This time of year the daily document prep and active itinerary planning wanes, allowing us a couple months to review what we’ve learned in the latest season. Which new suppliers were tested (and passed)? Which services need revising and updating? And what client requests tested our mettle? This last question is the best. It provides us a window into our clients’ needs and wants. And admittedly it provides us an occasional chuckle although I can assure you all that the unique pronunciations of Italian words hardly faze us anymore. Here are some of our favorite queries from the first 15 years of Select Italy.
1. Can you help me get in the Leaning Tower of Pizza? We all know how to write the word pizza (as in the big pizza pie, yummy!), but the Tuscan town of Pisa (pronounced pee-za) with its iconic torre seems to confuse many an emailing client. Obviously the mind of the person typing is elsewhere.
2. May I stomp grapes like Lucy?
You may, but not at most places. This is a hard to find experience as the viticulture (wine-making) process in Italy is much more refined than the stomping of the grapes allows. There also aren’t enough stompers to produce the volume of Italian wine that is consumed the world over.
3. I can’t get tickets to see the Last Supper in Milan. Will it be traveling anywhere else as part of an exhibit?
First, we’ve had many clients assume that the Last Supper is somewhere in Rome, when it is actually in Milan. I believe because of its popularity. Due to its popularity it is the hardest “standard entrance ticket” to get in Italy. Adding to the difficulty of the above question is that the painting is a fresco, meaning it is painted to the wall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie Chapel. So unless they move the building, the painting is only visible there.
4. Can you help arrange a meeting with the Pope?
Most of us are not Bono of U2 fame. Sitting down for a tete-a-tete with the head of the Catholic church is not going to happen for most of us. We recommend contacting your local diocese for this as well as a visit to the “scavi” or attending holiday masses at the Vatican. These are after all religious places and events, not tourist attractions.
5. What is the best route to drive my Harley from the Venice train station to Piazza San Marco in Venice?
Besides the difficulty in finding American wheels of any type in Italy, there are no traditional streets in Venice but rather canals. It is a unique locale where your only means of transport is by boat through the waterways or by foot over the bridges, piazzas, and paths. No cars allowed. No exceptions. Not even for the Pope.
6. Do they take US dollars? No, while the Italians aren’t entirely thrilled with the Euro (even in some cases calling for a return to the Lira) that is the only currency they accept. Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere but cash is still welcome without a doubt.
Written by Alison Turner Duray. Have You Met her already?