Italy Trip Journal – Preface

italy_coliseum_jd{Reposted from my original 2008 trip journal and reflections in 2009}

Preface (below)
Itinerary & Highlights
Observations
Eczema in a Strange Land
Resources That We Used
Travel Agency Review
What We’d Do Differently
Do YOU have a sugardaddy?
Naples
Northern Sardinia
Southern Sardinia
Music Journals: Baby TaylorRomeCapriPositano/RavelloSardinia
Postscript: Walmart Culture Shock
Italy to Knoxville – Glitter & Doom

Our original plan was to accompany a church group on an American Music Abroad tour of Northern Italy with our friend Kristy. For those who don’t know, Kristy is Audra’s best friend and roommate from college at Bloomsburg University. Kristy now lives and works in Westchester as a nursing educator. We were not going to be singing with Kristy’s choir, but we would get the group rate and travel with them.

That was mid-2007. Then the US dollar began to tank and the choir tabled their plans. We decided to push on by ourselves. We discussed changing our destination to explore the slightly more cost-effective southern part of Italy and eventually enlisted the help of Hidden Treasures of Italy (www.htitaly.com) for the accommodation arrangements (a review will be included later for those interested in using them).

So the trip itself was 8-10 months in the making, with many emails and a couple conference calls to get everything set up just right. Kristy, having been to Europe several times, did the bulk of the interaction with the agency, periodically checking with us on our preferences. Audra became a bit more involved when it came to how to spend the second part of the trip. Sardinia was attractive for its mix of cultures and was a bit off the beaten path. Our agency agreed there were some good things to do there, so we included Sardinia on our itinerary.

It just so happens that I was swamped with college and creative projects while the planning was taking place. My involvement in the planning was rather limited. I had to be content that the money we were putting into this (two years of savings since buying a home) was going to pay off. I voiced only a few basic requirements:

No minute to minute schedule (we have enough of that at home)
A chance to play somewhere, even if it was just at an open mic
A chance to do some family research

I knew the latter point would be difficult. I wasn’t quite sure where to start or how much time we’d have for that sort of thing, but it was still an interest. When the question was raised about renting a car, I wasn’t crazy about it, but gave in. I felt that the experience itself, however it panned out, was going to be worth it regardless of the details.

I attempted to network online to find Italians who could direct me to venues or individual artists. This proved frustrating at best. Of the few responses I got, most were for venues outside of our route, or DJ clubs. While the world is smaller with the Internet, booking internationally is next to impossible without an agency, and it was far to late to seek one out.

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Hotel Modigliani elevator

So why Italy? Well, for me it’s a number of things. My family name of course comes from there, and as the first of my immediate family to travel overseas, this trip meant a lot to me. I became interested in learning more about my own culture during a brief period of genealogy research for a class a few years back. Italian culture is one that is seemingly invisible today – more or less melted down into American life, and we take it for granted. Then there’s the rather obvious artistic connection through various art forms.

For Audra, it was mostly the history and cuisine, both of which she had experience with as a teacher and a foodie, even though she is Irish/German. To some extent I guess it was the Vatican, even though she is not a practicing Catholic. For both of us it was the knowledge that Italy would be a good introduction to Europe. Many people there are bilingual, helping us with the language barrier, and the country is on good terms with the US. While we have invitations to Hungary, Bangladesh, Finland and other places, we both felt that Italy was a good start to begin our international travels.

Forms of transportation? 10

US Airways Airbus, cars (including two rentals), train to Naples, ferry to Capri, Funiculari, Anacapri cable lift, hydrofoil back to Naples, walking, small plane, airport bus.

Photos taken? Over 2000
Vacation in Italy? Priceless

Starting in Rome, the black line traces our path to Naples, Capri, then to Sardinia and back to Rome. We also stayed in Positano and visited Ravello and Pompeii. Since we covered so much ground, it is next to impossible to share everything.

Italy_map_2008