Still, in the end, there's nothing quite like being there, and for the places that host them, an Olympics provides a unique opportunity to show off for the world.
For all their spectator apathy, the Italians proved to be most accommodating hosts. I thoroughly enjoyed being among them and found their laid-back, non-stressful ways both enlightening who knew Italy was the Jimmy Buffett of Europe? and a bit infectious.
Deadline? What deadline?
Torino was the anti-Salt Lake, in a way. Whereas four years ago our nature was to bend over backward to get behind the Olympics and constantly hope our image would be seen as favorable, the Italian attitude was just the opposite. They seemed more bent on making sure life went on as normal. Not finishing certain facilities such as the city metro system as well as parts of some of the competition venues did not cause them to lose any sleep.
Another image I'll take with me from my stay in Torino is stopping at a pizzeria near the hockey stadium one night at about the halfway point of the Games, when Olympic events were under way anywhere and everywhere.
As I sat at a table with a red-and-white tablecloth and ate a salami pizza, I was surrounded by two nuns, three bus drivers, two cops in uniform and the woman who ran the place. They were all drinking coffee out of tiny cups and saying "ciao" as they came and went, while behind them, the TV set behind the counter was tuned to a soccer game.A couple of them said "ciao" to me when I left. Not one of them asked me how I was enjoying their Olympics.
Lee Benson's column has run daily during the Torino Olympics. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.