God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Italy Once More...2015

I used to love planning a trip, particularly pre-internet days when we would pour over maps planning the itinerary, familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the new country, writing city information offices, getting big packets in the mail with all the wonders of..say..Munich. Flying was fun, discovering places and restaurants without Trip Advisor et al was exhilarating, having lots of serendipity moments made great memories, life was an adventure. 

Somehow some of that has been lost but travel is still planning, exploring and serendipity, just 2105 style rather than 1985. And, even though we have now been to Italy many times, including once for a full year, planning for Italy always is accompanied by excitement and anticipation. Usually part of each trip is slow travel and part is expediency. There are times when what you want to visit and see is too spread out to allow for slow travel. So, our 2015 trip has some of each...leisure and hurry.

We are also at the stage that, though there are many, many parts of this country that remain mysteries to us, we find that we prefer to spend most of our time re-experiencing places we have been and love. No matter how many times we are someplace, there is always more to see and learn...nooks and crannies we missed before. Sort of like exploring your hometown after a visitor talks excitedly about a gem you didn't know existed...after living there decades. 

So this year, it is mostly has beens, in fact, all except for a couple days spent with friends in the home we have never visited. This will be one of the special times which we all look forward to. 

The biggest hurdle for travel in our new world is the chore of getting from here to there. While flying and arranging for flying used to be fun, it no longer is..at all, ever. It is now no more than the means to the end. So, we have our United flights from San Diego, Newark to Venice, which I will admit is nice as I thought we would need to fly to Milan and then work our way to Venice and then return Rome, Newark to San Diego. We're still waiting for upgrades. Even though we have hundreds of miles, using them is difficult..didn't used to be that way, did it?

Our first stop is a week in the lovely Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia...Venice. I am so looking forward to this week for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the wonderful appartment we will call home for the week. I have an excellent report that it is lovely and its location is superb in sestiere San Polo. Casey will have a friend from Cortona join us for the week as there are times when you are 16 that being with mom and dad is Boring.  A highlight for them will be a gondola rowing lesson along the canals...Row Venice plus, I suspect they will be doing their own exploring in the calles and campos. Ken and I are already making a list of restaurants--both ones we have been to and ones we want to check out. With a bunch of friends who spend weeks and months there every year, we have plenty of recommendations.

If you have ever been to Venice, you know that we will spend minutes and hours lost in the maze of calles, campos and intertwining neighborhoods called sestieri.  These times are so much of the charm and siren call of this city, unique in the world. Combine this with the unexpected and magnificent art found in churches and galleries, the amazing palazzos along the canals, the sense of a past society of intrigue, riches and way of life unlike any other and you know you are a spectator of untold mysteries and scandal. Every turn is meant for the photographer.

The Grand Canal

From this fairytale place we move onto Cortona and return Matteo to his family and then to our favorite place on earth, Sant' Antonio in Montepluciano for another week. That is a post of its own. And then...friends, Greve--our home for the year, Almafi, Positano, and finally Roma. More on those things in more posts...maybe.

Sant' Antonio