Oh, what fun it is to play beach volleyball in Rimini! Especially as a possibly blond(e) American! The crowd will be in awe of the foreigners, the americani, and will lift them to the skies win or lose.

Sporting activities in Italy are like everywhere else. There are fewer golf courses and tennis courts, and they are quite expensive. But if you want to bike - what better place than the hills of Tuscany (ask you legs after two weeks, and they'll tell you a hundred better places!)? If you want to swim - aren't the waters of the Mediterranean too invitin to resists?

If you are into watching, remember that none of the sports that are so popular in the States is a big hit anywhere in Europe. Italy knows little about basketball, virtually nothing about baseball and football is so incomprehensible that even after four years I don't have the slightest clue of how a game works.

Italy is about soccer. As simple as that. I got bored to smithereens every Monday, when everybody else was talking about the latest soccer rivalries. Not much better did I fare on Friday, when the crowd was choosing the winners for the government betting. Legend has it that Italy chose thirteen as the lucky number because there are thirteen games of soccer each weekend to play on. Having a thirteen is a lucky thing, a very lucky thing.

By the way: seventeen is unlucky. So much so that my father was forbidden to get married on September, 17th on strict orders of my grandmother. They waited two more weeks and got married on the 1st of October. Miracles of superstition.

If you are in Italy during any major international competition, you'll get all the news you want. The coverage is excellent, and nobody seems to sleep during the Soccer World Cup or the Olympics.

Next: Some tips on trips