Program 339: Mexico Road Trips; 21st-Century Women in Italy; Open Phones: Feedback

Release Date: 09-21-2013

On Air Description

The experts from The People's Guide to Mexico offer tips for enjoying an independent road trip to explore Mexico on your own, on this week's Travel with Rick Steves. We're also let in on the frustrations many women face in Italy, when they try to break some very old gender stereotypes.  And Rick checks in with listeners who respond to topics and guests they've heard recently on the show. 

Take a closer look at the world each week. . . on Travel with Rick Steves. 

Notes to Stations

We expect to post new fundraising downloads in the first week of October. Modules and pitches from past fundraising specials are generic and good to use anytime. We can also provide you with clean cutaway options during any week's show throughout the year for inserting local fundraising pitches. Contact Tim Tattan for further information.


  • Carl Franz and Lorena Havens, authors of The People's Guide to Mexico  (Avalon Travel)
  • Francesca Caruso, tour guide based in Rome
  • Nina Bernardo, tour guide based in Rome
  • Lisa Anderson, tour guide based in the Piemonte region of Italy
  • Outtake from Alfio Di Mauro, tour guide based in Sicily (from Sept. 2012 funder)

Related Links


  • "Since I live in Texas, I'm acutely aware of the growing dangers of traveling in Mexico. Though you apparently know the country well enough to avoid known 'high danger' places, how do you protect yourself from the very real gang, drug and violence problems in Mexico?"   Caller asks specifically about women's safety issues, and about the Copper Canyon scenic train to Chihuahua.  (Esther in Dallas, Texas)
  • "I recently took a road trip around the Yucatan peninsula and it was wonderful. I explored Mérida, Campeche, and ended back in Tulum for some beach time. It was a wonderful mix of beach, cities and ruins. This trip allowed time to explore Chichen Itza and La Ruta Puuc on our own time. We were stopped by police at routine traffic stops but had no issues. I actually prefer the Mexican rules of the road!"   (e-mail from Rachel in Madison, Wisconsin)
  • "Is it typical for a 40-something Italian woman to be like me:  married, juggling a job, kids, and also helping care for elderly parents?  Are they concerned about healthy homemade dinners, volunteering at school, exhausted but happy,  juggling many roles?  Are men helping out at home with kids and household chores?"  (Alison in Spokane, Washington)
  • Asks about the influence of the Roman Catholic religion in the lives of Italians today. "If it's a significant factor, would it have a more cultural or a faith-based value?"  (Lois in Cincinnati)
  • Caller rebuffs Rick and Ferenc Mate's "disparaging comment" about using GPS and smartphone apps while traveling, and explains how they used a free app to find their way, and document their trip afterwards.   (Brad in Woodinville, Washington)
  • "I heard your show awhile back about viewing art in Europe outside the museums, and was reminded of a powerful experience I had.  In the main cemetery in Turku, Finland, there is a section devoted to the men, and even the boys -- the age range is 15-50 -- who died resisting the Russian invasion at the start of World War Two. The major monument is not military symbolism, but is instead a black marble figure of a grieving woman. Seeing it was one of the deepest emotional experiences I have ever had with any work of art."  (e-mail from Eric in Urbana, Illinois)
  • "After graduating from college a couple years ago, one of my girlfriends and I went to Poland for two weeks. Our friends thought we were crazy because, who goes to Poland? Well, I was curious about the place, and it's one of the few spots in Europe that is affordable, even a bargain!  We had such a fun time. The youth were very friendly and loved chatting with Americans (once again, unusual for Europe!). Warsaw was one of our favorites, particularly the gardens. Gdansk was great too. Also the medieval forest near Belarus was a treat. I encourage all to visit.  Amazing food!!"  (e-mail from Ginny in Henrietta, Oklahoma)  
  • "My family is from Calabria and I have been back twice to visit in the past ten years.  It is absolutely beautiful, relatively inexpensive, and the people are so warm and friendly. You can find beaches, as well as mountains, and wonderful cultural sites - such as ethnic Albanian villages.  It can be a bit of work to communicate if you don't speak Italian, and getting around can be challenging with very windey, mountainous roads in the interior, and limited public transportation options. But 'vale la pena,' as the locals would say: 'it's worth the trouble.'  Your show just reminded me that I need to plan my next trip. Ciao!" (e-mail from Elena in Mount Vernon, Washington)    
  • "My memories of a trip to Sicily in 2006 center around the completely crazy drivers on the road, and trash everywhere on the side of the road!  I would call it complete chaos, not 'controlled chaos!'  Of course the food was fabulous and likewise the scenery but the chaos and trash everywhere were overwhelming!"  (e-mail from Martha in Ames, Iowa)
  • Caller describes finding, and staying with, distant relatives in Sicily.  "My grandfather came from Vita, Sicily, in about 1903 with $10 in his pocket. I found the last remaining relative there and have visited twice now. It is so beautiful there!  I highly recommend going to Sicily: I felt very safe and well taken care of.  The ruins, cathedrals, scenery, food, beaches mountains, art, are all spectacular!"  (Maggie in Edmonds, Washington)
  • “I was mowing the lawn today and listening to the show about African-Americans traveling in the American South with the Green Book, and found it to be interesting, informative and appalling.  You did a nice job of providing some insight in what we could call an unfortunate chapter, to say the least, in American history.  Keep up the good work.”  (e-mail from Neil in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
  • "I want to suggest the book, The House of the Wind by Tatania Hardie.  It is a great historical novel, following the story of peoples living in Santo Pietro during the middle ages and in 2007.  It tells quite a bit about the Etruscan history of the area and about Volterra, the valley of serenity and San Galgano. And it follows two great love stories as well. I highly recommend this book." (e-mail from Cathy in Oxford, Ohio)
  • “Oh, no!  I just heard Rick's interview with the pasta expert. I am not only a spaghetti killer, it's worse:  There is a massacre at my house.  I am violating all of the rules!  I break spaghetti when I put it in the water. I also cut it with my fork and knife when it gets on my plate, so that I can eat it with a spoon.  Next time I make spaghetti, I'll leave it whole and enjoy more of an authentic experience to ensure future unhindered travels to Italy.”  (Kathleen in Fresno, California)

