I Love Andrea Pirlo

Watch Italy play in this month’s World Cup. Look between the flamboyant, electric Mario Balotelli and the turgid, miserly defensive front—manned by Gigi Buffon, the Billy Walsh-lookalike captain of Gli Azzurri. Somewhere amongst the nebulous midfield, in the swaths spanning from box to box, you’ll spy a bearded, objectively beautiful man puttering around, pushing the boundaries of just how little he can move his legs in first gear without stalling out. Opponents will dribble by this man with aplomb, the only hint of concern on his part being the subsequent hurried realignment of his Versace mane.

Yes, Andrea Pirlo plays piss-poor defense, occasionally exposed as a snail in the horsepower arms race that is modern football.  And no one cares in the slightest, because Pirlo is the closest thing soccer has to an offensive savant—Roger Federer, Pete Maravich, and Johnny Manziel seamlessly sewed into one—blessed with so little physical ability and such infinite mental capacities that he seems to be a one-man argument against the belief of intelligent design.

You see, Pirlo is the Italianest Italian that ever sported the blue and white. He’s a walking paradox, a juxtaposition of the beautiful and impractical, with his egregiously blatant flaws being far outweighed by the transcendent joy he brings others. He’s lazy and brilliant, gorgeous and ancient—a Rorschach test that nevertheless leaves all shaking their heads in amazement.

With the developing metrication of the free-flowing game of football, a deep-lying midfielder—forever the unseen puppeteer of a successful attack—can finally receive his due, via approximations of his distance traveled, his challenge rate, and most importantly, his passes completed. But those stats fail to tell the whole picture: I imagine someone like the USA’s methodical Michael Bradley may test out roughly as well as Pirlo according to these imperfect proxies. Pirlo plays with an unmatched flair, however, that separates his game from his peers’. His joy, which one could argue should come solely from setting up goals and preventing opportunities for the opposition, appears to be derived from Houdini escapades in the defensive half, sucking attackers closer and closer until all options have been eliminated, then embarrassing them with a pass that only his neurons could conceive of.

Pirlo can certainly dice up a defense and play one-touch with the best of ’em, and if you see highlights, that’s what will receive air time (save the occasional knuckle-puck free kick he’ll whip off the cross bar, or the Oscar-worthy dummy he’ll deliver to provide a clear look at goal for a teammate). But his playful dickishness—when contrasted with his austere, humorless façade—is his most endearing quality. Against England Saturday, his most ridiculous play was when he let the opposition prowl and steadily leak into his flank in the midfield, ostensibly severing the connection between him and midfield mate Claudio Marchisio. At great risk of a turnover, Pirlo—with a serial killer’s detachment—wedged a five-yard pass to his teammate, an absolute flop shot that ascended and fell instantaneously at Marchisio’s feet. The English attacker stopped and turned, astounded that he had sweated so much in the humid Manaus air for such a fruitless outcome. Never before has such a short pass carried a message of such disdain.

As Marchisio found the outlet on the right and the Azzurri began threatening on the wing, Pirlo set off at a leisurely jog, ready to be called into action once again. That is, at least, as soon as he got there.


Ode To Venice: The Top Things I’ll Miss

Living in Venice is almost like watching an Aaron Sorkin movie–none of the people you see seem that likable, and everyone is spending more time talking than working. (Other comparisons I had stored for this: it’s like a Carrot Top movie, because it doesn’t make any money consistently; it’s like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, because it’s old and dated; it’s like a Nic Cage movie, because everyone seems to be trying too hard to sell you on something of pretty poor quality.)

