Sitting Halfway Down, With James Wilkey My sister, my mother, and I

The Trip to Italy

Here are some ramblings about the week-long trip to Italy that my family and I took in the summer of 2007.

Good Ol' Italia

The inspiration for the trip sparked during 2006 when my father, having had a bit too much wine, suggested that the entire family travel to Italy during the summer. A few months later, we were on a plane. Some transitioning details may have been left out of my account of events, but not many.

Of course, the idea of bringing my entire family to Italy was ridiculous. However, we managed to arrange for quite the crew. I went, of course, as did my father and mother; my two sisters, Vanesa and Dana; Dana's boyfriend, John; My uncle and aunt, Roger and Susan; and Susan's brother, Robert. Quite the rag-tag group of Rodriguezes and Wilkeys.

My parents, being a cheery sort of people, suggested that we split our group into two smaller groups and travel in different planes on different days. The theory behind this was that, should one plan go down, there would still be someone left to take care of my grandmother. Like I said, cheery bunch.

Thus, I was shipped off with the initial expedition (consisting of my father, Roger and Robert.) while my mother, Susan and Vanesa waited in Florida for 24 hours before setting off themselves. Dana and John, who would be leaving from a different state, were set to arrive a few days after the second team.

Jetlagged in Milano

Our ridiculous travel arrangements aside, the flight went smoothly, though an obscure Italian law forbid me from using any item that contained a spinning disk. This outlawed roughly 3/4 of my carry-on luggage. Fortunately, I'm fond of reading (you can find out what I'm specifically fond of reading in my interests section) and managed to entertain myself.

The first day of the trip, which we spent in Milano, was hell. I've never been able to sleep on planes, so I was horribly jet lagged, but everyone was determined to keep me awake so we could sightsee. I grew to truly hate my family that day.

My spirits improved exponentially after I had a pleasant 12-hour nap, but the hell-day did let me adjust to local time fast.

After the remaining segments of our clan joined up with the original group, the family headed to a little villa near Florence that would serve as our home base. The Villa itself was beautiful, if somewhat impossible to find via the too-small-for-a-car roads of the older towns and cities. Particularly beautiful were the mountains, which trumped any of the mountains I had ever seen in the States. Then again, I might have been biased in my attempts to be blown away by Europe.

Mountains around the villa

The remainder of our trip was spent bouncing between Florence, Pisa and a few random locales of Italy. All of it was remarkably beautiful and awe-inspiring, and I'm not being sarcastic. Of the two major cities we were visiting, I prefered Florence. Pisa was little more than a tourist trap. There were things worth seeing there, but you really had to fight your way through the throngs of people who wanted to see the leaning tower. Pisa is also full of obnoxious street vendors, one of whom I forcibly removed from a restraunt after he attempted to peddle his goods on a couple who had repeatedly asked him to go away.

I was hungry. I'm not a patient man when I'm hungry.

Florence, in general, was more beautiful and had a better selection of restaurants, a major attraction of any city in Italy. The smaller number of tourists also made it easier to engulf myself in the culture and enjoy being in Italy.

One of the highlights of my trip was climbing to the top of a massive church in Florence called "Il Domo." The view from the top was astounding. It's one of my strongest memories of Italy. Also among my strongest memories of Italy is when I realized that I had to climb down from "Il Domo," at which point I remembered that I was afraid of heights.

As the trip came to a close, my family and I returned to Milano to catch our flight. I was put through additional screening and nearly arrested for possession of a Pepsi without a receipt before sitting down in my less-than-comfortable chair, taking out my laptop, putting away my laptop after being told that it was illegal to use anything with a spinning disk on the plane, and attempting to sleep on my way back to America.

Ah, Italy.

My family and I in Italy