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What I did on my summer vacation

Ride in a gondola

Ride in a gondola

August 29, 2006|by ADELINE CUMPATA

What do you think about when you hear of Italy? Do you think about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or about the Coliseum in Rome?

I visited Italy with my family in August. My father is Italian and we speak a little Italian in our home. This was my second visit to Italy.

During my stay, I stayed with my mother, father, two aunts and close family friends. While there, we visited Milan, Venice, Arona, Turin, Streza and lakes and islands in Italy's lakes district.

In all the cities of Italy, the center square has a duomo - dome, or cathedral - which is the landmark for that city. Like the Statue of Liberty is a landmark of New York, and the St. Louis Arch in St. Louis,Mo. All the duome, or cathedrals, in the cities I visited lunged into the skyline, flirting with nearby clouds.

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These cities had artifacts, such as glass and jewelry that were salvaged from the time before Christ. All the duome are made of marble, and even the marble is very old.

In every province that you visit in Italy, you will hear different dialects. For example, my family and I stayed in Novara, but when we visited Venice, the Venetians spoke in a different dialect. It was difficult to understand them. My aunts, who have been living in Italy for about eight years, had a trouble understanding every word.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Venice, ride a gondola. When we heard the yodeling of the gondoliers, we had a fantastic time listing to their musical voices resonating off the walls of alleys and bridges. A half-hour ride cost about 75 euros - about $97.50. But with six people in the gondola, that's only about $16.25 per person. The price is truly worth it - it's an experience you can't soon forget.

When we visited Lake Como, in Italy's lakes district in the north, my family and I scaled a tower. From there we could see a mesmerizing panoramic view of the lake and of the Alps in Switzerland.

The prices in Italy are more expensive than those in the United States, when comparing food, clothing and gasoline. For other things, Italian prices are cheaper or about the same.

For example, we saw a house with views of Lake Como and the surrounding mountains. It was worth about 100,000 euros, which is about $130,000. In America, a house with those features would run well into the millions! (By the way, the house I'm referring to is in good shape. In the United States, you'll be lucky to find a handyman's special for that price.)

Who can beat Italian pasta, pizza and gelato? No one and no country! Italy's pasta, pizza and gelato - Italian ice cream - are renown globally for their distinct flavors and aromas.

Some of my most memorable dishes: thick lasagna with bchamel cheese and rich tomato sauce; steaming pasta with flaming peperoncini (flakes of habanero peppers); flavorful pasta with vibrant and juicy zucchini; panini, grilled sandwiches made of two slices of bread with local sliced meats such as prosciutto or salami; bistechi, which are thin steaks; and brick oven-baked pizza with sausage, rucola, cheese and tomato sauce.

For dessert, I tried multiple flavors of gelato - chocolate, triple chocolate, strawberry, lime, lemon, pineapple, mint, pistachio and others. All the gelatos were made of real fruits and contained no preservatives or fillers, which made the gelato even more palatable.

An Italian, Danielle Caratta, told me, "Italy is about pasta, pizza, Mafia and the mandolin." Everything else is part of the newer culture.

There's nothing like experiencing Italy first hand and immersing yourself in the diverse Italian culture.

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