Trips and Trials

I was still getting over my jet lag when I became so sick. Ugh, I’ve been sick! I am still not entirely well, but I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The most marked characteristic of this particular illness–not Covid, but apparently going around locally–is a hacking cough. The kind of cough that ends conversations, wets pants, induces vomiting, makes your whole torso sore, and causes pins and needles prickling all over your skin. I didn’t even know that that last thing was a thing until I started experiencing it. It is deeply unpleasant. I’ve also been generally headachey and stuffy and sleepy. This is the longest I’ve gone without working out in probably five years. At this point I am just barely accomplishing slow walks, and if we get going too fast I fall into another coughing fit. It is miserable and I feel like an invalid. I went to the doctor and got prescriptions for an antibiotic, a steroid, and a rescue inhaler, and I’ve run through all of them now and I’m still not normal. For the last few days I’ve been alternating through various methods, trying to figure out what will fix me for good: just surrender entirely and sleep all day? force myself to get some fresh air outside? double up on the ibuprofen and attempt to function normally? Nothing is doing it. Hopefully I will kick this illness to the curb entirely soon.

Okay, enough whining. About our trip.

Cute W, M, and I traveled to Italy for two weeks during M’s 2-week spring break. We visited J for a few days of the trip, but she had a normal school schedule, so much of our travel was without her. It was fantastic to see J. She is doing great, the place where she’s living is gorgeous and perfect, and her various host families are super friendly and supportive. Italy is awesome and beautiful. And the trip was just a little too long and exhausting overall.

Basically, I think we tried to fit too much in. We had three big goals for the trip: 1. seeing J and her homes and families, 2. showing M the big must-see sites of Italy, since it was her first time there, and 3. fitting in visits to new places, since both Cute W and I had already been to the main sites, and we wanted to find new things to explore. As a result, we completely jam-packed our trip, and we could have used a weekend at a spa in the middle of it or something. Also, it was super-fun with the four of us — it always is — but traveling as a threesome is slightly less fun for everyone. M had a lot of time with her parents, and she was a good sport about it, but obviously she would have had more fun with a friend or a sister along for the whole trip.

Here was our jam-packed itinerary:

·        Sat: fly into Milan, drive to Trento, where J lives, dinner with host families and overnight in Trento

·        Sun: drive to Mezzocorona, the village where J started her stay, lunch and dinner with host family and overnight in Mezzocorona

·        Mon: drive to Trento to drop J at school, then drive to Florence, stopping along the way at Verona and Bologna for a couple of hours each

·        Tue: in Florence, visiting the Uffizi & Accademia

·        Wed: day trip to Siena

·        Thurs: in Florence, visiting the Duomo & Boboli Gardens

·        Fri: train from Florence to Venice and overnight in Venice

·        Sat: day trip to Padua for markets & to meet J, she comes back with us to Venice

·        Sun: in Venice, boat tour to Murano and Burano, J leaves to head back home for school

·        Mon: train from Venice to Rome

·        Tues: in Rome, touring the Vatican

·        Wed: in Rome, touring the Coliseum and Palatine Hill

·        Thurs: train from Rome to Milan, afternoon and overnight in Milan

·        Fri: fly out of Milan

Along the way, there was a ton of eating, a lot of drinking apperitivi, and so very much walking. Of the “big three” must-see cities, I found that my favorites ranking remains the same as it did 30 years after my first visits: I love Venice, Rome second, and Florence the least. I know that this is controversial, but as my Dad would say, concerning taste there can be no argument.

Among the new places we visited, I really liked Siena, Verona, and our quick visits to Murano and Burano. The big surprise was how very much we loved Trento, where J is living. It’s got its own old piazza with a lovely fountain and its own castle, and it’s surrounded by lovely mountains. The only thing it doesn’t have is tourists and jacked-up prices for tourists. When we woke up on Saturday morning, J mentioned that there was “a little market” happening, and it was that casual mention that made us realize that the spectacular market with vendors jammed up in the narrow ancient streets was just another weekend for her. Oh, man, she lucked out! It is enough of a city that there’s plenty to see and do, but it’s a brisk walk from her current home to the gorgeous ancient city center.  

I did a pretty terrible job actually documenting Trento, though, because I was overtired from travel and just too excited to see my little J. But here are a few pictures: a view from a bridge over the river that runs through Trento — J was showing us her usual walk from train station to school; J in front of a gate to her school; crowds from the Saturday market; Cute W in a lovely courtyard; and blossoms showing up against the mountains in the distance, which were all so much lovelier in person.

I have stories and food pictures to share and recipes for Cute W’s and my two new favorite cocktails, but for now, alas, I think it’s time for another nap.


  1. Nana in Savannah

    I sent you a text to ask how you were feeling before I saw this blog post—now I have my answer . . . ugh!

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