Everyone does travel year-in-review blog posts.
But let’s be real: it only really works for those lucky few who have been to dozens of different destinations. Those with enviable schedules and even better photos.
I’d love to do a year in review of the sort, one that shows me jet-setting across the world (even if that’s not environmentally en vogue) but to be honest, I didn’t have any such year…and I usually don’t.
I may have this humble travel blog, but I’m not a full-time traveler. I’m a teacher and a wife and a mom. I have a house and a toddler and responsibilities. I have set time off and a budget and I don’t like to camp. With all those things in mind I still try to squeeze as much travel as possible out of the year. Some years, we happen to travel a lot. Others, we barely leave our town.
2019, it seems, was the year all our trips got canceled.
Not one, but three different destinations got canceled this year: Puglia, Lazio and Piedmont
We made it to Palermo in March for a long weekend, and loved the trip so much that we decided to dedicate the year to exploring new parts of Italy, rather than looking abroad. We planned an all-encompassing summer vacation in Puglia, Italy’s heel, that would cover so much new ground: Alberobello and Ostuni and Otranto, le Due Sorelle and a trip to Matera, Basilicata. Then, we split up our drive home with a four day stop in Lazio do visit Villa d’Este and Bomarzo and other gardens and villas in the area.
But it didn’t take a second to cancel that trip and book a flight home when my family needed me.
Because there is the world out there, and then there is my world. My world, which is my family, health, love, life. There’s my job and my garden and my hobbies. My baby and my husband and my sister. My best friends and neighbors. Our relationships are worth so much more than any travel or trip or vacation.
It didn’t take a second because we are so, so fortunate, and this summer only solidified that.
Despite our botched summer vacation, we were still able to do a lot.
My Year in Travel Review:
We walked every inch of Palermo
We played in the sand
We took Adeline to the seaside for the first time ever with an overnight in Alassio, Liguria, one of the few Ligurian beaches with sand, and let her play with it to her heart’s content! We had a day and a half of relax and a whole new perspective of Liguria with the Riviera del Ponente.
We “rediscovered” Como…twice
I hadn’t been to Como (the city, not the lake) since I studied abroad in Italy 10 years ago, so it was unexpected how much I enjoyed it this summer. Though I’m usually for the small towns and villages, a pleasant July evening in Como quickly moved the city to the top of my must-visit list again. Clean, beautiful, lakeside and fancy, Como adds a big-city feel to the charming lake towns you’ll likely tour like Varenna and Bellagio. We enjoyed it so much we went back to see the Christmas lights this December!
And tapped into our adventurous side with a tour of Como from above
Though some might balk at the size of the plane or the small runway, I certainly did at first, there’s little better than experiencing Lake Como with your own personal pilot.
We went boating and canoeing on the Adda River
The same river that Leonardo da Vinci walked along for inspiration.
We found some time to relax in our own backyard
Then went to America… and saw a pig auction…
We finally made it to Museo ‘900 in Milan
And opened up a whole new world of Italian modern art for ourselves.
See: An Enormous List of Where to See Modern Art in Italy
Of course we went back up to the mountains again
With Italian friends and American family members, by ourselves and with our Italian family…the cabin is always more fun with guests!
Piedmont got canceled due to rain (not really worth touring vineyards if it’s pouring…especially with a toddler). So we threw in the towel on 2019 travel.
After that, we just looked forward to Christmastime!
And ended the year at the cabin with friends.
In 2019 I finally got foot surgery and spent a lot of time in the pool with Addie. We brought Adeline on her first walks in the mountains, coaxing her to keep going with whatever means necessary and braved the transition to a new school. Marco finished out his first year with his own company and enjoyed the new and improved change of pace. We enjoyed meals on the balcony, toddler-approved walks and a backyard that had thankfully been treated for mosquitoes! We rarely ate a weekend meal alone and expanded our wine stock more and more and more.
Our travel year may be sparse, but our hearts are full.
What’s Next? 2020 Travel Plans:
Still committed to seeing something new of Italy, we pivoted from Puglia to explore a different angle of Sicily, one of the most intriguing destination we’ve visited in years.
Instead of Palermo, we’ll be flying in to Catania over Easter break to explore Italy’s east coast, in particular the Val di Noto. Our itinerary isn’t nailed down yet, but we have eight days to explore, enjoy and eat in Sicily, and we can’t wait!
And…that’s our only plan so far.
I still have hopes for some day trips and weekend trips – maybe a day trip to Genova and a weekend in Bologna or even Piedmont – but the summer is completely undecided and long weekends abroad nearly impossible this year.
We may have a hell of a wish list but we have all the time in the world to dream and we feel so, so lucky about it.
What are your 2020 Travel Plans?