On this day two months from now I'll be in Italy! I am so excited...
I was hoping to meet my Italian penpal there, but, unfortunately, I'm pretty sure she can't make it. She's not even in Italy right now, but Ireland. Having posted a request for one on a website that hooks people up with penpals, I've actually never met her, and would really love to. We've been writing to each other (real paper letters with stamps) since about November 2006. Maybe I'll get my chance to meet her in May when she visits New York! She did mention Philadelphia, which I'd love to show her, so I'm anxiously awaiting her next letter for the details. Sometimes we send/post messages over Facebook, so that's how I found out.
So anyway, since finding that out last night, I started to plan...
On Wednesday, March 16th, I fly to Italy. Since it's on the domestic airline, Delta, I can get away with a larger domestic-sized carry-on of 45 linear inches (length+width+depth) or like 21" tall (instead of the smaller international-sized 40 linear inch or 19" tall bag I already own). I'll pick up a 21" at work maybe on my next payday on the 28th. I'd be using the bigger carry-on because I won't be checking any bags going to Italy. I scored an awesome deal on a 24" non-wheeled duffel that folds up well and will pack that. So, coming back, I can check a small bag of clothes and keep my fragile souvenirs (mainly Italian street art and murano glass) with me in my carry-on. I haven't had a test run in packing yet, but that's the plan. From experience, I've become a light packer. From study abroad, I have a small hairdryer and flat iron with Italian plugs and electricity use. ...and it's six days including travel time, so I think that's entirely doable.
I arrive in Milano on the morning of St. Patrick's Day. First, I will head to Verona by train, (I will take the bus from Malpensa airport to the Milano Centrale train station and then take a train ride to Verona's Porta Nuova train station). I just wanna wander around, act more like a local than a tourist. And eat and drink. I've already seen Juliet's balcony, but will probably follow the crowds to it again nonetheless. There's a still shot in the movie Letters to Juliet where it's sunset over its Piazza delle Erbe and it's so beautiful I'm like mesmerized for a sec.! I've inquired about reservations for a night at a hotel sitting on this very piazza but haven't heard back. It has a balcony overlooking the piazza, which was a forum in Roman times.
The next morning (on the 18th) I head to Venezia by train. I'll check into my hostel at noon. I've stayed there in 2005, so I know where the check-in office is, where the random red door that diagonally faces the street is, which is important in Venice since it's incredibly easy to get lost. Last time, I slept above reception, but the owners have rooms all over Venice. So, even if it's a long walk, who cares, because I won't have heavy luggage! I've placed a deposit on a bed in a 6-bed mixed (meaning males and females) room with a bathroom inside for two nights. Given that the exchange rate doesn't go crazy between now and then, I'll be under budget by $12. (They like cash for the balance upon arrival.) Since I've already seen the sights, I'll go shopping! ...and visit the island of Murano. And, again, eat. There's a lot of gelato in my future. I'm also gonna look through my book entitled Italy for the Gourmet Traveler for tips. Rick Steves thoroughly covers the pub crawl in his Venice 2011 guidebook. Here, you have a bunch of little appetizers (like tapas) called cicchetti and a before-dinner drink, an aperitivo. My Venetian friend Luigi ordered me a Spritz on my last trip to Venice in 2005, so I know about that. I may look for his e-mail address and ask to meet up, I may not.
On Sunday morning (the 20th), I'll head to Padova, which is a 30-minute train ride. I have a 1 o'clock reservation to see the Scrovegni Chapel, which was painted by an artist named Giotto. He's big in Art History. I've also seen his frescoes in the Church of St. Francis in Assisi. I have to pick up my ticket an hour early so I'll bum around Padua, a university town. They have a highly regarded and lively market every morning (*edit: every morning but Sunday! oh well... More time in Venice!).
After the chapel visit, I'll head back to Milan on the same Milan-Verona-Vicenza-Padua-Venice train line I've been using (2 1/2 hour ride). Maybe see the Duomo? Window shop the high fashion? I ordered a Milan guidebook to be sent to my local library and still have my personal copy of Rick Steves' Italy 2007 for some ideas in this city. I'll check into an airport hotel, which will be convenient (close and a shuttle) for my early flight the next morning. I've chosen one, but I'll reserve it online soon, the morning of my next payday on the 28th at the latest.
This morning, I ordered euros from my bank. For $527.02, I'll be receiving 375 euros, and have to pay a delivery fee of $7.50 on top. I'm on track in my savings for the trip. See my budget for the trip here.
I like that I don't have to shuffle from sight to sight to sight... I can simply experience each town.