Incidental Music

  • Señor Coconut, “Showroom Dummies,” Nirvana Lounge by Claude Challe & Ravin (collection) / Challo Music (France)
  • Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, “El son de la mariquita,” from NPR Studio Cuts, vol. 1  (collection) / NPR Classics CDs
  • Mariachi Sol de Mexico, "Mexico Vive," La Nueva Era de Mariachi Sol de Mexico de José Hernandez / EMI-Televisa
  • Willie and Lobo, "Tribute to Manolo," Gypsy Boogaloo / Mesa-Blue Moon Records
  • * Ensemble Sones de Mexico, “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, 2nd movement (Bach),” Esta Tierra es Tuya / Sones de Mexico
  • Steve Erquiaga, “Pavane (Faure),” Windham Hill Records Sampler ’94 (collection) / Windham Hill
  • Jack Costanzo, "Peter Gunn Mambo," Ultra-Lounge (collection) / Capitol
  • Jack Dangers, "Ava (Nu Wage Remix)," A Luaka Bop:  Roots, Rock and Rhythm (collection) / Luaka Bop
  • Salvatore Macheda, "A'mbasciata," Il Canto di Malavita (collection) / Play It Again Sam
  • Il Triollo, with Lucilla Galeazzi, "Sogna Fiore Mio," A Mediterranean Odyssey:  Athens to Andalucia (collection) / Putumayo
  • * I Solisti Dell’Orchestra Filarmonica Della Scala, featuring Giulio Franzetti, Riccardo Muti, conductor, “’1. Allegro” from ‘The Four Seasons:  Autumn’ (Vivaldi),” Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / EMI Classics
  • Saint Germain, "What You Think About," Tourist / Blue Note  
  • Caroline Goulding, "Gypsy Caprice (Kreisler)," Caroline Goulding / Telarc
  • Unspecified Sicilian musicians, recorded by Alan Lomax, “Frascalittata,” World Music:  Sicilian Folk Festival / Valmark
  • Jeanne Baxtresser and Julius Baker flutes, Doug Riley, keyboards, "Impromptu in 2 Keys (G. Gershwin)," The Disc Drive Disc (collection) / CBC Records
  • David M. Patrick, on the organ of Gloucester Cathedral, "'Scherzo' from Organ Symphony No. 4 in F minor, op. 13, no.4 (Widor)," French Organ Masterworks / Resonance
  • Jeanne Baxtresser and Julius Baker flutes, Doug Riley, keyboards, " Promenade (G. Gershwin)," The Disc Drive Disc (collection) / CBC Records

Dated References

  • At 7:27, Rick says The People's Guide to Mexico "is out in its new 14th edition."   
  • At 8:14, Lorena says "there is a lot of fear about drug violence" in Mexico, and recounts how things have changed since their first travels in a van around Mexico in 1972.   Around 14:00 she describes how Mexican women adapt to their surroundings, and that most women are home by 9pm.
  • Carl claims at 10:00 that Mexico may have "the most advanced bus system in the world." He estimates current costs at around US$10 for a three hour bus ride away from Mexico City, to places where you can find a hotel room for around US$25 and where meals cost around US$8-10.  At 16:50 he advises to not drive after dark in Mexico. 
  • Segment B deals with contemporary social issues regarding the role of women in Italy, and the stereotypes they must tackle.  At 21:58, Nina notes that most women portrayed on TV in Italy" for the past 20 years" (since Berlusconi's MediaSet debuted) are "bimbos."   
  • At 23:46, Francesca adds that it is a period of gradual transition for gender roles in Italy.  They give examples of workplace issues in Italy that might be considered sexual harassment elsewhere.  
  • Lisa remarks at 26:06 that more women than men are enrolled in universities in Italy now.  Nina says, at 27:10, that the vast majority of Italian men do not help with household chores, which is atypical in the rest of Europe. 
  • Francesca adds at 30:45 that the feminist movement has still had an enormous positive impact on changing expectations for women in Italy.
  • At 32:36, the discussion turns to the overwhelming cultural role and political influence of the Catholic Church in Italy.  At 33:33, Lisa notes that Italian women in large numbers demonstrated to prevent a proposed repeal of legal abortion in Italy.
  • At 36:42, Rick notes that both Nina and Lisa moved to Italy "15 years ago," as they discuss the appeal of the quality of life in Italy.  They close with a remark about the frustrations of using the postal system in Italy. 
  • Segment C consists of calls and e-mails from listeners responding to guests and topics discussed in the past several months on the show.
  • Caller Brad explains using his smartphone's GPS while traveling in Europe, and says the GPS app "My Tracks" that he uses operates apart from a carrier's roaming charges.

Program Extras

Program 339 Extra #1 - Carl Franz recalls an early experience trying to speak Spanish to a policeman in Mexico, plus Rick, Carl and Lorena recall the speed bumps on the roads in the Yucatan. (runs 2:09)

Program 339 Extra #2 - Nina, Lisa, and Francesca contrast the legal issues of getting divorced in Italy versus in the USA, and look at the scenario behind the latest statistics on Italy's low birth rate. (runs 3:06)