Top Ten: Embarrassing Travel Moments in Italy

It is only fair that I include my personal top ten embarrassing travel moments after poking fun of others.  Ready or not here they are, and a third of them have to do with poo.  I apologize ahead of time.

10.  On a night train from Brindisi to Venice (when I was a teva wearing college backpacker) a very intoxicated older man slipped into our sleeping car and proceeded to try and feel me up.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt due to his state the first time and politely moved his hand.  The second time he grabbed my butt I kicked him in the face.

9.  I found a passport on the ground in Rome and spent the next several days feeling smug wondering if poor Sheila ever made it out of the country.  When I went to check in at my next accommodation, I realized I had left mine in the lobby of our previous B&B.  Not so smug anymore was I.

8.  Being related to my parents who bum-rushed the train from Rome to Florence, pushing and shoving everyone out of their way (with their luggage) in a hurry to find seats together.  They figured out too late that their seats were actually assigned.

The guilty party.

7.  I didn’t realize there is etiquette on a train when it comes to using the loo.  I found myself taking a poop in the middle of a station as the train made a painfully long stop.

6.  At a restaurant I had to use the one and only bathroom on the premises (and yes, it was a #2 again).  To my horror I absolutely could not figure out how to flush the damn thing.  I gave up and went to leave….bumping into a very handsome gentleman heading in to use the facilities after me.  Check please!

5.  Too late I realized there was not a square of toilet paper in the bathroom and I was without my trusty multi-purpose guidebook pages.  I had no choice but to use my favorite pair of polka dot underwear.

4.  After enjoying a splurge at a restaurant in Rome I went to the bathroom to…..just kidding!  I looked over the bill and saw that the tip was included so I did what I had been told to do and rounded up the total.  The waiter seeing that I had not given a second tip started throwing a tantrum and flapping the receipt all over the restaurant.  Horrified I threw him some money and ran out.  To this day I have no idea what happened.

3.  I rented my car…..for the wrong month.  Worse yet, it was for my tour group.

2.  I blame Rick Steves for this one.  On my backpacking college trip I took his Italian Phrase Book which had a fun section with things to say that were a little off the cuff; fun slang and curse words to break the ice with the locals.  One word we really latched on to was stronzo, the definition said it meant a dried hard piece of poo (I again apologize.  I’m a mother of 3 and a nurse, poo is a way of life for me).   We yelled it out at random times, more so when intoxicated.  One night, while watching the World Cup with some local friends we had recently made, we used our new word.  The crowd became silent and all eyes were on us.  Evidently dried hard piece of poo is putting it nicely.  We never uttered that word again.

1.  My friend and I decided to try and take an earlier train out of Rome but the line for tickets had taken forever.  We had no choice but to run for it (backpacks and all).  Just as we were about to climb the stairs to our platform, my friend slipped and fell backwards.  The weight of her pack prevented her from getting up and she literally looked like an upended tortoise.  I got her back on her feet and we went screaming up the stairs, taking them two at a time.  Red faced and breathless we were greeted with disapproving stares.  To my confusion, there was no train on the platform and everyone seemed to be just milling about.   I noticed the reader board.  One word.  Ritardo.  Late.  Aahh Italy.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

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About the author: Andi Brown

I am passionate about helping people create vacations that are perfect for them through personalized travel planning, itinerary review and small experience focused tours. My services put an emphasis on the experience of Italy, getting my clients away from the tourist crowds and into the heart and soul of the people. I believe in working with family run businesses at great locations with attention to the details. If you can dream it I can make it happen.

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  1. patti piper - 2012-02-01 at 10:49 am Reply

    Sigh……. that train boarding is one of my top ten embarrassing travle moments in Italy

    Thanks for not putting in the story of me at Lake Como!!

    luv u!! mom

  2. Dan R. - 2012-02-01 at 11:16 pm Reply

    LOL…great post. I hope to avoid those mistakes when I travel to Italy next September.

    • onceinalifetimetravel - 2012-02-02 at 7:37 am Reply

      Thanks! And that was only my top ten in Italy, oh the other stories I could tell 🙂 Luckily people can learn how to avoid my mistakes, one of the things I love best about what I do. Don’t worry, Italy is incredibly forgiving 🙂

  3. Tommey - 2012-02-02 at 8:44 pm Reply

    I believe I might have THE most embarrassing moment. Okay, it was France instead of Italy, but still. We were staying with a host family in a rural area in France, and they invited us to a family wedding. I figured we would be gone for 4 maybe 5 hours, but first there was a civil ceremony, then a religious ceremony, then a (literally) 12 course meal. The whole thing lasted about 16 hours. I had bought feminine supplies for 4 or 5 hours, but not 16 hours. At some point, with champagne being served between each of the 12 courses, I went out and danced with the bride’s father. When I went back to the table, I could tell everyone was averting their eyes and whispering something..what were they saying??? “La mal de femme,” hmmmm, lets try to remember our rudimentary French. Oh yeah, “she is having her period.” My husband finally clued me in, I had a stain on the back of my (beige) dress the size of the state of Arizona. So humiliating that I wanted to get on a plane back home the next day. I still cringe in remembrance.

