Weekly Roundup: “Back From Italy” Edition

by Shawanda Greene

It feels so good to be back in the U.S.A. Italy was awesome, but there’s no place like home.

You’re probably thinking, “you didn’t tell me you were leaving.”

Well, I really wanted to let you know about my vacation, but I’ve heard it’s unwise to let every blog reader, Facebook friend, Twitter follower, and LinkedIn connection know you’ll be thousands of miles away from all of your worldly possessions for a prolonged period of time.

If you’re guilty of this, stop it.

Now back to Italy.

I went to Italy with two of my closest friends. After talking about going for two years, we finally made it happen. The trip was kind of in honor of us all turning 30.

I’ve been knowing these guys since we were 14 years old. It’s a tremendous blessing to have them in my life. Quite honestly, I have an abnormally difficult time meeting people that I can trust and respect. I’m weird like that.

In addition to being able to spend my first trip overseas with my best friends, I feel extremely fortunate in that I was able to finance my vacation without going into debt and without worrying about how to pay the bills upon my return.

In case you’re interested in traveling to Rome or Florence, here are a few of things I loved and hated.


  • It was really easy to get around via public transit. A one way bus ride was only 1 Euro, and a one day pass was 4 Euros. I was surprised to learn you could use your day pass for the bus and the train.
  • As a really dark black person living in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., it’s difficult getting adequate sun exposure to replenish my vitamin D stores. Italy is plenty sunny, so it felt good knowing that being out during the day was also good for health.
  • I thought the United States needed a high speed rail before I went to Europe. After experiencing the benefits first hand, I think we’re complete idiots for continuing to accept the outdated railway system that takes 3 times as long as what the Europeans, whom we love to despise, are able to enjoy.
  • It’s frickin’ unbelievable what they were able to build thousands of years ago and that they had the foresight to preserve it. The Pantheon was amazing.
  • I had the best meatballs I’ve ever had in my life. Surprisingly, of all of the restaurants I visited, not one offered spaghetti with meatballs. One of my friends requested the dish and it was immediately denied by our server. Maybe it’s popular in other parts of Italy, but Rome and Florence weren’t having it.
  • Their Kit Kats are amazing. And yes I’m referring to the popular chocolate coated wafer. Nation, we’re being served an inferior product compared our European counterparts.
  • There are public water fountains all over Rome for you to refill your water bottle. And you’ll need to, because it’s really hot there.
  • There’s gelato everywhere. Nuff said.
  • It’s hot as Hades. There were times when I could feel the sun cooking my toes. Oh, and it’s not just hot outside. It’s like these people don’t believe in cooling rooms below 80 degrees.
  • Every restaurant I visited charge for water. Granted, you’re provided bottled water, but it’s not like I was in India. I’ll keep my 3 Euros. The free stuff from the tap is fine with me.
  • The people didn’t seem particularly friendly.  At times, I felt cashiers practically threw my change at me.
  • The men were a lot less attractive than I expected. I guess I should’ve known better, but they’re built more like Vinny than Pauly D.
  • No bacon. I like croissants, cheese, and sliced meats as much as the next person, but come on. Those microscopic pieces in the carbonara aren’t gonna cut it.

For obvious reasons, I wasn’t able read as many personal finance blogs as I hoped, but I still managed to find a few articles worth sharing.

Are Fax Machines the Biggest Waste of Money for a Company? by Khaleef Crumbly at Not Made of Money

10 Credit Traps Just Waiting To Trip You Up! by Jason Topp at Christian Personal Finance

What Should I Do With My Investments Now by Barbara Friedberg

Finding the Right Balance in Order to Succeed by Brad Chaffee at Enemy of Debt

Rental Cars: Should You Buy Insurance? by Kay Lynn at Couple Money

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kay Lynn August 13, 2011 at 7:32 PM

I'm so jealous! I've always wanted to visit Italy! I think we might make it in two years.

Thanks for including my article in the round-up.


Shawanda August 16, 2011 at 10:26 PM

You're welcome!

Don't forget your walking shoes. Italy was great, but I'm looking forward to my next vacation when I can lounge on the beach and drink rum punch. No culture. No learnin'.


Revanche August 13, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Welcome back!

I LOVED Italy when I was there back in the day. Made up for the lack of bacon with prosciutto. Different thickness but same deliciousness, I thought.

You didn't mention pizza, did you have the thin crusts while you were there? Heaven or no?

Also, yes, Europeans/UK folks totally mock our chocolate. We are being deprived in a big way. :(


Shawanda August 16, 2011 at 10:30 PM

I actually tried a prosciutto pizza, and the guy brought it out whole – no slices. Not sure if that's the norm. The pizza was good, but I like my Pizza Hut better. I've grown accustomed to piles and piles of meat on top of my pizza.


Raffaella January 11, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Yes, it is. We usually eat a whole pizza. :)

Spaghetti with meatballs, never found in the North or Center – maybe in Sicily they make it, but it's actually more of a Italo-american tradition.

In big touristic cities it's easy to find rude people. Sorry for that.

YES, it's too hot in summer. Oh dear, why does everyone seem to love extreme heat? I go to Sweden or UK on holiday whenever I can. :)

Ugh! Ugh! the Jersey Shore people have nothing to do with Italy. We despise them. Well… not really, I know people who love the show for its trashiness, lol.

Glad you liked your stay overall.


Raffaella January 11, 2012 at 2:30 PM

By the way, I'm sure you found services quite cheap generally. Unfortunately it's not that way for the people who live here, since pays are among the lowest in Europe. :(


Tia August 14, 2011 at 7:32 AM

Michelle Obama, I can't believe you left out the high priced gladiators and the inflated ice water!


Shawanda August 16, 2011 at 10:32 PM

LOL! And that gladiator looks like he has only one front tooth in one of my pictures. Humph.


My University Money August 15, 2011 at 7:55 AM

Sounds like an awesome trip. I've always been a Roman history buff (yes that is as nerdy as it sounds). My buddy is over there right now, I'll have to compare the notes when he gets back!


Shawanda August 16, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Yeah, it's not every day you run into Roman history buffs. Haha!

I'd like to see Greece. I remember being totally fascinated with Greek mythology when I was in the 8th grade.


FabulouslyBroke.com August 15, 2011 at 10:35 AM

1) They're more racist there.

Even Europe in general, not JUST in Italy with the possible exception of England, although in Portugal, I noticed they have something against certain cultures and races.

They don't think it's weird to have racist figurines with cultural stereotypes in their stores and so on. Nor to use words like "Mongol" to mean a mentally handicapped person.

I had a friend (Asian) who went with a white friend, and they basically spat at her and refused to help her when she wanted napkins.. but when her white friend asked for napkins, they were overly sweet.

2) Food is much better in Europe. Americans in general are getting screwed. The milk tastes like real milk in Europe, the meat is not pumped full of hormones and the fruit tastes like real fruit.

3) Glad you had a great time :) Meatballs eh? I'm kind of hungry for some now.

4) I've been charged a $0.15 fee for having a cold drink in a grocery store versus its warm, store shelf counterpart. WTF?


Shawanda August 16, 2011 at 10:43 PM

I encountered one weird guy who may have mocked me for minding my own business and being black. He walked up to me and started dancing and speaking gibberish. The odd thing is, the guy was dark skinned – like of African, Indian and/or Latin decent. It was very strange. I dunno. Maybe he was high.

Next time I go to Europe, I'll try the milk. I'm a big fan of it. I just hope it's cold. It seems they're not big on cooling their beverages to our liking.


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