Having said all that, I love Venice.  Not in the way in which I wish I could live here forever, but the way in which I wish I could pick it up with me and transport it back to America, so that whenever real life or jobs or cars stress me out, I could escape to this timeless haven.  It doesn’t have the best food in Italy, nor the best people, the best infrastructure, the most historical locations…well, I could go on.  But the point is, Venice is a special place, perhaps one of the most noteworthy and identifiable locales in the historic country of Italy.  As such, it deserves a special tribute.  Here are the things, in no particular order, that I’ll miss the most after living in Venice for the past 3 months:

Italian sweets: For a people who are notorious for looking good, Italians sure know how to eat in quantities that would shame the likes of Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi.  And I’m not just discussing their relatively healthy pasta and red wine diet: their sweets have enough unsaturated fats to make Rex Ryan drool.  Cannolis, gelato, and even American treats like doughnuts (in Italian–ciambelle): Italians do them right.  I even had their equivalent of hot chocolate, called cioccolato fondente, that is literally a cup of melted chocolate: Just incredible. Probably awful for me in the present and in the near future, but still–incredible.  The best thing is that every place sells some form of treat: each Italian family apparently has some secret recipe for cornetti, gelato, or panna that is just unbelievable, and they have to open a shop to share it with the community.

(I forgot to mention that they have crepes, too. Italy really goes all out. Ball’s in your court, Krispy Kreme.)

Venetian / Italian bureaucracy: Every operation involving a line or government official was a roller-coaster.  To put it simply, there were no “gimmes” in Italy–every event become a process of sorts, and it was always interesting as to whether this would be painless or torturous.  Although this sounds incredibly annoying–and, believe me, it was–it lent a sense of accomplishment to the smallest tasks.  No longer will I be able to consider a day where I buy chocolates and send a letter “productive,” as was the case in Italy.

Campo Santa Margherita: The best (read: only) place to go out in Venice; its design, albeit simple, is a foreign concept for Americans.  Basically, it’s 12-15 bars in a square-ish area that all sell people drinks, and then people go and sit in the middle of the campo to drink them, or walk around and mingle.  It’s basically a permanent bar crawl, at your own pace, with your own tastes and preferences considered.  I actually had to think about why this couldn’t exist in America, and then I remembered those nasty fellas known as “open container laws.” Fascists.

The Grand Canal: Waking up and seeing this, Rialto bridge, and P. San Marco every day is indescribable.

(After a while, I would actually get pissed that I had to go to these areas because there are so many tourists, which is an absurd reaction to such beautiful locations.  Being in Venice for so long had spoiled me–I can only imagine what it’s like being a true Venetian.  Probably similar to being a sad, bored, ambition-less 70-year-old Italian man, but I can’t be sure.)

The Sheer Number of Vendors in Venice: I mocked the vendors a lot here, but they did provide the city with an atmosphere. Even when it was miserable out, they always created the sense that something was going on, and I always knew that commerce (and cheap, China-made goods) weren’t far from me.

L’acqua alta: Just kidding–this part of Venice sucked. The city still owes me one pair of dark blue Lucky Brand jeans, one pair of thrift store dress shoes, and irreparable damages stemming from emotional trauma related to acqua alta.

(Other items that won’t be missed: most modes of transportation (including ACTV vaporetti, ACTV buses, ATVO buses, TrenItalia, various bus shuttles); the Venice-Treviso airport–which is actually in neither city, occupying a Station 9 3/4-like purgatory in N. Italy; that one checkout guy at the S. Polo Billa, who knows what he did; the helicopter, laser pointer, and goo salesmen dispersed throughout the city; the hordes and hordes of tourists; the ridiculous tourist prices; the ridiculous normal prices; the lack of CVS cash-back.)

Rosso Pomodoro: The best pizza chain in Italy that we knew about that took our vouchers / food stamps.  So far, it has only one location in the States (in NYC).  I’ll do my best to change that: to put it simply, it’ll be tough to go back to Domino’s after eating here.

(To be clear, though, I will go back to Domino’s and enjoy my Medium, 1-topping pizza for $7.99.  I reserve the right to complain incessantly about it, however.)

