There are bright spots when it comes to writers who write about Italy. Despite her seemingly SEO optimized prose and confounding use of unqualified absolutes to introduce topics or places, Amanda Ruggieri is an American travel writer who actually manages to paint a decent picture of the places she visits here without causing autoimmune cerebral lesioning. Her writing is an exception to the hypnotically vacuous observations made by most of her counterparts. She still annoyingly equates aperitivo to “happy hour” for readers despite probably having the intellectual fortitude to creatively explain why it is not like a happy hour. She visits Palermo and other beaten-path places in Sicily, so she rates a refreshingly low 6.2-out-of-10 on my Valley girl scale of vapidity (10 would be, say, a Kim Kardashian tweet about eyebrow waxing). She uses the occasional idiom to be casual and fun in her pieces. So naturally she writes for The New York Times Magazine among other publications. Here is her blog. I’m sure you’ll Google her name successfully to find more of her decent work.
Average American traveller, I’m disappointed in you and the Huffington Post today. Do you no longer have the capacity for inner reflection? Seriously, what gene can we switch off in the American traveller’s DNA to prevent vapid dolts like this from blogging their nonsense to the world. This entry on the Huffington Post about Italy reads like a journal entry written by a 14-year-old Valley girl. It’s mostly incorrect and based on some banally obtuse observations by someone who visited Italy for a brief time on vacation. She obviously didn’t understand Italy and her myopically generic reflections show that. For example, #7: the only people I know of who drink throughout the day here in Italy are the alcoholics. It’s not common at all. Not even all of the alcoholics drink here. No one I know personally or professionally here boozes save for a glass or two at lunch or dinner. That is not to say that Italians have a problem with vacationers doing so. But Italians generally don’t booze. What’s the problem with these bloggers writing this shrill nonsense? It’s that some people actually believe what they’re writing because it’s on the Huffington Post. It’s embarrassing. Nutella isn’t on everything. Lunch is usually the huge meal that she’s talking about and it’s not every night. I’ve run out of words. Read it for yourself. . .
I’m a Cyclone, but I love the Huskers and Hawkeyes. It’s a personal problem. So naturally, I watched yesterday’s Heroes Game on the internet here in Sicily. That was the only game on TV, mid-day, in the continental United States. Anyone else living in the European time zones having the slightest interest in American college football had the ability to see this B1G football game, in prime time, on satellite or on-demand. People in the U.S. were hung-over and eating leftovers while watching an adult human male make an entire U.S. state look bad. Everyone from Boston to San Diego who were shopping in the electronics department at a Wal-Mart or a Best Buy on Black Friday saw a grown man embarrass Nebraska in HD or 3D. Every deployed Nebraska servicemember, at sea or ashore, who happened to be tuned in to AFN, witnessed a millionaire fellow public servant disparage the state they are humbly representing, live. His halftime interview and tantrum for which he was flagged are some straight-from-WWE bullshit. His comments at his post-game press conference are the pansy-assed, cowardly words of someone who knows that he’ll get a seven-million-dollar bank deposit for being a childish enough douchebag on national television to tip the scales in favor of his dismissal. It reminds me of the South Park “Lemmiwinks” episode where Mr. Garrison was unsuccessfully trying to get fired. And he represents Husker Nation?! He represents the dirt-kicking, prairie breaking, loyal, faithful Husker Nation?! They and you as Husker fans cannot accept that. I hope the university’s legal department is figuring out a way to fire him for cause. “Mr. Pelini, you actually said, on a nationally televised press conference, that ‘they can fire me if they want. . ‘.” My status as an Iowa State University alumni unofficially forbids me from being a proud Husker fan, but I was born in Omaha and I still love the Huskers. That huge, loyal, hard working nation of fans deserves better than an Archie-Bunker-meets-second-term-Richard-Nixon clown. They deserve better than Eric Cartman impersonating Bobby Knight high on bath salts. They’ll never find another Dr. Tom, but they deserve better. Mr. Pelini, you lack discipline.
