Random Notes on Italy

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Dateline Florence, Italy.

On English
Italy is the first country that I’ve been to on this trip where English was not the primary language. However, it is interesting to note how many people speak English, both the local Italians and many foreigners who don’t speak English as their first language.

In many ways, English seems to be the universal language of the world. I find this somewhat surprising as a majority of the world does not have English as their first language.

Words in Italian
Despite the fact that I really could get around without learning any Italian, I’ve tried to pick up some basic words and phrases:

Florence => Firenze
Hello (and Goodbye) => Ciao
Thank you => Grazie
You’re welcome => Prego
Print => Stampa
One => Uno
Two => Due [doo-eh]
How do you say…in Italian? => Come si dice… in Italiano?
Hello (on the telephone) => Pronto
Hour => Hora
Beautiful = > Bella
You often see the phrase “Ciao Bella” on shirts, which translates to “Goodbye Beautiful”.

I’m sure I could also have used most of what I remember from Spanish and that would have sufficed.

All the restrooms have pull cord in them. In case you fall down, you’re supposed to pull it to call for help. Funny thing is, the cords are placed way up high so they’re out of the way and there’s no what you could pull them if you were to fall.

All the streets in the city center are made of stone.

Illegal street peddlers
There are lots and lots of people who have carts to sell their goods from (think of the Mexican side of the US-Mexican border in San Diego). However, there are also lots of people who just peddle goods in the street. They almost always peddle the same things: knock off purses (Louis Vuitton anyone?), knock off watches, and prints.


When the police come, they have to quickly pick up their goods. However, it appears that the police turn a blind eye and will wait for the merchant to pick up his stuff before walking by them.

Vespas, cars, and parking lots
Vespas are every where. They really are, I almost was run down by one. Not many luxury cars can be seen on road, however a quick look into a garage reveals where they are.

Internet Cafe Prices and Laws
Rick Steves says that Internet Cafes can be found for €4/hour (€3/hour for students), we found the best Internet cafe (in terms of quality) for €1.50/hour for everyone. I also saw another one offering Internet for €0.99/hour.

Just walk around and you’ll find something. As I mentioned earlier {link that, please}, Italian law requires that owners collect user information before allowing them on the Internet. I did go to one cafe where all they took was your name, but everyone else seems to abide by the rules.

I’m sure I’ll have more notes and thoughts on Italy later.