International Beer: Paulaner. Franzishaner. Leffe. Affligem. Blanche de Namur. ReAle Birra Del Borgo. Bavaria. Ceres. And many, many more. You all have a place reserved in my heart. (Moretti, Peroni, Castello, and other Italian beers: I never liked you that much, but you always gave it your best. You were like the David Eckstein of beers. I respect that. Unlike Tuborg, which was European beer’s JaMarcus Russell–highly touted without any real production or redeeming qualities.)

Grom: The Rosso Pomodoro of gelato, which maybe doesn’t really do it justice.  Get the “Crema Come Una Volta” flavor and don’t look back.

VIU: Venice International University, located on San Servolo, an island that was formerly a mental institute before being adapted into an institute of slightly higher learning.  It is the only international university I have attended–the school brings students together from the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Israel, Spain, China, and elsewhere–and it is certainly my favorite.

But, in all honesty, this semester wouldn’t have been the same without the same without the great people of VIU and its sending universities, and I owe all of the great experiences I had over these past three months–in some way–to various subsections of these people.  I don’t know if anyone is still reading this, or was initially reading this, but here goes:

To the interns and the staff: I can’t thank you enough. There’s no way any of us would have gotten through the semester as well as we did without you, and you worked tirelessly to organize awesome events for us during our free time.  We never really got to repay you the favor, but if you come to America, I’ll be sure to do just that.

To my teachers: Your classes were fantastic; your travel advice sagely. I also don’t think any of you destroyed my GPA, which I very much appreciate.

To my fellow VIU students: it was a hell of a ride, one that I’ll certainly never forget. Let’s do it again sometime?


Just think about it.

Venice Wonderland

Venice Wonderland, set to the tune of “Carol of the Bells”

(jk jk, it’s based on “Winter Wonderland”)

Rowers sing, are you listening,

Grand canal, water’s glistening.

A beautiful sight,

We’re happy tonight.

Walking in a Venice wonderland.

Gone away is the bag man,

Here to stay is a rose man.

He gets in your face,

And takes up your space,

Walking in a Venice wonderland.

At San Marco, we can all make poses,

And pretend the vendors are not there.

They’ll say: “Piace?”

We’ll say: “We hate roses,”

“Non mi interessa–

I don’t care.”

Later on, we’ll be PO’d,

As we chew on subpar “cibo.”

To face unafraid,

Tourist prices we’ve paid,

Walking in a Venice wonderland.

In the strada we can buy a snow globe,

The glass, we’re told, comes straight from Murano.

We’ll have lots of fun with mister snow globe,

‘Till it breaks ‘cuz it’s from China long ago.

When it snows, ain’t it thrilling,

It happened once, when God was willing.

So we’ll just smoke every day, the Italian way,

Walking in a Venice wonderland.

O Italy

To the tune of “O Christmas Tree,” if you really couldn’t figure it out…

O Italy! O Italy!

Thy peeves are so enraging;

O Italy! O Italy!

Thy peeves are so enraging;

Not only mean when tourists near,

But judging when I order beer.

O Italy! O Italy!

Thy peeves are so enraging!

O Italy! O Italy!

Displeasure thou hast given me;

O Italy! O Italy!

Displeasure thou hast given me;

How often has this Italy

Charged me for a place to pee!

O Italy! O Italy!

Displeasure thou hast given me.

O Italy! O Italy!

Thy trinkets shine so brightly!

O Italy! O Italy!

Thy trinkets shine so brightly!

From square to square, in every sight,

Guys selling crap all day and night.

O Italy! O Italy!

Thy trinkets shine so brightly!

O Italy! O Italy!

How loaded is Berlusconi!

O Italy! O Italy!

How loaded is Berlusconi!

He makes us view and watch TV,

And yell “Forza, Milan AC.”

O Italy! O Italy!

How loaded is Berlusconi!”

