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  • Writer's pictureSue Schleifer

Out of Practice

Photos from May trip to Italy

It’s time to write my monthly e-newsletter, and I feel out of practice. I didn’t write one in May (did you notice?) because I was immersed in preparing for our big vacation.


I also missed three weeks of my playwriting class, and I haven’t written a scene or short play since the end of April. How do I get back in my groove?


I also felt out of practice when researching and planning our first big trip overseas in a very long time. This despite the fact that I worked in the travel industry for more than nine years, but that was a long time ago. Many things have changed since then. I must admit that I ended up planning a pretty great trip, even if it took me a long time to do so. And then once we got to Italy, we needed to quickly learn how to navigate in a new country, language, and culture.


It took patience with ourselves and each other. Curiosity and wonder helped us appreciate the differences we noticed between Italy and the US. Flexibility was necessary so we could enjoy taking off on unplanned paths and appreciate different ways of going about our daily life. And learning to not be overwhelmed by the hordes of people, traffic, grandeur of the churches, majesty of the sculptures and paintings, and the enormity of it all, especially in Rome which we visited first.


Arriving in our next destination, Siena on a Sunday after a comfortable train ride with views of green vineyard covered hillsides and small towns, was a welcome relief from the intensity of Rome. It was relatively quiet on the narrow streets after a light rain. We walked to the Piazza del Campo and learned about the Palio (a bi-annual horse race of competing Contrade or neighborhood groups) that takes place in the bowl-shaped town center. The clouds lent a dramatic atmosphere as we ate our daily dose of gelato, which did not take practice to enjoy.


In the Cinqueterre, I was impressed by the older people who easily navigated the hilly terrain and narrow stone steps that led to their homes and small gardens. I was surprised at the sleek and clean trains that stopped on a regular basis at each of the five small towns. After our challenging hike from Vernazza to Corniglia, made more so by a rainstorm that drenched us halfway through the hike, we took the train to visit two of the other hilltop towns and enjoyed stunning views.


In Florence, one of the highlights was experiencing the electrifying opera, Tosca, at a beautiful and modern opera house which was beautifully performed and staged.


After two stimulating weeks in Italy, I’m now adjusting to being back at home and a quieter pace. I’m realizing that if I just sit down and start typing, ideas and words start to flow. My goal is to continue vacation mind and behavior: patience, curiosity, wonder, flexibility, new experiences, and walking everywhere.


I hope you enjoy a few photos from our trip. Ciao!

Note: I must still be out of practice. As I am getting ready to write my July e-newsletter, from which these blog posts come, I realize I never posted my June blog on my website.

Photos of Italy above - left to right, top to bottom:

Trevi Fountain in Rome with many other tourists

Piazza del Campo in Siena at night

Hiking trails in Cinqueterre

View of Vernazza from hiking trail in Cinqueterre

Entering the map room at Vatican Museum in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome

Tuscan hills near Volterra


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