on Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Me in St. Paul, MN Posted by Hello

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Italian Restaurants

Eating out in Italy is more expensive compared to some areas of the United States. Expect a minimum of about $20 per person.

Pizzeria's are usually relatively inexpensive, depending on where you go. For one pizza, prices can start at about 4 euro on up. The pizza is about the size of a "medium" American style pizza, but is a thin crust, a light layer of tomato sauce and cheese and is for one person.

For an excellent meal, especially of the local "cuisine", and if time isn't an issue, an agritourismo is always a good choice. They are located out in the countryside, and they usually grow/raise at part of their menu. Average meal takes about 3 hours, from start to finish. Price about 30 euro a person (on average).

Tipping - most restaurants charge between 1 - 3 euro per person, and it is for the "place setting", so for the table setting, bread, etc. Waiters usually earn a decent salary. You aren't goning to be chased after if you don't leave tip. If you do leave something, one or two euros is acceptable.

Water - Water is served in glass or plastic bottles. There are two types, gassata/frizzante (carbonated) or naturale (regular, non-carbonated). Tap water in most parts of Italy is pretty hard, and people usually prefer the taste of bottled water over tap water.

Bars - In many bars, they charge more if you occupy a table versus if you stand at the bar and have a beverage. Even if you order and get your drinks yourself then sit down, you're still charged for sitting at a table. For example, in Milan, if you stand at the bar and have a cappuccino, it would cost you around 1.20 euro, and if you sit down, price more than doubles to around 4 - 5 euros.

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Port of Galveston

on Monday, May 30, 2005

Out of curiosity, I am wondering if anyone has gone on a cruise that has departed from the Port of Galveston, and what your opinion of Galveston, Texas in general was.

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Communism and Missionaries

Usually when the Jehovah Witnesses stop by (which is usually about once a week!), I usually will say I don't speak Italian. Normally that works, until the next week. I have nothing against them at all, I just do not have the same beliefs as they do.

Saturday I tried to do the same when a gal from the Communist party stopped by, wanting to know if I'd buy a raffle ticket/donate to the Italian Communist party. Darn, didn't work, she could speak English. No I did NOT buy or donate any money. I am not going to give any money to a political party I do not participate in. I can't even vote in this country, not yet anyways.

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Europe and Italy

on Friday, May 27, 2005

This is a cute Cartoon about the "differences" between Europe and Italy

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Pet Peeves

What I cannot stand here:

  • the self-centeredness/vanity
  • difficulty of making friends
  • the "Keeping Up With The Jones' " syndrome
  • the gropping/hit on by some old men
  • it's all about WHO you know, more than WHAT you know attitude
  • insane taxes
  • obssesion of paperwork/photocopies
  • length of time it takes to get anything done
  • "one-stop shopping" practically does not exsist
  • parking, what's that?
  • Television - have never seen so many skantily dressed, unintelligent females on a gameshow, or the stupid political debate shows.
  • all talk and no action

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Sex Offenders and Viagra

on Thursday, May 26, 2005

I read an article yesterday in the Galveston County Daily News, that some registered sex offenders have been getting Viagra, and the prescription being paid for by Medicaid! It's like giving a recovering addict free alcohol/drugs, at the expense of the taxpayer! I could understand if they needed a medication to help them recover from something, like cancer etc., but to help their sexual stamina? Is that really necessary?!?! Last year in Texas, $1.5 million spent by Medicaid for Viagra prescriptions.

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Italian Fashion

on Friday, May 20, 2005

While out and about recently, I've noticed that jogging suits are becoming more "fashionably acceptable" here in Italy. Also seems pink is the "in" color this year, again.

You're probably well aware Itay, well at least northern Italy for sure, is home to one of the fasion capitals of the world, Milan. Home to such names as Versace, Gucci, Prada, D&G to name a few. Here fashion and beauty are of the utmost importance. But recently, seems fashion is becoming more casual.

I remember one day last summer, I was sitting at a local cafe, having a cup of delicious gelato (Italian ice cream, yummy!!). A young lady dressed very, well, interesting, her skirt barely covered her back side, HIGH heels (I wonder how she was able to walk). She walked by an elderly couple, I'd say they were about late 70's early 80's. It was fairly obvious that the older gentleman was checking out this young lady.

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on Wednesday, May 18, 2005

One thing I'm still learning here in Italy is to have more patience. EVERYTHING moves at a slower pace, minus the traffic. For example, at our apartment complex, there was some work done to the ceiling of the underground parking, the entire parking lot was dug up. This work was started about 3 weeks ago and was SUPPOSED to be finished around the 30th (ish) of April. As of today, of course it isn't finished and no one is able to use the parking lot as a result.

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on Monday, May 16, 2005

One more week then my in-law's are back from the Canary Islands. I'll be glad when they get back, so I can get back to my place.
Gotta run, have English lessons to prepare, at least for this afternoon.

