Part III: The part that has yet to be planned.
By Bridget Meade
I admit it. Lately I’ve been taking full advantage of the excuse, “I’m sorry, I can’t go to . I will be in Italy.” Typical reactions? “Wow! That’s fantastic!” or “Oh I see how you are…” OR my friends just walk away in disgust. Well, the last two are a bit of a stretch but I’ve seen a few eyes turn green. Some ask where I will be staying, and most faces go blank when I tell them Viterbo. “Where exactly IS this?” they ask and I answer, “North of Rome.” That is as much information as I carry around in my head.
My thesis advisor has been to Viterbo and will be there at the same time I am. I’ve been able to get information from her. For example, she warned about how the train I take from Rome “may or may not get there but you’ll be fine.” The other night I also realized I booked my flight two days before I actually have to be there. I still don’t know where I’m staying. Do I stay in Rome for the first night and Viterbo the second? Or do I stay in Viterbo both nights?
It is less than a week before my trip and I still haven’t nailed my travel details. It was only sometime last week that I realized that USAC is kind enough to list train schedules, Viterbo hotel suggestions, and directions to the University I’m living in. If only I would open the documents provided on their website.
Luckily after the first two nights, I don’t have to think for myself for a few days. I will spend one night in Viterbo and then leave with a USAC group for southern Italy – Sorrento, Pompei, Napoli, Pompei, Amalfi and Caserta. A self-described budding foodie, I’m already craving Neapolitan pizza, limoncello in Sorrento, and fresh mozzarella, which I ate every day in Positano.
On my last trip, we considered visiting Napoli (Naples) but opted for Positano on the Amalfi coast instead. It was the end of a long, somewhat difficult trip and the thought navigating one of Italy’s largest cities was too much. At the end of our stay, we forgot to check bus schedules so we could catch our flight Naples to London. That oversight forced us to take a 200 Euro cab ride from where the bus dropped us off to the Naples airport.
Researching minuet details of a trip is not one of my strong points. I usually arrive at a place (US or not) and wonder what to do. I may or may not know what I am looking at most times as I’m more interested in what people are doing around me. I’m trying to do things a little differently this time since I am required to write about my experience. I need to say more than, “I ate a lot of pasta.”
NPR recently posted an article listing five tips for making travel meaningful. While Italy is not an unusual European destination, the article encouraged me to seek new places during my five-week stay. My cousin also sent me a book about secret attractions in Rome. When I flipped through it, I saw a place where they used to dissect human bodies and thought, “This is perfect and I’ve never been there before.”
Until then, I need to see about make sure my sprinklers work and an old fence gets repaired while I’m away. I have articles to write, a house to clean, laundry to put away, and pack. And on my last weekend in Reno, I have a friend’s birthday to celebrate. This is one time I didn’t have to use Italy as an excuse.
Bridget Meade is an Interactive Journalism graduate student at the Reynolds School of Journalism. She decided to pursue her Master’s in Journalism after she discovered personal blogging several years ago. As a result of online communities like 20-Something Bloggers and the new friends she met all over the world, Bridget’s interests expanded and she redefined her personal and professional goals. Her interests are in social media, specifically Twitter, technology, and networked news. She enjoys snarky humor, the ocean, all things Italian, wine, and time with her 90 lb German Shepherd, Keo.