Hello friends and family, just wanted to send a quick note to let you know that we arrived home safely after adventuring around Italy. And relatively intact, too, though one of us may have sore muscles and a few bruises after an amateurish attempt at some serious biking. Lessons learned: Florence is still lovely but entirely full of tourists rather than Italians. Rome should be avoided completely, unless you MUST see the historical sights and don’t mind other people’s selfie sticks in your face and all your photos. Both of these cities would be better visited in the off-season. They say winter is nice. I’ve never been to Venice but I hear it’s just as touristy. Unfortunately, all three of these amazing cities may have become too popular for their own good.
The bright side is, Italy is full of beautiful surprises if you just get off the beaten path a little bit. My mom taught me this sixteen years ago when she booked us at a rural Tuscan “agriturismo” — a working farm that offers rooms to visitors, kind of like a B&B but often you can have lunch or dinner as well (and you definitely should). My brother taught me this too when he took us to see the small Tuscan towns he became familiar with during his semester abroad. These are the spots where you start to “get” Italy. And the food is better, too. Trust me, there is no bigger waste than having a bad meal while in Italy.