Weekly Highlights: This week I’m not going to do a full written recap of everything, 1) because a picture says a thousand words, and 2) I don’t have time to write 20,000+ words.  This first portion has most of the pictures, and then the juicier journalism / muckraking / wise-cracking happens soon after.  Enjoy!

Padua

Cool town about 30 minutes from Venice by train.  We visited a number of churches and  cathedrals before lunch, and then we went to the Scrovegni Chapel and the University afterward.  The lunch was the de facto best meal I’ve had during my visit here–three courses, with the best being a blueberry tortellini dish with poppyseed and ricotta gnocchi and risotto.  Had I been a girl, I would have taken a Twitpic of it and cross-posted to Facebook, just before I Instagramed it and immediately Pinned it to my Pinterest page “ITALY NOM NOMS.”

Bele Casel 

This is the vineyard that is owned by the family of one of the VIU interns, Paola–who is awesome and is at this point, practically the head promoter of this blog.  Through my elaborate connections (well, Paola), I was able to secure some prosecco to taste.

It was awesome.

The vineyard is based in Caerano, San Marco–just outside of Treviso.  Go visit the site and go visit the vineyard.  Or find where you can drink it outside of Italy on the site.  Seriously, stop reading and look it up right now.

Venetian Lagoon, Burano, and Torcello

Really cool places.  Burano is the one with the multi-colored houses that seem like they were painted by hippies mid-trip.  Torcello is the one without those houses.

Overrated / Underrated: 

Overrated: Spritz

The traditional Venetian drink that is the region’s equivalent of Bud Light: the Sure Sign of a Good Time.  And while it does taste better than Spuds McKenzie’s favorite beverage, it still resembles a shell of an alcoholic drink. It isn’t bad in an absolute sense–it tastes fine, but nothing more.  I’m also not sure what it’s supposed to taste like, nor is it an easily describable taste, so I’m always–not entirely pleasantly–surprised when I take a sip.

However, if there was a dog who liked ragers who also drank Spritz and was able to totally strut his stuff with his Spritz-drinking lady friends…well, that may completely change my preferences.

Overrated: Summertime (1955), featuring Katharine Hepburn

93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  100% garbage.  It’s unbelievable how much movies have improved in the past 60 years.  I also don’t understand why Hollywood-produced movies think it’s smart to portray Americans abroad as barely functioning boobs.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the movie, though: Some American lady (Catherine Hepburn) travels to Venice for vacation.  She has no idea how to get around, gets ripped off on glass from a shady salesman, eats all of her meals at Piazza San Marco, and generally displays symptoms of both anxiety and bipolar disorders.  Her best friend is a Venetian street urchin, and she has no idea how to act in social situations.  Eventually she falls in love with the same shady salesman who ripped her off on authentic Murano glass, who also happens to be married.  Then she leaves Venice for no apparent reason.  Really heart-warming stuff.

(Yes, I realize that probably 97% of my readers either have no intentions of watching this film or watched it with me last week and already have heard my numerous complaints.  But if I prevent one person from watching this movie, it’s a complaint worth making.)

Underrated: American drying machines

C’mon, Italy.  2 Euros for 20 minutes of drying?  This never would have happened under Berlusconi.

Underrated: Gelato

Everyone knows to get gelato when in Italy.  HOWEVAH, let me put on my Chuck Klosterman rating beret and make the case that although gelato in a vacuum is properly rated, when combined with the atmosphere surrounding a gelato excursion and the passion that the gelateria workers demonstrate while scooping gelato (this actually isn’t sarcastic, it’s mind-blowingly awesome to witness), and eating gelato in Italy is slightly underrated.  Also, at most places it’s only 2.50 Euro for a two scoop cone, which, when you consider it’s only 50 cents more than the 20-minute clothes storage facility, seems like a total steal.

Weekly Suggestion for Improving Italy’s Economy: Better Gimmicky Tourist Sales

Although this was a throwaway item in last week’s blog, I have noticed an uptick in vaporetto ticket verification recently (an uptick from 0 to 1–thank you STAT 103).  It’s clear that some pretty big names in Italy are paying attention to this, so with this great power my blog possesses comes a great responsibility.  Thus, today I’d like to turn our attention to the epidemic of the men along San Marco who peddle tricky laser pointers, glow-in-the-dark flying lights, and throw goo at the ground which turns into different-shaped goo.  (I’m sorry, I ranted about this in my Venice tourist post last week, but it’s worth a reiteration.)

Listen, dudes: I know you’re just trying to make a cheap buck or two.  But what you’re peddling isn’t cool or unique or interesting in any way.  I can think of at least 14 gimmicks right now that are better than what you’re doing.  Even the guys selling bootleg handbags laugh at you when they head home at night.  You guys are the Khloe Kardashian of tourist exploitists.

So, Italy: take care of your 99%, your 53%, or, hell, even the bottom 20%.  Teach them card tricks, optical illusions, or shell games.  Maybe some of them can develop psychic powers.  Or perhaps they receive inheritances from Nigerian royalty, and simply need the SSN of some tourists to help them cash out their fair share.  Because once these citizens develop a steady income of their own, it will surely be a piece of cake to get them to accurate record their finances and taxable income.

At least get some jugglers or something.  Maybe a pig appraisal competition.  Seriously, Italy, talk to me–I’m full of ideas.

Next week: I begin the compilation of the most historically accurate, most informative photo album ever put on a WordPress blog.  You will think you know more about European history than anyone else you encounter.

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