Some Inspiration from Italy

I’ve been here for a few years now. Daily life seems to take all my energy and I don’t notice all the amazing sights and beauty that surrounds us all in the Veneto Region of Italy. Soon, I will have visitors from the states. I am getting excited all over again about living in Italy. I get to show off what I know of the area and the chance to do some more exploring!

Tom, from The Palladian Traveler, stopped by and left a comment on my blog recently. So I cruised on over to his blog to see what was there. It was a great place for me to find the inspiration I have lacked! He has taken some beautiful photographs of different areas of Italy. Not only that, he has some great reviews of the local food and wines! It is a great blog to visit for anyone who lives in Italy or just wants to dream of living here.

Since I am in the area near Vicenza, I decided I had to share The Palladian Traveler’s video of Basilica Palladiana.Here it is!

If you want to see some seriously wonderful photographs of Italy, read a bit about Italian wine, or even learn how to make a spritz; go over and say “Hello!” to The Palladian Traveler!

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A Video About Vicenza, Italy

A video blogger that has some great travel information has done a video about 5 Things You Will Hate and 5 Things You Will Love about Vicenza. This video is directed toward all the military personnel who will PCS to Vicenza, so I thought it fitting to share it here. At times it drags a bit, but it gives you one man’s opinion about what is good and not so good about living in Vicenza. If you get nothing else from it, you will get a glimpse of beautiful downtown Vicenza.

Here it is!

Wolter’s World has a number of good videos on different cities, countries and even languages. If you have questions about a certain place, Mark (the guy in the video) probably can help you out. Visit his website to see more or look him up on YouTube.


Things Not to Do in Italy…

Occasionally, I read a blog post that is just too good not to share. When I read this post on the Fodor’s travel blog, it struck a chord with me. We hear a lot about how to act when in Italy, but sometimes it is good to hear what we should avoid doing!

My two favorite tips is “Don’t wear a tube top to Vatican City.” and “Don’t expect things to happen on time.”  They are all good, though. Visit the blog to read the article.

Ten Things NOT to Do in Italy from the Fodor’s Travel Blog!

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A Letter for Military Spouses Moving to Vicenza, Italy.

I was playing researching on Facebook the other day and came across a post from Laura. Laura is an incredibly helpful participant in several of the Vicenza groups. She always is willing to share what she knows with others in a positive way. She is a pro at visiting Venice and loves to share it with everyone.

She shared a link stating that this is what she would tell everyone over a cappuccino. Normally, I would not have clicked on an outside link, but I was just curious enough to do so. I was happy I did. Laura summarizes many of my thoughts about living in Vicenza, but she does so in a much more eloquent way!

Please click on the link to her blog: Scarred but Victorious and then read her letter!

***Link has been updated, Thanks for letting me know it was not working Amanda!***


Tipping in Italy, Am I Cheap if I Don’t Tip?

tipping in Italy

I have been in Italy for almost two years now, but I still am not completely sure how to handle tipping here. Tipping in Italy is different from in the United States, for sure. My husband always tips, whether I agree with him or not. To be honest, the service providers always seem thrilled to get a tip, however the locals who frequent the business are not always happy with the precedent that American’s tipping establishes. So, I headed out to the blogosphere to see what the general consensus was.

You Don’t Need To Tip…Ever

In the “No Need to Tip” camp, I found Sara, from Ms. Adventures in Italy. She says, “you don’t need to tip in Italy.” Another blogger  that echos this sentiment is Francesca, from Burnt by the Tuscan Sun. She goes as far as saying, “You have my permission NOT TO TIP.” (The bolding and capitalization is hers! ) Waiters in Italy make a better wage than they do in the United States. Not only that, but many restaurants add a ten to twenty percent service charge into the bill, so you are already paying a tip as part of the bill.

Only Tip if the Service Was Excellent

My hero (and travel guru) Rick Steves weighs in on this topic by saying, “In Italy, you only tip if you really like the place, the food and the service; if the waiter was very helpful for example.”  Another heavyweight travel website, TripAdvisor gives this advice, “Normally, just round up the bill, a few Euro.  If you were given an outstanding service, a good tip — 10 euro in cash — will make the staff happy, but you are not “compelled” to do so.”

Final Thoughts on Tipping in Italy

I think we, as Americans, should respect Italian customs on tipping. Tip for excellent service and food, don’t just tip because you are accustomed to doing so. Some Italians resent that tipping may become an expectation for all, not just Americans. Katie Parla at Parla Food weighs in on this topic by saying, “The small number of Italians I know who do tip leave a euro or two per person, regardless of how much the bill is. Please do not tip as you would in the US or other service based places. Servers in Italy are paid a living wage and though they do expect tips from Americans, they shouldn’t! Leaving a big tip perpetuates the expectation and double-standard placed on tourists and sets a very bad precedence.”

By all means, give your server or the restaurant owner a few euro as a tip if your service is wonderful. Just don’t tip because you feel guilty. Remember that waiters in Italy make a decent wage and are often compensated with a tip included in the check.


