After a great railway tour of Italy, Neil and I have finally begun to download the pictures and look at all the footage we took
while traveling with our buddies through this iconic country. Italy was fabulous and lived up to its reputations for fine wines, al dente pasta, and pizza by the 100 kilograms. After 14 days exploring some of the biggest sites, we’ve come up with this list of things you need to know when traveling to Italy during summer.
Showering Three Times a Day
It’s summer and some people will say, of course it’s hot. But be prepared to sweat and crisp under that famed Tuscan sun. Be prepared to bake and thirst from 9am to sunset. If you don’t pack extra clothes for these extra showers, you may run into the situation where you are showering off the day’s sweat but putting on the same clothes. Bring all powders and creams that all of this sweating and showering will necessitate.
Roma Tomatoes are Best in Rome
In New York, I could buy cherry, grape or roma tomatoes practically year round. But there is no tomato like the roma tomato in the Roman heat. They are naturally ripe with deep red flesh inside a skin that actually snaps when you bite into it. On many days, I didn’t want anything but a basket of tomatoes and some cheese, especially along the Grand Canal in Venice.
Lines Start Before Doors Open
It seems like half the world is in Italy during the summer. From Venice to Florence to Rome, savvy travelers know that no reservations mean an early wake up. When we planned to see the Ufizzi and the Duomo in Florence, we got up early and ate breakfast along the way. Even 45 minutes before opening, the lines were already gathering outside the buildings. But if you can manage to hop on before the numbers topple 100, you’ll get in before the summer heat crawls into the portico.
Concerts in the Streets
Many people can’t stand summer travel. There are too many people and prices are inflated. But one benefit to summer travel includes the musical and cultural events hosted in each city during the holiday months. The night before a wine tour with Tuscany Ride a Bike, we stumbled upon a street concert in the little town of Lucca. To our amazement, Supertramp was playing on stage. During the final song of the night, the guards opened the barricades and the four of us got to listen to classic tunes under the Tuscan moon.
My theory: Even ancient Romans knew that too much sun was no good for the people. Dehydration killed peasants and dead peasants couldn’t harvest. So they built water fountains, providing free and unlimited water to the masses. Fast forward through the millennia and now tourists reap the same advantages as those ancient Italians who couldn’t afford a private water supply. In Pompei where the sun seems to sit on your shoulder, water pumps saved us from dehydration. In St. Peter’s Square, I saw one boy fill his baseball cap with water and dump the whole thing over his head. But my favorite fountain was in Florence in the Piazza Signoria where the two spouts gush ice cold refreshment, one as regular water and the second… as carbonated soda water! My friends and Neil could not stop me from drinking from this spring almost every day.