First Time On Surviving In Italy?

Your First Time Here? STOP. This is not a traditional travel blog. If you’re offended easily or struggle with sarcasm or irony you should skip my website and watch this instead. Also, I swear ALL THE TIME and ramble on about the capybara. You still there? Winning! I’ve Put Together Some Of My Most Popular Posts For You To Start With:

LIFE IN ITALY

21 Ways To Survive Being An Expat 

Why Everyone Should Live In Italy At Least Once In Their Lives

Christmas In Italy 2013: The Time The Blowdryer Ate My Mother-In-Law’s Head

13 Things That I’ve Learned From Marrying An Italian Man

17 Signs That Italy Might Make You Crazy Or Homicidal

Italian The Hard Way

10 Reasons That I’m Surprised That Someone Married M.E.

In My Husband’s Family, Leaving The Table Is Like Announcing You’ve Eaten A Child 

TRAVEL ITALY

7 Best Things To Prepare You For Italy

Dining In Italy: How To Avoid Making An Ass Of Yourself

Rome With Rick Zullo

Travel Bologna With Sarah Dowling

5 Steps To A Non-Conventional Night In Florence

A Weekend In Chianti

Vacation Apartments In Florence: How To Overcome Writer’s Block (Or Just Hang Out).

MOVING TO ITALY

Moving To Italy: Studying And Living 

Frequently Asked Questions: Jobs, Immigration, Circumcision, Love

31 Reasons You Would Be Better Off In Italy

How To Move To Italy

 

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Munich And The Human Condition 

 
What I find fascinating about Munich is that it’s a place with conflicting layers, the days of yesterday, horror stories of. Munich was home to the epitomy of human cruelty ( and proof that all we need is a bit of fear and pride to support the most evil of evil) and yet today it’s a beautiful city full of well-dressed young professionals and charming outdoor farmers markets. There’s also an impressive variety of hot dogs. I’ve eaten hot dogs for dinner two nights in a row and it’s about time I start translating the menu. 

  
Yesterday I had a beer at Staatliches Hofbrauhaus in Munich, a 500 year old pub that has been a favorite hangout spot of Mozart, Vladimir Lenin, and it’s also where Hitler gave many of his political speeches. On Feb 24th 1920, he proclaimed the 25 point program of the Nazi party (at the time it was still the “workers party”) at that very pub. And I sat there with my husband drinking beer and talking nonsense. Every once in a while I’d remember that Hitler used to hang out there. I’d feel all icky with Hitler cooties, and then a moment later I’d be talking about something totally unrelated. It’s fascinated how our brains can touch on something terrible then bounce back almost instantly as if nothing completely horrifying had ever happened. I assume it’s our coping mechanism that allows us to exist because, my friends, throw a bit of pride and fear in the mix and we can be monsters, or worse, we can allow monsters to become dictators. 

  
People don’t really change much, only time changes. Yesterday afternoon I had a coffee where the barista, a charming, sweet man, handed me my cappuccino with a wink and “a beautiful coffee for a beautiful woman.” A man of about ten thousand years old sat at a table behind me, clearly old enough to have witnessed Hitler’s speeches, or even old enough to have served as one of Hitler’s Youth (possibly old enough to see Jesus walk on water). It was a strange thought to have in a sweet cafe with the sunlight and the families having lunch and that cute old man having a beer with his friends, reminiscing about dinosaurs or whatever the ancients chat about. It makes us feel safer to think that people were really different back then, they weren’t “like us,” but I don’t think that’s true. People are the same, only the rhetoric changes. It was a stark reminder of what blind nationalism and the fear of “the other,” can do. 

How fucking depressing. And so? Drink more beer and then hide from the world behind it. 

  
What I like about Munich is the beauty and simplicity of the food markets, the men in their lederhosen, having a beer with their friends, laughing boisterously in the cold and rainy street (with apparently no ability to experience the cold…Germans are clearly weather-proof). 

  
These wonderful things float between the complexity and darkness of the past like the cream center of an Oreo cookie. On these same streets that are now full of tourists, drunk Englishmen,  were the same streets where sixty-plus years ago Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, black people, were being dragged from their homes and sent to internment camps. It’s one of the most powerful illustrations of the dichotomy of the human condition, our ability to be both lovely and horrific. 

Also, is it just me or does this look like Hitler playing a harp? It probably isn’t because that would just be insane, right? But it totally looks like it. 

