The American Douchebag’s Guide to Europe: Northern Italy

Overview

If you do not know the history of Italy, you are either way too young to be reading this blog, or you’re a complete moron. But either way, I’m going to tell it to you.  Italy is the place that we desperately tried to deport the Jersey Shore Cast to, The Ringo Star of WWII’s Axis powers, and the place where pizza originated from. This is also the country that is shaped like a boot.

No, that's Louisiana.

For a while, several centuries ago, Italy wasn’t called Italy at all; It was known as the Roman Empire and they did their damnedest to rule the world. They actually came pretty close too. As I mentioned with my blog about London, The Romans made their way up to what is now England and built the city of London. They also had control of the entire Mediterranean Sea as well as all of present day Spain and Portugal, most of France and Germany, and the northern most part of Africa, including the non- horrible death desert part of Egypt.

With time and a little bit of help from the Huns, The Roman Empire fell, which was eventually replaced by the Holy Roman Empire. But just like all sequels that aren’t The Godfather Part 2, this one sucked and was filled with Catholics. Gross.

As Wikipedia tells me, Italy after the Roman empires was separated into several city states, one of which was Milan. It was finally reunited in 1861 during a movement called “The Resurgance.” After that, Italy suffered no more problems and is currently the happiest country on the planet. That is, if you don’t count losing WWI, the fascist dictator Mussolini, almost losing a war against Ethiopia, the mafia presence, the failing Euro, and their former statutory rapist and overall sleaze of a Prime Minister.

… Well, their country is beautiful anyway.

Initial Thoughts

Here were my initial thoughts for Venice:

I was walking with Jon, Paul, Brennen, and CJ, or rather, they were walking around and I was following them. They didn’t invite me along, which I took as an insult, so I decided to invite myself. Right as they were about to cross the Rialto Bridge, I had a crazy thought.

This is going to be awesome. Or awful. I'm not sure.

“Guys!” I said, instantly in the center of their group. They all jumped away from me, each one screaming curse words at me.

“Jesus, Minigan,” Paul gasped, “What the hell were you thinking surprising us like that? You should know by now that when you do that, we assume you’re about to attack us.”

CJ added, “Yeah, and how were you following us? We were keeping an eye out specifically to make sure you weren’t doing just that.”

I honestly knew this much, but I was insulted by the fact that he had the gall to say it to me. I grabbed CJ by the back of his neck and forced his face close to mine. I then whispered into his ear with an inhuman voice, “I dwell in the shadows.”

When I let go, he slowly stepped away from me, his face had gone stony and pale. The look quickly spread to the other three guys. I was actually surprised that that frightened them as much as it did. I think it must have confirmed their fears.

“Anyway,” I said in an unnaturally bright tone, “Do you remember what Andy said about this city not having a sewer system and how it really just goes out under the city until low tide can pull it out to sea?”

That statement seemed to make them only more afraid.

“Well, I was wondered if someone could get superpowers by jumping into the water. Shit like that, no pun intended, would certainly give someone superpowers in comics.”

“Minigan, please-“ Jon started, but didn’t have the strength to finish the sentence.

“No.” I replied, knowing exactly what he was about to ask.

The looks on their faces only became more grim.

“It is out of the question,” I continued, “There is no way I am letting any of you get superpowers while I don’t have any.”

They all sighed with relief and Brennen asked, “So why did you stop us if you were just going to do it?”

“I need you guys to hold all of my stuff. I don’t want to get it wet.”

I handed them my wallet, ipod, cellphone, and my stack of faked passports to Brennen and my shirt to Paul. I then made my way to the top of the bridge, the four of them following close behind, so that I could jump from the highest point. About halfway to the top, I began to hear murmurings from them about whether or not they should let me jump.

Deciding to take the initiative, Paul called out to me, “Minigan, I think this is a really dumb idea.”

“Dumb,” I replied, “or best idea ever?”

