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Trip Report: Canadian Family of Three Spends Three Weeks in Italy

Trip Report: Canadian Family of Three Spends Three Weeks in Italy

Old Jul 5th, 2013, 01:05 PM
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Trip Report: Canadian Family of Three Spends Three Weeks in Italy

Hello Everyone!

I want to begin by thanking all of the various Fodorites that helped us to organize this vacation way back in September of 2012. Your advice was invaluable, and I thought of you often during our beautiful adventure in Italy. As a very new member of Fodor's, I want you to know that our vacation would not have been the same without your expert advice, and I can't imagine ever travelling again without first consulting you.

To begin, here's a quick overview of the details:

Dates: June 10th to July 3rd, 2013

Locations: We spent six nights in Rome before driving east through Abruzzo. We visited the small town of Tossicia, the home of my ancestors, and finished the day in Pescara. We then drove south through Molise, ending up in Basilicata, where we spent the night in Matera. Finally, we drove to Puglia, settling in Galatina for the next two weeks. From there, we mostly enjoyed the beaches of the Ionian Coast, and a day trip to Lecce.

Other Important Details: We are Canadian, vegetarian, and travelled with our amazing two and a half year old son.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will recount the details of our trip, likely in three parts: 1) Rome 2) The Journey South 3) Puglia

I will send along the first part as soon as possible, along with a few pictures. I hope you enjoy, and I welcome any comments or questions you may have.
AlbertaDad is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2013, 01:09 PM
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it is so nice of you to thank everybody for their assistance. I totally agree with you. traveling will never be the same once a person frequents this site. The tips and recommendations one gets are priceless.

I'm looking forward to your reports.
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Old Jul 5th, 2013, 01:38 PM
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me too. [looking forward AND being someone who's learnt a lot here!]
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Old Jul 5th, 2013, 03:14 PM
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Ditto the above! Glad it was a good trip and looking forward to your report.
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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Part One: ROME

June 10th, 2013. It was a day we had long awaited. In fact, in some ways, it was five years in the making.

When I met Patricia, she was appalled to learn that I was Italian, but that I hadn’t yet been to Italy. This was before we’d started dating. She’d traveled the world a great deal as a young person, and tried very hard to impress upon me the many virtues of international travel. She even threatened that if I hadn’t visited the land of my ancestors before I turned 30, that she’d never speak to me again.

Of course, it would never come to that. Since then our friendship has blossomed into an incredible life-long partnership, and we've started a family. Our precious little Leonardo was born in 2010, and our love for travel has been a big part of our lives. We’ve flown to Halifax a number of times, to Toronto, to Vancouver, and driven to Kamloops and Canmore. But, as my 29th year of life began, I still found myself fantasizing about Italy. Patty is a woman of action, and could no longer abide discussion on the matter. So, it was time to stop talking about it, and to realize this fantasy of ours. We would spend my 30th birthday in Italy.

And so it was to be that after many months of preparation, many glasses of red wine and endless nights of excited discussion, we would board a plane bound for Rome on the morning of June 10th.

At the risk of exhausting the patience of those of you reading this report, I’d like to extend my prologue a bit more to include a few more personal details. Patty and I are a bit unorthodox in a couple of ways. The first is that, though we’d (intentionally) started a family, we hadn’t ever married. There are number of reasons for this, all positive, purposeful and personal. But, on the eve before our departure I proposed on our balcony at home. I couldn’t imagine a more lovely way to embark on our trip than in the glow of our engagement. Luckily, Patty agreed, and said yes.

Secondly, we are a family of vegetarians. I hope that this part of my reporting is particularly interesting to other families of this persuasion who are researching vacation destinations. I also hope that families with young children find value in this report, as well. I know I was particularly curious about what it was like to travel overseas with a toddler when I was planning this trip. I want to say upfront that having Leo with us greatly deepened the enjoyment of our time in Italy, that Italians treat children like Gods, and that I’ll make an effort in my reporting to emphasize elements regarding traveling with young ones.

Now, on with the show.

Leo was a champion on the flight. For the first time, he had his very own seat. Once we sat down, he unpacked a few of his toys, nestled into his dinosaur neck pillow and settled in for the long ride. He was also quite excited to have his very own headphones. We’d bought them for him many months earlier, and he wore them proudly.

A few suggestions for the traveling parent: Almost as soon as we’d booked the tickets, we bought Leo a beautiful book entitled “This is Rome,” by Miroslav Sasek. It’s a beautifully illustrated book geared at children that elegantly explains the history and culture of Rome in a very simple way. By the time of our departure, Leo had already spent many months looking at its pictures, reading about Romulus and Remus, and learning words like “Obelisk,” and “Coliseum.” Now, well acquainted with our destination, Leo shared in our excitement. Also, Patty had made a visit to the dollar store prior to our leaving and bought a number of cheap toys and books for the trip. The purpose: To gradually surprise him with a new distraction every time he started to feel impatient. Anybody who’s ever met a child knows that there’s nothing as exciting to them as something, ANYTHING, new. Even after two connections, and a four hour delay in Montreal, Leo never lost his patience or sense of adventure. Not even when I did.

