|The port of Lazise on Lake Garda. It's way pritt.|
Let's start with the cons.
Cons: Tourists up your wazoo, creepy hobos, don't Couchsurf here, you have to pay to get into almost everything, and train stations are crazy confusing.
Italy is a pain. Of all the places I visited, I felt the most unsafe in Italy.
First, you're constantly surrounded by people. I visited MILAN (not even Rome, which I'm sure is crazier) in the middle of freaking JANUARY (it was 40ºF) and there were tourists EVERYWHERE. It was frustrating because I like to avoid the crowds and experience the country as untouristy as possible, but I don't think that's possible in Italy. The crowds are huge and people are everywhere. Summer must be straight CRAY. (BUTT: I was able to escape the crowds in smaller towns like Verona and Lazise.)
|Verona at twilight.|
In general, I tried to share my money and food with the homeless I saw in other countries, but these guys were so obnoxious I didn't want to give them anything just in case they tried to pull something on me.
|Thanks to this hobo, I got this sweet picture of me being attacked by birds. Also, he tried to take 10 euro from me.|
Another downside of the country is that the economy is based mainly on tourism (which makes sense --> see four paragraphs above), so it costs money to get into EVERYTHING. Take pictures in the Duomo? Three euro. Go to the roof of the Duomo? Six euro. Go into almost any cathedral and you'll get charged an entrance fee (UNLESS you're with a local -- then it's free). So be ready with a lot of pocket change to get into what you want to see.
|On the roof of the Milan Duomo. That's my host up front with the hair.|
So that's what sucks about Italy, but let's end on a positive note.
Pros: Everything is super old, there's lots of history; it's a very small country, so you can land in any airport and be in another part of the country in a couple of hours; and the food is fantastic!
|A Roman arch in Verona.|
Because people have lived in Italy for forever, there are cities built on cities built on cites and cathedrals built on cathedrals built on cathedrals. In some areas, you can see an older city's foundation under the streets of the current city. In Chiesa di San Fermo in Verona, one cathedrals sits on top of an older cathedral underground (that you can go down and look at), which is on top of another older cathedral! It's like a Catholic sandwich! (But old and made of stone, so don't eat.)
|The foundation of an older city under the streets of Verona, Italy.|
The Duomo is legitly hugenormous outside and covered in intricate carvings and statues (you could spend hours looking at the outside walls of the Milan Duomo), but you don't completely appreciate how big and beautiful it is until you go inside. It's dark and cavernous, gives you Mines-of-Moria-esque feelings, and amazes the living butt off of you.
|Inside St. Anastasia's.|
Also, real Italian pizza makes a day in the country worth it. It tastes nothing like American pizza: the crust is thin and bubbly, the sauce is tangy, the cheese isn't greasy, and the toppings are completely fresh. (If you want a taste of authentic Italian pizza, visit Terra Mia in Orem).
|It's really Italian and really pizza.|