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Italy Bound March 8, 2013

Oh, darlings. I'm getting so excited about so many things, and most of them are Italian in nature. So I'm going to list them, because I do love a list. 

1. Yes, I'm going to Italy again. This time I'm going with sister Bethany, who's never been. When Mom died, she left us all a little money, just enough for a special treat of a trip. My two younger sisters went to Ireland together last year, this year it's my turn. So we're off soon, for a Great Adventure. We're both very much alike in that we like to just wander, so we have little planned. We even have about four completely unstructured days between Rome and Venice (tell us what little town between those two you love the most (and why)! Reachable by train, please). 

2. Speaking of lists: I LOVE THEM. Sometimes I just open my packing list and stare at it. I've been doing that a lot lately. I'm taking a half-sized suitcase and a small messenger bag on this trip. Both pieces will fit under the seat in front of me. I get almost as excited about packing lightly as I do about our new budget, YNAB. (That surprisingly sexy program has changed our lives, and we've only been using it for two months. Apparently I had no idea how money worked. Oops. Try the free trial, tell me what you think.) 

3. My new thing is geocaching. I'm sure you know about this. Pretty much, if I dive deeply into some obsession, I'm about four years late and the bubble of the hobby is about to collapse, but it is SO cool. Basically, you use a GPS to find treasure. Bethany has been doing it for years, and I've gone with her at least once, but it didn't grab me. A friend at work has been doing it, and I was idly listening to her wax rhapsodic, and then I put the two thoughts together: Treasure hunting. In Italy. Immediately, I was online, signing up at Geocaching.com, making lists of the caches we'll hunt for in Rome and Venice. Can you imagine? The fun of that? There are puzzles, people. 

When I was a kid, my dad would buy used metal-detectors at yard sales and fix them up. We'd take them to the beach and carefully comb the sand, diving with the shovel at every tiny beep. I don't remember us ever finding anything more than empty metal tins washed ashore by the tide, but there was always that blissful hope that the next beep would be The Big One. The treasure chest of a pirate schooner, just waiting for us to dig up. 

Of course, when I was a kid, I was good for about fifteen minutes of searching before I got frustrated and ran away to build sand castles that looked more like wet lumpen apartment buildings than actual castles, and that same letdown could certainly happen with geocaching. It's possible I'll be excited about it twice and then wander away whistling, thinking about a new plot for the next book (the only things I've ever actually stuck with are Lala, knitting, and writing), but you never know. NEW OBSESSION YUM. 

4. I have purple hair. I don't know why. I just knew it was important to do. 



I LOVE the hair :) You are completely rocking it my dear!

How exciting, I look forward to reading and seeing pics of your 'sisterventure'!

Love the color! Purple hair is one of my faves.
Geocaching in Italy, wow, have a great time. I used to Geocache until I put the battery in the GPS backwards and did something awful to the unit.
Is Verona between Rome and Venice? It's a great little town, even without the R&J references.

I am going to Italy again too! This time with my parents, who have never been, husband, and baby. We are going to Siena and Rome. Where are you going?

Hello, I should read more carefully!

i'm going to miss you gals when you're gone! lunch with your purple hair soon i hope :)

Love the hair- and have a WONDERFUL adventure in Italy!

On YNAB- I keep thinking of trying it, entirely based on how well written their copy on their website is. Thanks for the recommendation!

So glad for you to be heading to Italy again!!! Looking forward to the pictures and tales!

i love your purple hair and admire how brave you were to make it that color. it looks fabulous!

Have a BLAST! And say hey to Bethany f rom me..
Can't wait to hear all about it. Buon viaggio!

Florence! You have to go to Florence. I travelled there by train from Venice, the station is within easy walking distance of the historical centre of the town. It was a wonderful place to visit and I had the best tiramisu ever just around the corner from the Duomo.

I just found out that I am going to Italy too! Venice and Florence and Lake Como and what not. I was going to send you a note to find out what I should see while I am in Venice. Any things that wouldn't be in your standard tourbook?

You are precious in purple! I wish I was brave enough to do it but I've already told my husband that once the kids are all out and I'm 60, I'm rocking some hard core hot pink hair. He's prepared... lol.

Have fun in Italy - I loved your last trip. One day, you and Lala will have to go. She loved to wander New Orleans, this would just be a sexier version.