CJ chimed in with, “No, just dumb. Really, really dumb. You shouldn’t do this, Minigan.”

“Listen nay sayers,” I snapped, turning around to look at them in their stupid, pessimistic faces, “I’ve worked this out. Even if I don’t get super powers, I will at the very least become a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and I am all for taking that risk.”

I stepped to the summit of the bridge and looked out over the main canal, while completely ignoring their protests. However, I couldn’t ignore the four sets of hands that wrapped themselves around me as I tried to climb onto the edge. They wrestled me to the ground, and said that they would not let me up until I promised not to jump.

“What the hell are you guys doing?” asked a familiar voice from behind us. The five of us looked up to see Kevin, Zack, Shar, and curly haired Lauren standing above us, each with a look of suspicion on their face.

“Nothing,” I said before the guys could say anything, “Just chilling out, having good times, wrestling each other to the ground on the top of a bridge. You know, the usual.” I then said to the guys, “You guys can let me up now. I promise I won’t do anything.”

“Won’t do what?” Kevin asked as the five of us climbed to our feet.

Before I could say mind your own business, CJ said, “This crazy bastard was about to jump off of the bridge.”

“But as I just said,” I snapped, “I am not going to jump, so you can back the fuck up!”

We all stood there in an uncomfortable silence for a few seconds. Each of us looked to each other to see who was going to make the first move; they were all pretty sure that I was still going to jump.

“I promise I am not going to jump,” I repeated, ‘but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to make someone test the water out first!”

Before they could grapple me back down to the ground, I had successfully lifted Kevin into the air and was hobbling towards the ledge. Fearful protests cried out from my group mates, and terrified squeals erupted from the captive that I was holding over my head. His legs kicked, but with no avail, and his arms twisted and squirmed, just trying to grab onto mine. But it was no use, my right hand was lodged inbetween his shoulder blades, making it impossible for him to move his arms back far enough to reach mine. The yells from our trip mates continued as I gave my directions to the now sobbing Kevin. I took my last step to the ledge, the only thing blocking me from the poo-watery depths below was the white marble banister. The group became deathly quiet; they knew there was no way of stopping me from do-

“GELATO!” Brennen screamed, startling everyone, including me. I turned around and faced him, Kevin still squirming and whimpering over my head, before Brennen continued, “Minigan, Gelato! You said you wanted Gelato when we got off of the bus. Let’s go get some now! I’ll even pay for yours, just put Kevin down!”

My heart jumped, “Free gelato? Fuck to the yes!”

I threw Kevin over my head, and started to grab my stuff from everyone’s hands. There were several screams, a crash, and then three spashes in the water behind me.

“C’mon,” I commanded to Brennen as he ran to the ledge, “I gots to get my free gelato!”

And not a single fuck was given that day.

And these were my initial thoughts for Florence:

I climbed over the seats of the bus gracefully. Like a spider to its prey, or like the little girl from “The Ring” climbing out of the TV. Silently (minus the protested yells of my group mates as I used their skulls for support) I moved forward my eyes transfixed upon my prey: the microphone for the loud speaker in Andy’s hand. Andy, who was distracted by Anna’s regular barrage of stupid questions, was completely oblivious to my oncoming ambush. It was only until I was three rows away from him that he noticed me and locked eyes with mine. Wrong move. With an unnatural snarl, I launched myself towards him and the microphone. With an uncharacteristically high pitched scream, Andy threw the microphone at my growing, drooling (I do it for effect) face and dropped to the floor. I caught the microphone with my mouth, and, with a considerable amount of force, slammed into the windshield. Instantly, I was back on my feet and removing the microphone that had lodged itself in my throat.

“Hello everyone,” I said suavely as I leaned against the driver’s seat and pointed and winked at straight haired Lauren. Once she had looked away in disgust, I continued with, “So now we’re on our way to Florence, which is the capitol of Tuscany, but more importantly is the place that the Jersey shore tried to ruin. Because of that last fact, it is safe to say that just about every Italian that you meet there is going to hate us Americans with the same amount of intensity that Lindsay Lohan has against her acting career.  Now, I know that up to this point that this trip has been a bunch of sit-com like antics and good memories, but in Florence is where we will really have to work.”