Leo slept, but Patty and I struggled. When we finally landed in Rome after eighteen hours of travel, our exhaustion was only curbed by our immense enthusiasm to finally be where we’d dreamt of going for so long.

We were met by a driver sent by RomeLoft, the rental agency through whom we’d purchased our accommodations. Billu, a sincere man with a glowing personality, had been waiting for us since our planned arrival time, four hours earlier. If he was at all irritated, we would never have known. He was only cordial and excited to meet us. We put Leo in his car seat (a barely glorified booster seat) and Billu whisked us off into the bustling streets of Rome.

After so many years of seeing this city in pictures, it was truly surreal to finally be in its presence. My sleep deprived brain was barely able to process that I wasn’t just looking at a series of photographs. The coliseum came into view and I wasn’t immediately in awe. Rather, like a dry documentary narrator, a voice in my head said, “there it is, right where it should be, looking just as it should.” The difference, however, was that unlike the static lifeless pictures I’d stared at for so long, there was a thriving buzzing city in the foreground. Romans traversed the sidewalks, weaving through tourists. Mopeds, driven by fashionable women in stilettos, zipped through the narrow openings between cars. Old men sipped cappuccinos in cafes, and business men crossed the street in fitted suits. I could smell diesel, and pizza, and heat, and stone… Slowly, it began to settle in: I was in Rome.

The full scope of it, however, landed as I walked onto the balcony of our apartment, located just outside of Trastevere on the steep incline of Salita di Sant’Onofrio. We were brought to the fifth floor, via a tiny lift, and introduced to a stylishly decorated one-bedroom apartment. As you come in you are greeted with a gorgeous wooden dining table, decorative trinkets and cabinets, a ledge artfully stacked with hip magazines, and beyond that two white day beds that bracket large French doors. Beyond those French doors: Rome. All of it. The view was absolutely breathtaking, I will never forget seeing it for the first time: The mossy green Tiber snaking through the city beneath stone bridges, red and yellow houses on our side of the river, the marble hues of the centro storico on the other.

Please do not miss the opportunity to rent this incredible home. I’ve included the link here: http://www.romeloft.com/960-santonofrio-terrace.
The people of Romeloft.com were professional, courteous and helpful. They made our stay very pleasant, and I dare you to find a better view in all of Rome. Especially at that price.

We endeavored to find a grocery store close to our apartment, and Leo endured a very bumpy stroller ride on some particularly uneven black cobblestone. We eventually found ourselves in a tiny shop, run by a lovely older man, who doted on Leo and offered him complimentary chunks of fresh bread. We marveled at the insanely low cost of local wine and, for the first time, attempted to speak Italian in order to see the transaction through. However, after this little adventure, we had no energy left to speak of, so we retired to our home for an early bed time.

I remember falling asleep to the sound of a European ambulance, a sound that in Canada might have been mildly irritating, but in Rome felt so exotic. I awoke the next morning unsure of where I was, until that same sound erupted in the distance once more. A smile spread across my face.

Ahhhh, Rome.

(TO BE CONTINUED...)
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 03:08 PM
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Great start...looking forward for more. And congrats
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 03:18 PM
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I can't wait to read more. What a great report.
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 03:27 PM
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What a view!
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 03:36 PM
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Looking forward to the rest!
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 03:45 PM
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Fantastic report. Absolutely love your writing style. Great apartment and what a view!!! As we are a large family, there are usually more than 4 of us travelling but when there are just a few, I would love to stay here.

Congratulations to you & Patty on your engagement. Great idea of surprise packets. I used to do that for kids who were in hospital or sick but hadn't thought of it for travelling.
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 04:24 PM
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Congratulations on your engagement. Thank you for the report. Looking forward to more!
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 04:24 PM
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I can't wait to read more! Congratulations on your engagement!

I'm looking forward to your adventures! We too just completed a three week trip, part of which included a trip to a town in the Abruzzo region to go back and find the town where my great grandfather was from! It's a beautiful part of the country!

Keep it coming!
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 04:46 PM
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I love the apartment. Can't wait to hear more.
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 05:00 PM
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Very, very nice report. Looking forward to more....
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 05:40 PM
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Congrats! Looking forward to reading your report!
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 07:18 PM
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Totally enjoying your thoughtful, sentimental and well written report. It's so cool to experience your excitement and appreciation through your eyes and words. Also great to read of your travels with a toddler and your excellent preparation for him for the trip. Such a functional and educational way to do it. Well done.

Congrats on your engagement, and looking forward to reading more !

M
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 07:26 PM
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Oh, this is good. Eagerly awaiting more.
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Old Jul 10th, 2013, 11:28 PM
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Lovely start to a report - cant wait to read more! Congrats on your engagement!!!
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Old Jul 11th, 2013, 09:04 AM
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Congratulations! For both your engagement and your first trip to your dream destination. Warning! You will now be hooked on Italy for the rest of your life.
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Old Jul 14th, 2013, 12:28 PM
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Wow! This is fabulous. Can hardly wait for next instalment. Thank you
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