It’s little rules like these that keep me writing at all these days. The problem is that a few little rules stacked up starts looking like a squirrely Jenga tower.
- No writing with an email program open. Gmail or Outlook.
- No writing with a movie on. I don't even have cable and yet.
- No writing on a somnolent post-lunch belly. (yes, this needs to be a rule)
Rule: If your girlfriends invite you on a long weekend to Italy with most expenses paid, never say no. If that trip involves a large conference devoted to wine and olive oil, not only do you say yes, you get that ticket booked within a day's time. And thus, one month after Becca and Gina suggested it, we were on the ground in Verona, fresh off the plane at VinItaly. The building behind me in the photo above? There were 8 others just like it. Each representing a region in Italy. Huge.
Rule: If winemakers offer that they'd prefer you try the whole line rather than the 2-3 vintages on display, "Grazie", "Prego" and repeat as necessary.
Rule: Don't judge a book by its cover but compliments on the wine bottle gets you a lovely breed of pink frissante.
Rule: If you love it in the States, you love it even more in Italy. This applies to pizza, wine, scooters and Slow Food. I bought myself a kid's book about making cheese to help improve my Italian then did an organic wine tasting. Once we'd had enough wine, Gina would give an Italian lesson based on our loosened pronunciations.
Rule: If the guy at the awesome olive oil booth insists on having his chef whip up some lunch, go with it. Jacamo, wherever you are, genius.
Rule: If it's meat and the Italian who raised the beast is the one that butchered it, you should try it. That sounds dark but donkey sausage is delicious.
Rule: Your teeth are never as red as you think they are. When you think to check, that is.
Rule: Lago di Garda is the perfect place to bribe trailer park guards with spastic winking. The photos and the sand are worth it. Also note that Europeans are pretty brilliant with their luxury trailer parks on the waterfront.
Rule: When a professional pizza man offers you a shift in his shop, you should maybe try to negotiate full-time. I could have stayed at Okay Pizzeria a good bit longer. We were clearly great for business.
Rule: It's tough to go wrong with this combo: friendly local, chipper friends, quiet wine town in the hills of Piedmont, gorgeous, traditional dinner. Just add wine. Also, watching a dashing Italian man flirt with one of your best girls doesn't get old. Less of a rule, more of a recommendation.
Rule: Waiting for Gaja is a lot like Waiting for Guffman. It's still entertaining even if he doesn't show.
Rule: It's rude to say no to moscato in the morning. You're on vacation. It was made 3 km away. Live a little.
Rule: Even dry pasta tastes better. Also, don't put truffle oil in a leather suitcase without a ziploc bag buffer. Just trust me.
Rule: On a rare occasion it will hit you that you're having one of those adventures that you will be talking about many years from now at the very moment that the occasion is still happening. Go with it. Happy is very chic for Spring. Also, welcome to Milan.
Rule: Italian elevators are built for cuddling.
Rule: This is a big one. Trust the universe. It started with a restaurant recommendation from Marco (far right) via Twitter. It ended with a five hour food PR tweet-up in Porta Romana, just outside Milan. Grazie mille to Marco, Sara and Marco for the drinks at Il Cavallante and dinner at Ristorante Dongio. You turned a a short stay in a beautiful city into a case study on why social media goes beyond connections and into community. Know this rule turned into one big, cheesy geek-out but two tweets turned into dinner on the other side of the world with like-minded people. Talk to me about that.
Rule: Adventuring is hard work. Maps make for decent blankets.
Rule: Rinse, repeat. Grazie, Prego, Grazie, Ciao.