No more lollygagging

Yesterday I received a postcard of Vienna that had been mailed from Estonia. It said (among other things) "Hope all is swell with you and your blog. Look forward to checking back in..." Dear god. Thre are people in ESTONIA who are thinking about my blog. This is a high-pressure situation. Clearly, the laziness must be beaten into submission. I cannot fail you, the faithful reader. Who knows how many anonymous Estonians may be fans of mine. Food for thought indeed.

You want travel anecdotes? (Say yes. It will make the fact that you're about to get travel anecdotes less painful.) There are definitely some chart-topping tales, but I'm not going to give them all to you today. We're going to ration them. Sort of more like Hannukah than Christmas.

Today's feature: Miscellaneous facts

1. I met a woman on the plane from Paris to Pisa who was French but lived near Lucca. She was impressively multi-lingual and terribly helpful. Upon meeting Marja in Pisa, she became alarmed and drew me aside to tell me that Marja AT ALL COSTS must purchase a particular sunscreen or risk imminent death. She explained that this particular sunscreen had the powder of um...something...in it that was not chemical and would not change its properties when mixed with persperation. Marja and I henceforth referred to it as the Powder of A Thousand Virgins, but I think it was actually something else. We could never find it in the pharmacy, but we both managed to escape the Tuscan sun sunscathed despite using sub-par American sunscreens.

I have always considered myself quite pale. Skin cancer runs in my family. Nonetheless, Madame Toussaint expressed no concern for my skin whatsoever. She did not even gently suggest that I get the Sunscreen of 1,000 Virgins, let alone insist. Apparently though, compared to Marja, I appear swarthy and perhaps leathery. Now that I am also thirty-five, I do not find this encouraging.

Nevertheless, we are immensely grateful to Mme. Toussaint and I therefore give you this link to her rental property, Le Glicine We did not stay there ourselves, but I'm sure it's nice. Just in case you find yourself in Lucca and Apartment La Mansarda is unavailable. Which it will be because Marja and I are going back as soon as possible.

2. The people of Lucca do not seem to go to bed before 4am.

3. Yet, at 7:30am, the people of Lucca seem to be quite eager to begin driving small trucks which may or may not be towing running lawnmowers and motorcycles and carrying loads of marbles and broken glass. We never actually saw these trucks, mind you, but we heard them.

4. Lucca is allegedly a pedestrian city, but we spent a lot of time leaping out of the way of cars. This is to say nothing of the bicycles.

5. To save you having to look it up as we did, I'll just tell you now that the Italian word for mosquito is zanzara. Sadly, you will probably need to know the plural: zanzare. If you react as violently to zanzara bites as I do, you may find that it is helpful to put ice on them to reduce the swelling. The Italian word for ice is ghiaccio.

6. The most beautiful confections in Lucca are at Cafe di Sima.

7. Despite being a very small city, Lucca hosts what Marja refers to as the Monsters of Rock festival. Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Jamiraquoi; Lauryn Hill; and James Brown among others will all be rocking Lucca this August. Unfortunately, we were only there for the opening performance by some random Italian man who performs nothing but Ray Charles covers. He is neither black, nor blind, nor dead. I know. We didn't get it either. However, we did get to stand next to a cute policeman during the concert. We also ate gelato.

8. There really is no such thing as bad gelato. This is not true of pizza. Another useful tip: limoncello is very bright yellow which makes it strangely appealling like candy. Don't be fooled. It's stronger than you are. It laughs at you as you slide under the table.

9. If you have a very small wrist and you wish to buy a watch in Italy, just forget about it. All watch faces are the approximate size of Flava Flav's clock.

10. If you are secretly in love with me and planning to propose, I would very much appreciate it if you would purchase the ring from Carli on the Via Fillungo. It is the only store that has ever filled me with jewelry lust. I still wake crying because I did not purchase various antique diamond brooches for 6,000 Euros.

Tomorrow's feature: The t-shirts of Lucca.