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Italian BBQ/Picnic

on Sunday, May 15, 2005

Today went to a bbq/picnic my boss hosted. BORING! The menu: pasta (of course), grilled meats, after that I don't know, since I snuck away after that. Was a very clicky event today, I knew hardly anyone, did meet a couple of nice gals, one who was Italian but was born in Brazil and lived for many years in the U.S., and another lady from South Africa. Man I miss a good ol' American picnic.

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The Beginning

on Friday, May 13, 2005

I've been asked by some of my friends stateside about some of the differences between Italy and the U.S., and by people here in Italy why am I here. So I've decided to combine the two. This is a work in progress. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

December 2000 - January 2001. After spending ten days in Yokohama Japan visiting my best friend, I vowed I would not go on another international trip, at least not for another year or so. Well, a few months after visiting Japan, it was about time to start planning on another trip, had already been to Las Vegas, and of course Japan. Wanted to do another international trip, figured why not Europe next. I started planning, the first week in October 2001 to visit the northern part of Italy. Yes, alone. I had posted in a newsgroup on Yahoo, including the dates and what cities I was planning on visiting. Three weeks before my trip, my now husband emailed me, offering to show me around, let me crash at his place. At the time he was living with his parents. We emailed back and fourth, he seemed like a nice guy, so I figured why not.

The week went well. My now husband was (and still is) a true gentleman. He showed me around Milan, Verona, Venice and some small towns along the way. We stayed at a cool castle/mansion for a couple of nights outside of Venice, called the Castello di Roncade in a town called Roncade (www.castellodironcade.com in Italian and English). Cool place, owner very nice.
As simple as it may sound, I knew he was "the one" when my shoes came untied a couple of times while in Venice, he INSISTED on tying them for me.

Three weeks after I arrived home back in the States, he proposed and six months later, on April 28, 2002 we were married in my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Two weeks after our wedding, I was arrived in Busto Arsizio, Italy and have been here ever since.

Differences between U.S. and Italy:
Have to pay the monthly bills at the post office with either cash or debit card called Bancomat.
The Italian postal system also offers banking services.
At the grocery store: you sack your own groceries, pay for the sacks and also pay a depost for the cart.
Parking - next question please!
Houses are made of cement. Since Italy is such a small country, especially compared to the U.S., they build up and not out, so the main dwellings are apartments and condominiums.
The Italian Health System is public, so everyone is covered and services are of little or no cost. The downside of the system is that it is very disorganized, having to go 5 different places for one thing.
Gas is EXPENSIVE here in Italy, and throughout much of Europe from what I've heard. Currently, as of today, gas is at 1.19 euros for one liter, so about $5.93 a GALLON. So don't complain to me about gas prices in the States. I just put 20 euros worth of gas in my car today, a little over a quarter of a tank of gas.
Housing ix expensive here, especially if you go in the bigger cities like Milan or Rome. Here in Busto Arsizio, I think the prices for a decent one bedroom, start at about $150,000 for an apartment that isn't very big.
Apartments here come totaly unfurnished, except for the toilet, bidet and bathtub. Otherwise you have to provide EVERYTHING, including the water heater, fridge, cupboards and counters for the kitchen.
Many people live with their parents until they get married. Either for financial reasons or for other motives. Of course there are the world famous "Mammoni", or mama's boys.

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House/Dog Sitting

on Sunday, May 08, 2005

It's been a few days since I've written anything, first not much new, second we're house/dog sitting while my in-law's are on a three week vacation to the Canary Islands. I'll be glad when they get back, hate living between two places. At least they don't live very far from us, about a mile.

My husband mentioned on Friday about starting to work on the business plan for our hopeful project we want to start in Galveston, Texas, MAYBE within the next week or so. Of course I'm going to keep after him until he gets it done. Would like to move back to the States within the next twelve months or so. Just need to get the business plan done, find fundage (there may be a ray of hope there, yeah!) etc., plus am waiting for my Italian citizenship to come through. Should have that hopefully by Halloween of this year.

Since my husband is Italian, I'm eligible for Italian citizenship, and without losing my American citizenship, so I'll be able to have two passports. After being married to an Italian and living in Italy for six months, or three years living abroad, one can apply for Italian citizenship. I had to submit a pile of documents literally half an inch thick, mainly due to all of the photocopies required. Only needed 3 documents from the States; my birth certificate, criminal record from the State of South Dakota, and also my criminal record from the F.B.I. Also had to include a few documents from Italy, and five million photocopies of everything. Turned in my stack of a "couple of trees from the Amazon forest" on Halloween 2003, and was told within two years I should have the Italian citizenship. Last October, had to have an interview at the local police station, basically to verify first that I could speak at least some Italian, if we owned or rented our apartment, my occupation, have my passport "analyzed", basically explaining every single frickin stamp in my passport. Now it's playing the usual waiting game, as like everything else here.

I'm really excited at the possibility of moving back to the United States. I've mentioned before, my hubby would like to maybe move to the Galveston, Tx area. For me it's not really important where (ok, maybe not out in the middle of nowhere, a big city or California). The excitement of getting back to a way of life I'm more accustomed to, different mentality.

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