OB Walkabout, Italian Style

by on May 7, 2018 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

Editordude: The OB Rag’s Joaquin Antique, the author of numerous “OB Walkabouts”, just returned from a trip to Italy.

By Joaquin Antique

The more I travel the more I’m surprised at how familiar things can feel in other places. One of the things I relish about travel is experiencing how different other places can be, but I often find that the commonalities and shared experiences between us are what’s most amazing.

Take the coastal eddy for example. It doesn’t matter if you’re in OB or on the Amalfi Coast, when the fog rolls in it can ruin your day. Or you can just groove on it until it burns off and then it’s glorious.

All photos (except the gelato picture, courtesy of Pinterest) are by Joaquin

Yellow and green bikes cluttering up your neighborhood or polluting your view? This abandoned “Obike”, minus a seat, is in Central Rome, not dumped out on the Cliffs.

Parking can be a struggle just about anywhere these days, but people in Rome have come up with some creative solutions.
Picture 5

Progressive works of art and ganja advocacy in Italy show that the positive vibe is everywhere.

Except for medical cannabis, marijuana is still illegal. On several occasions we saw or smelled weed being discretely enjoyed. By the way, medical marijuana in Italy is grown by the medical corps of the Italian army!

Ugliness walks the mean streets, too.

The rise of nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism is not just happening in Trump’s America. Check out the fascist poster and the anti-European Union graffito.

Craft beer culture is happening in Italian cities, big and small.

We passed a salumeria (sort of a combination pub and deli) in Spoleto that had a poster in the window for Stone Arrogant Bastard IPA. They offered local craft brews and cheese, meat, and veggie platters.
Pictures 12 and 13

We told one brew pub owner that we live in San Diego and he told us about a customer who planned for a honeymoon here. The customer’s wife-to-be thought it was all about the beaches, Sea World, and Southern California, but the groom had a secret agenda of micro-brewery tours and tastings in mind! We informed him about the “Bud and Brew” tours that include dispensaries as well as micro-breweries. He was entranced.


This is the front door of our short term vacation rental in Salerno. It was a modern apartment in a 17th century building. The owner’s family lived in the other unit. There doesn’t seem to be an anti-airbnb movement in Italy, maybe because they have more available (and affordable) housing. The homeless rate is half that of the USA and housing costs are much more reasonable than here in San Diego.


North OB or north Rome, kitties are going to wander and owners are going to put up signs for lost cats.


The joys of boat ownership (and scraping and sanding and painting!) are the same on Shelter Island as they are on Isola d’Ischia off the coast of Naples. We saw lots of folks getting their boats ready for the influx of summer tourists.


This circa 100 BC sculpture from the Roman National Museum is of a dancing Maenad. The Maenads were the female followers of Dionysus. Their name literally translates as “raving ones”. Under the influence of “the divine madness” (a combination of dancing and intoxication) they would “abandon themselves to bare-footed dancing”. Sounds like a good night at Winston’s when a Dead cover band is playing.


They’ve got a bullet train in Italy and they know how to use it. If we had a similar train here in SoCal you could get from downtown San Diego to downtown LA in 45 minutes. All Italian public transportation is well-utilized because car users pay more than $8 per gallon for gasoline.  Why’s that?  Because the gas taxes in Italy pay for the true cost of driving cars.

Things like road maintenance (our gas taxes don’t cover the cost of maintaining our roads and bridges) as well as some subsidies for public transportation are paid for out of gasoline taxes on the the people who choose to drive. These taxes are also used to fix other negative social impacts of driving such as personal time and productivity lost to traffic, car crashes, policing, and health risks from pollution. As a result lots of people use public transportation or, if they have to drive, they buy really tiny cars.

Foodies always have to argue about who’s got the best pizza where ever. This was my favorite pizza in Italy, from Vicolo della Neve restaurant in Salerno. The pizza dough (crispy and charred on the edges while chewy and thin under the toppings) was perfect. The only toppings on this pizza were tomato sauce, thin slices of garlic, basil, oregano, and salt.

I  took one bite and the simple and distinct flavors took me back to the very first slice of pizza I ever had, back in 1958. If you want cheese on your pizza, they use creamy mozzarella di bufala, made from water buffalo milk.


Is there a better way to finish an Italian meal (and this article) than gelato? I think I’ll walk down to Newbreak on Abbott Street and get some right now!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

molly Molly May 7, 2018 at 8:04 pm

I love it! An “OBike” in Rome without a seat! Thanks Joaquin for yur keen “I”.

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