that sometimes you just have to go there in person. Husband, knowing of my love but not necessarily sharing it, understands. And encourages my travels to il bel paese every couple of years.
This is my year. And I had a few different travel options of when to go and who might be my travel buddy, none involving Husband. But then I noticed the “Lake Como” card hiding in my travel deck…and, well, now we have plane tickets to Milan. (!!)
Planning a trip to Europe from the west coast of the U.S. is sometimes fraught with pressure, because the two continents are so far away, and it’s such an investment on many levels to get from here to there. A traveler can feel equally excited and overwhelmed. To combat this, I focus on what is the true goal of this trip, and comfort myself with the fact that one day, I will be back. (Whether it’s true or not).
Do I want to see the great art masterpieces of the world housed in the museum which is Italy? No. Or the imposing monuments of the ancient world? No. Or eat pasta, pane and gelato all day? No. (Well, maybe a little). Really, what I’m looking forward to the most is just to be there, in Italy, surrounded by Italians speaking Italian, encouraging me warmly and enthusiastically as I try to join the party.
Oh, and one more thing. There’s a purpose to this trip, beyond wandering, gelato and lake gazing. I’m looking for a town to call our own, just for a little while, for a dream I have called Semester Abroad 2017.
You see, next year is the year that the stars should align in that, if all goes according to plan, Older and Younger Sons will both be at university, while Daughter will be in sixth grade which, for various reasons, is a transitional year for her (translation: a good year to travel or even possibly, be home-schooled.) It was some years back when I realized this, and my dream of spending a self-created “semester abroad” in Italy took hold. Husband, who encourages actions over dreams, was on board immediately. Which is great because he’s one of the three students in my study abroad program.
At first I pictured us in Florence, which comes as no surprise to any of you readers. But after my trip to Florence in 2014, I thought maybe I might want a quieter life, just for a little while. I imagine us strolling through a cobblestone piazza in a crumbly Tuscan town, preferably not too far from Florence and with easy train access. Is there such a place?
Next month, I will go searching for it. Here’s the shortlist:
Arezzo where Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful was filmed, so I have been smitten with this place for a while.
Certaldo is exactly the sort of crumbly Tuscan town which I’m picturing and is easily accessible from Florence. It’s notable for being home to the family of Giovanni Boccaccio, so I may be inspired to finally finish The Decameron which has been sitting on my bedside table for years.
Pistoia is again, an easy train ride away from Florence, and at the top of the list of places recommended for me by friend and go-to Florence expert, Rachel.
Rachel tells me Verona is like a mini-Florence and it really only takes a photo or two to fall in love with this place! It’s the setting of three Shakespeare plays (Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew), so again, perhaps I’ll be motivated read through these. Being so far northeast, Verona seems a little isolated, but if you’re in love, that doesn’t matter.
We found Fiesole during our family trip in 2010, and it might be just right. It’s a quick bus ride (#7 bus from Piazza San Marco!) to find yourself overlooking all of Florence. You can even see the Duomo, miniaturized from Fiesole’s vantage point.
After all the trains and town hopping, it’s highly possible that I might just settle on a quiet neighborhood of Florence. I’m not convinced that I can be in Italy for an extended period of time in a place other than Florence.
My travel plans are mostly set, but if you have any other places which seem right for what I’m looking for, please let me know!
And stay tuned. If wi-fi cooperates, I’ll be posting directly from Italy in July, and (dita incrociate – fingers crossed!) from one of these gorgeous towns in 2017.