Kevin snorted at that remark. His face was bruised, his lower lip fat, and his arm in a sling, but he was decidedly not at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. As it turns out, when I threw him behind me, he landed on a passing gondola. His weight catapulted the gondolier and his two patrons into the water. Apparently, when they climbed out, they had grown large hardened lumps on their backs as well as a green, leathery hide.  They weren’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles per se, but more like turtle mutants. Man, did I owe CJ, Brennen, Paul, and Jon one big time. I had really dodged a bullet there.

I continued while pretending to not notice the interruption, “We need to reeducate these Italians that Americans aren’t just a bunch of alcohol and drug fueled attention seeking whores. We need to show them that we can be normal, level headed individuals that are not prone to fits of violence and cursing.”

Zack, one of my fellow Ohio Staters, raised his hand and asked, “So what are you going to be doing while we’re trying to win over the Florentines?”

“What are you talking about,” I shot at Zack, “I am heading this overseas relations operation.”

“But you are the antithesis of everything you just said,” Zack replied, “You are prone to fits of both violence and cursing, you are absolutely not level headed, and if you are not an alcohol and drug fueled attention whore, then I do not know who is.”

The entire bus got quiet. I cast a grim scowl towards Zack while, out of sight, I wrapped a length of the microphone’s cord around my hand. Without so much as a tale tell flash of movement, I threw the microphone at Zack’s face with deadly force and accuracy. “When referring to myself,” I said calmly as I whipped the cord back and caught the microphone in my hand, “I prefer the term ‘sex-machine.’” I then asked the rest of the bus, “Does anybody else have any condescending questions for me?”

There was a murmur that was accompanied by a shaking of their heads. Accepting that no one was going to stand up to me, I smiled and threw the microphone back at Zack’s forhead. It made contact in the same spot, which sent him back into his chair.

“Why did you hit him again?!” Shar cried while looking in between me and Zack, who looked very dazed and had a mixture of his blood and my drool run down his face, “He didn’t say anything this time.”

“I know,” I replied to her, “I was just so impressed with hitting him the first time, and I wondered if I could do it again.”

Accommodations

I really don’t remember much about either of the hotels for Venice or Florence except for one detail: they both had bidets! This was one of the major fallout of the hotel in Paris, which I had always assumed was the bidet capitol of the world. Anyway, here is a picture of me enjoying my hotel room’s bidet. [Warning, this will burn your eyes.]:

Fun fact about that picture- the bathroom in the hotel room was too small for me to take a picture of me using a bidet and the picture not just be of my ass and the bowl, so I had to open the bathroom door and build a makeshift tripod out of a step stool and some pillows out in the living area. I then had to balance the camera on pillow, set the timer, go back into the bathroom, and get into the pose with my pants down. I did all of this while my roommate was no more than ten feet away from me, asleep. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I did on the trip. I’m sorry that you had to find out this way, Sammy.

Sites

Well, I already mentioned the Venice’s Rialto Bridge, which is one of the three bridges that cross the grand Canal, so I don’t really feel the need to mention that again other than what I just said here. Then there’s the Piazza San Marco, which has a cool tower and a really nicely decorated building. Both of which I didn’t enter.

In Florence there was a bit more to talk about. There was the Piazza where Michelangelo’s David was kept, as well as a small square that held statues of famous scientists and artists like Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, and the Dante.

Put on some pants, perv.

Then there is the Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge of Florence. This bridge has shops built on it that all sell jewelry.

