Speaking of Siena..
(Which we were, on Friday. Right?)
Siena is in an area of Italy called Tuscany. Tuscany is north of Rome and includes, not only Siena, but Florence, Pisa, Lucca and dozens of charming towns, many of them atop hills.
Tuscany looks beautiful and interesting. Tuscany is very popular. A spate of books on the expats’ experience in Tuscany both reflects and exacerbates the popularity, which then leads to a certain packaging of the Tuscany experience.
Thanks to reader John for the reminder….
But Tuscany is also a large area (not as big as North Dakota, George. Sorry.) with a lot to see, and the challenge is that while it is about three hours from Rome up to Florence – and that doesn’t seem far – the geography of the area makes finding a central base for exploration challenging, and you for sure need a car.
So, after weeks of reading and thinking, I had to force myself to return to one of my basic philosophies I claim I hold and ask myself if I really indeed believed it and was willing to live by it:
You can’t do everything. Just do what you can, and do it well.
So no, we were not going to be able to see everything that we might find interesting. Choices would have to be made.
And I still haven’t made them.
Yup. Some people plan their vacations a year out. Me, I’m a few weeks away from a week in Tuscany, and I haven’t yet booked a single accommodation.
Right now, this is what I’m thinking – feel free to chime in.
We are done in Rome on a Friday. At that point, I’ll rent a car, and we’ll head out. I was thinking that for two or three days, we’d do the southern part of Tuscany, or Maremma. Orvieto (which is really Umbria), Pitigiliano, Sorano, Sovano, Saturnia – focusing on Etruscan stuff as well as the usual Catholic fun.
Etruscan Stuff and Catholic fun all in one – part of the Etruscan Via Cave with a later Christian addition – appropriate for today (May 1) – St. Joseph protecting those who venture onward. More here.
Alternative: take the train to Orvieto, center there for a couple of days, rent car and use a car for the rest of the week.
Then there’s Siena.
And little towns around.
I would love to base in Siena, but, a couple of things…Siena accommodations are pretty expensive, it seems. Secondly, it’s a hike from Siena to Florence – over an hour, maybe more, I think. I’m leaning towards basing somewhere between Siena and Florence for the bulk of that week, but I just don’t know.
We end up in Pisa. We fly out of there on a Friday afternoon, so I figure we will take Thursday afternoon and evening to do Pisa and stay there Thursday night – I already have those hotel reservations.
Bottom line: I have no idea. No. That’s not true. I have ideas, but I’m torn and am having to resist, with all my strength, the temptation to dash around and See All The Tuscan Things. I know from experience that is miserable, and I know the way to actually benefit deeply from travel is to calm down, stay still, look and listen.
I think: I’ll be back. I can see more on some other trip.
But will I? I might drop dead, some other drama, tragedy or priority might make future travel of this sort impossible or ill-advised. There are many other places in the world I have my eye on. So no. Maybe I won’t be back.
And what does it matter anyway? There is no urgency or necessity about this, at all. If I don’t see some little Tuscan hill town that caught my eye…so what? If we don’t experience this ruin or Etruscan site that I think the boys will enjoy and appreciate…so what?
Whatever we are doing while not doing what we’re missing…will be worth doing.
It’s all fascinating, all opportunities to learn, to see, to listen – all – beginning with my own neighborhood, my own town, first of all. Beginning today, here and now.
The only way to “miss” something important is to close myself off to the present – where ever it is I happen to be.