This is the positive post. I'll have a "What I wanted from Italy, what I got," more grumpy post tomorrow. But today. Today I will try to detail all of the great adventure that was great.
One negative that will have to come first: My hard drive crashed on the first day. It worked in Rome. I turned on the laptop at the aeroporto and then turned it off when they wanted 9.99 E to access the internet. When we got to the "villa" (quotation marks explained soon), I turned it on and the black screen with white letters read: "No internal drive found. Please press F1. Try to re-seat drive." F1 pressed. Hard drive reseated (using kitchen knife to unscrew small screws). Nothing but black screen from now on.
So. Hard drive free I got to "enjoy" my vacation in the manner that one enjoys rehab.
We flew from Rome to Brindisi, Zoe, Erik and I. We actually met up with Erik's parents in Brindisi, then drove, thanks to in-laws renting a car, toward Lecce, the main city near our villa-compound. We arrived at the compound at 4:00, tired but determined to stay awake until at least 8. Our hosts left us with some snacks upon which we snacked and then we ventured into Merine (Ma--REEN--ay) to the Non Solo Cafe (meaning they never close--unlike everything else between the hours of 13:00 and 19:00). My Italian comes in a tiny bit handy so we can get a table but Erik's stepdad, Rick, does a better job actually ordering us whole pizzas rather than the pizza-sandwiches available at the counter. I order us some house wine (rosso) and we eat what we can and then drive back to finally sleep.
The next day, we go into Lecce. They call this the Florence of the South. Having never been to Florence, I'll have to take their word for it.
Here's a picture of Lecce. We spent much time here since this book shop was across the street from the Internet Point--which I visited once a week or so. The first food was among the best. We tended to eat big lunches out and dinners at home. At this somewhat British-themed restaurant, we ate Ravioli with walnut sauce, pizza, and antipasti with duck prosciutto, wild boar, and some kind of delicious goose lardo.