All posts by John V.

The Official Agenda

Our two weeks in Italy will span about 350 miles, starting in Venice and ending in Rome. Here is the quick breakdown of our trip (using European date formats, of course):

03/09 : Land at Marco Polo Airport in Venice

06/09 : Travel by train to Florence

09/09 : Travel by train to Chiusi, between Florence and Rome

10/09 : Travel by train to Rome

15/09 : Fly home via the Leonardo da Vinci Airport outside of Rome

After what promises to be a sleepless overnight flight on Friday, we will land in Venice, named La Serenissima, the Most Serene, by the natives. The city is slowly sinking into the sea, a process thus far unsuccessfully thwarted by various attempts by the Venetian government. As the buildings withstand more and more attacks by the corrosive saltwater, the cost of living in Venice becomes higher and higher, driving the population down each year. We will gladly visit St. Mark’s Square, Murano, and the Academy art gallery, but to me it’s a dying city, beautiful in death but without a real future.

Three days later, a high-speed train will carry us into the heart of Tuscany, to the art mecca of Florence, home of Michelangelo. After climbing all 460 steps to reach the apex of Il Duomo, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, we’ll board another train bound for a small hilltop village called Chiusi. There, we will enjoy supper at Osteria La Solita Zuppa, a small restaurant with heart, soul, and ultra-regional cuisine recommended to us by an Italian friend.

The morning following our Tuscan feast will see us on another train, this time speeding straight for the heart of Italy, to the Eternal City, Rome, where we will spend six days eating and walking. Rome is filled with so much glorious art and ancient culture that it’s impossible to even begin to describe all we wish to see and do there, but we will naturally be covering the basics: The Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and, of course, the smallest nation in the world, Vatican City.

Once we are thoroughly exhausted by language barriers and heavy from overeating, when our ankles are numb from all the walking and we feel crushed by the weight of the history surrounding us, we will head to the airport outside of Rome where we will board a plane for the long flight home.

Whew. That was just the summary!


Reading Room

In preparation for our trip to Italy, I’ve been devouring books that have anything to do with the culture or country. I’m currently in the middle of an anecdotal book (The Last Supper by Rachel Cusk) while simultaneously reading a book about the Florence cathedral (Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King) and The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, the fictional biography of Michelangelo Buonarotti.

On top of all that, I’ve been listening to a podcast called My Daily Phrase Italian every day on the way to and from work. Any time I think of a word I might like to say in Italy but haven’t heard on the podcast, I depend on my trusty Langenscheidt Italian Dictionary.

Photo of John and Laura wearing "test packs"To allay Laura’s fears that we may not be able to pack enough stuff for two weeks into just two bags, we recently staged a mock packing. After assembling all of the various items we hoped to take on our journey, we then attempted fitting them all in our backpacks (so graciously lent to us by Sara). O glorious day! We were successful, with a little room to spare for last minute incidentals, and were also quite happy with the weight of the packed bags.