Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tuscany: Turning a Dream into a Reality!

Italy. My favorite country in the world.

When I was 19 I had the chance to study abroad there with my university, and my life forever changed. Our class took over a little pensione in Piazza Navona, and Rome was our home for the semester.

We arrived in January when there were no tourists and the shops were having a surplus of sales. It was dreamy. There was no Euro officially in place back then, so with the Lire, I remember going into shops around the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain and buying gorgeous leather shoes for around $25. I guess that shows I'm getting old!

That trip changed my life because I fell in love with Europe. I was all alone in a foreign country with just a handful of classmates, none of which I knew very well.

I grew up in a traveling family. My father is an immigrant from Egypt and my mother's family immigrated from Denmark years ago. So, it was in my blood to travel. We grew up taking Griswold-style family vacations!

But none of those were like this semester in Italy.

I'd start my day each morning very early going to the market in Campo di Fiori. Still, one of my favorite places in Rome. I'd head over to Tazza D'Oro and stand at the noisy, crowded bar for my coffee. Afterwards, I'd often grab some fresh flowers from the flower vendor to decorate my little room in the pensione. I had a window overlooking an internal courtyard which got a bit of sun each day. All of this before starting the day's activities with my class.

On weekends and after our seminars, I'd grab the train and go exploring. Quick trips to Pisa, Florence, Frascati and more! I fell in love with Tuscany! This was just a couple years after Francis Mayes wrote her iconic book, Under the Tuscan Sun, so everyone was dreaming of Tuscany!

As an adult, I've been able to return to Italy several times with my family. My husband and kids love the city too!

But, you see those little munchkins in the photos above? They can really exhaust me!

Which leads me to my next realization: Mommy getaways are GOOD. Like, really good.

I'll write more about Girlfriend Getaways in another installment, but I want to get to the main reason for this post. How can you turn your dream of going to Tuscany into a reality? Most of us find the cost of airfare alone quite daunting. And will you get around? Where will you stay? They don't speak English! Ahhh! For me, I absolutely love the planning aspect of travel. I enjoy spending a year+ deciding on where I'll go, where we'll stay, etc etc. But for some, this is simply too stressful! So, I have a suggestion for you!

Try a little DIY package deal! Last week on Facebook I saw an ad from Gate1 Travel, featured on Travelzoo.

In fact, here's the original ad:

When I saw it, I tagged a girlfriend of mine and said, "Now THIS would be a girl's trip!!". I was half joking of course. $599? No doubt I'd go to check out and find an extra $180 in airport taxes, $90 in booking "convenience" fees, $120 in car rental charges, etc etc.

But you know what? That wasn't the case AT ALL!

$599 really did cover: round-trip tickets from NYC to Milan, INCLUDING all of the taxes! On Emirates no less! It included our choice of hotel for 6 nights, including a full breakfast each day! In addition, a car rental was included for the entire time, again, including all of the taxes and charges! When I went to checkout, the total really was $1,198 for TWO people! That's it! No extras!

Now, perhaps the hotel wouldn't have been my #1 choice. And I probably would've preferred to fly into Rome instead of Milan. But seriously. What a dream! A week in Italy for $599?! You can't go wrong! And for me, I love the idea of going in the winter when it's not crowded! It'll remind me of my time studying there, and even though I'll be wearing boots and a jacket, I'll be able to experience more of the REAL Italy!

Now since LAX is my local airport, I have to get to NYC and book a hotel there. More coming up on our side adventure we're planning for NYC.

I encourage you to sign up and start looking for deals! Don't let your travel dreams remain just a DREAM. With a little planning and budgeting, they can become a reality!

I'll be back with a list of my favorite websites which I frequently check for deals!


  1. Wow! I love your website. And, as I love to travel too, I'll be watching for some great bargains. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Tuscany is outstanding everywhere throughout the world for their wine, and their generation procedure. Consistently a huge number of individuals run to this district keeping in mind the end goal to taste the wine, find out about the generation procedure, walk the vineyards, and visit the basements. Visit here