As many of you know, we lived in Italy for about 7 years, from the fall of 2003 until April of 2010. Although we've never quite figured out the connection, we now know that the government is tracking our movements - but we're not sure which government. All we know for sure is that as soon as we announced we were moving to Italy the dollar suddenly tanked - when we went to Italy in the fall of 2002 to look for a house one euro cost about 95¢. By the time we closed on our house in the spring of 2003 the euro was up to $1.10. The rise of the euro/decline of the dollar continued more or less for the entire time we lived in Italy. Yes, sometimes the dollar rallied or the euro stumbled, but in the end things never improved more for very long, or more than a few cents.
The drastic decline of the dollar really killed our plans to travel throughout Europe, especially Italy, but still, we hung in there. Although Italy had never been a life-long dream for either one of us, it was something we were committed to, and something we enjoyed very much. And then finally, after much discussion, we decided to sell our house in Italy and move back to the states. So of course the dollar rallied against the euro - then the U.S. economy went into a tailspin! Somehow these past 7+ years caused me to develop a dual personality - I'm still the tightwad and worrier, but then I have moments when I just say F&#K it and live for the moment!
When we decided to sell our house we also decided that we'd take some of the money from the sale and use it to do the one thing we'd really wanted to do all along: travel. We knew we had to come back to Louisville at the end of April so that Art could work at Churchill Downs, so after we closed on the house in mid-April we decided we'd stay in Louisville, look for a house, and make plans for a grand tour of Italy in the fall. Of course our wish list was long - I could go to Florence - no, I could LIVE in Florence and never get tired of it - but we specifically wanted to see some of the places we'd always dreamed of seeing. We threw all our ideas out there and ended up with a six week vacation that would allow us to visit with friends in Umbria and also to travel both north AND south.
Here's our itinerary:
• Sept 19-25 - Arrive in Italy go to Umbria for one week, getting over jet lag and visiting friends
• Sept 26-29 - leave for Cinque Terre - stay in an agriturismo in Levanto for 3 nights
• Sept 29 - Drive to Genoa for one night
• Sept 30-Oct 2 - Spend 2 nights in Turin
• Oct 2-9 - Drive to Acqui Terme (Piemonte) and stay in apartment for 1 week
• Oct 9-16 - Drive to Emilia Romagna - spend one week in an agriturismo apartment between Parma and Modena
• Oct 16-19 - Drive back to Umbria for 3 nights
• Oct 19-24/25? - Drive to Puglia - stay in Ostuni
• Oct 24/25 - Oct 30 Back to Umbria
• Oct 31 - Nov 14 - Transatlantic cruise - Rome to Ft LauderdaleOver the years I've saved articles, printed out reviews and 'favorited' many threads over on SLOW TRAVEL so I had plenty of resources, and of course plenty of people to ask for advice, both from the SLOW TRAV MESSAGE BOARD and from friends in Italy. We'd always wanted to visit the Cinque Terre, had heard how beautiful Piemonte is, knew that Emilia-Romagna would win both our hearts AND our stomaches, and knew that somehow we'd have to find time to visit Puglia because everyone we know who's visited has raved about everything from the food to the scenery - and the cheap prices! And of course we'd be back in our beloved Umbria just in time for the new wine and new olive oil!
Once we'd decided on our itinerary and made all the arrangements, the dollar decide to take another dive - but we weren't surrpised. All we could do was hope for the best and take it on the chin like every other vacationer - at least our pain would last a finite amount of time.
In retrospect we were both very pleased with all our choices, not just for locations but also for accommodations, food and sightseeing. The trip was an absolute success, although I will admit that the last week on the cruise, the one where we were at sea the entire time, did get a little long for me - I was ready to be home, in my own bed! I looked at the calendar and realized that since we'd moved back to the states in mid-April we'd only slept in our own bed for 5 weeks out of 6 months! Yes, I love to travel, but being in your own place, in your own bed, having your own washer and dryer (woohoo!) are things that are even more appealing when you've been away for eight long weeks.
I've been posting the photos from our trip on OUR FLICKR PAGE, but it's still a work in progress. Digital photography means that I can take lots of photos, but culling through those photos is a time-consuming job! I'll try to get more organized and write about where we went, what we saw, what we ate and where we stayed - I promise!