Two towns that I went to and can recommend:

Orvieto: Cliff top (way cooler than hilltop) town used by the pope as a hideaway during the 'assassination-in-sometimes-god's-will' part of Catholic history. Has a cathedral with a gorgeous gothic facade, as well as a couple of other slightly cheesy attractions. Fantastic in the evening when everyone goes out for a walk, and early morning when almost no one is around. And it's pretty funny to watch all the tourists try to take photos of the cathedral, as it involves standing in the middle of the road.

Ferrara: Good as a rest town/pretend to be a local town, as it's not got many sights as such. It's got a huge wall all the way around it that you can bike/walk around, and a fantastic (if empty) castle with a moat. The duke was part of the arts race with florence, but the last duke took it all and left in the 18th (I think) century. I was really nice to get away from the tourists after Florence. It's also got a very good reputation for food.

Oh, and have an awesome time!! Have a spritz for me.

Bologna is on the train between Venice and Rome.
The food in that region seems really delicious indeed.
I think the NYTimes did one of those "36 hours in" articles recently about Bologna.
Enjoy Italy! I second the spritz motion.

Hey, Rachael - again, love your purple hair! Lucky you and Bethany! Your Venice trips have "ruined" me - LOL - someday, maybe! Hi to Bethany - long time since she took her truck trip across the country (yarn stores in Maine sent from me to you to Beth! LOL). I assume your trip is happening soon in case you don't want to put it on line. Hope you will have a fantastic trip (as if you wouldn't!). I got interested in geocaching years ago but never followed it up. Not a lot of caches in my local area. Helped a girl find her cache that she was searching for and it was a lot of fun. Hope you and Bethany will have a fantastic trip.

Go to Sorrento, the most charming and friendly town I have been in. Take the train to Austi Antiqua and Pastum for wonderful Roman/Greek ruins. The food in Sorrento is amazing!

OMG, THANK YOU for turning me on to YNAB! I had never heard of it before today and now I have downloaded it and forced my husband to do the same. We suck at money, and we have sucked at talking about money, but have had a joint account since we got married 1.5 years ago. It doesn't help that for the last couple months our income has not been enough to cover expenses, with or without budgeting. But, trying YNAB, in combination with the fact that I just found out I will probably have a new job in a couple of weeks has made me insanely hopeful that we will be able to take control of this debt thing. Now he & I can start saving money to buy land for the sheep, alpaca, llama, & angora rabbit farm we want to have after he finishes school (I have a husband who thinks this is a great idea...I am lucky!)

I hope you have a great time in Italy!

Bon voyage! The hair could NOT be more perfect!

Florence, or Ravenna. It can be a stop on your way into Venice, and TOTALLY worth the trip - beautiful mosaics and Dante's tomb, the tomb of Justinian. But, really, you don't want to miss the amazing and beautiful mosaics.

1. I love Italy.
2. I am jealous that you are going.
3. a) Florence is my second fav city in Italy.
b) It between Rome & Venice.
c) You can get there by train.
4. I know a GREAT tour guide if you want to tour Tuscany Wineries from Florence. ;)
5. love Love LOVE purple hair. You Rock!!
6 I also like lists. haha

Your upcoming trip sounds wonderful.

Thanks for the Magic Soup recipe a few posts ago. It made a fabulous, satisfying soup.

I loved my one trip to Florence and hope to return. It's Paris this year for me!

You might be interested in this treasure hunt tour program. I didn't try it, but hope to in the future. http://selectitaly.com/whaiwhai.php It gives you clues via text message and you go to different parts of the city and learn things. You don't get the next clue until you find the first one.

I checked, there's a Whaiwhai for Venice!

Rome and Venice - oh how wonderful. It's not on the way between the two but if you have time you must go to Ostia (and it is on the train from Rome). It was Rome's port but got silted up and buried, think Pompeii but mud not volcano. It's huge and perfect for pottering round and exploring (and propping up a genuine Roman bar!). We went to Rome for a week many years ago and our day in Ostia was our favourite.

Another vote for Bologna--if you're feeling geographical, there's a cool navigational/astronomical thing on the floor of the Bologna Cathedral.
Rome and Venice are two of my three favorite cities (though if you love them both, you really ought to try Istanbul). Love the hair!