New English Website for the Vicenza Area

Many times I have looked at Italian websites for local events, I try and translate the contents. Although I can usually get the general idea, I can’t always understand the finer points of what is being said. I just discovered a great new website for the American and English speaking community in Vicenza, Italy. The website Living in Vicenza has great information and it is in English!

What is on the Living in Vicenza website?

The Living in Vicenza website is pretty easy to navigate. Events, businesses and attractions are sorted into tabs across the top in  categories such as “nightlife“, “art and culture” and “eat and drink“. You can search by category or you can click on a calendar date and see area events on that day. Local businesses advertise and run specials, which makes it easy to learn where to find the shops and services you need and want.

Click on a listing, the information pops up, along with a map to the event from Caserma Ederle. This is a great feature, because it provides a point of reference. It also gives the attraction hours and cost of admission.

The one negative that I have found on this site is that it is fairly new and is still in development. There is not as many listings or events as their could be. I do think Living in Vicenza is worth visiting. If we don’t support this site, it will disappear. It has great potential and if it continues to grow it will provide a lot of great information for the American community in Vicenza.


Mentally Preparing For Your Move to Italy

Photo by David Castillo Dominici

I get a lot of emails from people moving to Italy. Some emails are asking for information, others just say thanks for the information. The emails that really bother me are the ones from people, usually women with children, that are nervous or scared to move here.

Some fears are small…How will I ever learn to drive in Italy? Will I ever learn to speak Italian?

Some fears are huge…Why would I want to leave the safety of the U.S. for a country with gypsies who want to steal from me or possibly hurt my kids?!?

Here are some tips to ease your nerves as you prepare for your move!

Know things won’t go exactly as planned with your move.

You’ve carefully planned your move. You send your possessions off in a moving van to sail the Atlantic Ocean. You have the plane tickets, passports, visas and the huge portfolio of papers you must carry with you in your travels. You’ve used the worksheets on the Plan My Move website. You have done all you can do.

Know that your move is now out of your hands. Accept it. Say it out loud, “I have done my best to plan for this move. It’s out of my hands.” Even if you haven’t done much planning, the move is still out of your hands. It will be okay.

The movers will not pack things well and something will be broken when it arrives. Your car will take weeks longer to arrive than it says on the paperwork. Heck, I’ve known at least one person whose stuff did not even get shipped, it got stored in the U.S. instead. The U.S. military is a huge bureaucracy. Just know that the number of contractors, civilians and military personnel handling your move is vast. Someone will likely screw up. Again, it will be okay!

Roll with it. When things happen that you have relatively no control over, just change your attitude. I hate to use that horrible cliché that so many mom’s use, but I’m going to anyway. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! You are moving to a country that most American’s only get to dream of visiting.

Prepare for culture shock.

When I arrived in Italy, I thought I had prepared myself for immersion in a different culture. I knew things would be different, but until you are here you can’t know how you will react. Everything is different from the obvious things, like language, to the invisible things, like the pace of life. The first time I went to the grocery store and saw the eggs sitting on a shelf (no refrigeration) and the chickens at the meat counter being sold with their head still on, I was ready to grab a flight back to the states.

Know that those feelings of tiredness, overwhelm and homesickness may get worse before they get better. Things are a bit novel at first, so it doesn’t seem so bad. After some time, you get really tired of dealing with all the differences. When you feel that way, try not to hide in your house or hotel room. Find others who are going through or have been through the same thing. Connecting with someone else will help you get through the rough patches of your adjustment.

Participate in the free programs the Army offers, like Benveunti or Italian as a Second Language. Hook up with some people you meet on Facebook Groups. Talk to your neighbors at the hotel. Just don’t suffer alone. We have all been there and understand how you are feeling.

Consider personal safety, but don’t obsess about it.

I have always felt safe in Italy. I live in a smaller town outside of Vicenza. I chose to do this, so I don’t have to deal with the same issues as someone living in downtown Vicenza. If you are used to living in a larger town or city, being careful is something you likely already do. Yes, there are gypsies in Italy. In the United States, we have street gangs that shoot each other over a dirty look or for pair of shoes. Crime is everywhere in the world.

Everywhere in the world there are good people and not-so-good people. If someone decides to steal something or abuse another human being, they will do it. Sometimes being American makes one more of a target for these type of people. That is where being careful comes into play. We all know to lock doors, keep valuable electronics and jewelry out of sight and be aware of our surroundings. Do this in Italy and you will be okay.

Still not convinced? I went on the internet and got some crime statistics from NationMaster.com. This is a reputable site that compiles data from the CIA Factbook, the UN and other international organizations.  You are 111% more likely to be a crime victim in the United States than in Italy. (Yes I know statistics can be manipulated, but I am trying to make a point.) Remember, people refuse to visit the United States because of the crime there, too!

Use the safety rules you already know. Get a big dog and an alarm system if you are nervous about crime. Then try to relax. Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings and you will be fine.

Keep your attitude positive. Roll with the changes. Don’t get angry at things you can’t control. Make new friends.  

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?!?