Holy Pizza! Italy is Freakin’ Addictive

Pictured: Bottom: 1987 with Granny in Milan. Hordes of birds think my giant 80’s shoulder pads are nests. Top right, 2013 with Mom in Milan. Top Right, after several airport security gropings we’re off to Italy. Top left: Time goes by,  but the Duomo Cathedral is timeless.

Welcome to Kitty Martini’s Wicked Good Life–Addicted to Italy.  

If you haven’t traveled to Italy, just know that if you go, there’s a magnetic force that feels like an ancient, seductive ghost who invites you back.  This ghost will haunt and lure you with garlic and spaghetti and wine—’till you cave in and go back there again. Thhe Forget about the other places in the world you want to see, get another ticket to Italy.

“You’re going there –AGAIN??” people ask me.

September 23, 2013

I went to Italy 28 years ago for the first time when I took my Italian grandma there for her 70th birthday.  In the late 80’s when there was no internet, no AirBnB, no GPS or Smart Phones–there was just a shitty map and my fearless 20-something attitude. I packed a Fodor’s Travel Guide book that listed places to visit. My Grandma packed a suitcase full of toilet paper. “I heard they have a shortage there” she said, “and it’s like sand paper”. 

Most people fly to Rome, but don’t fly to Rome unless you want lots of traffic, noise, chaos, air pollution and crowds of cranky tourists on your first day in Italy.  Instead, go to Milan, in the Northern part of the country which is a perfect launching base to cool places like Cinque Terre, Venice, Florence & Como. Fly to Linate–the small airport. Customs isn’t crowded, and usually no long entry lines. The big airport that has huge lines and crowds is Malpensa which is a long, 30 minute treck to Milan.  Linate is only 7 miles from the City Center and you can take a local bus from the airport to the city for just a few euros. 

At our hotel in Milan, the first attraction we visited was the restroom.  Call me an idiot, but back then I was confused to see another contraption next to the toilet that looked sorta like a toilet, but it was more of a fountain for your butt.  Now I could see that butt washing was a good way to eliminated the need for the sandpaper du’ toilette that my Grandma freaking out about. I had to wonder why Americans wouldn’t even THINK of the butt shower as a bathroom option. Somehow, staring at that thing made me aware that Americans might have once been Europeans…but they are distinctly different in many ways. Especially after taking a dump. Clearly Americans are so freakin’ “wipe and run” busy they apparently don’t have time to grab a butt shower on a bidet. 

The immediate thing to do after bonding with a bidet, is–head for the Duomo Square in Milan—which is dominated by an astonishing cathedral with a roof heaped in massive granite sculptures of saintly humans looking down at you, as if to say “I’m watching you…so don’t use too much toilet paper. And please, wash your butt.” 

In the shadow of the holiest of cathedrals, there’s a tiny pizza joint with square trays of insanely good–maybe even holy–pizza. Every tray is a checkerboard of  veggies, meat or fish toppings. And each square is littered with black olives. thin wisps of red onions, and a light tomato sauce. I don’t know if it was blessed by the Pope, or possessed by some kind of holy spirit that lives in the kitchen, but when I tasted it I was in heaven. 

28 years after that first trip I went back to Italy with my Mom, for HER 70th birthday. 

The year was 2013. I stopped in Florida to pick up my Mom before taking off to Milan. This is her official birthday celebration trip, so we decided to have a little birthday fun before heading for the airport. 

Since we couldn’t bring a gooey fruit tart cake through airport security, we ate it at home. But the pointy birthday hats in six glittery colors will definitely be packed in my bag and going with us. Security check points can be a bitch when they see something weird in your bag– and they end up detaining you until they feel busy and important enough to let you move on. 

I ALWAYS opt out of walking through that big creepy x-ray machine. So I have to go through the whole feel up and pat down process every time I fly. When I first started telling the airport people to frisk me, I thought maybe I was just lonely and starved for attention…and every little bit of contact coming from a warm human hand would fill my vacant soul with joy–even if it was a brief boob squeeze by a chick with dreadlocks and a huge ass and a name tag that says “Taneesha.”  But several grope-fests later I realized I wasn’t opting out for the boob squeezes–I was just freaked out by that ominous X-ray machine that’s allegedly “safe” for humans to walk through and get zapped with god-freakin’-knows-what

So here is my secret way to speed through getting frisked at security checkpoints: don’t shower for 4 days. Once Taneesha gets a whiff of my B.O. she waves me right through! 
I’m ripe and reeking like a New York City cab driver from Dhakka, and ready to fly! My bag is packed with birthday hats and organic snacks, and as soon as we get through security, we’re off to Milan after a 5 hour layover in Newark, New Jersey. 

Well, at least in Jersey no one will notice I need a shower. Newark smells so bad, I’ll blend right in! In fact—compared to what Newark smells like, my armpit fumes could pass for air fresheners. Stay tuned for more when we land in Milan!

This blog is a humorous, and irreverent chronicle of the weird adventures and cool discoveries I make every time I visit.  You can use it as entertainment or as a travel guide if you want to explore things that most of the boring books and shows out there might describe. But here you’ll discover cool stuff, travel tips, and the crazy stories I tell about this very special place that I’m addicted to.  

Bring a small carry on bag. I’ll be dragging a rolling suitcase around for 3 weeks on our Italian adventure. If you want to vicariously roll with Kitty Martini…this is where you’ll live the “Wicked Good Life” in Italy. When you’re bored and need a quick overseas adventure, just read my latest entry. If you’ll excuse excuse me now, I gotta start packing for Milan, where you’ll read about in the next entry of this blog. 


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