  

Munich, A Super Cute City 

So, I’ve been in Munich for about 24 hours and I have to say that so far, this is one of the cutest cities I’ve been in a long time. The architecture is beautiful, the people are well dressed in their business casual attire as they go to and from work, and the food is obviously awesome. Our hotel is an awesome location, city center, Hotel Am Markt.  I had sauerkraut and spatzle for lunch. Francesco had beer and weiners. Seeing “wiener,” on a menu makes me giggle because I’m a twelve year old on the inside. 

   
 

Munich is super orderly and clean. So much so that a waitress at a cafe nearly punched me in the face for moving a chair at an adjacent table to get to my seat, then doing it again to run to the bathroom. “Ma’am, what do you need?!” She grabbed me. “A bathroom?” I responded. She sighed, pointed to the bathroom, then walked to the chair I moved and put it back one inch to the left. First lesson, do not move the fucking chairs. I’m now studying the Germans to see how they get into the tables without moving anything because I’m obviously a moron and don’t know how sitting works. I will break this code. 

Francesco is at work so I’m just bumbling around by myself this week. It’s going to be pretty awesome. Yesterday I saw a man yodeling for tourists in a plaza. He was wearing lederhosen. My life is complete. 

I’ve been uploading tons of video and pics to Instagram (M_E_Evans) and Francesco has barely been judgy about my stalking strangers. So far, I’m winning. Well, except for the chair thing. 

Munich, I Am Coming!

Munich Germany Travel

In less than twenty-four hours I’ll be on a plane for Munich. I’m excited. I’ve never been there and it kicks off a three week vacation of epic awesomeness where I’ll get to see Munich, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest and holy shit it’s awesome. And? There’s a lot to do. There’s packing, remembering underwear, and the seven-thousand creams that stop my face from falling off. Makeup, tampons, a hairbrush (which I almost always forget somehow), and my phone charger. I watch youtube videos on packing to help like this one on Packing Light For Travel (minus the taking photos of my outfits. Who has time for that shit?).

And? And I’m fucking stressed out. Excited and stressed is a weird combination.

I never used to stress about travel until I had Oliver. Oliver, you’re awesome, but you make life stressful as fuck. Thanks for that. I have to find him a sitter, make sure they understand the full extent of his insanity, prepare for every possible bad scenario, and then some which is terrible for me because I have OCD and “bad scenario,” for me is probably not bad scenario for other people who are less crazy. My brain goes worst scenario, then to a dark place that is traumatic like, “What if someone forgets to lock the back door and there is an alien invasion and the aliens exclusively eat Poodles?” My “what if’s” are terrifying and weird. So, I’ve spent all week thinking about scary things WHILE trying to learn German, and study the history of the fun places I’m going.

Speaking of German, I’m pretty much fluent at this point. And by fluent I mean I can speak two sentences that are probably all I’ll ever need if I’m trapped in the movie Legend and/or feeling confused about my vagina.

“Where are the unicorns?”

“I am a woman?”

Thank you, Duolingo, and my friend Thomas for helping me master this whole language thing. I give it two days before the staff of our hotel begin avoiding me. Oh jesus, there’s that woman that aggressively declares her gender. And? Everyone knows unicorns are SCOTTISH. Asshole. 

In preparation for my trip I’ve been reading blogs about living in Munich. I’ve found some really fun ones with some great info like wahlmuenchnerin. I have no idea what that means, actually, but she’s an American who writes about living in Munich. Pretty fun. I’ve also been slowly putting together of things to do and things to see. Anyone from Munich that has some fun tips for me? Put it in the comments below! I asked for some ideas on Facebook and you guys had awesome advice.

THINGS TO DO IN MUNICH: 

1. Englischer Garten with Biergarten with Chinesischem Turm and watch the surfers on Eisbach. If the weather is fine you will find a couple of nude people on the great lawn taking a sunbath.

2. Deutsches Museum

3.Augustiner Keller – original tradtional brewery with restaurant. Better skip Hofbräu Haus

4. Vktualien Markt – fantastic farmers market.

5.Marienplatz with Rathaus and close by one of Germany’s finest department stores : Ludwig Beck.

6. BMW Museum

7. Asamkirche

8. Neue und Alte Pinakothek

What would you guys add? Put it in the comments below? Any of you currently living in Munich? Share your blogs with us below! I’d love to read them! Packing tips? German phrases? Help a ME out!

