When in Rome…

26 Sep

Image Source: http://www.see-digi.tv/shared_images/novice/rome.jpg

You might remember that about this time last year, I crafted a 40×40 list. It’s a list of 40 things I want to do before my 40th birthday on October 30. One of the items on that list was to take my first-ever girls’ trip with my mom and sister. Simple, right? Two Google spreadsheets, 40+ hours of research and planning, countless conference calls with my sister and it’s finally here.

And the best part? We’re going to be on a plane in 12 hours and my mom STILL doesn’t know where we’re going. When we sprung the idea of a girls’ trip on her back at Christmas, she indicated she was game. We felt her out a bit, asking if she’d be comfortable going somewhere that required a passport. (Aside from Canada and a cruise through the Bahamas, she hasn’t left the US before. Not because she’s not interested, but because my parents try to live in a way that reduces their carbon footprint on the planet.)

She gave us the nod for that and we asked if she’d want to be involved in the planning or just be surprised. Amazingly, my 70 year old mother who can out-plan anyone, opted to be surprised. Once my sister and I recovered from the shock of that decision, we sprung into action…

If you’re only going to leave the country once, where should you go?

We decided it would be important to a) Choose a place where the weather was likely to be nice in early October, b) See something that causes goosebumps, c) Have our American minds blown by a real sense of history, and d) Find a place where the food, the wine and the people all convey a sense of hospitality.

With those guiding objectives, where would YOU choose?

As much as I love France, this one was a no-brainer: Italy. I mean, going to the Ancient Forum and seeing something that was built BEFORE CHRIST? Walking the same ground that Julius Caesar once walked? Seeing Michelangelo’s handiwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Yeah… all pretty mind-boggling and goosebump-inducing.

Also? Let’s be real. Two words: Pasta and Gelato.

So here we are – after months of planning, we’ll all be boarding flights later today and – if all goes well – we’ll manage to find each other (without the assistance of mobile phones) in Rome’s FCO airport at 8:30am tomorrow. And my mom STILL doesn’t know where we’re going.

When she originally told us to surprise her, we thought she meant, “Tell me a month before we go so I can get excited.” But as the day approached, she kept pushing off the big reveal. Finally, she said, “Just tell me what to pack and then you can surprise me the day of the trip with where we’re going.”

As someone who can be a bit of a control freak (and I’m not judging – I have a good dose of it myself), she’s blown us away with her willingness to just go with the flow on this one. So at noon today, when we host a three-way call and reveal where we’re going, the items we asked her to blindly pack – walking shoes, sleeping pills, a bathing suit – should suddenly make sense.

Now we’re just hoping it doesn’t land like a lead balloon, though my sister has done a great job trying to keep expectations in check by casually working remarks like, “We’ll be sure to get a picture of you on a camel…” and, “Not sure how you’ll ship a Persian rug back,” into the email correspondence along the way.

One a different note: let’s not forget to give a quick shout-out to the MEN who have been supportive of this trip: My dad, Alan, and my brother-in-law. There have been no sour grapes along the way, though I can’t say that I’d behave so admirably if roles were reversed and they were going somewhere fun without me. Alan’s even staying at my place to take care of Miss Moneypenny for me. How awesome is that?

So however this first-ever girls trip turns out, it’s already taught or reminded me of a few things: You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. (Or at least, old dogs can decide they want to learn new tricks.) And I’m a lucky girl – lucky to have a mom and sister I enjoy, lucky to have a dad who is supportive of our adventure, and lucky to have Alan waiting for me when I return.

Seems like a pretty great way to transition into 40.


16 Responses to “When in Rome…”

  1. Lorna's Voice September 26, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    I’ve been. You’ll LOVE it–everything about it. I went to Rome. Where are you going?

    • pithypants October 2, 2014 at 6:10 am #

      We’re loving everything but the street hustlers. I don’t remember them from my previous trips to Italy, but this time they seem to be everywhere trying to sell us selfie-sticks, hats and scarves. We’ve just started yelling, “BASTA!” at them preemptively.

      • Lorna's Voice October 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

        Yeah, everybody wants to make a buck (or a Euro)!

  2. spaarolifantje September 26, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    72 degrees Fahrenheit / 22 degrees Celcius right now, you lucky lucky ladies… I googled it. Enjoy!

    • pithypants October 2, 2014 at 6:09 am #

      I love how quickly you pulled up the forecast. It has lived up to what you found!

  3. Sharon September 26, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    I’m still green with envy – and there might be still time for me to make it into your suitcase! Have the BEST time – and please share LOTS of pics so I can at least relive it all vicariously through you.

    • pithypants October 2, 2014 at 6:08 am #

      Based on your yacht photos, I think we are experiencing a very different version of the Amalfi – still lovely, but no one here has made it rain money for us yet.

  4. Karen September 26, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Al, I am so incredibly happy for you, your mom and Alicia. Have an amazing trip

    • pithypants October 2, 2014 at 6:08 am #

      Thanks, lady – it’s been a blast so far!

  5. dianeskitchentable September 26, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    Wow! I’m probably like your mother in that I love surprises but something this major I think I’d need to know where I’m going. But hell, if my daughter did this for me you would not see me complaining. We were in Rome, Florence, Siena & Venice to visit my daughter when she was studying in Florence so I can tell you, if you have half the experience we had, then you will love it & want to go back. Don’t get me wrong – the gelato’s great but there really is a feeling about walking where Caesar walked & going through the Forum that did give me chills. Have a great trip!

    • pithypants October 2, 2014 at 6:07 am #

      Agreed! The sense of history here is overwhelming – that’s one of the reasons we thought it’d be a mind-blowing destination for my mom. Thanks for the well wishes!

  6. thesinglecell September 26, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    I hate you.
    I mean that in the nicest way possible.
    Seriously, though, you didn’t tell us how long you’d be there or exactly where you’d be going (though I assume Rome from the title of the post). I’ve not been, but Sister 2 says Florence was her favorite, though she also quite liked Vienna. Buon viaggio!

    • pithypants October 2, 2014 at 6:06 am #

      I love Italy. On this trip, we’re just doing Rome, Pompeii and the Amafli Coast. People seem to be in two camps on Florence – it’s either their favorite Italian city or they could take/leave it. I’m in the latter camp, but I kind of had art fatigue by the time I visited, so it might deserve another shake before I’m too judgmental.

  7. Bonnie September 26, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    Have a ball 🙂


  1. So, this is a milestone. GULP. | pithypants - October 30, 2014

    […] Take a “Girls Trip” with my mom and sister. YES. And it was more than just a girls trip. What a blessing to get to spend time with my two favorite women – while seeing some amazing sites. […]

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