If you’re planning to join us in Italy this fall for the Feast for Body and Soul food-faith pilgrimage, start paging through books on Italian travel now. It will make the trip seem that much closer, and you’ll find lots of fun facts that will prove helpful when you’re actually wandering the streets of Florence or Rome or Sorrento (pictured here) or any of the other cities we’ll visit (Montecatini Terme, Siena, Assisi, Naples, Salerno, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Massa Lubrense, and the Isle of Capri).
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on books. In fact, on my last trip to Italy, I didn’t buy a single guide book. I sampled different books from our local library system, soaking up my favorite parts of each one. When it was time to travel, I borrowed two of my favorite guidebooks and packed them in my carry on. Now, as I gear up for this next trip, I’m doing the same. It’s a good way to get myself in the mood for all things Italian, while learning some valuable — or totally meaningless but incredibly fun — information along the way.
Here’s a tidbit from Italy: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture, which I’m reading right now. Even though I don’t plan on giving gifts or visiting anyone’s private home when I’m in Italy in October, this entry made me laugh and reminded me why I love Italy so much:
If invited to an Italian home, gift-wrapped chocolates, pastries, or flowers are acceptable. Italy is an “odd number” country, so do not give an even number of flowers. Also, avoid taking chrysanthemums, which are laid on graves at funerals and on November 2, All Souls Day. Brooches, handkerchiefs, and knives all suggest sadness or loss so these should be avoided.
Bellisimo! An “odd number” country? I’m still not even sure what that means, but I love it. So you’ve been warned: No chrysanthemums or knives if we visit someone’s home. October can’t get here soon enough!
We’ll discuss more Italian fun facts in the weeks and months to come. Stay tuned. And if you’ve found a great guidebook, please share in the comment section.