And it isn’t a trip to Florence without stopping at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Here it is in all of its epic wonder:

Food

I officially hate Olive Garden. Fo’ realz. That was my first thought as I tasted my Tagliatelle with clams and zucchini in Venice. And yes, I did have to search for a list of pastas on line until I was able to find the name of mine. There is no way I would’ve gotten close to that spelling. I swore there was a Z in it somewhere. Anyway, that was spectacular. It was savory. It was filling. It had tons of olive oil, clams, and zucchini. If it wasn’t for the schnitzel, this would have been my favorite meal on the trip. Unfortunately, if I ever go back to Venice, I doubt that I would be able to find the place again. It was down an alley way in a city that is one giant maze to begin with. The only way I would be able to find it is if I find this graffiti again:

Go find this for me, people.

This wall was the wall opposite the restaurant we ate at. Hopefully Venice doesn’t paint over it.

That night I ate an entire personal size pizza, which, being American and growing up on Pizza Hut’s Personal Pan pizzas, doesn’t sound like much. But in Italy, a personal size pizza is actually closer to an American medium pizza. Before this trip, I had never eaten an entire small pizza by myself, let alone a fucking medium. Then, I go on this trip and BAM! I end up eating an entire medium sized pizza twice within seven days. That’s right, I didn’t mention it. In Switzerland, a group of us ate at an Italian restaurant and we each got a pizza to ourselves. Then, like, five days later, I’m eating another goddamn pizza. How I was able to do that is very much beyond me. And they call us fat.

In Florence, The Jersey Boys (Jon, Paul, CJ, and Brennen) and I ate pesto ravioli in a nice little restaurant near the Piazza Di Santa Croce. Needless to say, it was delicious, but we barely had enough time to eat.  It was still delicious though. And, in case you were wondering, yes, I did follow them there.

Purchases

This will be the only post that I’m putting this section in, and that is because of this purchase:

sexy

I got this partially out of spontaneity, partially because I wanted a nice Italian suit, partially because I needed a suit, but mostly because I wanted to show up my stupid roommate. See, I had the idea to buy an Italian suit very early in the trip, but I only decided to when Sammy bought a new Swiss watch and wouldn’t shut the hell up about it. So, out of pure spite, I decided that I wasn’t going to leave Italy without buying an Italian suit. The Jersey boys even helped me pick it out.  I guess that means I owe them 2.

People

Look at this puppy!

Dawwww!

This is literally the only local that I want to talk about. Look at how goddamned cute it is! We saw this dog going after pigeons in the Piazza San Marco. The group of us that were waiting for the rest of the group to arrive got to watch the dog play, and it was probably the cutest thing I had seen on the trip up to that point. I decided to try to get a picture, figuring that it would most likely come our blurry, or that I would only end up getting a pic of the dog’s ass. But no. For that one brief moment as I took the picture, the dog paused and looked directly at me, letting me grab a perfect picture of it. This made my day.

Overall Atmosphere

Italy has got to be one of the most laid back places ever. It was weird to try to rush and do anything there, especially eat the pesto ravioli. The waiter even commented on how fast we ate, which I’m pretty sure is the Italian way of insulting us stupid Americans for ignoring their 2 hour long lunch rule.

The Northern Italian cities are majestic in a crazy and confusing kind of way, and the Tuscan country side is picturesque. I love this country.

Pictures:

We watched a glass blowing seminar here.

What's going on here? Wait. I don't want to know.

Brennen and Jon drinking one Euro beers behind a white van before we bought my Italian suit. Keep it classy guys.

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4 Comments

  1. A very interesting take on Venice and Florence. i’m off to Florence today – I’ll look for the dog. You will be happy to learn that Berlusconi has resigned.

    • The dog was actually in Venice at the Piazza San Marco, but hell, maybe you will see it in Florence. Enjoy Florence even if you don’t see it.

    • Also, I found out that Berlusconi had resigned when I looked him up for this post.

  2. […] you that is good, but from what I’ve seen from you, you are dangerous and should be locked away. You almost threw me into the Canal at Venice. Andy-And you killed that poor Hüttediener. Zack- And you released the Kraken. Paul- And you […]


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