The thing about loving Italy from afar is

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. (!!)

File:Lake Como from Varenna 04.jpg

Image Credit

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:


Lato nord-ovest della Piazza Grande: Esterno dell'abside di Santa Maria della Pieve (sx), Palazzo dei tribunali e Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici (dx, più scuro)

Arezzo Image Credit

Arezzo where Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful was filmed, so I have been smitten with this place for a while.


Certaldo Image Credit

Certaldo Image Credit

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 Image Credit

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.


Verona Image Credit

Verona Image Credit

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.


Famiglia Pollard Fiesole 2010
La nostra famiglia! Fiesole 2010

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.


-Open my heart and you will see, Graved inside of it, Italy.-

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.

Grazie di cuore to Rachel at The Italianista, Diana from Italy Translated and Robin at My Melange for helping me with trip details! “Ci vuole un villaggio,” no? 🙂

This post first appeared on Prayers and Piazzas. I plan to post from Italy more frequently on Facebook, and invite you to keep up with me there.








16 Comments Add yours

  1. georgefebish says:

    Living in Italy is a great dream that us easy to nake come true. We bought in 2013 in a dnall town in southern Campania. We love the people, the food, the wine and of course the gelato lol. I love Italian small towns. We have wonderful views of the mountains snd the sea. The beaches are spectacular. All the best luck in your quest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your Italian home sounds just perfect. What a wonderful place to hang your cappello! Thank you for the encouragement, definitely enjoying the search!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How exciting! Best of luck to you in making Semester Abroad 2017 happen. There are so many adorable little towns in Tuscany it is hard to recommend just one. Excited to see what you will pick!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Happily packing my bags and excited for what waits for us!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Che bellezza! A semester in Italia will be wonderful for your family. I know someone who rents a lovely house in Mercatale, outside of Cortona. It is not far from Arezzo. If you send me an email I can give you more info. Friends of mine stayed there with their family for 3 weeks and loved it. I am quite fond of Lucca and Pienza myself.
    I am also getting ready to fly from the west coast to Italy mid July. Haven’t prepared a thing! Will you be going to Lago Maggiore? Buon viaggio, Cristina

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fantastic to everything! Pienza was on my list but I don’t think I’ll make it there this trip. Lucca is always beautiful and fun too! I won’t be in Lago Maggiore this time, is that where you’ll be? I’ll look forward to posts about it from you. Sending you an email. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will be flying into Roma then taking the train to Puglia a few days later. i’ll be there most of the time and don’t have any scheduled plans except that for the last few days of my trip I am attending the Association of Italian Canadian Writers’ Conference in Padula. I am also reading a short story which is really scary and exciting. I also need to accompany my Mamma to Milano to visit her sister who is now in a nursing home. It will be a rushed trip, so I don’t know if I will make it to Lago Maggiore. My cousin has a bar on the lake in Angera, which was why I asked. I did write a post called ‘Over Lago Maggiore’ with fotos taken from the air. It’s in the archives on my blog. Looking forward to your email. Ciao, Cristina

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hope you have a wonderful and safe trip, and I’ll look for your Maggiore post. I can’t figure out how to find your email, so will you write me at Un abbraccio!


      3. Va bene! Will email you later

        Liked by 1 person

  4. bonniegm says:

    Che fortunata!! A semester abroad – 3 mos.? 6 mos.? I am hoping for just a week to attend the Leonardo Da Vinci school in Siena. Where do you plan to take classes?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thinking three months… hoping it all comes together! I haven’t gotten as far as picking a school. I feel like I’ve heard good things about LdV school, hope you are able to make it happen!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Patty McClendon says:

    Oh my goodness!!!! That all sounds so unbelievably amazing!!!! You go Stacy and follow your dreams! I can’t wait to see Italy through your blog!!! I am so excited for you!! If only I could come visit you during your semester abroad in Italy so you can show me around…. I’ve never been there but am dying to visit…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grazie, Patty, I will hold a spot for you in the program! 🙂 xo


  6. I have to say that all of those choices seem wonderful. I don’t think you could go wrong no matter which town you eventually pick to settle in. Look forward to hearing more directly from Italy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kathryn for the encouragement! I’m looking forward to posting!

      Liked by 1 person

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