Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Mosquito Post

Everyone experiences mosquitos in Italy. They’re actually worse than the tour groups. Resign yourself now to the fact that while you’ll eat very well, you’ll give back via those vile little bloodsuckers. If it is any consolation, your blood will spawn the next wave that will plague the tourists that follow you, and some Italians too.

Why are they suck a problem? Well, for one thing, window and door screens are a rarity. And it’s hot. So you have some choices to make. Open windows with the chance of some air and the certainty of mosquitos--or a bedroom sauna.

That said, there are some things you can do to help yourself. Italian supermarkets sell little devices you can plug into the wall. They take little tabs that are good for most of the night and seem to help a lot. Get one and a box of refills. I have not been able to find the new Off! Clip-On refills in Italy.

It seems the mosquitos know where all the best restauranti and gelaterie are, so you’re going to get bit. I’ve found that Off! AfterBite works well, as does their Italian product, Dopopuntura. The American product is basically ammonia, which also works well if you’re in a pinch. The Italian product is more of a gel that has other active ingredients. If you’re like me, with that sangue-dolce, then bring some of the American product and get some of the Italian while you’re here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Tomato Connection

I love Tuscany by train. For one thing—and this makes no sense—I find myself listening to Little Feat when I’m on the train. Little Feat. The beautiful Italian countryside with vineyards and olive orchards and walled cities. Does it really surprise me that there’s a Ben & Jerry’s within the shadow of the Duomo in Florence?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Coca-Cola in Italy

Coca-Cola is my guilty pleasure. But I’ve noticed several places charging upwards of €3 for a 500ml bottle, and as high as €3.80… Crazy. Wine is cheaper by far—it’s possible to get a decent bottle of Vin Santo at the Consorzio Agrario Siena for less than that. Of course, the Consorzio will sell you a bottle of coke for €0.85, so another lesson learned is: look for such things in the little supermarkets you’ll come across.

Another (less American) option is Lemon-soda. It’s like carbonated lemonade. Just as good but without the caffeine, I tend to drink a little more of this and a little less of coke as our vacations progress. But no one ever mistakes me for an Italian…