It's official. We're going to Italy in the fall. On Tuesday night, with the help of the good folks at FareCompare I found a redonkulously low fare from DC to Rome and just couldn't resist. (As a side note, it turned out to be a mistake on the part of the airline. They left out the fuel surcharge. Oops! Hee hee.) So, we're booked: September 16 to October 16. Italy, here we come!
And now comes the fun part! I love researching for upcoming trips. And while I have been collecting information, articles, blogs, tips, and contacts for a few months now, it's time for the real work to begin. Since we've never been to Italy before -- I know! unbelievable! -- we'll probably spend a few days each in "the big three" cities of Rome, Venice, and Florence. There's a wealth of information about what to do and see and eat and drink in these places. I may try to find us some couchsurfing hosts, and I hope to hook up with a few of the amazing Italy/travel/wine folks I've been chatting with on Twitter.
That'll be fun, but this trip is really all about slow travel. A corollary of the slow food movement that began in Italy as a reaction to fast food, slow travel is a philosophy that embraces a decelerated pace, cultural immersion, and deeper exposure to the richness of "going local." Slow travel typically involves a stay of at least a week in one place, with day trips fanning out in concentric circles from your home base. After our frenetically-paced SE Asian junket last November, where we arrived home feeling exhausted and in need of a vacation from our vacation, I decided our next trip would be as slowed-down as possible. I've been drooling at pictures of small towns in Italy -- OMG, they're all GORGEOUS! I've been researching agriturismo venues where you can pick veggies from the garden and learn to cook fresh local dishes from scratch. Heaven! I've been collecting charming Italian wineries like baseball cards. After all, we will be there for the harvest season. Cin cin!
But I feel like I've hit a wall.
How do you *plan* a trip whose very essence is about not planning at all?
Is this information filed right next to the sound of one hand clapping? I haven't figured that one out either. Anyway, I'd love to hear from the slow travel mavens out there. How does one find the elusive balance that covers just enough of the basics so you don't miss out on all the good stuff, but allows the trip to unfold organically?
We also haven't decided which region to use as our home base. Any and all suggestions are being evaluated! Send your recs my way, please and thanks!