Three years ago, my folks took Bob and I on a fantastic vacation. We went to Italy for a couple of weeks, visiting both Rome and Venice. I fell in love with Italy and it’s umbrella pine trees. Bob and I spent one day visiting Ostica Antica; the original port for Rome until 42 AD. A 40 minute train ride from Rome transports you into this site filled with ancient buildings, fields of marjoram and thyme (weeds), and wonderful umbrella pine trees. One of the peak experiences of my trip was sitting in the field of weeds looking at these incredible ancient buildings, listening to the birds sing, and watching the airplanes come and go from the international airport a couple miles away. It was here that I fell in love with Italy.
Below are a couple pictures of the ruins.
And below are a couple pictures of the Umbrella Pines.
After returning, I decided to grow an umbrella tree for myself. Yes, the tree will live longer than me and won’t look like an umbrella until I’m an old lady; but that’s life. Well it turns out that an Umbrella Pine is also called an italian stone pine and is often sold by places like Trader Joes as table top Christmas trees. So I got a baby tree for a couple dollars right after the holidays. This tree is unique, baby Italian Stone pines don’t look like their parents. They have small single short needles, lending themselves to the illusion needed for a holiday tree. As they become juveniles (4-5 years old) the Adult leaves start coming on the tree–long groups of needles. Well my little pine tree is starting to hit puberty as you can see in the photo.
So I’ve decided it’s time to go back and visit Italy again. It helps that there are convergence of factors that might make this possible next year. First, my parents have offered to take us (Bob, Kat, and myself) on a vacation next year, including possibly Europe. Second, it’s the last summer I’ll have a kid at home as Kat will be getting ready to enter her senior year. I’m expecting her to move across country for college after graduating from High School. And third, I really want to go, it’s time for us to take a nice family vacation.
My dream is to rent a house for a month in Italy followed by a nice exotic trip somewhere in Europe with my parents. Its not that expensive to rent a house for a month if one is willing to find something clean, neat, safe, not big, and not fancy. So we’ve begun planning and dreaming.
Some of the things we are doing to plan are:
- Talking with my parents. My mom wants to go see exotic stuff (whatever that means), my Dad is thinking about going to see Tattoo in Scotland.
- Bob has been looking at homes in southern Italy on the beach. Kate likes that idea; they both love water sports.
- I’m looking at homes outside Florence or Bologna so we can spend time visiting the different cultural attractions.
- I’ve gotten permission from work to take 6 weeks off next summer. Now I have to save up the vacation time. 81.4 hours and continually saving more.
- And I’ve filled my IPOD with lots of Italian podcasts so I can listen to the language while working. Am not actually aware of many of the words (concentrating on work); but the hope is I’ll learn by osmosis.
So I’ll let you know how things go over time. In the meantime, arrivederci.