Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inadequate in Italy

Finally got my PC out of the repair shop, with a new non-sticky keyboard. That was the most expensive smoothie I (didn't) ever drink. The one bright side was that while it was being repaired, I was on holiday in Southern Italy. We'd meant to go there back in 2003 but due to British Airways and their threats of strikes, we'd cancelled it and gone to Brighton instead. So 8 years later, and finally we get there, and made the most of the week by going to Naples, Sorrento, Pompei and Capri. We had heard lots of scare stories about Naples, but it proved to be charming, if a little dirty. It seems to have a little problem with litter collection and graffiti, which is a shame.

Capri was full of bored-looking women with bad face-lifts carrying designer handbags. There were a couple of over-crowded touristy bits, so we decided to go and visit Tiberius's villa instead, which was up on a cliff-top and well away from shops selling designer clothes. As a result, we had a nice, if exhausting visit. It would have been hideous otherwise.

In Pompei I had the ignominy of being told off by an Italian tour guide for allegedly trying to jump a queue to look at one of the rooms in an old building. Considering I had spent the week in a state of shock at how Italians do not seem to know how to queue (the "queue" for the boat I got to Naples was 26 people wide - I counted), this felt particularly unfair - and I wasn't even trying to queue-jump. Fortunately, my husband is more quick-witted (and sharp-tongued) than me, so leapt to my protection. Anyway, here are some of the poor bodies of Pompei.

The food all week was sumptious. Strawberries were bigger, sweeter and redder than anything I've eaten before. The bread functioned as a meal in itself. The Mozarella cheese was a revelation - it actually tasted of something. And their ice-cream and coffee made ours seem like a pathetic approximation. The British have copied an American trick of trying to make up for the lack of quality by just giving you more of everything. I saw no fast food places, no American chains. Such places would be given short shrift.

Italian people are generally better dressed than English people, and wear better fitting clothes. I felt dowdy all week, I needed a hair cut, and every time I took my cap off, my hair had flattened into an unflattering non-style which have rendered all photographs unprintable. So it was a consolation to come back to England this afternoon and resume my rightful place among all those lumpy red faces wearing sacks and gorging themselves on McDonalds. We may not be a very stylish nation, and our food is generally a terrible (expensive) disappointment. But at least we know how to queue.

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