7 Things I Love About Italy That Might Surprise You

1. Italy is a visual paradise in most places. Sure, some of the newer cities are kind of ghetto with lackluster architecture, but for the most part the cities are absolutely stunning. Old cement buildings with charming flower beds in windows, the cobblestone, the massive churches with well-preserved Fresco paintings, and greener than Crayola-green hills. If Italy was a person it would be a Victoria’s Secret model. Probably one of the transgender ones because their bodies are the most toned.

Florence Italy

2. The dramatic graffiti. There’s nothing like teenage angst and love to make walking the dog a poetic experience. There’s a freakish amount of graffiti in Italy which seems ghetto and sketchy until you can read it and it’s all, “Dear Maria, you’re an angel sent from God. I love you, for now, for always, your love, Giorgio.” I also love how they will have love letter battles, like one person will write his girlfriend something, then a few days later a different guy will write his girlfriend a poem directly over it. Ah, those teens in Italy, such rascals. And also? Didn’t their parents teach them anything about pens or paper or the beauty of a simple email (or a mixed tape….)?

3. There is never an impending feeling of doom, or the need to be productive whatsoever. People seem to do everything in slow motion, even at the emergency room. It’s like nothing matters, the world stands still, and we’re all just hanging out. Italy is possibly the most relaxing place I’ve ever been simply because the general demeanor of its inhabitants seem not at all concerned with anything. In public. This doesn’t extend to when you actually know people or see them in their homes. That’s when the crazy comes out.

4. Clothing. It’s the best place to shop on the planet if you’re into monochromatic color schemes, neutrals, black outfits, warm grays, and a look that screams, “Serious on the outside, fun on the inside!” Naturally.

Florence Italy Fashion

5. A different kind of “manly.” There is definitely a lot of sexism in Italy (let’s just call a spade, a spade, eh?) but the idea of “manliness,” is different. Guys have no shame when it comes to dressing well, taking incredible care of their bodies or clothing, and will give zero second-thoughts to cruising around in a suit on a bicycle of any color. Sometimes with a poodle in the basket and a baby strapped to their back. Men often carry their female partner’s purses around, and are not concerned with small banners of manhood. For example, Francesco had a work trip in the US with all Americans and during dinner one of the American guys actually said, “White wine is a woman’s drink.” And Francesco nearly lost his shit. He tried to correct him and say that white wine pairs better with different types of food but the men at the table stood firm that “red wine is for men.” Weird.

Man on bike in Florence Italy

6. Speedos and naked boobs. Look, yes, it can be a bit traumatic to witness two overweight Italian men with gorillia-like body hair wrestling on the beach in Gaeta. But, I love that there is a different relationship with the body in Italy. Women will occasionally pop their tops off at certain beaches, they don’t put swimming-suit tops on 4 year old girls (and seriously why would you? What are we covering?), and the guys proudly display their banana packages with no remorse whatsoever. I kind of like that. Not that I love to go to the beach to stare at semi-naked dudes…but, I like the confidence. Look, here’s my penis and all of my man-hair and potbelly for all to see, displayed triumphantly on the sand.

7. An extreme attention to detail. I don’t know if you’ve ever went into a chocolate shop in Italy to buy a gift for a friend but if you haven’t, do it. Even if you purchase four pieces, at any given store, they’ll spend 15 minutes making it cute for you. Paper, tags, ribbons, all of it. If you’re in a hurry it can also make you crazy but if you have time go check it out. They have an acute, almost manic, attention to detail that is probably unrivaled by anyone ever.

Travel Small Town Italy: Off The Beaten Path Like A Boss

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The other day I was wrote an article on Choosing Where To Travel In Italy. I decided to elaborate on that post because I know a lot of you are really into a specific kind of tourism: The Off-The-Beaten-Path Kind (what did you think I was going to say? Pervs).

Italy has a lot to offer and choosing the right vacation for you can be the difference between a mind-blowing trip or one that is frustratingly so-so. My favorite parts of Italy are the places that nobody sees, the places that are as far removed from my own culture as possible. I mean, Florence is amazing and it’s my home-hub BUT the tiny villages are where I go on vacation because they offer a different flavor entirely. Small villages offer a more “authentic” cultural experience because larger cities cater to foreigners like ME and sometimes the Italian-ness gets “diluted,” (or enriched depending how you look at it) along the way. Really, it just gets less obvious for tourists and you can spend your entire trip looking for something authentic in a city like Florence. When I was in school we stalked people to find the real “locals” and studied them like demented anthropologists for a little taste of authenticity. Save yourself all of that weirdness, skip the big cities, go off-the-beaten-path.

