Without meaning to offend the Hetalia characters who are running around in my head whenever I talk about countries in this way, I feel I should say I already like Spain more than Italy.
Maybe it’s because I can speak more Spanish than Italian, or maybe because my hostel in Madrid is walking distance to the main attractions and the hotel in Rome wasn’t. Or maybe it’s because I just got a damn good massage (or masaje, see I’m learning new words) in front of the Royal Palace. I think I was ripped off though, at the Rome airport I paid 39 Euro for a lady to give me a massage which consisted primarily of patting and stroking my shoulders and back. Today I paid the Chinese people in the Royal gardens 50 Euro and got the whole deal; head, neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, hands and feet. They probably ripped me off too, but it was worth it for a proper massage.
That’s not to say, my dear Italy, that I won’t be revisiting. I want to see more of Venice and Verona, as well as Lake Garda. I’ll revisit Florence one day too when I have more artistic knowledge and can really appreciate all that you have to offer. I’ll have to go back to Milan to see da Vinci’s Last Supper as well, before it deteriorates beyond recognition.
Oh and I’ll have to return to Sorrento. Primavera has many more gelato flavours for me to try. And I think I’d like to get some custom made sandals too. I’ll probably want authentic Italian pasta and pizza again, but for now I’m happy to leave the pasta be. Nearly two solid weeks of at least one dish of pasta a day does wear away one’s enthusiasm for that particular foodstuff. Although I think I should have bought some of the penis shaped pasta, it would have been a good icebreaker for a dinner party.
All things considered though, Italy has taught me a lot.
The first thing is that language barriers are only as big as you let them be. Gesturing vaguely at the menu board that features nine items will not help the cashier decipher what you want. But if you at least try to say the name they will eventually understand you. It’s unlikely that all the things on the menu board will start with the same sound. And if that is the case, you might want to try your luck with another place.
I also learnt that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not a random tower in the middle of a field as I have been lead to believe by a number of postcards and google images. There’s actually a Cathedral and Baptistery next to it. Which makes so much more sense; I mean who would build a bell tower in the middle of an empty field anyway?
Another handy piece of knowledge I can credit to my tour of Italy is simply that if at first you can’t find the flush for the toilet or the tap for the sink, just keeping looking. Look on top of and behind the toilet, check for a motion sensor by moving about in front of the toilet and press or try to move anything that looks even remotely button-like. The same goes for the sink, but look underneath for a pedal as well.
And lastly I found out that for luck in love you need to fondle Juliet’s right breast. And I don’t mean just any Juliet, I’m talking about the bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard outside what is said to be her balcony in Verona. I didn’t do it. It didn’t feel right to sexually harass another woman, even if it’s just a statue, to give myself luck in love. I threw two coins into the Trevi fountain instead; it seemed subtler than having my photo taken molesting Juliet. I also rubbed the boar’s nose in Florence so I could return to the city one day, but I didn’t stomp on the bull’s balls and turn three times in Milan. Again somehow I didn’t seem fair that I gain good luck by stomping, pointedly, on someone else’s balls.
All that being said, I still think I like Spain better. Or least, I prefer Madrid to Rome. Don’t get me wrong, in Italy I had an amazing time, saw incredible things, made new friends and have some amazing memories that will last. But Spain is showing a lot of promise so far, and I can’t wait to see more.