Rather than write a standard trip report about my two weeks in Italy, I am going to share with you the myths, facts and my own stupid assumptions about it and what the realities were, based on our experience.
We stayed in a beautiful old, stone house in the hills of Tuscany. It was set deep within a nature preserve, where the chief protectants were deer and wild boar. Their presence was never seen but it was obvious that they were there, based on the five foot high wire fencing that surrounded the entire perimeter of the compound.
Getting to the villa was nothing short of treacherous. The 2 mile long road to the villa off the main road was a steep, winding, unpaved, single lane path lined with sharp gravel and ditches on either side. Every ride up or down was harrowing and caused the drivers tremendous stress and anxiety. And the bugs! Bugs would follow the car up the road in swarms, they would divebomb us in the pool and they were in the house and everywhere else. I soon realized that we were in their space and we either had to co-exist or go down fighting. The irony was that at night (when all the bugs come out at home), all the bugs went away and we could thoroughly enjoy the outdoors. Because of this, there were several moonlit dinners in the courtyard which we enjoyed with many bottles of wine. (The recycling that we put out was a shocking retrospective of our consumption.)
Myth 5- Rome is crawling with gypsies just waiting to rip you off. - There are definitely street performers and people begging for money all over the place. Again, NY City rules and savvy apply. Don't look like a tourist. Don't make eye contact. Don't be afraid to assertively say NO.
Bottom line assessment: I'm going back. That's all there is to it. I'm going back.
Now the pictures (In no particular order. We have 1300 pictures from this trip. I have no time for sorting and ordering.). . .
Temple to my homeboys Castor and Pollux. Where my Geminis at?
Street view looking out from inside the Colosseum.
The Colosseum hasn't been the same since REO Speedwagon played in '78.
Then Pantheon at dusk. Nothing like a 2000 year old building to make you feel insignificant (And young! Win!).
My perfect cappuccino. Want to guess where I got it? Go ahead. I'm waiting. Nope. I got it at the gas station. I went in to the "minimart" to find a marble counter with delicious pastries and freshly made espresso and cappuccino. What? No beef jerky?
Nice knockers in Siena.
This was the side street near our apartment in Rome. Right out of La Dolce Vita.
The Villa from a distance. Not too many neighbors, unless you count the entire biting fly population of the Northern Hemisphere.