I don’t know about you, but if I’m presented with - say - a filet mignon or a Holtman’s red velvet donut, I don’t cram the whole thing in my mouth and choke it down with some water. Nor do I eat as many of them as I can in one sitting. No, no, noooooooo. Neither of these are things I eat often, and if I’m going to eat them, dammit, I’m going to enjoy them! I feel the same way about travel. If I’m going to the expense and effort of getting myself overseas, I want to slow down and really savor the experience. I like to settle into a fabulous home base, which for me is almost always an apartment, and then set out exploring and immersing myself in my new favorite place.
I’m passionate about slow travel (especially in Italy), because there is so much cultural gold you miss when you’re on one of those city-a-day trips.
The opportunity to actually learn some of the language. When you’re staying somewhere for a week or longer, you’ll be forced to do things like shop, walk around, find where to get this or that - outside the bubble of Americans you might be traveling with...which means you’ll have to talk to locals.
Amazing people watching. When you have the luxury of just hanging out in the evening (instead of getting back on the bus), you can get thee to a bar, sit outside, and watch the show.
Shopping - newfound fun when abroad. I really do not like to shop, at least not when I’m at home. But abroad, it’s fun! What better peek into a culture than to go to a store and see what people want, are buying, and what’s appealing to them? For us creatives (that’s you and me!), it’s also fun just to look at how things are packaged and positioned. When you’re not trudging from hotel to hotel to bus to boat, you have some time to just poke around in stores and take it all in.
Adopting locals. When you’re in one place for a while, you inevitably adopt a bar to get your cappuccino in the morning, a favorite place for dinner, and your place for cocktails and people watching in the evening. By day two or three, they know your name and make you feel special when you arrive. And you’ll probably even get a little (or in my case, A LOT) teary when you bid them farewell.
Passeggiata. One of my absolute favorite parts of the day in Italy is when everyone takes their evening stroll, or passeggiata. I can leave my bags in my apartment, freshen up, then head out with my family and dip into the stream of well-dressed Italians.
Bikes (in Lucca, anyway). In Lucca, you will see bikes everywhere, and people of all ages and abilities riding them. If you’re staying for a while, you can get yourself a bike, too. It saves time, but more importantly, it’s fun. There is something so pleasurable about going to the store and riding home with your dinner ingredients in your front basket.
Cooking. If you love to cook, like I do, you’re going to find yourself in a gastronomic paradise in Lucca. Beautiful, fresh ingredients can be found steps in any direction. One of the lovely things about Italy are all of the specialty shops - you’ll find yourself going to this place for the best cheese, that place for the best fresh pasta...and the owners will likely give you a passionate explanation as to why you should choose this over that, along with a quick cooking lesson.
Pausa. When I first started working in Italy, the pausa drove me crazy. Didn’t they know I had things to do? Why was everything closing from 1 to 4? And I couldn’t believe that everyone was drinking at lunch. I eventually learned to go with the flow, and to enjoy it. Since you won’t be constantly on the move, you can take advantage of the pausa and actually rest a bit during the day - or even just take the time for a long, enjoyable lunch.
The presence of mind to actually take in the experience. Moving around a lot can be incredibly draining. When you treat yourself to the luxury of slow travel, you have time to decompress (like during pausa) or even sleep in a bit. With an apartment, there’s no rush to make yourself presentable before breakfast ends. You can get up a little later, turn on the news, make yourself a coffee, and enjoy the sites and sounds of the morning from your window. Better yet, send the hubs (who probably doesn’t care if he’s made up) downstairs to grab you a pastry!
The feeling that this, too, is your home. Even with a home base apartment, we’ll still occasionally do an overnight to Rome, Spoleto, or other cities that are just too far to cram into one day. Instead of packing up everything we brought with us, we just take a small overnight bag and grab a train. When we return the following evening, it is so comfy and cozy to open the door to our home away from home, drop our bags, and sink into the couch. Later on, the locals we’ve adopted will ask us all about our trip.
What do you love about slow travel? Spill it in the comments section!
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