It feels almost neglectful to have a trip to Italy right around the corner and not to have really talked about it. I've decided that I will try to blog it, to the extent I have time and the inclination.
In conversation with my little sister who was about to celebrate a milestone birthday late last year, I realized that she really did want to undertake a milestone birthday celebratory trip, much like I did to Russia. Only she didn't want to go alone. Lucky her, she has a built-in travel companion and one who loves to plan travel as well as take on the journey itself. I asked Dear Sister (DS) where she was thinking of going and without blinking, this art fanatic said "Italy". When I tried to get her to narrow that down, she said "all over Italy".
So I started throwing out possible itineraries, to which DS said yes. Every stinking one. Finally we narrowed it down to Rome and Florence, with trips out to Tuscany and maybe some other places. I've been to Rome twice and Florence three times, so neither is really cutting new ground and things certainly don't change there much over time, but hey, who can say no to Italy in any form?
Then I started working out the logistics and to get around without really thinking about it and cover the ground we wanted to in a relative short period of time seemed like a challenge I just didn't have mental energy for. Believe it or not. So I did what I never thought I'd ever do for a destination as "easy" as Italy: I looked for a tour.
Ultimately I found a tour that gives us the best of both worlds: all logistics taken care of: getting here and there, getting us into museums ahead of the queues, getting us between remote locations without my having to do anything but throw my bag on the bus and climb aboard. Plus, we get half our time on our own and half our meals on our own, so I can return to places I remember fondly and we can break away from the tour.
Once the tour was booked, I cashed in some frequent flier miles to get us there and back. Already, this is a cheaper trip with less headache than I imagined it would be.
We leave in 24 days. We'll spend a day on own in Rome ahead of the tour, getting our sea legs and fighting off jetlag. Then we'll see Rome, Volterra, Lucca, Cinque Terre and Florence. We'll have three additional days in Florence after the tour to perhaps take day trips to Pisa and Siena and taken in more of Florence itself. I've not been to Volterra, Lucca or Cinque Terre, so that's a nice balance for a repeat traveler, some old, some new. Best of all, we're away for two weeks. Two weeks of no work, no commute, no snow. I can't imagine a better get-away.
I'm excited. It's been just over seven years since I've been to Italy, so it's a long overdue return. But I'm also excited to see Italy through DS's eyes and take advantage of her museum and art history mind. I hope it's all she wants it to be and more importantly a milestone birthday celebration to remember.