  4. tommey - 2012-02-03 at 12:53 pm Reply

    Well at least I won something for THE most embarrassing moment of my entire life!

  5. slytherclawchica - 2012-03-27 at 6:54 am Reply

    The idea of travelling always makes me nervous just because of the etiquette. A part of me wishes that there was a handout at every airport: “How to Behave Once You are Here”. But at least all the mess-ups make good stories, in the end.

  6. hollow tree ventures - 2012-03-27 at 2:27 pm Reply

    I wanted to say that THIS is why I don’t travel more – except a lot of those things could happen right here near home (oh #6… CRINGE). As for #2 on your list, I try never to use unfamiliar foreign words – my exchange student boyfriend in high school taught me how to say ‘hello’ in Swedish. You can probably guess that I later discovered that word did *not* mean ‘hello.’

  7. Mayor Gia - 2012-03-27 at 8:11 pm Reply

    Hahhaahah these are great. The last one is my fav – your poor turtle-y friend.

  8. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms - 2012-03-27 at 8:37 pm Reply

    So funny! Basically your embarrassment falls into two Italian categories: trains and poo. 🙂
    Ah, the trains. It always felt like we were playing bingo when those signs started flipping and clacking. What track!?! What time!?! That was awhile ago. Have they switched to electronic boards? That would definitely take some of the game play away. Ellen

  9. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms - 2012-03-27 at 8:41 pm Reply

    So funny! Basically, your embarrassment falls into two Italian categories: trains and poo. 🙂
    Ah, the trains. It always felt like a game of bingo to me when those signs would start flipping and clacking. What track!?! What time!?! Have they gone on strike!?! That was awhile ago. Do they have electronic boards now? That seems unfairly stealthy that they could change without warning. Takes some of the game play away. Ellen

  10. Susie @newdaynewlesson - 2012-03-28 at 3:40 am Reply

    LMAO. I think that when we turn into parents, poo is part of normal vocabulary.

    BTW- what kind of nurse are you?

  11. becomingmyideal - 2012-03-28 at 8:45 am Reply

    Somehow the language and cultural barriers always make for embarrassing moments in foreign countries. A group of friends and I were once berated by a Ukrainian man in a train station and we had no idea why. Turns out, he was fussing at the men in our group for allowing us (young women) to sit on the ground. They believe sitting on the ground can make you infertile!

  12. lisa - 2012-03-28 at 1:03 pm Reply

    I have never been to a foreign country, but this was hysterical and sounds exactly like things I would do. 🙂

  13. Stacey - 2012-03-28 at 3:35 pm Reply

    Oh my, these are so funny! You had me laughing out loud at the poo ones. Obviously being the mother of 3 little boys has changed me somewhat! 🙂 I studied abroad in Florence my junior year of college, so I can completely relate to your restaurant and train stories! And Rick Steve! Brings back memories!

  14. tara pohlkotte - 2012-03-28 at 6:00 pm Reply

    oh. my. goodness . too funny!!

  15. Michelle Longo - 2012-03-28 at 6:18 pm Reply

    This was great. When I spent spring break in France my junior year of high school, I know we did a lot of really humiliating things. But I pretend they didn’t happen because I was 16. Some of your items reminded me, so thank you! I enjoyed this!

  16. suzy016 - 2012-03-28 at 7:22 pm Reply

    cracking up… “ritardo.” which should really be the national word of italy. why do they all drive so fast when they’re in absolutely no hurry when they get there? love it, thanks.

  17. gfunkified - 2012-03-28 at 8:35 pm Reply

    This is hilarious, and can I just say? QUITE the introduction to your blog! Nice to meet you. 😉

  18. Alison@Mama Wants This - 2012-03-29 at 1:18 am Reply

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! OMG I laughed from start to end.

    The visual of your friend lying like a turtle just did me in. 🙂

  19. Kimberly S. (Sperk*) (@sperk01) - 2012-03-29 at 7:58 am Reply

    The only time I have been across the Atlantic I was 16 and with my school’s French Club. The adults were in charge. Forgive me, but I am glad you weren’t my teacher-in-charge…with the exception of kicking the butt pincher in the face – that’s awesome.

  20. That Unique* Weblog - 2012-03-31 at 5:45 pm Reply

    I have some great stories about poop from Spain – Almeria to be exact. But it’s someone else’s poo – an anaconda-looking poo – in an open air “hang-onto-the-rails-and-squat” bathroom. Mmmm. Good times.

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