Ciao Italia!


After all the talk of celebrating retirement from the Army, we’re finally getting around to it.  Originally, Tim and I had planned to go to Peru, to walk part of the Inca Trail and be inspired by the soaring peaks of Machu Picchu.   As we sat soaking in the So Cal sunshine and contemplating how much rain gear we’d need for South America (not to mention the dawning realization that we were totally unprepared to hike for our vacation) memories of cappuccinos and gelato at the fountain’s edge kept creeping in.  It wasn’t too hard to switch gears and begin planning a trip back to Europe and Italy ranked at the top of our list.

With just 6 weeks to plan the trip, we hit up our favorite library and checked out the shelf on Italy–Fodors, Lonely Planet, and Rick Steves nicely represented. Step one was to determine the itinerary. Where do we want to spend our time and what do we want to see? Since we’d been to Italy before, we considered places we wanted to revisit. Top of the list was Rome, even though I had declared  that I never wanted to be in Rome ever again.  (this likely had to do with the fact that we drove to Rome and parked our obnoxious American minivan between scooters and Fiats). Well, this time around, we’re armed with a little situational awareness  and enough common sense to take public transportation. Plus, it’s only 2 of us so the stress of gathering the crowd amidst thousands of others in St Peter’s Square is gone.

We’ll start off the vacation in Rome, 5 days to visit the Coliseum, Palatine Hill and Forum, St Peter’s Basillica, Villa Borghese, and the National History Museum. We’ve got some out of the city excursions planned also…Orvieto, Tivoli and the Catacombs will round out our time.

After Rome, we head west to Cinque Terre, 5 towns that hang precariously on the cliffs and connected by a hiking path.  We’ll stay for 3 nights and spend our days walking a little and soaking in the sea views.  Tim and I had always said we’d come back just for this place alone.

Then, it’s off to Venice, our first time overnight in the city.  Not quite sure why we love this place so much except to say it’s an engineering feat with all those bridges and canals. And sitting by the water at sunset with a view of the gondolas bobbing in the water is divine.

Our last stop on the trip is Milan, a place we haven’t been before. It’s a convenient layover spot for a day trip to Lake Como and has a very fine cathedral with a rooftop you can walk on. Before anyone asks, no, we were not able to get tickets to see “The Last Supper.”  A little bit of a bummer but I think it’s going to be around for a few more years still.

You’ll note that Florence is not on the itinerary this time around. We had such a great time with the kids there, especially at our favorite gelato place,  it seems wrong to do it again without them. The hoards of American art students, the rolling suitcases on cobblestone streets and the mile long wait to get in to see Michelangelo’s David will have to get along without us.

We’re leaving the final 3 days of the trip open–we’ll be in Rome but we don’t have a hotel yet or plans for what to do. And both of us kind of like that. We’ll let the spirit guide us because we know, all roads lead to Rome.