London, Paris, Rome. Three consecutive years, three fantastic cities. That was the original game plan, and here I am again suited up and ready to play.
As usual, my plans for this year’s trip have grown in cost and complexity over the last few months, with no help from a plummeting U.S. dollar. It’s no longer just Rome, but also Florence and Venice, with a few Tuscan hill towns and lagoon islands thrown into the itinerary for good measure. I’ve read and dog-eared the requisite guidebooks, scoured Trip Advisor for hotel rankings and reviews, loaded my iPod Nano with an array of Italy inspired songs, and crammed my brain with a collection of fiction and non-fiction books, from E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, to Ross King’s Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling.
Despite a near obsessive level of preparation, I’m still struggling with my Italian phrasebook as I sit on the runway, not quite sure which syllable to accent when saying mi dispiace. It means “I’m sorry” and in these last moments I’ve somehow convinced myself that I’ll need to use it often to cover a variety of offenses, both of language and culture. But the plane is ready for departure and ready or not, I am about the find out that all roads in life really do lead to Rome.