Thursday, September 18, 2014

EIGHTEEN | Travel To Italy

Today's prompt: Tell a tale of traveling, a city or country you've been to or a favorite vacation.
I love traveling.
I am often trying to plan the next vacation or trip. There is something so exciting about researching new places, finding the cheapest ticket, learning a new culture, trying an exotic food. I have been on mission trips, family vacations and girls road trips but only one honeymoon so thought I would share about that.
For over a decade I dreamt of going to Italy. I read historical novels that were based in Rome and fell madly in love with the idea of traveling to Italy. Anyone read the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers? (yep…cheese head present) My sophomore year of high school our choir planned to go to Italy. I was so ecstatic about this potential trip despite my choir director being a bit of a challenging person to say the least… (I still have nightmares about her sometimes, she was neat. )
Anyway that year was when 9/11 struck. The 9/11 attacks reshaped so many facets of life in America and caused so much trauma on everyone involved. One of the more immediate changes that took place after the attacks was in U.S. airports. They passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act which in easy terms basically meant airports were not individually secured anymore (iffff I even understand this) Everything changed about traveling that year. All that to say, my parents were NOT comfortable with their 14 year old traveling that year.
Obviously there were much more traumatic things going on then a teenager not being able to go on her dream trip to Italy. However I was still sad and disappointed.
Fast forward 14 years and I am engaged and my fiancĂ© is bound and determined to have us go on our honeymoon to Italy. 
I honestly don’t know how he did it. 
He was in graduate school full time and working at our local church and a coffee shop. I had just graduated with my masters and was now jobless after having spent thousands of dollars on higher education. 
This didn’t seem to take the wind out of Scott’s sails. He saved his every penny he earned in tips at the coffee shop he worked at (The Coffee Bean in San Diego) 
One time I came over to his apartment while we were engaged and he took me into his bedroom and showed me all the creative places he had hid his cash (Spiderman’s head…yes this is a bank, behind a…oh wait, I’m not going to give away this stuff!) I was blown away by all the cash stuffed in various places in his bedroom. He told me this was how he planned to take us to Italy. 
Literally we paid for our plane tickets with all the money he saved up. I didn’t contribute a cent much to my chagrin.
Italy was stunning. 
You know how you imagine something to be amazing and then you go and it’s not? Like your expectations are disappointed? It happens in life with conversations you hope to have, books you read, movies you watch and places you travel (ohhhh I didn’t see it in my head like this…) 
Italy was everything I had dreamt it would be. It was just as charming and romantic as I had hoped it would be. This alone was shocking to me. How could a place be this quaint and beautiful? 
We went to Rome and Lucca. 

Lucca is a city in Tuscany, next to the Serchio river, near the Tyrrhenian Sea and amidst old intact Renaissance walls. I fell head over heels for Lucca’s charm.
Scott and I booked through Air B&B and stayed in a spacious flat in the city. Every day we basically did the same thing. 
We slept in as long as wanted. 
We wondered outside, down the streets of Lucca in search of a pastry or croissant and a piping hot cappuccino. 
We explored the city, admiring Cathedrals, the Clock Tower, the city walls, and the Piazza. There were so many medieval churches with the most beautiful architecture and details, many as old as the 8th century. 

At some point, we would stop for lunch. Scott would get pizza and I would get pasta. Everyone had always said that the pasta was amazing in Italy but I thought how could it be that good? It was that good. It was better. It was the best pasta I have ever had. I finished my plate every time and wanted more. 

After lunch we would poke around some shops or go rent bikes and bike up around the walls or within the cities. 

It rained every single day and I loved every moment of this welcomed change of weather for these San Diegans. I still have no idea how the people of Lucca had such astonishing balance to bike, carry their shopping bags and hold an umbrella??? 

In the evenings, Scott would make dinner of pasta and sausage in our little flat and we would have red wine and read. Later we would walk down to a local gelato place and try to use our best Italian.

I know when it comes to travel there is pressure to see and do everything. After planning a wedding, being in and out of school, working multiple jobs and many other life stressors Scott and I were so thrilled to get away and do nothing. We didn’t try to cram a million excursions in one day or put pressure on ourselves to do all things tourism. Instead I felt like the more I sat in the presence of this beautiful little place the more I could soak it up more effectively. I could soak up Scott’s presence and the fact that we were married now! My dreams came true. And it was okay to be happy and just let the joy wash over me.
Needless to say Scott and I tip generously at every coffee shop we encounter now. After all, we could be contributing to someone’s Italy fund!


  1. Your trip looks amazing! -- I am so glad it rained for you while you were there!

    p.s. make your photos bigger, please! I want to see everything. :0)

  2. What a beautiful, beautiful post. Loved it. You seem to have taken exactly the right approach to Italy: easy-going! Loved, loved, loved your last lines, "Needless to say Scott and I tip generously at every coffee shop we encounter now": made me cry happy happy tears! You never know when someone might need that little bit of loose change nor for what. Wonderful, wonderful post: thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind kind words! You are so encouraging :)

  3. This was my favorite vacation of all time!