There is a paradox which eventually presents itself to almost every traveler to Italy. The country is the envy of the universe, it seems, because its inhabitants know how to entertain themselves better than anyone. Think of Italians and you are bound to picture a large noisy group of grinning revelers drinking great wine, gorging on incomparable food or, at the very least, sipping cappuccino at 11 a.m. without an obvious care in the world. More often than not, our most glowing memories of our own trips are of ourselves behaving in exactly this fashion. Yet before we go, when we're still at the drawing board in the comfort of our own, perhaps less patently fun-filled homes, we inevitably establish travel plans for ourselves that are so crammed with cultural and historical "must-dos" that they appear more like grueling marathons than pleasant holidays.
The temptation is not easy to resist. When it comes to choosing serious pursuits and neglecting frivolous fun, the writers of In Italy Online are as guilty as anyone. For that reason, we have dedicated this issue to telling you about some of our favorite ways to kick back in Italy. We hope you will keep them in mind while planning your trip, and most of all during your trip. Set aside a part of each day to do something that may seem to be of dubious "educational" value. You're bound to find that Italy has many lessons to teach which can't be found in any book, except perhaps amongst the pages of your own photo albums.
by Kristin Jarratt