During our month in Italy, we walked 135 miles, according to Carol's misfit. The entire Italian peninsula is 600 miles long. That means in the course of walking to and from train stations and hotels, or to see stuff, or to figure out how we got lost and then on to pizza restaurants, we covered the equivalent of 22.5% of the entire peninsula. Looking at the east-west axis, we darn near walked the the entire 150 mile width of Italy.
It is the walking equivalent from our home in Lake Forest to, say, Bakersfield, CA, except the pizza along the way wouldn't have been as good as what we found in Italy. To say nothing of there being no Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre or Bistecca Fiorentina along the way either.
In spite of all that legwork, we still managed to gain weight, which is a testament to the retaining powers of cheese, tomato sauce and dough in particular and Italian cuisine in general.
We did start out with good intentions. (At least Carol did; I harbored no illusions of what my dietary capabilities would be in a country that gave us mozzarella. In Villa San Giovanni, we were offered fatted croissants (raised on foie gras and mascarpone, no doubt) that were filled it seemed with an entire can of Reddi-Whip. Each. One morning, after our hearts didn't start up right away, we switched to marmalade, and that may have saved our lives.
In Florence the minimum order for a T-bone steak is a kilo or more, that is, 2.2 pounds and up! It is famously known as Bistecca Fiorentina, which loosely translates as Meat Your Maker. Our waiter explained that it is generally intended for two or more diners, “but not always.” When ordering, you're provided with a large steak knife and a medic-alert bracelet (don't look this up). They will serve it pre-sliced, presumably to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on their cutlery, but the meat is so tender, you generally only need a fork, prior to the application of the angioplasty, which is offered free of charge (don't look this up, either).
I'm dwelling on food, because I'm still living with the legacy of that trip three weeks after we got back home. We look wistfully at all the wonderfully colorful and picturesque photos Carol took and think, “That's where we had the eggplant parmesan,” or “Remember that wonderful pesto ravilini and Sancerre just as the sun set?”
Sure, people can come back from the French Riviera or Mallorca sporting designer tans and svelte, European swimwear, but only from Italy can you return with practically a whole new body - in addition to the one you went over with.
Carol recently finished reading a book about a retired New Jersey couple that went off to live in Italy for a year. At the end of the book, when they had returned home, they remarked that they weighed the same as when they had first arrived in Italy. I'd like to think they weighed 400 pounds before they left the States. Then, I wouldn't hate them as much as I do.
Time to go pound some pavement.