Top Tens

At the beginning of my semester here, I think I'll do a bit of before-and-after analysis. My experience of Italy consists thus far in 3 days in Rome, 3 in Assisi, and 3 in Siena. So, here are my top 10 likes and dislikes about Italy based on my small knowledge.

Top 10 Things I Like about Italy
1. St. Peter's.
2. The fact that churches are plentiful and generally very beautiful.
3. The fact that public water fountains, with constantly-flowing clear, cold spring water, are everywhere in Rome. For the tourist, pilgrim and student, this means that it's very easy to stay hydrated in the city.
4. It's actually very easy to cross the street. You just look around, wait a second, and step out. They'll stop. A good insurance policy consists of other pedestrians crossing at the same time between you and the oncoming smart cars and vespas.
5. So many nuns and priests clearly visible on the streets and in the churches.
6. Lots of people speak enough English to make ordering food and getting around not too difficult.
7. Everything is so wonderfully old! America feels like a baby country (or at least a difficult-toddler-stage country) compared to Europe. You can feel the age of the place even in the air. Or maybe that's the humidity...
8. Hot chocolate every morning for breakfast - just hot milk and cocoa powder. And the hot chocolate at the cafes in Assisi is the best! It's so thick you can rest a spoon on top. It's a consistency halfway between cream and pudding.
9. The food...I am getting so spoiled on Italian 4-course meals. Now that I'm on my own stipend life will be different, but even the cheap food is good. For the first time in my life (seat yourselves, o my family) I ate a whole plate of pasta with red sauce. Twice. It was actually amazingly good!
10. 2-euro coins are quite possibly the most convenient items possible!

Top 10 Things I Don't Like About Italy

1. The clothes...and the lingerie shops on every street corner...ugh. Worse than Victoria's Secret by a long shot.
2. The fact that you have to insert your hotel key card to get electricity in the hotel room. Makes logistics difficult when you only have one card and three girls in a room.
3. Pay toilets. Sorry, make that water closets. I've gotten to the point where I refuse to go to a 1 euro WC, I only go to the 50-cent ones.
4. The churches have frequently been at least partially wreckovated. Sometimes it's just a matter of inserting a new free-standing altar, others have been completely or mostly stripped. Granted, it's a testimony to medieval architecture that even the bare bones are still beautiful.
5. The humidity.  Everything feels damp and sticky, as I think we're consistently running around 50% humidity.

6. European hairstyles and clothing for men.  Very strange and not at all manly.

7. Street vendors.  And I haven't even been to the Coliseum yet...bracing myself for tomorrow.

8. How crowded the buses get at times, specifically during rush hour.

9. The fact that the churches are universally closed in the evenings, which makes it difficult to find a time to pray other than morning.  Early to bed, early to rise for me if I want church time!

10. Dealing with prices - you can think you're buying something for a low price, but because of the exchange rates, things basically are the same prices as they would be in America.