MONEY's George Mannes asks people on the streets of New York City how much they spend on wedding gifts.
MONEY's George Mannes asks people in Times Square if they've done any estate planning.
Senior editor George Mannes asks folks on the street what financial advice they would give to recent college graduates.
All I have to do is open the kitchen drawer, and I'm back in Italy.
Any vacation is a treat, but the trip my wife and I took to Italy four years ago felt particularly sweet.
Reason one: Twenty-one years had gone by since our last overseas trip together, our honeymoon in Portugal. The day-to-day concerns of raising kids and keeping house kept pushing a jaunt to Europe far down our to-do list. By the time Margot and I landed in Rome—celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary one year late—all that self-denial had put us in an indulgent mood.
Reason two: What’s not to like about 10 days in Italy? We gorged our senses on art, architecture, music, and, oh yes, food. We savored multiple cups of chocolate-chip gelato, then went back for a taste of the hazelnut.
Toward the end of our trip, near when it would go from a vacation to a memory, we hunted for gifts in and around Florence’s Central Market. There, in a wine shop where we bought a bottle of limoncello for my parents, I saw for sale my perfect souvenir: a corkscrew.
Just a few pieces of metal nesting against a yellow plastic handle, the corkscrew seemed, like so much else in Italy, a product of thoughtful design. It looked aerodynamic and felt substantial. I pulled out a 10-euro note (about $14) and bought it.
Back home, the corkscrew’s functioning has lived up to its appealing form. When I open a bottle, the Teflon helix twists smoothly into the stopper. Using the device’s “patented double lever mechanism” (I quote the website of Patrick, its Italian manufacturer), I can slide the cork out in two easy motions. This keepsake is a pleasure to use, even before I start drinking.
More important, each time I retrieve the corkscrew from our kitchen drawer, I can revisit our Italian vacation. I look at the store’s name and location stamped on the handle—”Enoteca Marconcini Firenze”—and I’m reminded of moments from our trip. I think about the view of the sunset from Florence’s Ponte Vecchio and a sculpture exhibit at the Accademia Gallery. I remember a jog through the grounds of the Villa Borghese in Rome and a stroll through St. Peter’s Square. I picture a gelato shop near the Torre Argentina. I’m back in Italy. And what’s not to like about that?
George Mannes is a senior editor at MONEY. He is currently daydreaming about his next overseas vacation—China, perhaps. Do you have a purchase you consider Money Well Spent? Email us about it and what it means to you at email@example.com.
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