These grass-fed, peaceful mammals have spent much of their pre-food lives grazing in a pasture less than a mile from my home. They’ve dined on nothing more than grass, weeds, water and the occasional government-mandated veterinary intervention that all commercial livestock destined for human consumption must ingest here in Italy. The only pollution their little cloven hooves are exposed to are the occasional plastic wrappers that blow into their plot from the medium sized city located directly to their west — lovely Siracusa. Otherwise, they spend their pre-grill days and nights enjoying gentle Mediterranean breezes, world-famous Sicilian sunshine and an occasional rain shower. None of these waddling, four-stomached creatures have given any thought to the profitable and efficient oil refinery complex to their north across the Bay of Augusta. It is highly unlikely that they have ever been effected by the production of hydrocarbons taking place there. In fact, the ISAB/Lukoil/ERG facilities near Priolo are some of the cleanest and top-performing in Europe according to a recent study. That is very good news to me because I eat beef occasionally and buy most of my food locally.
A friend told me about the following documentary’s existence:
I’ve heard the same sort of question that the documentary poses many times before: why doesn’t the U.S. dominate the planet Earth at sports like ping-pong, weightlifting or fencing? Weightlifting isn’t a popular sport in the U.S. because lifting weights is something a person in the U.S. does in order to become better at more interesting or exciting sports. We’re talking any sport. Seriously, name any other sport and it is probably more exciting than weightlifting. Or people lift weights because they simply want to get stronger and look good at the beach or in a bodybuilding competition while wearing a banana-hammock after they’ve covered themselves in baby oil and spray tan — you know, the natural look. Or they lift because they bought some weights and aren’t sure what else to do with them, like me. How many Mr. or Ms. Olympias have come from traditional weightlifting and body hair powerhouses like Bulgaria, Iran or Greece. The sport of weightlifting is a lot like track and running. It’s part of the journey an not the destination for most people. In the immortal words of Kenny Powers:
Don’t get me wrong, I love to lift weights. But I do so because I want to look good and I like to eat. Weightlifting as part of a fitness regimen builds muscle mass. Muscle mass burns calories and prevents fat from forming. Muscle mass, good. No muscle mass, bad. Weightlifting as fitness, good. Weightlifting as sport, boring.
This is my response to a vapid, myopic Huffington Post journalist who wrote this mind-numbingly simplistic list of Travel tips for visiting Italy:
First off, Whitney Richelle plagiarized elements from this article.
Also, Pre-2000 Italy called and they want their travel tips back; give the stale, SEO-optimized writing back too, while you’re at it. I’ve lived and worked here for 15 years and Italians are simple, nice, people-people. They wouldn’t give a shit if you want mayo on a sandwich or if you drink 1000 cappuccinos per day, eat eggs for every meal and wear a Viking helmet while riding a skateboard to work. They appreciate genuine people, regardless of their habits, and they’ll spot a tourist following generic Frommer’s travel tips from a kilometer away. I have a travel tip — save the $19.99 you’d spend on a travel book and learn a little Italian from the internet before you come here. Basta. Learn just a little bit and screw up sometimes. That is very endearing to people here and they’ll try to help you. In my experience, people absolutely love it when American stranieri (foreigners) try to speak Italian. I made my first friends that way years ago and I almost regret learning the language functionally now. Don’t try to be the “informed,” smug tourist who knows everything. Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast Italians are so over you, Mr. or Ms. hipster American tourist who read Lonely Planet on the shitter for 3 months before you came to Italy, pretending that you “just kind of figured this stuff out on your own.” Just be normal and cool. People here like that kind of person. Italy is about genuine people and personal interaction. Whether your crowd is professional academia (I’m an English professore), diplomats, hostel crashers or grey-haired empty-nesters wearing fannypacks using a camera from 2005: zero fucks are given if you have different drinking or eating habits. People will like you for who you are in Italy.