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  • 6 Ideas for a Fantasy Vacation in Italy
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    In my quietest moments, I dream of Italy -- a refreshing banana gelato, a bright Versace gown, Totò singing Malafemmena, the comforting sound of the ocean on Maronti in Ischia. I pretend I'm as desirable and elegant as Sofia Loren or Monica Bellucci. I'm on the arm of someone as handsome and charming as Adriano Giannini or Gianluigi Buffon as we stroll along the Via Veneto. Back in the real world, I usually satisfy these cravings, at least partially, by booking my next trip to the motherland. Maybe you'd like to join me in Heaven. Here are 6 things you should do the next time you're in Italy -- even if only in your imagination:

    1. Be chic. Join the most stylish people in the world at the fashion shows or designer shops in Milan. Ladies, put on a slinky black dress, dark shades and the tallest, skinniest stiletto heels you can stand. For gents? What else but an Armani suit and loafers. You'll feel like a star sipping on cocktails at any hip Milan bar.

    2. Score!: Go to your favorite piazza when the Italian national soccer team is playing, and watch the game on the outdoor screens with all the other cittadini. (An Italian bar will suffice if your nearest piazza isn't built for that.) If you can get there during a tournament like this summer's European Cup, all the better! Wrap your entire body in an Italian flag, embrace the person next to you if a blue guy scores and learn how to curse in Italian if he doesn't. You'll never experience such pure joy or pure sorrow in your life.

    3. Go on strike. If you have ever been to Italy, you are aware that disgruntled and/or frustrated employees often stop working in the name of a particular cause like increased wages or better pensions. Recently, transportation - from trains to planes - has shut down for "lo sciopero" (or strike). As a tourist, look at labor stoppage, which often leaves visitors with extra time, as an opportunity to take in the local color. If you're game, pick up a sign and join the picket line.

    4. Mangia! Mangia! Savor pizza Margherita in Napoli, cannoli in Sicily, chocolate in Perugia, wine in Tuscany, risotto in Veneto and prosciutto and parmigiano in Parma. The regions of Italy sometimes seem like small, individual countries, each with its own personality and specialty. But an unconditional love of food unites them all. So, feel the love everywhere you go.

    5. Read between the lines. Pick up a copy of one of Dante Alighieri's classic works and head to a café in Florence for reading and people watching. Dante is the father of the universal Italian language, a title he earned when he chose to write in the people's Florentine dialect. Every Italian has a list of observations about Dante's work that they keep tucked away in a corner of their brain. In no time, someone will pull up the seat next to you to share his or her ideas. If you're single and lucky, he or she will be cute - and willing to help you fulfill wish number 6.

    6. Un bacio! A trip to Italy would not be complete without a kiss - or a love pinch - from an Italian. If you're already taken, at least be sure to smooch with your sweetie in a romantic spot like La Fontana di Trevi in Roma. Regardless of whether you are single, partake in the flirting with natives. After all, your charmer might offer a sweet ride on the back of his or her motorino, another Italian must-do.

    If you book your trip to Italy right now, you can make it in time for Carnevale in Venice, replete with masks, fried dough pastries and a slew of colorful parades. For more information on traveling to Italy, visit the Italian Tourism Board's Web site.

    Tell me about your Italian dreams. Write me at: fdimeg10@aol.com

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