The Big 4-O in Italy – Introduction

It was around this time last year when I began to seriously contemplate a thought I had for awhile: where to go for my fortieth birthday. The essential idea was to NOT be here. Sure 40 is a significant birthday, or as our culture denotes, but in addition to this significance, I wanted to do something special. I wanted to be somewhere special and it wasn’t just because my life odometer was going to roll over to another decade. To me, taking a special trip was more about rewarding myself for making it through the trying times I had been through the last couple years. It was fine that this birthday was a milestone in my life but I wanted to be somewhere other than HERE. I didn’t want that day to be just like any other.

There was a short list I had generated. This list included:

  • Paris
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Key West
  • The Big Island
  • Rome

Each location had it pros and cons. Paris is full of Parisians. Yellowstone probably wouldn’t be open for my birthday. Key West would have great weather but not a week’s worth of attractions unless my last name was Hemingway. The Big Island was FAR and EXPENSIVE but has a volcano! Rome had always been on my bucket-list of cities. I my mind, it was a fair list, but what to chose? My decision was helped by a strange source: the Costco website.

Costco just doesn’t sell diapers by the pallet and pies the size of car tires, they have many other services, including travel. So one day I found myself on their site and came across an Italian trip package that included Rome and a place I had never heard of before: Sorrento. Where the fuck was that? Never heard of it. But there was a photo on the site – a sunset lit, cliff-side hotel sitting on the blue waters of the Mediterranean. It was beautiful and breathtaking. After doing a bit of research, I quickly made up my mind: this is where I wanted to be when I welcomed my fourth decade on this planet. I wanted the Spring Italian sun to set on me while I over looked the Med. I wasn’t so much as I wanted to do this, I NEEDED to do this.

And then a funny thing happened on my way to deciding to go to Italy… I started a relationship with an amazing woman who not only had lived in Rome for awhile but also was fluent in Italian. When we met, I had told her that I had this list of places of where to be when 40 came rolling around. She listened to my list and quickly dismissed everything except for Rome. Go there, she said, you won’t regret your decision.

With my mind made up and this new element in my life, I found myself in a wonderful position of not going alone, but having a wonderful travel companion who was incredibly experienced in the city, the culture, and the language. Quite frankly, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

While in many regards this trip was about ME, it was much more than that. We spent a week in Rome and Sorrento and had a fabulous time. I could not have asked for or wished for a better travel companion. It is one thing to be armed with knowledge garnered from websites, travel books, and word-of-mouth, but it quite another to have a someone with an intimate knowledge of everything. This adds a whole new and wonderful element to the travel. I feel blessed that I had her with me. I could not and would not ask for a better travel companion. It’s one of those times when a dude can feel like the luckiest guy on the planet.

This trip happened over six months ago and I am only now finally blogging about it. I need to point out that I have always wanted to blog about this trip. I am not on FaceBook or on Twitter or any sort of social media. This lonely little blog is my only online exposure. As to why I am only now finally writing about my experience, I have only excuses. Life gets in the way, as well as technical issues with this blog, and the biggest reason: simple procrastination. But, better late than never. Still, I had always felt a self-obligation to write about my experience and to share my photos from this incredible trip. I never wanted to just throw some pics up and say, “Hey look!” I wanted to be detailed and explain, if only from my perspective of what the trip was like for me.

And the photos! Between my Nikon, my iPhone, and M’s camera, I had nearly 3,000 pictures to sort through! And at least 10% of those were worth sharing and what better way to share than here. To me, this trip was a photo-taking opportunity of a life time and I needed to be prepared! But I also knew I would be walking a country mile everyday, so I needed to pack and travel light. In the end, I brought my trusty Nikon D700 and two pieces of glass, the Tamron 24-70mm 2.8f and 70-200mm 2.8f. Everyday, I carried both and looked like a tourist from B&H Hell. After the trip was all said and done, I realized I probably could have gotten away with only the 24-70mm or even a simple prime, but I went in not knowing exactly what I would need to shoot.

In the accompanying posts about this trip, I will break things down into different subjects. One post will be about my experience with using the local cellular provider with my phone, another will be focused solely on the food, and the rest will be simple individual posts about each day if only to highlight the photos I took. It will take time. I managed to load all the photos in Lightroom and organize them with tags and collections, but I never really went through them and edited. What I’m saying is that I will be attempting to organize, edit, and post as time allows. But I WILL post them. The good photos need to be here.

Next up: omfg the food.

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