Reflections and Tips

Now that I am home Safe and Sound….I feel the need to slowly acclimate to my own culture again. I guess I basically just want to sit here and continue to let the reality of my experience seep in.
You know how something in the future can feel like such a dream….like it will never really happen, the time will never actually come. It is a bit frightening to me that something in the very recent past can also feel like a dream….did it actually happen….was that really me?

This dream of mine could have never become a reality without the support and understanding of my family. My parents fed it, my husband accepted it, my children were I think kind of proud of me. My sister-in-law, probably unknowingly gave me a last minute pep-talk that I needed at the time. And my friends humored me by letting me share.

I began this blog, truly not knowing what a blog was. I always thought they were self-indulgent and pretentious. And I guess they are, but being able to put my thoughts and experiences down each day was such a needed outlet for me; both then and for the future. Without this daily account, I fear my days would have rushed together into a beautiful, overlapping blur. With this, the tangled knot of words that tumble constantly in my head, became an account. An account that can transport me at will… sort of time travel. Allowing me to revisit places, people, moments. In the future, I will probably be able to see aspects more clearly than I did in the moment. This is pretty special.

I am glad to be home. I am thankful for the 2 nights I just had with my family of four under the same roof. When I would wake up in the night, unsure of where I was, that realization was wonderful.

I started a list (many actually) during the trip of things to do when I return home.
*Low-key entertain more….someone else arrives, go in, grab another table and chairs
*Find a recipe for coccolo, make, eat, repeat
*Keep the ingredients for Aperol Spritz on hand and embrace the Aperitif!
*Write Franco & Grazia
*Seek and enjoy some of the same things I loved in Italy at home
*Contact woman I met that teaches Italian lessons via skype and continue to learn the language
*Make my own pasta…fatta in casa

As promised, here is a shot of all the ephemera I packed out of Italia.

My dad said it looks like the only paper I left behind were euro. And he’s about right. Remember, I needed a carry on bag for only this.
oh, and these…

I do think carrying a collapsable, smallish bag is a good travel tip…..

Here are are few more I jotted down.

These are things I always had in my purse….it may seem like a lot, but I can substantiate everything in here.

Here is my black borsa I referred to often. The brand is Co-Lab by Christopher Kon and it was perfect!! The ONLY thing I would want to change about it is give it a zipper closure instead of a magnet one. But it withstood a lot and still looks brand new.
Inside you will find; Sunglasses, an extra pair of readers, a collapsable water bottle, wipes, tissues, wallet with passport inside, fan (love it), hand sanitizer, lotion stick, Chapstick (albeit Dior), phone, camera, extra charged battery, phone case that is charger in one, small journal, pen, sharpie, gum, advil (not easy to find over there), shout, bandaids, earphones (for audio tours…thanks JP), baggie (don’t laugh…you have some extra yummy bread from somewhere….ya take it with you for later), hair tie, fingernail file and pashmina (visiting churches, cooler evenings, dress you bought that stretches out too low when you sweat…..multi use!)

Here is what I carried in my overnight bag.

Lovie from Avery, clear folder with files (hotels, tours, trains, etc.), zipper pouch with all chargers and adapters, scissors, extra pair of under garments, go to dress, socks (just incase a room gets cold and you do not have enough covers), deodorant, comb, brush, bath gel, moisturizer (I highly suggest visiting Sephora a couple of times and getting a few samples a sample or two of perfume is a must as well) toothbrush & paste and make-up.

Here is what I slimmed down my makeup regimen to-

20130728-183406.jpg The glasses are there just to show you the size.

That is all. I researched and bought these in December, never opened them, just tucked them away until the trip.

Other essentials-

Although all but one of my B&Bs had “hairdryers”, I played it safe and packed my own.


Here are a few more tips from me regarding packing…
*First and foremost….invest in a good, lightweight suitcase with rubber wheels. The wheels are key, especially on the streets of Italy…investing now will save you grief later.
*Pack early and often. I truly started packing a good 6 months ahead of my trip. I would revisit it every few weeks, add to , take away…I still made mistakes, but they are fewer I am sure due to this.
*If traveling alone, make sure you can handle what you have and still “look” in control.
* As far as clothes go….my main tip is pack and wear what makes you feel good (inside) and fairly comfortable outside. I have always heeded the advice of Billy Crystal’s SNL character Fernando, “It is better to look good than to feel good.” And in Europe, what matters is that YOU think you look good. Because I am here to tell you, ANYTHING GOES!! ANYTHING.
But….here is my 2euros….
*an outfit you wear there, pack away and then wear home is great
* anything too big, will get bigger
* dark and tight show sweat
*dark, sleeveless shows deodorant and if that LBD MVP gets white all under the arms, it loses its appeal.
*light, flowy, prints are best
*Maxis are great day and night
*breezy is good but being caught up by the breeze is not (at least for me)
*although heels are worn, (and Lord knows I love my wedges) I only brought sandals….walking on those uneven, cobblestone streets is a challenge.

I only wore the fold up flats on the plane to and fro, but it was nice to know I had pair of comfy shoes in reserve. The flip flops are a must for beach and bathrooms. The little white pumas were worn (reluctantly) three times; both bike rides and my aborted hike in Cinque Terre. Thank goodness I did not go with my mental image of the girl on a bike cruising along with flowing skirt and scarf…especially on the 18 mile Tour de Apian Way.
The two pair of sandals were workhorses. Again I suggest investing in good, leather sandals. The Tory Burch pair have rubber soles which was great for hilly towns. The nude pair I probably wore the most. Their thin straps allowed for swelling without discomfort.
*I may have already mentioned this but 1 purse is best. Cross body is essential.
*bring your nail-polish for toenail touchups
*White and flowy is very chic….don’t know if you can have too much white
*I think I have touted the merits of a “Travel Pant” enough
*1-2 mix match swimsuits
*wash cloth….not white
*socks and foot lotion
*packable hat (fedoras look the sharpest)
*packable umbrella
*If you are staying several days someplace and you have room, a couple of plastic hangers…never enough
*a mailing tube for posters, art, etc.
* a couple of sharp, white v-neck t’s
and as for my must have…a polar fleece blanket….forget it….we cut a throw in half for this trip and I will tell you, a 1/2 of a blanket does not a blanket make….and it is a pain to pack.
* if traveling with others (husband, kids) EVERYONE needs to carry their own things…guys should not be timid about man bags….Mom should not be in charge of anyone else’s anything…

Much of this might sound silly but I did a lot of research on line for packing tips and could not find much more than “Be sure to bring athletic or walking shoes”…I don’t think so…..
So some of these tips would have helped me.

Later on this week, I hope to post a Best Of list and photos, but for now I need to go make good on some of those promises I made to myself…




Buon Appetito Ya’ll!