Archive | 11:51 am

Italy: A Travel Interview

4 Oct

With a week under our belt in Italy, I thought it would be a good time to interview my mom and sister about their impressions of the country. Here’s the transcript from a quick discussion on our balcony in the Amalfi Coast.

© 2014

If you had to describe Italy in one word, what would it be?

Mom: Gorgeous. Wait – let me rethink it – I forgot about Rome. Gorgeous is for the Amalfi Coast. For Rome – I’d say “masses of humanity.”

Alicia: My word for Rome would be “surprising.” Like the really old parts everywhere, then the park where you don’t expect there to be a park.

Mom: Right – like when you realize the old things you’re seeing are thousands of years old instead of hundreds of years old…

Alicia: And you can touch it all… in DC you can’t even touch the Capitol building – OK, maybe that’s different – but here you can just walk right up to everything, and it’s a lot older.


Selfie-stick, anyone?

Selfie-stick, anyone?

What are three things you will always associate with Italy?

Mom (answering immediately): Motorscooters (then pausing to think before continuing)… and I guess Indians selling selfie-sticks; oh – and the red sauce – the fact that everything here has red sauce on it. It’s good food but I get tired of it – everything has red sauce. I need a hamburger!

Alicia: Juniper trees – or whatever those really tall, thin trees were; free [water] fountains; and people saying buongiorno.

Mom (laughing, holding up a beer bottle): And Peroni beer!


Capri - the island that is "no big whoop..."

Capri – the island that is “no big whoop…”

What advice would you give someone thinking  about visiting Italy for the first time?

Mom: Be sure and come to the Amalfi Coast – your tour must include it! Also – the Island of Capri isn’t any different than the towns along the Coast, but getting to and from it was gorgeous.

Alicia: Coming this time of year. I can’t imagine doing this when it’s hotter and more crowded. I was surprised by how busy Rome still was for it being “off season.”


Us, Vesuvius and Pompeii. Boom.

Us, Vesuvius and Pompeii. Boom.

What have you found the most surprising about Italy?

Mom: The climate. I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. This is summer time. And the BLUE WATER of the Mediterranean blew me away.

Alicia: I guess it’s where we’ve been, but it’s been all about tourists. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to see the real Italy. The other surprise (for the same reason) is that people haven’t been as friendly as I thought – I’ve felt like an imposition a lot of the time.

Mom (whispering): Don’t touch the lemons!

Mom (not whispering any more): You just want to say, “Well, kiss my ass – we’re your payday.”

Alicia: People said they would appreciate it if you try to speak the language. But I’m not getting any points for trying.

Mom: Also – another thing that surprised me is how everything closes up in the middle of the afternoon for a few hours – all the stores and shops. Everything except the restaurants.

Mom: Pompeii was pretty amazing too. That made more of an impression on me than the stuff in Rome. It was a hassle – everything about getting there and leaving there – but it was worth it. Being there [in Pompeii] was pretty cool. Oh – and paying to go to the bathroom. That was a surprise. And the money and fuel they save from driving – they must use that on plastic bottles for their water. It seems like they’d just drink the water coming from the mountain.

Alicia: Another surprise has been how quickly I adjusted to the time. 


What is the most unique experience you’ve had on this trip so far? 

Mom: Going to a wedding! We didn’t even get them a gift. Geez… 

Mom (after a thoughtful pause):  But it was pretty cool, wasn’t it?

[More on this later. We crashed a wedding in Minori.]

Alicia (kind of screaming): Jumping off a boat into the Mediterranean where I couldn’t see the bottom.

Mom: Also the bus trip to Minori. It was unique AND scary. I thought I’d die. The drivers probably get paid for each trip they make so they’re just thinking, “more money, more money.”


Making lemonade out of lemons...

Making lemonade out of lemons…

What question haven’t I asked?

Mom (smiling and pointing at herself): Who’s been the best trouper?

Alicia: It’s true – you’ve been great! We should get you like a captain’s hat or something to wear that says “Trouper” on it.


And this concludes our interview. I’ll post more thoroughly about the ways in which my mother has been a trouper later. Here’s a hint: Today is the first day in more than a week that we’ve walked fewer than six miles in one day!