Destination Overwhelm

Here’s the plan. G-Man and I have a three-week trip to Italy planned this fall. It is planned insofar as the plane tickets have been purchased, the rental car reserved, and the apartment reservations made with down payments. We are flying into Florence and spending two nights in an apartment there. Then we are renting a car and driving to Montepuliciano where we have a self-catering apartment for two weeks. After two weeks we will drop the car off in Orvieto and take the train into Rome where we will stay five nights, then fly back to the States. This is a bit of a test run for us. We are going not as tourists, but as locals in the making. We want to experience, as best we can, day-to-day living – shopping, cooking, visiting the same coffee bar every morning, making la passeggiata in the evenings, sipping wine and slowing down – just generally doing our best to be a part of where we are and feeling the rhythm of life. We absolutely are not there to run hither, thither and yon in an attempt to see the top 200 places recommended by Trip Advisor. We just want to experience Italy, bathe in it, let it wash over us.

So what’s the problem? I’m overwhelmed trying to plan what to do. Oh yeah, everyone has sympathy tears at my plight…or not so much. Yeah, I know how absurd it is to whimper and whine about this. And, no, I cannot say anything at this point to justify my whimpering and whining. I guess I’m just in a bit of a quandary in that the point of the trip is to test ourselves and our big idea of living in Italy, but at the same time I don’t want us to completely avoid doing a bit of exploring in the event something unforeseen happens and we never get the opportunity to go back. In an effort to discover places to go and things to do that appeal to our interests, we have subscribed to several….ok, about a bazillion….websites and blogs. Now I have information overload. AAGGGHHHH!!!

As far as Florence goes, we’ll have a little less than 48 hours. We plan on taking it easy so we can make the jet lag adjustments. Our family and friends who have been to Florence have given us a list of MUST SEE / MUST DO that would take us a year to complete. At the risk of getting struck by lightening this very instant, I’ll admit we aren’t much in the way of being art enthusiasts. The idea of walking through a museum looking at paintings and sculpture just doesn’t do it for us. I know! I know! I’m cringing for saying it out loud!!! Yes, yes. One day we will see the MUST SEES and do the MUST DOS in Florence. It just won’t be this trip. The only thing I have on our list for Florence, besides cafes and sweet shops, is a lovely suggestion I got from The Dusty Olive Green, a Danish transplant blogger/photographer/translator who calls Florence home. (Her photography is gorgeous. Just sayin’) She suggests, “… to get up early. A walk in the streets and along the Arno is quite another thing early in the morning before the tourists take in the city, and the Florentines get on their way to work. Bring you camera. The light is fantastic at this time of the day and you will love the tranquility and the feeling that the city is yours alone.” That is the very sort of thing we like having on our to-do list. Outside of that, we just want to take it slow and explore the back roads.

When we get to Montepulciano, that is where our real slow travel will happen. That’s where we really want to fade in as much as we can. We got the rental car for our time there so that every third day or so we might take a day trip to Sienna or Arezzo or any place within an hour or two that strikes our fancy. Chocolate in Perugia strikes my fancy a lot! Again, I catch myself in analysis paralysis trying to research every town within a hundred mile radius so that I can make an educated selection of a handful of towns to visit. I’m starting to develop multi-personality disorder! One personality is trying to over organize and the other personality is yelling, “FREAKING RELAX!” I hope I can get this under control before September. I don’t want to have to buy another plane ticket so all of us can go!

And then there is Rome. The Eternal City. We are super freaks for architectural history and anything that shows us the daily lives of our ancestors – where they lived, what they ate, what they wore, etc. Yeah, can’t get enough of that. I spent a portion of my childhood wanting to be an archeologist. I still flirt with the thought now to the extent that I’ve wondered if there are working archeological sites where we could volunteer. But I digress. Rome for us is like Mecca. I’m trying to be true to our objective of slow travel, but I’m afraid the idea will go out the window in Rome. Seriously, it would be like making us pick ONE candy in the chocolate shop. The compromise will be hitting a few hot spots at the top of our list and then spending some time off the beaten path, particularly eating and drinking coffee in non-tourist places.

Sheesh, just thinking about it is wearing me out!  I’m going to have to go have a lie down.

16 thoughts on “Destination Overwhelm

  1. Good on ya for doing this trip. And since you just started to follow my blog, let me make a suggestion or two! But first let me say you are doing this right, going slow, going to the same bar and getting to know people, getting into the pace and rhythm, going for 3 weeks. All good.

    Now, go see the David when you’re in Florence, No other art since you don’t like it, just the David. It’s one of those incredible pieces even when you don’t like art.

    You’ll love Montepulciano, and just wandering in your car. Drop-dead gorgeous countryside. Follow your nose. Some of our best experiences have been when we just went where we were drawn and discovered the incredible.

    Spend a couple nights in Orvieto. I’m biased, its where we do all our trips. You are doing Florence and Rome – big cities, and you are doing countryside outside Montepulciano. Orvieto is charming, small town, delightful. You will be in slow mode by the time you get there and I think you will love being in a town and not a city.

