Living in Italy allows us lots of opportunity for travel adventures and we've been able to take advantage of this. Over the past four years, we've figured out our travel style and what works best for us.
In the past, I used to meticulously plan every detail of a day trip, long weekend or end-of-hockey-season-excursion. I would read guidebooks (this one is usually spot on), book restaurant reservations and order museum tickets online, all weeks ahead of time. Sometimes this is good, especially if you're traveling at a touristy time and you want to eat at a popular restaurant or make sure you get the tickets you want at the time you want.
Then, two years ago we went to Rome. We tried to cram everything that you're "supposed" to see into three days which is basically impossible. We ended up running all over the city, from the Colosseum to the Forum to the Pantheon, eating scheduled meals in between sights. It was completely exhausting and we slept for about three days when we got back to Cortina.
So, now we have a new strategy: we plan a few things (like what museums we want to see or if there's a great restaurant we want to try). But we also make sure to spend an afternoon or a day wandering around the town exploring on our own. We pop into churches, stop for cappuccinos at local cafes and try regional wines at tiny wine bars.
Instead of solely relying on our guidebook, we ask locals, friends who have already been or someone who works at our hotel where the best places to eat are, and what kinds of things we have to see before we leave. A lot of times, these people can give you undercover advice that you wouldn't even know about from a guidebook!
We also make sure to make some time for naps....after all, it's supposed to be a vacation! There are only so many sights you can see in one day - plus, if you're too tired, you'll never enjoy it.
We're in the early planning stages of our end-of-the-season trip now and we're picking out a few destinations/tours/restaurants/museums that we want to see and do. But for the rest of the trip, we're winging it, taking recommendations from locals (or readers!) and going wherever we feel like. With plenty of time for naps in between.
PS - My article on the different Italian regions is in the Steamboat paper today, here.
And did you see our first Travel Week post?