Quick Hitters: Two New Ideas to Improve Italy’s Economy

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my economic knowledge with Italians everywhere–ranging from my ideas on collecting tickets from train passengers to collecting tickets from vaporetto passengers.  I’m sure the effects will be showing in the recent quarterly reports, right? Let me just do a quick search on Google and…

Ohhhhh, Jesus.

Should’ve listened to me, fellas.  Anyway, if America is a country founded on second chances, then Italy should, realistically, be founded on about a half-dozen of those things.  Without further ado, here are my two most effective ideas for getting the Italian economy into high gear, or at least, preventing it from being lapped a couple more times.

1. When you have a sale going on, you should advertise this outside

Really, just a basic theory of the firm concept, and by theory of the firm, I mean a concept that 5 year-olds running a lemonade stand grasp.  Today, I went to a local bookstore and picked out a book I needed, after looking at the sticker on the back that said 10E. When I went to the register, 10 euro note in hand, the lady behind the counter said “otto cinquanta.” Not entirely confident in my Italian comprehension, I stammered back, “Il prezzo? Otto cinquanta?” She replied, “Si, lo sconto” and pointed at the wall.  On the inside wall, facing the register–FACING THE REGISTERwas a tiny, uninteresting sign saying, in Italian, “15% Off All Products.”

Now, I would’ve bought this book anyway, but that’s not the point.  The point is that I could’ve gone through the entire store, searched around, grabbed a book, bought it, and left–without a single clue that a sale was going on.  Compare that to Amazon.com, which drowns the customer in deals and discounts, and you really wonder why bookstores are going out of business.

Although this may have been an isolated incident, but if I help just one Italian shop pull itself up by its bootstraps and relaunch its marketing campaign by turning a paper around, it’ll be worth it.  I know to you they might seem like riff-raff, but to most everyone else, those people are customers.

2. Prevent lost worker productivity by limiting the number of times you end a conversation with “Ciao”

One of the worst things about the March Madness aka the NCAA Basketball Championship (I know, it’s only November, but Duke’s kicking some ass right now, so I can’t help but dream…) is the people complaining about lost productivity from people following games at work, filling out brackets, et cetera.  (Even President Obama has fallen under this scrutiny for outlining his picks each year, despite the fact that he clearly doesn’t spend too much time considering it as he always picks UNC.)  Besides the fact that this “distraction” a huge cultural event in America, it only consumes parts of 4 work days a year, and that the workers are only getting distracted from the other distractions they’d be consumed by if March Madness didn’t exist, it’s a pretty solid complaint.

So, let’s logically extend that argument to Italy.  One of the biggest “time-wasters” Italians engage in is saying “Ciao” repeatedly at the end of a conversation.  A typical end to a Italian conversation in Italy goes like this:

A: “Ciao, ragazzi!”

B + C: “Ci-ciao!”

A: “Ciao!…ciao!”

B+C: “Ciao.”

Plenty of lost productivity there.  If you say every conversation lasts 2 seconds longer than it should be, then that’s 2x total seconds lost, where x is the number of people in the conversation, and with y conversations occurring between chatty Italians every day,  then I conservatively estimate the daily value of 2xy–the total seconds lost in the country due to overuse of “Ciao”s–to be in the hundreds of millions. (Don’t worry, I hired Nate Silver to run the numbers.) That’s a lot of time that can be spent not working from 1:00-3:30 in the afternoon or spent calling your mothers.

Anyway, these tips ought to do the trick and fix Italy’s economy.  If not, I’ll keep my ear to the ground to find the latest Italian inefficiencies.  Keep your head up, fellas–your economy will be clicking in no time.  Rest assured–there certainly isn’t some greater, underlying mechanism at work here that’s causing your economic issues.  No way.

(UPDATE: Nate Silver now says there’s an 88.3% chance that Italy’s economic issues are caused by something larger than “Ciao” overuse.)

