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.