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Report 943: Italy Alone

By DMae from Alaska, Summer 2005

Trip Description: DMae returns to Italy as a solo traveler and she visits Roma, Sorrento and Venezia. Architecture, Art, Churches, Museums and Shopping!

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Amalfi Coast, Rome, Venice

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Art Trip; Day Tours; Shopping; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; Single Traveler

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Page 1 of 9: You CAN get there from here, if the plane doesn't break

June, 2005

It really is easy to get to Rome from Fairbanks, Alaska. Just hop on the plane at the local airport, hop off in Frankfurt eight hours later and hop on down to Rome. Unless, less than an hour into your flight, the plane develops problems. And guess what? There is no mechanic in Fairbanks. So we overfly Fairbanks, and much later, after wandering over the wilderness burning the fuel, on to Anchorage.

After we land in Anchorage, we sit on the plane for quite a long time while the mechanics check it out. There is still hope that we will be on our way at any moment. As more and more time goes by a few passengers start pulling out cell phones and calling friends and family. I have only my brand new GSM cell phone and a SIM card that has not been activated. Note to self - always bring a cell phone that is operating.

Much later, we are told that the plane is not ready to fly again, and we will be staying overnight in Anchorage. Chaos reigns. Everyone is tired, nervous, has to go through customs and immigration (and we never got out of Alaskan air space!), get housing, ground transportation and meal vouchers. The only ATM in the international terminal is out of order. There are long lines at the pay phones. I call my sister who lives in Anchorage for her phone card number so I can call my Rome landlord. I have to call her collect. I only have euro, no U.S. money. Note to self - always bring some U.S. money and your phone card.

The next day we're on our way again; however, we will not be traveling the fast Polar route. Instead, we have a flight plan that skirts the Canada/U.S. border because there are airports we can land at if the plane develops problems again. The flight will take us over twelve hours as we edge our way toward Germany. I take two Dramamine, put in ear plugs, cover my eyes, wrap up in my shawl and pretend that I am not worried at all.

Finally, I land in Rome, wrinkled, tired, hot, coffee stained and exhilarated. I get my phone operational on the train ride into the city and confirm my arrival with my landlord who meets me at my apartment door. Let my trip "alone in Italy" begin!

In January, 2004, I learned that Condor Air runs charter flights all summer from Frankfurt, Germany to Fairbanks and return. The early season flights are budget friendly and travel over the Polar route. This changes a trip to Europe from a 24 hour, expensive trip to a flight that is seven or eight hours and quite reasonable. I bought a ticket for June, 2004, and then had to decide where to go in Europe. I chose Italy for no particular reason. On that six week trip I had a great time with my childhood friend, Sara, while we visited Rome, Florence, Venice, the Fonteverde Spa in Tuscany and drove through Umbria exploring hill towns. Has anyone else noticed the lovely aroma of flowers in Spello? After five weeks visiting other parts of Italy we both came to the conclusion that we missed Rome, and returned there for our last week.

I enjoyed being in Rome and Italy so much I decided to do it again, but this time I would be alone for the entire trip instead of a few days at the beginning and end.

I decided to stay in Rome for a month and to rent an apartment. I would then spend a week in Sorrento because I liked the name and a week in Venice so I could get lost as much as I wanted to.

I could not find an apartment in Rome I could afford in the centro storico, so I moved out another "ring" and found the neighborhood of Monti. I rented a tiny studio apartment on the second floor (European counting) on a quiet side street. I used an agency and learned something about the mysteries of wire transfers to Italian banks.

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