This blog has little to do with my business. It is all about family and Italy and I just wanted to share. I hope you enjoy reading about our trip as much as we enjoyed being in Italy.
It has been 2 decades since I had last traveled to Europe Over the years, my husband and I have taken the obligatory trips to Disney, out-of-town swim meets, and a few special destinations along the way, but we had never traveled to Europe together.
Traveling to Italy had been a lifelong dream for me, but not so much for my husband. For his dream vacation think fishing in Canada, sleeping in a rustic bunkhouse or under the stars or white-water rafting along the Colorado River. For me think white sandy beaches overlooking any ocean, white cotton sheets with lots of pillows and European destinations with exquisite views, wines & cuisine.
Our brother-in-law Ricca lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife, my husband’s sister, but he grew up in Italy and now runs Suite Retreats, a travel destination business, specializing in trips to Italy. So what better way to see Italy than with a well-traveled native? So, with encouragement from Ricca, my husband and I, with our 16-year-old daughter in tow embarked on the journey of a lifetime that began with a flight from Chicago to Rome.
My how international travel has changed since my last trip overseas. In some good ways and bad: far less smoking in public places, far more security restrictions due to terrorist threats and the aftershock of 9/11. Even with the increased travel obstacles, getting to Rome was fairly easy and well worth the effort.
Event-free direct flight, wonderful accommodations overlooking the Coliseum, delightful fun-loving family members and local “guides” who seemed more like old friends. Wonderful Roman sights, sounds, wine and people.
While once more seasoned travelers, my husband and I realized that along with age comes limitations: arthritic hands (me), knees (him), and the ire of a teenager who seemed permanently mortified by her parents. But we soldiered on and had a delightful time with in-laws and cousins who showed us the way and introduced us to their familial home.
If you have never been to Italy, I suggest you do so by any means possible. It is that exquisite of a place. So plentiful are the sites in our three destinations (Rome, Tuscany & Florence) that it would take a lifetime to see them all. As hard as Ricca tried to squeeze it all into 10 days – he achieved an even greater objective by infecting us with a love for his country, hometown (Florence) and province (Tuscany).
Unfortunately, Ricca and his family could not make the return journey home with us via Rome. So we bid farewell at our Villa in Tuscany and took off for a quaint airport on the outskirts of Florence.
Travel weary and bleary eyed from one too many glasses of the finest beverages, volleyball matches, and late-night conversations, we returned to Rome. Without Ricca as our guide, the trip back to Rome wasn’t nearly as easy as we expected. Our limited command of Italian phrases and only a few remaining Euros in our pockets made the trip a little challenging.
But we made it – perhaps with a few bruised American egos, bus-sick tummies, and a redundant snow-globe or two. I think Ricca and the rest of our guides would have been proud. To say it was easy would be a lie, but we left Rome with memories for a lifetime. In the end we learned the greatest lesson of all, whether by plane, bus or train, there are indeed many paths to Rome. Whatever it takes, I encourage you to find your path. It’s so worth it.