Book your Trip! If you haven’t done it yet, go do it now, and be prepared to have an adventure of a lifetime. While Shannon was studying hard in medical school, Devin planned out our trip, including the booking of plane tickets and determining which of the amazing Rick Steve’s tours would be the best tour for us. Since he was also on Jury duty during this week, he coordinated all his phone calls with airlines and Rick Steve’s tour agents during his jury duty recesses. Pack-it-up, get married, and go! Well maybe you can skip the getting married part, but it was our honeymoon after all. Getting the right gear is important and packing light and comfortably was a must. After reading and watching all of the Rick Steves’ material we could find, we put together our backpacks and left for our 17 day tour with just 1 personal item and 1 carry on each. Seems crazy? Maybe a little, but now we are convinced Rick is absolutely correct - This is the way to travel. Mobile, light-weight and fast.
Because we wanted to get the most out of our trip, we prepared by reading the Best of Italy guide by Rick Steves, which was included in our tour packet. It was invaluable in that it prepared us with useful Italian phrases and a snapshot of Italian customs and culture. You will see many of these books while you are on your tour, and, surprisingly, most of these will belong to people traveling on their own without a tour. It is no wonder why Rick Steves really puts a lot into these books, and travelers everywhere obviously appreciate their value. We loved the Rick Steves’ Best of Italy guide, but we wanted to learn even more about the history of Italy and the language. Here are a few resources we found useful for supplementing the already great material.
- Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (Death Throes of a Republic, a series on Ancient Rome) - ItalianPod101.com (Great for learning Italian for free, Get the podcast directly from your pocast app as the website will try to sell stuff to you)
From the ‘Great Courses’ collection (these are college lectures): - The Italian Renaissance - Prof. Kenneth R. Bartlett - The Italians before Italy - Prof. Kenneth R. Bartlett Language - Power Italian - Mark Frobose - Learn Italian - Innovative Language Learning
- Rick Steves’ Youtube Channel
The Rick Steves App (this is cool, its a guided audio tour you can use during your free time) Duolingo (Practice Italian and many other languages, website or phone app)
We listened to many of the audio resources while running, driving, and doing chores. Armed with this knowledge, it was truly exciting to see each of the sites, and attempt to speak with the locals in their native tongue. We would have enjoyed the trip regardless of this preparation, but we felt that we were able to appreciate the Italian language and culture on a new level with this solid base of knowledge. On your guided min-tours along the Rick Steve’s tour, you will hear many historical and cultural references, and you will get more out of these if you have the appropriate context in which to place these.