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The first thing I would recommend (and I honestly can’t recommend it enough) when visiting Italy is to rent a car. Italy is big in terms of what it has to offer, but tiny in terms of actual size, a car will allow you to do more stuff with less difficulty at your own leisure. It’s an absolute must if you want to stay in small cities and avoid the tourist traps but you also want to stop in larger cities to take in the historical sites and museums. You can find plenty of international companies that you’ll recognize but we usually go with Europcar or Sixt. Renting a car is affordable (especially if you consider train tickets, etc) plus it gives you a freedom that you can’t get with trains, especially if you consider all of the strikes are likely to happen at least once during your stay. Book in advance, get GPS, and try to get a car that can use Metanol (am I spelling that right? Anyway, corn fuel that is cheap in Italy) plan out your trip, and you’ll be fine. Trust me, it’s impossible to suck at driving worse than me (my sister will happily agree with this) and I managed to drive halfway across the country without dying.

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NORTHERN ITALY

Piedimonte: I haven’t actually been here  yet. Yeah, I know, so why is it here, right? Well, my friends keep recommending it and it’s on my list of places I’m going this year because it’s gorgeous, delicious, and supposedly free from waves of tourism. So, it counts as “one of my favorite non-touristy places that I wish I had gone to and will but haven’t yet.” Take that, logic!

Brescia: This place is diverse and more “german” than Italian but it’s near Milan and a fairly cool city in terms of culture. It’s not saturated by tourists, and you’ll find an interesting northern Italian culture here.

Bassano Del Grappa: A small city near Venice. This is a great place to stay and then you can pop over to Venice for a day or two. Venice is amazing but it’s so packed with tourists during high-season that sometimes you just want to pop in and get the hell out of there before a family from south Jersey mows you over.

 

CENTRAL-ISH

Gaiole In Chianti: This is a teeny-tiny town is in the Province of Siena in Tuscany. It’s southeast of Florence. There is a castle nearby that is the single most romantic place I’ve ever stayed with my husband. We had a fireplace in our room. We spent a lot of time in that room. There may or may not have been rolling hills of Oliver groves that were also sort of sexy in a newlywed kind of way except that I was afraid of snakes so it was more like romantic with periodic OH MY GOD IS THAT A VIPER!? So, in the end, not that sexy.

Castiglione D’Orcia in Val D’Orcia: Francesco took me here for a romantic weekend. It was beautiful. But the host of the vacation rentals showed us his dead animal wall and I was convinced that I was in an Italian version of Texas Chainsaw Massecre. Notice how I am a terrible date? On the upside, gorgeous vineyards, and absolutely no tourists. Also, in D’Orcia, stop in Montalcino for some of the best wine in Italy. Tell them you were sent by ME, this wino you randomly found on the internet.

Panzano In Chianti: This little village isn’t touristy at all. It’s adorable. And, most importantly,  you can find Dario Cecchini there, a veterinarian student, turned butcher who recites the divine comedy while gutting animals (yeah, that’s him in the pic below). He’s an eighth generation butcher and is extremely famous in Italy. You can visit his gem of a butcher shop and restaurant Antica Macelleria Cecchini for a taste of the most authentic Bistecca Fiorentina in Tuscany.

DARIO-10

Arezzo: Located in Southeast Tuscany. A one-hour train ride from Florence. It’s a very cute city with a huge market every week where you can buy everything from Italian lace to cookware. I’d highly recommend staying here for a few days at least, check out the locals, make friends, enjoy local cuisine, and watch grandmas take their grandkids for gelato.

Umbria: This region is still relatively unspoiled by tourists. It’s green and beautiful and you can breathe without busloads of people stepping on top of you. In Umbria you’ll also find the province of Perugia which is amazing, and boasts some of the best small cities like Assisi. All mentioned places are relatively free from tourists and about as authentic as you can get.

SOUTHERN ITALY

Sicily: I love Sicily. Despite it’s gorgeous landscape, nearly unmatched cuisine, and clean beaches, Sicily is often overlooked by tourists. I have no idea why (maybe they’re afraid of the Godfather?). Francesco proposed to me for the first time in Scopello in the Trapani province.

Sardegna: Holy crap is this place gorgeous. Seriously, like pristine waters, warm, friendly culture, and food that could win over even the pickiest of eaters.

