36 Days and counting until we leave for Italy. The actual planning process started about 13 months ago. The plan has taken a few detours along the way. I am traveling with someone, I am traveling alone, I am once again traveling with someone. My focus however, has remained constant. I will spend 6 days in Venice. That has been non-negotiable. Do I want to go anywhere else? It is costing quite a bit of money in airfare and I feel as though I should make it worthwhile and visit another city as well.
After the first deviation of plans resulted in my traveling alone, I thought better of trying to go somewhere besides Venice. Many problems with Cognitive function (MS related), played a huge part in this decision. Yes I normally travel alone, but I had never traveled outside of the US, other than Canada, alone before. Logistics, not to mention the language barrier, of a trip to Italy were proving to be quite a bit different than those of what I am normally used to.
There would be a need to use trains (between cities), vaparettos (in Venice) as well as buses (in Rome). I don’t use public transportation in my every day life, and certainly don’t use much in my travels either. I am fairly comfortable with riding the ‘T’ in Boston as I have been there so many times. But trains and buses and vaparettos, oh my! I knew that it would prove to be very confusing for me, especially being alone, and I just didn’t think it a wise choice.
Sure, I’m stubborn, I’m independent and I pretty much will do what I want to do no matter what. Could I go alone? Of course I could. However, I also know that this would really take a lot out of me, and quite possibly ruin part of my vacation. I have been noticing the last few years that I can get confused, for lack of a better word, when I visit Boston because of all the stimuli. And I know Boston like the back of my hand! So, a week in Venice seemed like all I should really plan on. And perhaps once I got acclimated, a day trip to Verona or Padova.
Ah, but then a wonderful thing happened. 2 dear friends decided to join me putting Rome and Florence back on the docket! The Boys, as they will become to be known, will make the trip that much more special in having someone to share it with. Not to mention, I’m sure Dennie will add some much needed humor!
Some of the planning up to this point included about 2 months of apartment hunting in the 3 cities. I discovered early on, that it is more economical to rent an apartment in Italy than it is to book a hotel room. Rooms can be very small in hotels and bed arrangements are quite different than what we are accustomed to in the US. I learn there is quite a bit that is different than in the US in most aspects and I have been telling myself to not expect anything that I am used to; to not be the spoiled American, but rather, to embrace the differences and the culture. I found that an entire apartment, with 2-3 bedrooms, 2-3 bathrooms, full kitchen, wash machine etc, will cost just slightly more than a very small hotel room! There really wasn’t anything to think about as far as I was concerned, it was a no-brainer.
There has been quite a bit of wanting to see it all. To do it all. To visit everywhere. Lists of possible Day Trips. So many trips it would take a month to actually take them. Reality had to be reckoned with a few months ago. I had to sit myself down and focus on what could actually be done in 13 days. I have been watching anything I could find on Italy; Rick Steves videos, PBS specials, Travel Channel episodes. I ordered DK Eyewitness Travel books for each city as well as Rick Steves Guidebooks. A friend here at home has been sending me newspaper articles and books. I bought a non-fiction book about a couple who move to Venice for a year. I bought a book by a Blogger who took a 3 month solo trip to Italy, how could I not read something like this?!? (and who I am happy to say is now a friend who has taught me much). This led to another book with tons of travel tips all to do with Italy, and she is another new friend. These 2 gals, Margie and Victoria, put me in touch with blogging and that has led to reading all kinds of blogs about Italy and these have only added to my ‘want’ list. Not to mention the countless months of internet researching and reading.
In all of the preparation that I have done so far, it has only intensified the overwhelming connection that I somehow have to Italy. When I watch a DVD or special that takes place in a small town, or a section of a city that is off the beaten path, I am overcome with emotion and am many times brought to tears. They are not tears of sadness, they are tears of joy because I feel that I belong to these places that I see. I am somehow bound to this country, it is somehow in my blood despite there being no Italian blood anywhere in my family history. And yet, I feel so at home and such a feeling of comfort when I see the people going about their daily lives. I feel as though I am preparing to finally go to my true Home.
Most of the time I cannot verbally communicate what I feel and what it means to me to be going on this trip. I keep wondering what is going to happen when I actually set foot on Italian soil. How am I going to react? How am I going to deal with the emotion(s)?