The question I have gotten most since my return from Italy has, without a doubt, been: What was the BEST part of your trip?
Now, as you can probably imagine, this is a really difficult question to answer, since every single day was filled with the best thing. At the end of every day, I went to sleep announcing that today was a really great day. How could I possibly pick just one?
It was easy to pick the worst thing, because as I sit and contemplate which Mucinex will be best to treat my touch-of-plague symptoms, I can easily tell you that the flight home was the very worst. It didn’t help that we were delayed three hours on the ground due to some safety issues before even taking off. It didn’t help that none of the snacks were nut-free. It didn’t help that there were no outlets or ANY in-flight entertainment on the plane. It didn’t help that there was something that without question came from the inside of someone else’s body on the side of my seat (Spit? Vomit?) It didn’t help that the lady two down from me was terrified about the safety of the airplane and prayed out loud whilst clutching her rosaries and picked at her nails and shouted a few times, audibly, “ARE WE EVEN SAFE TO FLY?” It didn’t help that the man three down was too big for his seat and complained the entire flight. It didn’t help that the lady four down from me spent the entire flight with her face inside of her airsick bag. Really, it was the choir of coughers in front of me and behind me that gave me the most pause. As I sat and breathed in the stale, recycled airplane air I recalled the recent articles I shouldn’t have read that told me exactly how dirty airplanes are (VERY) and how often they are cleaned (HARDLY EVER) and I just knew that I would be coming home with an exciting Alitalia souvenir — PLAGUE.
So that was what we’d call the low point.
But I didn’t let it ruin what was an amazing 8-ish days in Italy.
The thing about the way my husband and I travel is that while we love to the do the common Fodor’s and Frommer’s type touristy things – I mean, you can’t visit Ireland and not kiss the Blarney Stone, you can’t visit Rome and not see the Colosseum — we love to do the things that not every tourist does or gets to do.
We love to do the things that don’t show up in guidebooks. When we were in Ireland, we were thrown into Irish culture, including spending a few days in Kinsale, where my husband was a judge at a local food contest and attending a black-tie dinner in, um, not black tie. That was the best thing in Ireland.
And when we were in Italy, we did the same.
One morning, we hiked 12km across the Tuscan countryside (near Siena) in the pouring rain to a family-owned organic flour mill. We learned about making pici pasta and then we got to make it — and then the family Nonna served it up to us for lunch.
That was the best thing.
It really was.