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Consider a Vacation Rental for 2016

Ok, first off I have to admit: lots of folks like staying at a hotel or resort. Your needs are taken care of, your room gets cleaned every day, a cook sweats over a hot stove for you, and some unfortunate kitchen slave starting his working life at the very bottom gets to wash your dishes. I get it. It's vacation. You want to live like the Koch brothers without having to pay an unimaginable wad of greenbacks to run the country.

There are those of us, however, who will make numerous arguments for prefering a vacation apartment, house, or villa. The explosion of rental properties over the last few years has lead to a downward trend in price. A one bedroom rental in most places is now usually less expensive than a hotel room.

But don't do it because it's cheap. Do it because there are advantages.

Here are my top three reasons to live like an Italian:

  • I get a big refrigerator that's not humming away in the bedroom like a lonely knucklehead playing a one-note kazoo all night. And I don't have to pay 7 euro for a miniature bottle of mineral water from it.
  • When I am working and have papers, brochures, a camera and numerous memory cards lying around while I try to write a blog post like this one and the wife wants to take one of her monumental walks to nowhere in particular, I can just leave. No need to tidy up for the maid--or hide the computer and camera from her. It will be set up when we return in 7 or eight hours and I can get right to work.
  • If I want, I can cook. But what of the knives duller than the one-note kazoo player and the warped pans that they stock in many vacation rentals? Honestly, I like cooking. I sometimes bring my own knife and some decent olive oil to a rental. But we seldom cook, because this:

That's right, when you rent a place you can choose to become a participant in the culture. The culture of Italy is renowned for their food--and the way they preserve it. There are many, many meats that get this treatment. Grab a great loaf of bread cooked in a "forno di legno" or a wood oven, then tell the deli meat guy that you want "un etto di quello" (100 grams, almost a quarter pound of that) and then point to what looks good to you. They will slice it correctly  and wrap it. Pick up a bottle of the local wine, vino locale, and lather, rinse, and repeat for as long as you need to to fill that fridge. It's simple. You'll make mistakes. You won't die from the experience.

They really pack it in there, don't they? You will discover things. Some of the things you discover you may wish had remained a secret. In Padua, I discovered a very nice treat that could be eaten like a salad with a drizzle of oil and a few flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano, or used like a spice, or like a condiment on a pizza. And, if you weren't aware of what it was, you might actually mistake it for threads of saffron.

This is sfilacci. Sfilacci di cavallo. It's a specialty of Padua and the Veneto. Thin wires of smoked horse.

If you have a moral objection to eating horse meat don't blame me. The Kazoo player made me post it.

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