    Expect Rome to be a shock. After slow, small, quiet, introspective, Rome will hit you in the face. You may be wanting it! Just be prepared.

    Again, good on ya. Hope you have an absolute blast. I’m sure you will!

    1. Aaawww, thank you so much for the words of wisdom! I think we WILL make a point of seeing the David. I understand it’s quite the experience.

      As a side note, I so enjoy Make Haste Slowly! Lots of fabulous info and lovely pictures. Thanks for the hard work you share with the rest of us!

  2. Not that my opinion necessarily holds any weight ;-), but I would be doing the exact same thing that you’re doing. Getting out of the tourist limelight and letting yourself absorb all that Italy has to offer should give you a realistic test run of what your future endeavors will be. To be quite honest, I try to take the same approach whenever I go on a vacation anywhere. The reason we visit new places is to experience something new, exciting, and different. By letting yourself get drawn in to the local flair (wherever it may be), you will be truly experiencing all that Italy has to offer instead of the sometimes artificial tourist scene.

    By the way, yes, I am extremely jealous and wish that I could be the one whining and complaining, but I also know that I have been in the same situation and can empathize with you! Go with the flow, follow your heart, and all will be good 😉

    1. Exactly, Dave! As two peas in the analysis paralysis pod, WE get each other. It really comes down to a struggle between our natural selves (the one that wants to research and plan every minute detail in the hopes of achieving the Walton’s Christmas version of the perfect experience) and some instinctive side that knows joy is not achieved through the pursuit of perfection. Intellectually, we know the best things in life are serendipitous. We struggle to open ourselves up to the possibilities!

      Thanks so much for your insight. I do believe I will reread your comments often as a way of maintaining my compass.

      And because I know from reading your blog that this would be right up your alley, check out Il Bel Centro. I hope their story conjures possibilities of what you might do with your own family.

  3. Thanks for the link … I visited Il Bel Centro and can say that it was probably meant to be … thank you 🙂 Gabe is not a “common” name, but it is the name of my son and when the most recent post talked about the author’s son by the same name, I just knew that something would click. It was such a touching story … and although I know you read it already, one sentence jumped out a me … “There are no must-sees. The only must is seeing what you see.” How profound and appropriate. I just love this blogging thing. Not because of all the comments we get on our own blogs, but because of all the awesome people that we never otherwise would have met 😉

  4. Hola from Mexico!

    Italy is one of my favorite places in the world and I spent a good chunk of my winter doing nearly nothing in the Umbrian countryside, which was glorious – I think you’ll love slow travel. 🙂 If it helps with the overwhelm, you really don’t have to decide anything before you go. It is very easy to just go with the flow there. One of my favorite things to do is ask the locals what they think the best local restaurant or the most beautiful nearby town or the loveliest nature walk is – really whatever I’m craving that day.

    And I’m not an art museum person myself. It’s totally okay to not hit everyone else’s must-sees. Find your must-sees instead. Take that morning walk your blogger friend recommended. Go to the train station and just buy a ticket to whatever town sounds festive. In other words, don’t overthink it. Whatever you do, you’ll love it, I’m sure. And there’s no reason you can’t do the rest later. 🙂

  5. The best way to enjoy Italy is to do just what you are planning…stay in a few places and see them slowly…enjoy the coffee, food and gelato and walk, walk, walk. You have chosen some beautiful places. Montalcino and Pienza are easy day trips from Montepulciano. Pitigliano is a gorgeous place not far from Orvieto, one of my favourite places in Italy.

  6. Hi Beverly, I’m so glad I ran into your blog through a comment you left on Lisa Chiodo’s blog (Renovating Italy)! I was just telling my husband how stressed I was about our trip that starts next week and didn’t know how I was going to fit ALL OF ITALY in the 2 weeks we’re going to be there. We were really planning a one year stay but have had trouble with getting visas so we opted to take a one month in Europe with the 2 middle weeks in Italy. Our plan was to run to every place we could squeeze in to take advantage of the short time we have. But now I think this post was a sign sent directly to me that we really need to “experience” Italy and not worry about seeing it all. I like your plan and I think you will have a fabulous time this fall. Can’t wait to read all your future posts!

    1. Dearest Andreana, I am a firm believer that the right things are put in front of you when you need them. I’m thrilled that my post was there for you! The universe works in wonderful ways. Lisa’s blog is one of the reasons I want us to be still and be part of the Italian community. The way she describes the people gets me so excited to BE THERE NOW! You’ll be there in just a few weeks! Lucky girl!! Enjoy and PLEASE let me know how it was for you and your husband. Oh, and have you given up on the one year stay or just delayed it?

      1. We are still with great hopes that we can do the one year stay. Hopefully before our kids get out of school and possibly be able to do the one year in Italian school. We’ve just had a heck of a time getting the proper visa that will allow us to stay that length of time. So, in an effort to fuel our spirits a little we decided to do the one month this year and when we get back we’ll just have to keep trying to figure all this out.

      2. Thanks so much for the info! I checked the blog out and it’s filled with such lovely posts. I’ll definitely see if I can pick her brain a little.

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