Travel Plans, Past and Present

The church in Serravalle was closed for repairs the day I visited. Someday I plan to go back (armed, I hope, with some knowledge of Italian) and see if I can look up records of my family.

Nine years ago today I was packing to embark on one of the best trips ever. I traveled to Italy, and everything about it was magnificent.

The first week was part of a tour of Tuscany set up with a professional association I belong to. There were only seven of us on the trip, and we all knew each other. We were accompanied by our tour leader and her assistant, both of whom spoke English. We spent the first four nights at a marvelous hotel on Piazza Santa Maria Novello in Florence, with day trips to Siena, Lucca, and the Chianti region. Then we moved to a resort town outside of Pisa for the rest of the week.

The group trip was over, but I took a train to Rome by and spent time seeing the sights there by myself, and then went back to Florence, where I picked up a rental car and drove to Assisi. My grandfather Petrini’s family was from there, and it was amazing to walk the streets where my ancestors walked. On my last full day in Italy, I drove to the Marche region and searched for quite a while until I found Serravalle di Chienti, the ancestral village of my paternal grandmother. By the time I located the village, it was afternoon, everything was closed, and I had very little time before I had to drive back to Florence to turn in my rental car so I could fly out in the morning. So I didn’t have time to do more than take a few photographs. Still, it was worth the trouble. Apparently there is a newer part of the village that I didn’t have time to visit; I’ll find it on my next trip to Italy.

After a year of covid lockdown, during which I have gone nowhere (except several trips to Harrisonburg to drop off or pick up my son at school), I am now desperate to travel. And I am planning two trips. They’re not as exciting as Italy, but I hope to go back there before long, too. Maybe for an extended trip. But that is not happening this year, and probably not next year, either.

In the meantime, I have booked a cottage on Tangier Island for a few days this summer. It should be safe enough with our own cottage and no lobby filled with strangers. We can cook in our own kitchen, or bring back takeout, so we won’t have to eat in restaurants. My mom is coming with us.

The big trip is for just me and my husband. This fall, we plan to travel to the U.K. I’ve posted a bit about this trip before; I’m gradually getting more of it planned. This is a mini-version of a much longer trip we wanted to take last summer, but had to cancel because of the pandemic. We’re focusing mostly on Cornwall — where we’re staying at the house in Port Isaac where Doc Martin lives on the BBC show. And we may see some other areas of western England, as well. We’ll also drive into Wales to visit Penybont, where one branch of my husband’s ancestors lived. It’s a bit north of Brecon Beacons National Park. I’ve booked our flights and some places to stay in Cornwall, and I’ve reserved a rental car, but I still have to work out my plans for the rest of the trip.

My big fear about the trip is that the U.K. will still have its covid quarantine rules in place, in which case we’ll have to postpone the whole trip. But I’m counting on those rules being relaxed by the time we go.

I’ll post more when I have more details.

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