Sicily and Thanksgiving: A Glorified Food Blog

Well, if I’m a little cranky during this post, I apologize. I was awoken much earlier than I anticipated because a man outside in my street was bellowing–some kind folks might say “singing”–opera this morning.  Jesus, Italy.  Be more Italian.

Since I last posted, I’ve been to Sicily, had my first ever Thanksgiving outside of the US, and, more than likely, signed on as a backup QB with the Jets.  (My competition is Sanchez and Tebow–I’m pretty confident that I’ll be starting soon.)  So, it’s been a bit of a wild week and a half; let’s jump right into the details.

I briefly considered doing another side-by-side breakdown of Venice with Sicily, as I did previously with Venice and Florence.  But then I realized that there’s barely a single category Venice could steal from Sicily.  Food, drink, signature desserts, signature dishes, views, prices, nightlife, helpful people, references to the Godfather, casual racism, implicit racism, overt racism, racism on trains and racism on planes–Sicily outclasses Venice across the board.

(Really, though–Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who is black, hails from Sicily, and I don’t know why he would willingly play for this country.  I’m pretty sure only one country has had a national newspaper depict him as King Kong, and that country was The Boot.  Even George Wallace thinks Italy should tone it down a bit.)

But if you’re not familiar with Sicilian foods, here’s the one word you need to know: arancini.  Arancini (that’s the plural form, because there’s no way in hell you’ll only be getting one of these fellas) are harmless looking fried cones, the type of food you wouldn’t be shocked to see being served in an elementary school cafeteria after they’ve run out of hash browns.  Even when you look inside one, it doesn’t look that appetizing–it looks a little like spat-up baby food, a little like a dissection during a biology lab.  But the worst thing you can do when it comes to eating arancini is think twice.  As Sean Connery (as the incomparable John Mason) says in The Rock, “You must never hesitate.”

“Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and eat an entire tray of these things.”

Because, once you dive into that warm ball of goodness, you may experience vertigo, dizziness, numbness, an inability to speak, and other telltale signs of a stroke.  Don’t worry, you’re not actually having a stroke: the arancini is just so good that your brain is–LITERALLY–unable to function, as it’s too busy processing this delicious insanity.

What’s in arancini? Well, the typical combination is fried rice, meat sauce (the preferred term is ragu), tomato sauce, mozzarella, and peas, a combination which is both modern and legendary. Most of the flavors are similar to pizza flavors (i.e. 4 seasons, 4 cheeses, veggies only, something something prosciutto), but I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to get my fix through Domino’s next semester.  I honestly don’t know if arancini exist in America, because they hardly exist in the northern parts of Italy, but the first man to emigrate from Sicily and bring his cookbook with him will make a fortune. (Perhaps they’ll emigrate because of unbearable racism, Mario Balotelli? Chef Balotelli has a nice ring to it.  Come play ball and cook in America–most of the racist parts of our country don’t even have soccer.)

I don’t mean to exaggerate, guys, but a late-night arancini place on a college campus would literally make McDonald’s obsolete.

Besides eating insane amounts of this, as well as granitas and cannoli, Sicily was great.  Palermo definitely doesn’t make you feel safe, or necessarily clean, but it’s a very interesting and cheap city.  We spent the rest of the weekend in Taormina, which is on the other side of the island, and if you can stomach the 6 hour train ride to get there (without a reserved seat, which means you may be standing for the trip), you absolutely should go for it.  It’s the most beautiful place in the world that I’ve seen, and I’ve been to some nice places, such as Detroit, Aroostook County, Maine, and the Baltimore airport.

Finally, on Thursday we had an awesome Thanksgiving celebration at our professor’s apartment.  And, I must say, I think pumpkin pie may be overrated.  We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner–turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, green beans…the works, really.  A full, classy spread, with a hint of Italian mixed in, as we not only had wine but prosecco to drink.

