italy photo album: the magical kingdom of ham and cheese (and shockingly sexual subway signage)

i’m gonna be that annoying friend who insists on boring you to death with vacation photos right now, but i’m posting a few italy pictures to provide some visuals for my previous post on the country’s ridiculous deliciousness and enduring food traditions.  i got a fantastic glimpse of their food culture firsthand in the city of parma, italy, home of the famous prosciutto di parma ham and parmigiano reggiano cheese.  representing these two food world powerhouses is like the sports world equivalent of having a baseball team win the world series, a football team with the only perfect regular season EVER, and a championship basketball team with the best single-season turnaround in NBA history, all in one year. oh yeah, what’s up BOSTON? (i ran a company making boston sports gear for girls back in the day).  but i’m getting off topic.

if you’ve been reading this blog, you probably realized that i didn’t know how to use this handy ‘read more by clicking here’ button until now, so you would have had to just keep scrolling down to effectively ignore all my free association blathering and run-on sentences. now i will bite the bullet and set up the jump, but first a photo to entice you in…


welcome to the secret fantasyland of cute boys and overflowing fountains of chocolate. no, i did not steal this from your dreams.

back to ham and cheese. sadly, i was only in parma for a few hours, which wasn’t long enough to make it to either the prosciutto or the parmigiano production facilities, but plenty enough time to eat quite a lot of both. on a tip from a friend, we went to what looked like just a typical salumeria, a cured meat and cheese counter with smiley italian men in aprons offering you samples of parmigiano, the walls filled with aged balsamic vinegars, fragrant olive oils, sundried tomatoes, dried pastas, and other tasty things. but there were all these people standing around with glasses of wine and they weren’t ordering anything, and it turned out there was a restaurant hidden at the back that served incredible fresh pasta and of course all types of parmigiano and prosciutto dishes. i went to three or four other similarly secret restaurants where you wouldn’t realize there was a cavernous restaurant down the steps from the tiny sandwich counter unless you happened to be in the know. i like secret restaurants. i wish they had more in the u.s., although i realize that restaurants these days aren’t exactly trying to make it harder for people to eat there.

anyway, photos. here’s a photo of a ROOM OF CHEESE WHEELS. this is obviously where the benevolent cheese fairy godmothers dream up deliciousness to put in your stomach:


their crafty cohorts in the magical kingdom of cured ham display their ingenious creations here. mmmmmmmmmm.


i was out walking one night in florence near my friend kellin’s apartment, and stumbled upon a CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL. that’s where i took the first photo above with the unbelievably gorgeous, droolworthy and to-die-for…chocolate fountains. mmm. lots of yummy things in that photo. how cool is it that these tools are made of chocolate?chocotools

lastly, a few non food-related photos of rome. indulge me for the obligatory tourist shot of the coliseum, except we happened to be there for one of the most stunningly beautiful moments of my life, a double rainbow shooting into the coliseum. the top rainbow is really hard to see, but i promise it was there.  if you ever make it to rome, try to make it to the forum and coliseum during a rainstorm, it will SLAY YOU.


and finally, my favorite photos from the rome subway station. now, in a incredibly popular multinational tourist destination like rome, city signage needs to be clear and obvious, especially to those not fluent in italian. the graphic designers of the roman government and municipal transportation authority need to create visually straightforward, unambiguous designs in order to direct traffic and clearly communicate messages of safety and efficiency. so tell me, what is up with these photos?


anyone else getting crazy stick figure porn vibes from these designs? maybe olivia, kell, and i just have seriously dirty minds, but here’s what these photos said to us:


this one above says, in a mellifluous mechanical voice, upon exiting the train, you may find yourself pleasured from the rear by the subway doors. please avoid falling in the crack as you writhe in the throes of backdoor pleasure.


and this one announces, in a cross between the voice of a train conductor and a phone sex operator, thank you for traveling the rome subway. please feel free to wave your hands in ecstasy but remember to keep both feet planted firmly on the floor when enjoying the dual penetration of the menàge-a-subway-door.

oh man. ridiculous. CIAO ROMAAAAAAAAA!!!!! can’t wait to come back and um, ride your subway.

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