Iowa after Italy


it’s been almost a week since we returned from Italy to Des Moines and now we are barreling down Interstate 80 en route to Chicago and Iowa in autumn is beautiful. Not Amalfi Coast, Mediterranean Sea, Aeolian Islands, Siricusa, Rome beautiful but still Beautiful.
At 7 am, just east of Des Moines, the white grey frost clung to rolling fields of rust colored corn almost ready for harvest and green grass, punctuated by the occasional pristine white farmhouse, worn barn, grazing cows and horses. Sure there were occasional garish billboards and the metal sheds of industrial ag but they were easy to overlook.
A few thoughts/lessons learned/reflections/things to remember for next time From our two glorious weeks in Italy:
— Places to spend more time next time: Naples, Catania
— New places to go: Matera, Puglia
— In the future when flying budget airlines like Ryan air and easy jet advance-pay luggage fees. Even our small bags were not small enough and the fee to check them was almost as much if not more than the flight (which was pretty darn cheap, under $50 but still.) Advance pay is cheaper than paying at the airport (which also takes time.)
— while we are on the topic of advance pay, booking train tix online in advance was cheaper (judging from some of our fellow passengers accounts of their tix price) although not necessary.
— Go to the Amalfi coast off season , which late September apparently was not.
— Remember that many a little b&b prefers to be paid in cash (or does not even accept credit cards) which can require a little advance planning since we could only take out 250 euros per day from an ATM.
— we saw people along the way who looked like: Robert Morley (complete with the plummy British voice), Mr Magoo, Peter Postelwaite, Cecily Strong, our friend Jamie.
— Favorite fellow travelers: Canadians from Winnipeg and Toronto, Sweet boys from Berlin, a funny gay couple from Covent Garden, another nice Berlin couple and a funny Australian couple, the dishy Italian church vestments salesman from Naples and a nice Croatian graduate student whose dissertation compares Julius Caesar’s selling of his Gaul campaign to the US presidents Selling of Vietnam and Iraq invasions.
– surprised that we encountered few americans but the few we did meet were surprising including a Vermont couple in their 60s who spent time (presumably in the 60s) on a commune in the northeast Iowa town of Decorah (one of our favorites, which we recently visited.)
– Interesting/favorite hosts- Vivien, the beautiful former Milan runway model now running an agritourismo is southern sicily; Teresa, our warm hostess in Catania, Diana Brown the plucky South African in Lipari. Good management at our first hotel in Rome, less so our second.
– best meal: hard to say maybe the Kasbah in Lipari, the Ravello restaurant, the famous salumeria in Rome, the pasta on the island of Panacea (that whole day boating around the aeolian islands was golden).
– worst meal: none.

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