Italy should have been the icing on the cake that was World Tour. John and I have both visited Italy before on previous European adventures, and we were looking forward to 7-10 days of gelato, cappuccinos, and beautiful countryside. Unfortunately, 0ur visit to Italy was far more brief than we originally intended – partially because of our need to be flexible to catch a flight home, and partially because we were just so ready to head back to the US. It turns out 51 weeks of international travel just might be our limit.
After flying into Rome from Crete, we picked up our rented Smart Car and hit the road. Our target was Santa Maria del Molise, a small town of about 500 people nestled into the countryside southeast of Rome. My brother-in-law’s uncle owns a villa there, and he had graciously agreed to let us stay there for a few days to enjoy stunning views and Italian hospitality.
We knew our appetites for travel had faded significantly when the beautiful drive through the countryside felt more like a burden than a blessing. The drive from Rome should have taken about 2.5 hours, but with our not-so-speedy car and inability to properly follow the driving directions, it took us about 4.5 hours. While someone on a 7-10 day trip in Italy might have found the drive charming and simply laughed at the mix ups and enjoyed the journey, our travel spirits had pretty much deflated. We could no longer appreciate the beauty of a drive through Italy, and instead found ourselves frustrated and exhausted upon our arrival in Santa Maria.
To add to the travel weariness during our three day stay in Santa Maria, John wasn’t feeling too well. As a result, we didn’t do much other than cook with tasty local ingredients and read on the terrace. We only managed one trip of sightseeing, thanks to my brother-in-law’s family who escorted us around the countryside for a few hours and showed us the sights in many of the small towns nearby. I do love small European towns, especially the doors and windows. You just don’t see things like that anywhere else.
And of course, the sweeping views of the mountains and the valley were gorgeous. The villa where we stayed had a similar view from the terrace.
The hills are dotted with little towns, some with as few as 200 inhabitants.As we toodled about these towns, our guides spouted out facts to us in Italian. Neither John nor I speak Italian, but we do speak pretty good Spanish. Many words in each language overlap, meaning I could actually understand about 60% of a language I don’t actually speak, which was a rather nice surprise. Whether or not they could understand us is a different story, but it’s amazing how far speaking Spanish with an Italian accent can get you.
At the end of our brief stay we headed back to Rome in preparation for our return to the US. Details about the big finish of our trip coming next!