It's getting warmer, and vacation season is upon us. Friends frequently ask when is a good time to come visit, and the truth is any time is good. All I need is about a month's notice, and you and anyone you bring will be welcome to crash at my place. Guided tours are included, but drinks are extra. Just be advised there are a few things you need to do before you come visit me in Italy:
1) Watch "Big Night," starring Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci, Isabella Rossellini, and Minnie Driver. Great depiction of how Italians feel about food and family. If you'd like to pick up an Italian film, I recommend "The Bicycle Thief," "La Dolce Vita," or "Heaven" (which is only partly in Italian, but it's got Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi, and who doesn't want to watch them?).
2) Forget everything you thought you knew about wine. It's all over the place here, so stop being so damned pretentious and just drink it.
3) Learn to drive like Italians:
A) Treat traffic laws as mere suggestions. This includes road signs and the centre line.
B) Keep the gas pedal down until right before you come to the intersection, and then slam on your brakes. It's a great way to freak out the guy driving on the cross-street.
C) Blinker? What's a blinker?
D) It doesn't matter if there's oncoming traffic. Go ahead and pass.
E) Be aggressive. Even if something is clearly your fault, always act like the other guy's the asshole.
4) Let me know what kind of cheesecake to make for your arrival. Be as traditional or adventurous as you like. If you're worried about calories, then you're obviously coming to the wrong country to begin with.
5) Learn a little Italian. This Wiki article is a good place to start. If you get here and you speak like you're ordering at Olive Garden, I'll have no problem correcting you.
6) Do some research and have an idea of what you want to see. There are several things I can recommend, but if there's something you definitely want to do, say so. That said, I find the best way to experience Europe is without a strict schedule. Plans don't always go as expected, so flexibility is the key.
Also, I only have so much vacation time, so if you'd like to coordinate with anyone else planning a trip out here and come together, it would help me out immensely. I look forward to your arrival.