Sharing Italy with Family

La scrittrice descrive il suo programma per andare in italia con le sue nipoti. Lei descrive il suo itinerario che include un po’ di tutto – visitare musei, fare shopping, e mangiare. Fanno un corso per imparare a fare la pizza margherita ed un’altro per fare il gelato. Hanno prenotato un giro per Roma sulla Vespa. A Venezia, invece andranno in gondola. Giacché il viaggio sarà il primo all’estero per le ragazze, lei vuole che le nipoti vedano le cose più famose dell’Italia ma anche godere la dolce vita con qualche giorno di tranquillità.

In Italy, family is everything. Like so many other Italians in the early 20th century, my maternal and paternal grandparents immigrated to Cleveland, where they raised their own families. My parents were born there, married, and had five children, of which I was the firstborn. My grandparents never returned to the old country and neither did my parents. Although, my mother almost made a trip with her sisters, but it ended up getting cancelled.
In 2007, I went to Italy for the first time and fell in love with the country and its people. As a second-generation Italian I felt an immediate connection and the need to return again and again. I have been fortunate enough to travel to Italy year after year, making a total of 12 visits to Bella Italia. Due to the pandemic and resulting travel restrictions, the last time I went to Italy was four years ago, the longest gap between visits for me. I am finally looking ahead as I make plans to return to my favorite country.
Ever since my twin granddaughters were 12, I have planned to take them to Italy for their 16th birthday. That date has come and gone, but now I am determined to make this happen and am beginning to plan a trip for next spring, just after their high school graduation. I know this will be an unforgettable experience together, and I am psyched.
This visit will be different, and I am excited to share my passion for Italy with them. Since this trip is all about them, I want to be sure to arrange an itinerary including fun things to do, things 18-year-old girls will enjoy. We have already sat down to brainstorm what kinds of activities they would like.
They each think a private Vespa tour in Rome is cool, the kind where each of us ride on the back of a Vespa scooter and enjoy the sights while a driver-guide manages the road. A two-hour tour includes 12 of the top sites, so I am enthusiastic about it too.
One granddaughter likes museums and the other, not so much, so maybe just one, and that would be the Vatican and Sistine Chapel private tour at night. They both like shopping; not a problem in Rome, Venice, or Sorrento. Making masks in Venice, participating in gelato-making and pizza-making classes, and riding a gondola seem to garner smiles and nods.
As animal lovers, both girls perked up when I mentioned going to Torre Argentina, the cat sanctuary in Rome. But what surprised me was when one of them said she would want to adopt a cat and bring it with her on the rest of the trip. When I explained why that was not possible, as they so often say in Italy, she did not understand. The other one told me that they might have to bring one of their dogs on the trip, since he is so attached to them. And they were dead serious. Obviously, we will need a few more planning conversations. Good thing this is not happening for a year!
They have never traveled abroad, and I know I need to allow extra time for two girls plus myself to get dressed and do hair and makeup. Of course, I have already learned to allow for down time, Wi-Fi, and social media posting. Having no busy agendas, but more flexible and spontaneous ones will work best. Riding the trains will be a whole new experience for them too.
I need to prepare them for some of the differences to expect, like all the walking they will be doing, and to be wary of their surroundings. I will let them know not to expect ice in their beverages, that unlimited refills are not free, and that one of the best parts about Italy is to savor the moment and experience la dolce vita at a slower pace.

I am looking forward to this adventure, and planning the trip together is half the fun!

If you are toying with the idea of traveling to Italy with a family member, grab the opportunity while it is there, and make it happen. As my elderly aunt once told me, go while you can still walk up hills, because the day will come when that may no longer be possible. Italy is waiting for you. Buon viaggio.