Months of planning, saving, and anticipation culminated in a whirlwind Italian getaway that rekindled my love of the Boot, its people, and of course, their impeccable cuisine. While this was not my first love affair with Italia, it is with fresh “grown up” eyes that I was able to experience it all in a new light.
What made this trip all the more significant than any other visit was that it was the boyfriend’s first time– and after all our exploring, it’s been firmly decided that it would be far from out last. Our roughly 12-day agenda took us on a criss-cross journey to some of the country’s “greatest hits including:Venice-Florence-Perugia-Rome with interludes in the Tuscan countryside and the hill-top towns of Umbria. My love for Piemonte and our dreams of the Amalfi Coast would just have to wait until next time…
When planning this trip, I enlisted the help of friends I have made over the years in order to create an itinerary that would suit both of our travel needs; major sites a first-timer should see and local culture and hip (and delicious) neighborhoods to counter-balance the touristy-ness. It comes as no surprise that asking a local where to go is the best travel resource you can get, but bloggers and expats are also great, reliable sources. Many find comfort in guidebooks, but there is no better guide than a local.
Naturally, there is bound to be overlap between local recs and popular guidebooks. Rick Steves’ actually does know a thing or two about where great cicchetti in Venice is, and virtually every guidebook has recommended the coffee powerhouses of Tazza d’Oro and Sant’Eustachio in Rome. And with the rise of Travel Channel shows like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Bizarre Foods, even the hilltop towns like Orvieto and Panzano in Chianti are no longer safe from the hordes of tourist that flock to every tv-documented locale. But it’s a balance between all of these options that should be carefully considered when planning a vacation. My best piece of advice? Take the time for some research, pace yourself, and don’t be afraid to throw all those plans out the window. If you will it, the possibilities of the perfect trip are endless.
In the coming posts, I will be recounting our journey; from pointers on restaurants we particularly enjoyed to ways to get more bang for your buck and keep your sanity among the crowds. I hope to inspire you to go on a trip of your very own, and please, if there is a place you think I *must* try next time around, feel free to let me know!