However, in lieu of pumpkin pie–apparently pumpkins aren’t a thing in Italy? WEIRD–we had tiramisu, a mixed fruit cake (frutta di bosco, as they say), and another cake whose flavors were indecipherable but whose quality was top-notch.  Point is…I didn’t really miss pumpkin pie, even with the added incentive of whipped cream.  As far as pies go, pumpkin is behind apple, and definitely behind blueberry, so it’s barely still on the pie depth chart.  Maybe it needs a change of scenery (pumpkin bread, pumpkin spiced latte, now we’re talking), but right now, I’m flashing a weak SELL for pumpkin right now.

(And yes, that was three mixed metaphors in a two sentence span.)

(Also, I was going to make a predictable joke here, but then I discovered that there’s a Trail of Tears Indian Pumpkin Ale beer, which sounds deliciously offensive.  Probably the best thing to come out of Arkansas since Darren McFadden.)

Anyway, Thanksgiving in Italy is a different experience: it’s not a holiday (Venice actually had the day before off for La Festa Della Salute), finding a turkey takes longer than preparing it, and there’s no football to watch before eating because of the time difference.  But still, it’s a great time, and although we mostly didn’t know anyone else at the table at the start of the semester, there still was a wonderful, strong community–partially the power of the Holidays, but mostly due, I think, to the unifying power of study abroad.  Most of all, though, Thanksgiving was a success because no one felt obligated to step into the role of the crazy uncle who rants about Obama and spreads his Tea Party beliefs.  For that, and so much more this semester and this season, I’m thankful.

Next week, I go to Colorado.  Whoops, I meant Amsterdam.  If you need to tell the two places apart, you can either look for Peyton Manning jerseys or Mormons.

10 Things I Hate About You, Italy

Two weeks ago was our fall break here in Venice, which I spent traveling throughout Spain (well, Barcelona and Ibiza) with a variety of people.  It was a great escape from the rigors of study abroad.  But truly, the cities were both unique and beautiful, and I took an insane amount of photos.  Then, this past Sunday, we went to Milan to see AC Milan take on Fiorentina in a soccer game at San Siro, which was absolutely incredible.  The trips to Milan and Spain were two of the best I’ve had, and I’m jetting off to Sicily today for another weekend outside Venice.

So, fittingly, today I’d like to talk about everything bad about Italy.  Because, despite these great experiences, living in Italy takes a toll on the tourist.  And, above all, I like to write complaints more than sing praises.  In no particular order, here are 10 of the worst things about Italy:

1. The washing machines and dryers

Well, the washing machines are great.  Maybe they flood a little bit and don’t really drain at any point, but it’s not a huge deal.  And, OK, perhaps they could be a little larger than a black box. And while we’re picking nits, it wouldn’t be awful if the doors could open when the loads are done.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but (I really hope) I’m not the only one.

The dryers are nonexistent.  At least, in the classical sense on drying anything.  Some dryers exist in a physical form, but practically, they’re only effective at transforming your wet, cold clothes into wet, warm clothes.

(Was there an Italian Transformer? There should be an Italian transformer. Someone get Michael Bay on the phone.)

2. The absence of paper towels in restrooms.  And the hand dryers.  Oh, the hand dryers

Look, Italy, I can overlook some of your bathroom faux pas.  Your absence of urinals? Impractical but forward-thinking.  Your wide, unique variety of flushers? Hilarious, if a touch unprofessional.

But one thing I expect out of bathrooms is an effective tool for removing soapy water from my hands.  And TYPICALLY, the best tool is a good, old-fashioned paper towel.  However, in a pinch, a powerful Dyson hand dryer can get the job done.  It may take a little longer, but if it’s better for the environment, I’ll hold my tongue.

What doesn’t work, though, are the hand dryers Italy provides, which appear to consist an old man, inside a wall, exhaling his last, dying breaths through a spout onto your hands.  I think I heard one of them cry for help yesterday–I would’ve helped, but my hands were too wet to be useful.

