Filipino guy in Los Angeles, talking about his daily blah, reality tv, world events... a little bit of everything

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ernesto's Travels: Grand Tour of Italy


Ok...so the title is somewhat deceiving. I didnt go to the southern section of Italy, skipping Rome, Naples, Sicily etc. Technically it should be called "The Grand Tour of Northern Italy with an inadvertent sidetrip to Paris". I cant believe that its been a year! As I write this post, exactly a year ago I was on a train from the Tuscany region on my way to the Italian Riviera. Wow, looking back I dont know how I did it. The hardest part about my little adventure wasnt exactly when I was already there, it was in fact making that decision to go by myself in a country I've only seen in movies and travel books. I still remember the very moment when the idea came to me...it was during a car ride to Big Bear. A couple of friends have done the tour of Europe and both just loved Italy. After hours talking about their trip I came to realize why not go for it. At that time my spring break was around my birthday and I have some savings... when will I get the chance again? I also felt that I needed to do something spontaneous, something out of my comfort zone.

The next few weeks after making that decision I occupied myself with getting as much information as possible; travel books, magazines, websites, renting dvd's and talking to friends who'se been there. Although the inner Ernesto in me wanted to plan everything down to which underwear I'll wear...I had to stop myself. I found a good balance of planning and not planning. I made certain reservations but if I decided to just completely change my itinerary then I'm free to do so (thats one great thing about travelling alone). I cant just completely b.s. my whole trip because I'm going to waste so much time looking for a place to sleep or not knowing when the trains leave...its innefficient and certainly frantic. The first task was finding out where I wanted to go. Like every traveler, I made a list of cities/towns and things to do in each one. The initial plan was to start in Barcelona, Spain....to Nice and Monte Carlo, France the Italian Riviera down to Rome. Quite ambitious for 10 days (and expensive). After much research, I knew that its going to be a disaster because I'm going to end up travelling every day without getting a chance to really explore these places. I went back to the one-country plan; Italy. It turned out that a friend of mine has a really close friend in Florence (she is there for culinary school). After several emails, I found someone to host me (saving me money and at the same time, a semi-local to show me around). Florence became my first stop. After watching Rick Steves I knew I had to visit the Cinque Terra (in the Italian Riviera). I was also inspired by the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" I knew I had to visit Siena and the neighboring towns. Finally, I remember when I took an Italian film class (easy A hehe) when I was at UCLA, I remember telling myself.... "I gotta go to Venice". With these places in mind I knew I had plenty to do and see.

Hmm....I think I'll continue my story later. I'll divide my story for each city/town I went to. I'll also add some snippets of my journal (that only lasted for the first two days), and tons of pictures. Here are some of the pictures;

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