I’m a dreamer, plotter, schemer (more innocent intentions than “schemer” actually.) So winter-time is the perfect-time for me to hatch plans for, let’s get real, one of the biggest perks of my job, summer vacay. This summer may include an unexpected project, and if that comes to fruition, I will certainly share when the time is right.
In the meantime, DPE and I are planning, woohoo, a cross-country trip. And although “drive across the country” does not figure on my To do before i die official list, it will allow me to accomplish #18, visit the Grand Canyon.
When I read back over the list just now, I had to chuckle since numbers 5 (take a cooking class in Tuscany) and 9 (ride a gondola in Venice) were totally attainable last summer during our two weeks of La dolce vita in Rome, Naples, Florence and the Cinque terre. Alas, one (should I say two?) can only do so much in two weeks and so DPE and I eliminated Venice from the itinerary, idea being that our travel weeks were the highest of high tourist season (teacher summer vacay is great, except everyone is traveling then), and we didn’t want our first glimpses of the canals, gondolas and St Mark’s to be marred by crushing crowds and unpleasant summer temperatures.
No big deal, we made that decision intentionally and I’m sure we’ll return to Italy some day and visit Venice. Number 5, however, I’m more perturbed about since we were in Florence, conveniently located in Tuscany. Have you ever been to Florence? Beautiful, awe-inspiring, magical, none of these adjectives approaches describing the feelings that surge through you as you dazedly wander this incredible city. So instead of trying to describe it, here are a couple of my favorite pictures from those magical (and hysterical, more on that in a moment) days in Renaissance heaven.
At first, we were content to stroll through the city and marvel at its perfection. The markets – perfection! Cafes – divine! Our accommodations – a 14th century Medici tower! What more could one ask for? Well, we decided that one could ask for a private Vespa tour through the Tuscan country side. (Private meaning we rent and ride said scooter, which ownership constitutes #7 on my To do before i die list.) I envisioned holding on as DPE cruised us through the beautiful rolling hills one imagines of “real” Italy. Very Under the Tuscan Sun.
During one of our two days of strolls, we happened onto a Vespa rental outlet and so excitedly hurried back the next morning on the dot, ready to take our Vespa to the pavement. Nope. They were an hour late opening, then had to leave us for another hour to deliver something? Honestly, we really didn’t know what was going on. We waited patiently as a brash South African couple chose bikes over Vespas then chatted up a cute British couple as one of the owners copied our passports to ensure our arrest should we decide to disappear into the Italian countryside.
The Brit and I waited patiently as our significant others and the other owner headed off on a quick driving lesson. The girlfriend casually mentioned she was glad her boyfriend had a Vespa at home because of crazy Italian drivers. Point taken. I shared with her that neither of us had ever actually driven or operated a motorcycle or scooter. She looked at me a bit mystified. “Maybe he’ll pick it up quick!”, she replied with clearly fake optimism.
At that precise moment (I do not exaggerate), we whirled around at the clattering sound of a something hitting the pavement. There DPE lay on the cobblestones, the owner picking up the bike and DPE soon picking up himself. I giggled (not being the type to fret over the small things – of course I knew DPE was fine since he was walking), but my new British friend looked more worried for us than I thought necessary. Several minutes later, the 3 men puttered back into the garage together. With a wave and a Cheerio, the two Brits promptly melted away into the Florentine traffic, and us, well…
We were gently advised against our Tuscan galavant. Instead of taking in the rolling Tuscan countryside and, who knows?, maybe even an impromptu cooking class, we spent our last several hours in Renaissance heaven getting 100 euros of cash to compensate for the nicks inflicted to the lovely white Vespa, as well as listening to the owner tell us we could still take it if we wanted but that he wasn’t sure we would return unharmed.
D claims to this day he just needed a little more time to become one with the Vespa. As for me? I never miss an opportunity to point out a Vespa to D. You’d be amazed, they are everywhere! Tshirts, magnets, mugs, calendars. It’s too funny. That last day in Florence was certainly not what we had envisioned, but is the stuff that travel is made of, friends. We could have gotten upset, into an argument, worse yet forced to pay for a new Vespa. Instead, we laughed and were glad no one was hurt, teased each other relentlessly and just payed a little for the repairs. We ended up finishing our time in Florence as all travelers should – eating proscuitto, drinking Chianti and polishing it off with gelato. A fine evening, indeed. Who knows what misadventures await us this coming summer?