I love geocaching! Some of my very bestest friends ever have come into my life because of geocaching!! It's SO FREAKING FUN!!!!




I spent 2 days in Assisi and loved every single moment. Sure the tourist buses are there during the day, but at night? Ah, that's when the magic of Assisi reveals itself. As an added bonus, it is a sister city to San Francisco.

I have a lovely little bit of pottery meant to hold a single bloom that I bought from a young potter in his studio in Assisi. It is one of my most treasured possessions. It lives on the window ledge above my kitchen sink, along side my small bit of black marble that used to be part of the floor of the Vatican.

I love the suggestion of YNAB. I think we might do it too, I could use some budget help. Did you get the Home Study Guide as well, or just the software? Not sure how much the Study Guide would add to the experience.

And your purple hair is to die for!

Ooh, Italy. Lovely. I hope you have a great time. Your hair looks fabulous. You're right. Sometimes you just need purple hair.

Hey, if you're going to stick with anything, Lala, Knitting and Writing are the best choices!

And I love the purple hair.

Ok, if you are going to Florence (and why not) I must highly recommend the Oltranno side (south of river) for walking around. Near Piazza Santa Spirito is a restaurant I love called Casa Lingua (popular with locals, casual atmosphere no white table clothes to jack the cost). Bar/Tabacci at corner of Via Maggio and is run by adorable couple of ladies of indeterminate age. Gelato stop at Gelataria Santa Trinita absolute must, better than Vivoli IMO and fewer tourists. Awesome proprietor.

Smaller town, Lucca. Rent bikes and ride around the top of the old city wall. Super easy train ride from Florence. Climb one of many towers if you are ok with heights and climbing in small spaces. Lucca one of few towns with medieval wall entirely intact.

Verone neared to Venice. The museum there is by architect Carlos Scarpa and is amazing. Beautiful collection, elegantly displayed in a masterpiece of building.

OK, could obviously write a huge novel. Email me if you want anything else. Will look up yarn store where I got great silk deal in Florence. We lived there when my daughter was a tiny baby and I'm clearly full of bossy advice.


Lerici. Charming seaside town. Nearish to Sienna. Charming. Stay at the Hotel piccolo lido. Charming. Unspoiled. Swell.

So love the purple hair, Italy how wonderful I am sure you and your sister will have a wonderful time
It is on my bucket list to visit Italy, but it is so far from Australia and I am not a good flyer
But one day I know I will do it

"the only things I've ever actually stuck with are Lala, knitting, and writing"

You, my dear, have perfect taste in things to stick with!

OMG I love the hair. I wish I had the guts to do the same. If it wasn't for work. I would actually kind of enjoy the stares I would get in this small town.

Two words for you: Volterra, baby. Although I would spend the whole time in Rome.... sigh. Have a wonderful time.

Have a wonderful trip! I second the suggestion of Lucca. My paternal grandparents are from that area. They were born in very small villages on opposite sides of Lucca. They would never have met in Italy but both immigrated to Santa Clara/San Jose. They met there and married. I have been many times and love Lucca.

Also, Pisa is nice. I loved walking around there and especially the nice church with a wonderful Keith Haring mural on it's back wall.

Have a blast!

I SO want to go back to Italy. My favs are Venice, Florence, Sienna, Cinque Terra & San Gimignano. Given the right options - I would move to San Gimignano! Love the hair and you are amazingly brave. I'd love to step outside my comfort zone but not sure the banking world could handle purple...Have lots of fun!

Love the purple hair!!! Italy would be so nice this time of year... Enjoy!

Love the purple hair. I spent a long weekend in Rome aeons ago...I was stationed with the Army in Germany. My bf and I went down on the train and stayed with my aunt and uncle who were living in Rome at the time. I loved it, the antiquity and the history, art and just being there. I hope you have a wonderful time!

Definitely Ravenna - stunning Byzantine architecture and churches. Also, Dante's tomb! Finally, no traffic allowed in the city centre so it's lovely and quiet. Have a great time!

Just read your book "A Life in Stitches" and thoroughly enjoyed it!

And we use YNAB too. LOVE IT. Totally life changing...except there's never enough money in the yarn category!

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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