of Hotel Mediterraneo, via Cavour, 15 right near Termini, anytime of day or night. Because nothing in Rome is very tall, this hotel happens to be the tallest structure in Rome and has awesome views. Italo, the waiter at night, is a sweetheart. OH MY GOD. THEY MADE IT A RESTAURANT. WTF? YOU HAVE A TERRACE WITH THE BEST VIEWS OF ROME, AND YOU CAN’T HAVE A DRINK THERE? YOU RESERVE IT FOR PEOPLE TO EAT (OVERPRICED, PROBABLY CRAPPY) FOOD THERE STARTING AT 8PM?  ARE YOU INSANE?? Off to find another place that won’t be as good as this one. Harumph.

Piccolo Abruzzo, via Sicilia off piazza Fiume near Villa Borghese, v.Sicilia 237, 06/42820176 – this place has no menu, so don’t ask for one – they keep bringing you food and then when that’s done they bring you liqueurs off the shelves and a jar of biscotti. Alessandro the host and waiter is awesome and so generous. Only go here if you can marathon eat a ton of awesome food for not a lot of money.

Cantina Cantarini (But the sign outside says “Marche” or something) P.zza Sallustio, 12, 06.48.55.28 great place with outdoor seating. This is a good place to go to lunch before or after going to Villa Borghese. Only eat here on Thursday through Saturday, when they have their all-seafood menu. You must make a reservation. Order the fried calamari/shrimp plate to start and the mixed fried fish (“fritto misto”) for second – it’s lightly lightly fried and oh so good . SO AWESOME. Also order the house white wine with your meal, it begins with a “k” and is yummy, I can’t remember the name. And make the men sit on the outside seats to the aisle because the host will try to feel up the ladies if they sit on the outside.

–If you are near the Colosseum, find via dei Serpenti (runs perpendicular to via Cavour). There is a gelato shop directly behind the 117 bus stop that is awesome. Right behind via Cavour on via Leonina is an amazing and cheap and authentic pizza shop to eat stuff to go – Pizza Leonina, it’s called (not the place on the corner called “WANTED”) – the pizza comes in slabs and you tell them how much you want and you pay by weight. The pizza with roasted potatoes and rosemary is awesome.

–Up the street from Pizza Leonina is a sandwich shop called Polvere delle Stelle. You point to whatever you want behind the glass and the lady makes a sandwich for you, deli-style. The roast pork sandwiches are to die for, but my favorite is the zucchini frittata with hot sausage on a roll.

— On the other side of via dei Serpenti, via Leonina turns into via Madonna di Monti, you want to follow this street until you get to a place called Taverna Romana, across from a tiny food store and they have 2 large potted plants outside. Order the antipasto plate, cacio e pepe (butter, cheese and black pepper) or spaghetti carbonara, and the meatballs. The meatballs are to die for but every single thing is amazing on this menu, I have eaten it all. The old couple that owns it are gruff but use a tiny bit of italian and they will warm up a bit. Tell them the girl who orders cacio e pepe and the meatballs (“polpetti”) says hi to the old man and he will be thrilled.

–There is a chain of restaurants you will see called Pastarito/Pizzarito. They specialize in fresh pastas and you can mix and match the exact stuff you want. It’s a bit franchise-y but the pasta is cheap, served in family style bowls, is not bad, and if you go with a group it’s great becaues you can try all kinds of different stuff. Do not order the pizza here. It sucks.

–If you are jetlagged and can’t sleep and are starving, La Base on via Cavour is open til like 4am. Not that I have ever been up that late of course, but I’ve heard.

Where to Eat in Italy – Miss Expatria Reveals (Almost) All

Roughly twice a year, my mother asks me to forward an email I wrote containing highly guarded information to someone we know who is going to Rome or Venice and wants to know where to eat.

Tomorrow is Rome. The next day will be Venice. Florence I don’t love, and I’ve only been to a horrible dinner there and a really good chi-chi ridiculously expensive dinner I didn’t pay for, so I really can’t recommend anything in that city.

Today, however, we will talk about some general tips for the eater:

In general in Italy, there is a kind of eating schedule, which you should follow if you want to eat well. For breakfast, grab a pastry and a coffee standing up at a bar in the morning; lunch is between 1PM and 3PM; and DO NOT GO TO DINNER BEFORE 8PM. Seriously. You will have better food and better service if you go later, I beg you. And take your time eating, because the staff will sure as hell take their time waiting on you. You do not have to leave until you want to, and you MUST ask for the check because they will not give it to you. Also, do not get frustrated if the first three things you order are not available – Italians believe in serving what’s fresh and it is a good sign if the place has run out of a lot of stuff.

Your body might be a little whacked from jet lag, but you really shouldn’t deviate from this schedule if you can help it. If you’re hungry at odd times, have a gelato or something.

You should try spaghetti carbonara once while you are in Rome, preferably at Taverna Romana (see tomorrow’s post). Do not have it anywhere else in the world, or even in Italy, because they make it wrong.

If you are going to the Vatican and the Vatican museums in Rome, DO NOT PLAN ANYTHING ELSE FOR THE REST OF THE DAY but eating, drinking and sleeping. It’s overwhelming. Go to a bakery in late morning, get white pizza and carb up. Get there around noon (when all the lame tour groups leave and go to lunch), spend all afternoon in there, go get more pizza by the slice and take a nap, then eat a huge dinner. (Not that I have done that or anything.)

A note about water fountains: there are running spigots all over Rome, on corners, at curbs, and in piazzas. You can drink out of any of them. If you want to drink out of it and not fill up a water bottle, here is the trick to looking cool and not getting soaking wet: stick your finger in the spigot hole. it will force the water to come shooting up through another, tinier hole halfway up the pipe, and it acts exactly as a water fountain.

A note about being a germ freak about the water fountains: don’t be. Dogs drink from them, old ladies fill up pots from them, and people stick their heads under them on particularly hot days. It’s still fresh spring water. If you’re a germaphobe, just don’t use them – but don’t be that tourist who tsks when someone lets Fido get his drink on.

OK, enough for today. Check back in tomorrow, when we discuss ROMA!