Why Italy in January? This trip was created out of a variety of circumstances. The airline tickets have been booked since April because Dan had upgrade vouchers he needed to use before they expired. They allowed for a really good deal on really good seats so we had to go Somewhere. We spent weeks discussing where and when. “When” was tricky because in my new job I have less than half the vacation time I used to have so we needed to take time adjacent to holidays. But because it was my first year in the job, I didn’t feel I could take the week in between Christmas and New Year’s – just didn’t feel right – so we landed on the first week in January by process of elimination.

So where to go in January? We’ve had a loose plan about working our way counter-clockwise around Europe. Italy fit that bill as well as being somewhat warmer than other places we could have picked. We’d always talked about leaving Italy until we could take at least 2 weeks to do it. This trip only allowed for 9 nine days. Oh well. We’ll pack it in!

We take an evening flight out of SFO on Wednesday, 12/30. We will get to Milan New Year’s Eve evening. Two nights there, two nights in Venice, two in Florence, three in Rome. Home Saturday 1/9; Dan has to turn around on 1/10 and go to Raleigh for two weeks. That seems to be the way it goes these days. He got home from his last trip to Raleigh on December 11. We would have had a full month together by the time he leaves again and it seems like it’s been a long time since that happened!

This trip is remarkable in that it’s the first trip to Europe for us that’s pure vacation for Dan – not attached to a business trip. So we’re happy about that. We’ve been so busy this last quarter with the move, remodel, and both having an awful lot going on at work, we’ve had very little time to plan the details of this trip. So every minute of this one isn’t quite as planned as others have been. And that’s OK, too. Because we are ready for a vacation. So hanging out in Venice, just people watching, drinking coffee and eating gelato sounds very OK to me.

Lack of time to spend planning the details aside, the plans we do have are very scheduled, more so than any other trip we’ve done. Things must be very popular because more often than not, you need reservations to get into things – whether it’s to see the Last Supper in Milan or a particular museum in Florence or Rome. And while we like to have clear plans, we don’t like to be scheduled to the minute while we’re meandering. So we’ll see how all that goes. I still have some work to do in that area in Rome, although the earlier cities are pretty well thought out.

And I got an odd sense of nostalgia once I started to work on Rome. I almost forgot the Vatican was there! As I child, I had a great deal of fascination with all things papal, as well as Michelangelo, and Da Vinci for that matter, so it will be fun to get to be to close to their great works. Seeing pictures of the Pieta in St. Peter’s and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel brought back vivid memories of conversations I would have with my mother as a kid. This is a trip she would have loved to make. I will be thinking of her often.

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