One of my favourite things to do on a quiet Friday night or Sunday afternoon to relax is to surf the interwebs dreaming of Italy. It usually goes something like this: I start by pouring myself a glass of vino rosso or an Aperol Spritz, and I choose an archaeological or historic site to research in greater depth. Then I switch between GoogleMaps and surfing various locations in that region where we could possibly spend a couple of months. This invariably leads me on to looking at properties to rent, and then I start dreaming of a country property to buy in Italy. I don’t know why I dream of a country property. Its irrational. I love everything the city has to offer, and it makes more sense to rent a place for a while first. I marvel and daydream a bit, and I make lists, and I somehow feel closer to getting there.

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I read something just recently about how wonderful it is to anticipate a holiday. Not just dreaming about doing something, but the planning, the packing, the anticipation. How, even when we are trying really hard to save money for the trip, missing out on a coffee/new boots/takeout can seem worthwhile, as we aim for the greater goal.

One of my friends loves Italian opera, and her and her partner likes the great outdoors, so they decided they would combine both passions, first go to Verona to see La Traviata performed in the ancient amphitheatre, and then take the train south and then hike cross country to Assisi. She spent six months researching the ancient pilgrimage routes that go to Assisi. She made lists of local produce and dishes to try along the way. She made multiple playlists for her iPod ~ filled with her favourite Verdi works, and then other inspirational playlists for the long hike, with lots of new Italian music to try and so on.

However… nothing went to plan. She arrived in Verona only to find the performance had been postponed a month later because of illness amongst the cast. On the second morning of the hike, her husband slipped and hurt his ankle, rendering him unable to walk any serious distances. They spent their three week holiday in a tiny little B&B on the outskirts of Siena that they managed to book at the last minute instead. Nothing went to plan, but she came home and said they had a great time anyway. They sat on their tiny balcony and sipped italian wines and ate local food, listening to the music she’d prepared on their iPods. And she said she couldn’t wait to plan the next trip.

I guess it takes a certain kind of person not to get totally upset that their best laid plans were all for nothing. But my point is that there is still much pleasure to be had in the anticipation of a trip not yet taken. For us Aussies, who usually have to book and plan many months ahead, not to mention save up for a year to pay for those wretched long-haul flights… the anticipation and planning period lasts longer than the actual trip.

Sometimes that’s the best bit.

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