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Message From Europe, The Third:

We must begin with a correction of the previous post in this series. In it, we said that the people of Les Baux wished to just spend their time being French. This is incorrect. They wished to spend their time being Provencal. We apologize for any inconvenience or wrath this error may have caused.

Europe is filled with little jack-off arguments like this. There are tons of people who live on this little square of land over here, and if you dare confuse them with people who live on that little square of land over there (The bastards!) they'll get all het up over it.

While I don't sympathize with the occasional German desire to combine all these weird little cultures into one monolithic country, I can see that it has a point, just in the interest of simplicity. Germans hate messiness.

We are in Italy now. We are on the Cinque Terre, a string of charming villages on the Italian Riviera. They all seem the same to us, but Heaven help you if you confuse one with the other. (Please consult previous paragraphs.)

Italy rules. Everyone sells good, cheap lattes. And there's none of this "tall, skinny, foam on top, caramel flavoring, with rice milk, if you please" horseshit here. You order a fucking latte, and they bring you a fucking latte. But say caffe latte, or you will get an unpleasant, non-caffeinated surprise.

Americans can make things so complex. We're very German that way.

The Cinque Terre is overrun with tourists. Especially Germans. All of the Germans, or so it seems, carry around ski poles with them. Go figure.

The Italians have worse bread (in Jeff's opinion) but it's nearly impossible to get a bad bowl of pasta. The pesto is amazing, and flows freely.

The Italians seem to have a powerful, deep-seated hatred of tourists. They all speak English, with a subtle, pervasive accent of bitterness. They must really, really hate us butchering their language.

Our bathroom, for the first time, contains a bidet. It lurks there, in the corner, mocking us with its foreignness.

We arrived in Vernazza without hotel reservations. It was very busy, and we were very worried, but it was, honest to god, what the tour book told us to do. Sure enough, after 30 seconds of walking down the street (honestly), a little old lady totally blindsided us and said "Room?" She then took us to this utterly gorgeous suite, which she's renting to us for $60 a night. This is pricey, we know, but the room is amazing. And no pee smell.

Anyway, getting ambushed by little old ladies in the street who try to rent you rooms (and didn't totally scam you) seemed worth mentioning.

(By the way, I checked the exchange rate, and $60 US is about 120000000000000 lira.)

Tomorrow, we go to Florence, which is filled with cool old art. We are looking forward to the Duomo, the enormous and ghastly cathedral in the middle of town. We've seen pictures of the outside. It looks like it was decorated by a Renaissance pimp.


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