Palestrina: Is located near Rome and is a gorgeous mountain area. The air is clear, tourists hardly ever frequent the place, and the locals are kind and interesting. Plus, it’s close enough to Rome for a day visit (or two).

Cellole: This is the least touristy place I’ve ever been in Italy. It’s green, old-school, and totally closed-off from the rest of the world for the most part and when I’m there I feel like I’ve time-travelled back to the 1950’s. It’s the south of Italy at it’s finest, simple living, amazing food, and it’s incredibly cheap. It’s near Naples and Rome for fun day trips.

Cassino: The wonderful Cassino, home to…things? This is another example of small-town living that is totally unspoiled by tourists. A great place for younger people to go who also want to see Rome and Naples. The squares are packed with young people drinking and talking, restaurants like Bianco Noir are amazing and addictive (one of my favorite restaurants in Italy), and you can check out some historical WWII sites (the battle of Montecassino is quite famous). Also, I have a friend who just started a supper club here. Message me for details. ;)

Sperlonga: This little city is located in Lazio and there were zero tourists the last time I was there with my husband. It’s on the sea and it was a really beautiful place that was super relaxing. Absolutely no crowded streets, no hustle and bustle, and every old man in the entire city gathered in the square at lunch tim to smoke cigarettes and gossip.

Sperlonga, Italy

Highly Recommended Non-Touristy Places By My Badass Readers

I haven’t been to all of these places but on my last post a bunch of you badass readers offered up your favorite off-the-beaten-path destinations in Italy because you’re amazing and always have great advice. So, check out these places also while planning your trip! Bagni di Lucca, La Marche, Perugia, Costacciaro,Turin, Puglia, and Basilicata.

What did I forget about? Any other amazing destinations I accidentally left out? Tell me in the comments below!

Remember, be safe, and have a blast. YOLO and all that.

Ahoy! Planning A Spring Vacation? Join Me For A Twitter Q&A, Ya’ll

Ahoy friends!

FKI’ve been asked to participate in a Twitter Q&A with my friends over at Flipkey who are hosting this lovely event. It’s tomorrow, Tuesday 14th at NOON EST for 30 minutes. It will be me alongside other badass bloggers like Georgette from Girl In Florence, among other international bloggers talking about spring travel and our favorite places to vacation globally (ideally places with a beach, alcohol, where clothing is optional…etc).

COME HANG OUT WITH US! You can find ME here: @survivingitaly. Look for the hashtag #FKSpringVaca.

Also? Flipkey has this crazy awesome virtual tour of Tuscany that you have to check out. It’s surreal, and I wish I was fancy and thought of something like this. They sent it to me and I just checked it out. See what Tuscany looks like before you visit!

Travel Tips: Choosing Where To Travel In Italy

It’s summer and the emails are starting to come in asking for my recommendations for travel. Since I’m working on a series of guides and some super in-depth posts about travel that I’ll have up soon, I’m just going to keep this short and sweet with the highlights of my favorite places to go. I hope this helps at least some of you plan your Italy trip this year.

Choosing a destination depends on what kind of traveler you are and what you’re seeking. Are you a history buff? A food lover? Wino? Artist? Do you love culture and people-watching (legal stalking)?

I’m personally really into culture. I love watching people. If you see me in Florence I’m probably sitting on a bench taking photos of perfect strangers while they smoke cigarettes or talk about their partner or cake recipes. If this sounds like you then you might want to do an off-the-beaten-path trip. Honestly, one of the best ways to travel Italy in my opinion is to pick somewhere less touristy and spend a good amount of time there. There are tiny towns and villages throughout Italy that don’t get a lot of attention in tourism magazines but are well worth visiting if you’re looking for an authentic cultural experience.

Florence, Rome, and all of those places are beautiful, historical, and amazing but they’re swamped with visitors and because of that a lot of the charm is lost as restaurants, stores, try to accomodate visitors. I’m not entirely complaining about that because it did bring large coffee cups to Florence, God bless ya’ll, but it also removes the “authenticity,” and love that normally goes into Italian products, and food, from certain areas. Sometimes in larger cities if you want to really experience them the best way to do it is with a local, or a ton of research to avoid tourist traps which can certainly be exhausting. However, if art, history, and architecture are important to you then working larger cities into your trip is probably a good idea. I vote for going off of the beaten path and spending most of your vacation there but maybe taking short weekend trips to larger cities. For example, I love Gaiole in Chianti. Obviously, it depends on how long you have off.

Gaiole In Chianti

Gaiole In Chianti

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