3. Paying to use public bathrooms

Even at the train station! No joke–the security to gain access to the bathroom is stricter than to get on any of the trains there.  I wish there was a sequel to The Big Lebowski where they go to Italy, just so we could see Walter Sobchak’s reactions to these injustices.

4. The restrictions on online TV

No Netflix. No Hulu. No ESPN3. If I couldn’t stay up to date on South Park through Comedy Central, I’d be on suicide watch right now. Good thing bootleg streaming sites are pretty ubiquitous (seriously, I know a guy).  I couldn’t imagine doing study abroad earlier than, like, 2 years ago.

(Normally the loss of Hulu wouldn’t be devastating, but when you’re trying to watch Louis C.K.’s “Lincoln” sketch from SNL on repeat and you keep reading that “Sorry, currently our video library can only be watched from within the United States,” well, it’s worse than getting waterboarded.)

5. Shopworkers asking for change when we clearly don’t have it, and subsequently getting mad at us

Listen, guys, we’re not paying for a cappuccino with a 20 Euro note because we want to wait three minutes as you fumble around with the cash register.  I would LOVE to pay precisely 1 Euro 40 cents, and yes, I’m aware that’s the price–you don’t have to repeat it for me like I’m some mouthbreather. “Non hai quaranta centessimi?” NO I DO NOT.  I realize that your job would be a lot easier if I had it; hell, I’d be halfway down the street by now if that were the case.  But I didn’t have it, and your job is continuing to be a pain in the ass, but I still don’t have a coffee, and so we’re in this room now.  The sooner you accept this, the sooner we can move on, and the sooner you can glare holes in the back of my head.

6. Not bagging groceries

And when this happens at the grocery–let’s be real, guys: I only use big bills. Nothing less than a 20″–and they glare at you and vengefully swipe your items across the scanner, all the while neglecting the steadily growing mountain of items they’re creating, well, I could bottle up my anger and sell it at a significant markup.  But hey, historically speaking, worker productivity isn’t something that Italy hangs its proverbial hat on.

7. Italian basketball recaps

There are other teams in the NBA besides the ones that Danilo Gallinari, Marco Bellinelli, and Andrea Bargnani play for. Actually, a lot of other teams. 27 to be exact. Just saying.  (Serious question: how is Bellinelli still in the league? For a “pure shooter,” he has the accuracy of [insert famous blind person here].)

8. L’Acqua Alta

Well, OK–this is just Venice being a poorly designed city.  But if it’s the 21st century and months of your year are still dependent on the mercy of Mother Nature, then it might be worth revisiting your game plan.

On a related note, never have I prayed harder for longer legs than when I had to wade through thigh-level water (with knee-level rainboots) to catch a train this past Sunday.  Thanks, genetics.

9. Restaurants Being Closed on Sundays and Mondays

A man’s gotta eat.  Although, if these restaurants being closed forces me to go to the Billa supermarket and just stock up on a bunker’s worth of wafers and Ringo Vaniglia cookies (think Oreos but with one chocolate and one vanilla side), it might be worth it? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

10. The Time Difference from America

I had to get up at 4:30 on Tuesday morning to see my Steelers eke out a win on MNF, and I missed the Duke win over Kentucky on Wednesday morning because my body didn’t respond to the multiple alarms (of various Dick Vitale quotes) I had set for 3:30.  Why couldn’t I just study in, like, Little Italy, or New Jersey? They have pizza and pasta there, too!

Although, to be fair, the time difference has its perks. It was something special to watch the election coverage at 4:00 AM last Wednesday morning. (Whoops, I almost forgot: I VOTED–GOOD FOR ME.) I doubt I’ll ever get to see another victory in a presidential election first called through an entirely Italian broadcast–our TV broadcast somehow just beat out the online versions of HuffPost and the NYT–and for that, and hundreds of other things, I’m glad I came to this country.

(But seriously, I can’t stream the Daily Show live on Election Night? That’s BS.)