It’s a long way from Idaho to Italy.
It took us three days, 24+ hours and an assortment of trains, planes and teeny-tiny automobiles. But, at the end of it all, we’re here. I’m writing this from Italy. Right now. Like, I am looking out the window at the terrace and that’s Italy, right there. WOAH.
(I’m pretty jet-lagged; this is about the extent of the deep musing I’ve been able to do so far.)
We began our journey with a drive to Bremerton (outside Seattle). Plane tickets were cheaper from a major airport, plus it gave us an excuse to visit friends there and relax a bit before jetting away.
Flying was my biggest source of fear leading up to the trip. Danny had never flown before and Henry hadn’t been on a plane since he was a baby, so starting their air travel experience with a transatlantic flight seemed risky.
My fear wasn’t entirely unfounded — though the boys managed to surprise us.
The last few days before we left, Danny started expressing doubt about the trip. While we were waiting to check our bags, he asked me, calmly and solemnly, how likely it was our plane would crash. After a good conversation about risk, perception of risk and media attention (this is an ongoing conversation of ours), he concluded he was willing to get on the plane and was 100% fine from then on. (And he’s the only one of us who managed to get a decent amount of sleep on the 9.5-hour flight to Dublin — being 4 feet tall and able to curl up into a tiny ball has its advantages.)
Henry, on the other hand, had been nothing but overjoyed about the trip since Day 1, but about 30 minutes before boarding the long flight, his excitement boiled over into panic and he started hyperventilating. Three bottles of water and a few laps around the airport later and he regained his confidence. Both boys now insist they adore flying and prefer it to all other modes of transportation. (My back disagrees, but gently floating through the air on a fluffy mattress isn’t an option unless you’re crazy-rich.)
We arrived at the airport in Rome after about 18 hours of airplane/airport time. One of my intensive pre-planning decisions turned out to be an excellent one: staying at a guest house near the airport rather than navigating trains into the city or all the way to Viterbo. Our room at Villa Erasi was beautiful, comfortable and ready for us all to collapse into bed and start adjusting to the new time zone.
This morning (which is … Wednesday? I think? Tim and the boys did a much better job of sleeping/adjusting than I did) we hopped on a train from the airport to Rome, then Rome to Viterbo, with no problems thanks to a little help from friendly Trenitalia staff members and Google. Our route mostly wound through the countryside, and I loved noting the unfamiliar grass, flower and tree species and admiring the picturesque villages, orchards and farms. (Yes, I am one of those moms who shouts, “Sheep! Look, kids, sheep!” Even though we have plenty of sheep in Idaho.)
Being here (so far)
In Viterbo, we are staying at another lovely guest house until our longer-term rental is ready. The bendy-twisty-speedy taxi ride here introduced us to a city of narrow cobblestone streets that wind through medieval buildings, and to a culture where stop signs are just charming suggestions.
With some guidance from Francesca, the excellent USAC resident director in Viterbo, we enjoyed some of the city’s most-loved pizza-by-the-slice (salsicchia e patatine fritte for me — so delicious) and had our very first gelato in Italy.
I have plenty more I could write about — my sad attempts at speaking Italian, the outstanding patience and generosity of the Italians we’ve met, the utter lack of unsweetened iced tea in this country — but I’ll save them for later. It’s definitely time for bed.