Saturday, September 21, 2013

Notes from the Urban Safari

The fantasy...

There's no way I wouldn't look like a tourist in Italy. Aside from the camera, guide book and poor language skills I would still have "American tourist" written all over me. I may try to blend in with the locals (who are sensibly not at the Uffizi during high season) but end up a fish struggling upstream in the hordes of tourists dressed like tourists.

Tourists! A euphemism for poor fashion choices. I'm always amazed to see people 5,000 miles from home looking like they are heading to Home Depot. What made you decide to pack that, I wonder.
Since I'd never be mistaken for a native, I decided to join 'em, but try to do it with a little style. I looked at the assault on Italy as an urban safari. Here's what I packed and what happened when fantasy met reality.

A cross-over bag screamed "tourista" at 300 paces, but it was fabulous to have hands free and scads of zippered compartments. At times I forgot which of them held important stuff like tickets or passport, but I'm sure that busload of sightseers behind me didn't mind a little wait... In fact, I liked this bag so much that I'm loathe to consign it to the closet now that we're back.

I've got a secret for you: dresses are the most comfortable thing you can wear. You can sit, move, catch a breeze, feel like a girl. Because Italian women also wear dresses, you can also feel like a native. The time someone asked me directions— in Italian— I was in a dress.

I also wore a dress to travel— with practical leggings. It was a kind of safari shirtdress in a silky blend that didn't wrinkle. The "belt" was an attached elastic (yes every TSA officer asked me to remove it). One problem— after five flights and two train trips, I'm now pretty sick of it.

Goofy grin courtesy of 28-hour flight home

The black leather jacket in the photo was a last-minute decision and a happy surprise. It's unlined, soft and supple and has no closure. It was the perfect choice for evenings and chilly mornings. I didn't want to pack and wrinkle it, so it became part of the Travel Outfit. Funny... I'm not sick of it.

What's a safari without a safari jacket? Crushable and lightweight, my safari jacket gave me a touch of Christine Amanapour. You know, like I travel all the time. 
She knows where she's going

I hooked an umbrella on my shoulder bag and used that instead of a hat. Apologies to anyone in St. Mark's Square who got stabbed in the eye.

I also brought a clutch for evenings to give the shoulder bag (and shoulder) a rest. I carried nothing much but a lipstick. Nevertheless, fearing purse snatchers, clutch it I did.

While I pictured myself skipping through Italy a la Audrey in little flats, the reality was more like heavily fortified sneakers (at least for the sightseeing part). This was Italy. I mean, can you say "cobblestones"? I whipped them off whenever possible. Try as I may I just cannot put together a decent outfit of street clothes with sneakers at the bottom. Italian women wear sandals. I don't know how; it must come with the territory. Sometimes the fantasy has to face... 

...the reality

1 comment:

  1. I think the difference between we tourists and the "natives" is that they aren't on their feet for hours a day (unless they're tour guides). I'm with you on the crossbody's the only way to go for sightseeing. That leather jacket is divine!