Around Northern Italy in a Fiat Panda

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The Contessa and the Commendatore Visit the Home Country

  1. We saw many sorts of police throughout the country: more soldier-like police, also men and women in blue uniforms, and, in the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele in Milano, police wearing swallowtail coats and Napoleonic hats with plumes and carrying swords. Police on the highways had still another sort of uniform. Who are they all? What’s the difference among the various types? We never did learn. (Return)
  2. Italians seem to be as enamored of using English words in product and business names as non-Italians are of using Italian words. In neither case do the words have to make sense. Did you know that “targa” (as in Porsche) means “license plate?” (Return)
  3. Passeggiata: the evening walk. Families with babes in strollers and small children in tow, old folks, young folks, all ambulatory members of the community stroll and converse and shop at the end of the day (most shops are open till 7:00). The passeggiata lasts from around 6:30 to 7:30, when people go home to their dinners or to restaurants. (Return)
  4. Including a beautiful place called Zoagli, prompting the inevitable dialogue: “How ugly was it?” “It was Zoagli…” (Return)
  5. Many times we wished for a knowledgeable American contact: a friend, friend-of-a-friend, Embassy staffer, or whatever, of whom we could ask mundane or profound questions such as: What do you dial to get an operator? (Hint: it’s not “0.”) Why are there virtually no Japanese cars in Italy? Why is gasoline so expensive? Why are there two separate and completely unrelated house-numbering schemes on the buildings in this city? What do all those different police uniforms signify? (Return)