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Episode #082: Returning to Italy again and again

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In this episode, we take you around different corners of Italy, following a family who, having taken various trips around Europe, have found themselves returning to Italy again and again. 

Show notes

We talk to father and daughter duo Bill and Abbey Wrobleski about their family adventures in Italy which started in 2003 when Abbey was just 8 years old. With their most recent trip canceled, they have plans again, for later this year, exploring even more regions. We hear tales of traveling with friends and family members of varying ages and the beauty of planning a few alternatives into your trips – so that when you need to be you can be flexible in your travel. This flexibility led to a wonderful Christmas time adventure in Sicily, enjoying beautiful food (pistachio and pork featuring heavily), spectacular views, the agriturismo life, and an unexpected lesson in Italian style parking and a dash to the airport. 

What you’ll learn in this episode

  1. Not setting your plans in stone can be a great idea. On one of their trips, in wintertime, they decided to play it by ear and when their intended destinations in the Southern mainland showed bad weather, they decided instead to go to Sicily, one of their backup scenarios.
  2. Sometimes the unexpected/unplanned can be a great story from your trip – on a visit to the Vatican Abbey saw the Pope
  3. A tasting menu, like the family enjoyed on Christmas day in Syracuse, is a great way to try new dishes (and possibly have your mind blown!)
  4. Head up to Castelmola – just up outside of Taormina for the incredible views out over the city, the sea, and Etna. It’s well worth stopping for a drink and a bite to eat too!
  5. An Agriturismo is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in Italian countryside life – you’re staying on a farm and eating their wonderful, fresh produce. Do keep in mind they are generally closed over the winter time but many will open up for the Christmas period
  6. The family’s Agriturismo was in the Val Di Noto which is one of the three valli of Sicily, dominated by the limestone Hyblaean plateau. Listen to our podcast episode on this fascinating and beautiful area with our Sicilian expert Karen La Rosa in Episode 31
  7. The public transport system in Sicily is pretty slow so you really do need a car to get around there
  8. As well as the Cinque Terre there are lots of amazing towns and villages south of Genoa on the Italian Riviera
  9. Traveling with different family and friends is wonderful to create shared experiences and memories, but remember everyone likes to do different things, so don’t over plan everything – leave space for you and your fellow travelers to go off and do their own thing. You will enjoy seeing the sights through someone else’s eyes, but you may have to tailor and tweak the way you travel accordingly depending on others age and abilities too

About our guest – Bill & Abbey Wrobleski

Bill is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.  He’s spent over 30 years in Information Technology leadership in higher education (University of Michigan, University of Hawaii, and Penn State University).  Bill has been married to Shirley for 33 years and they have two children Bill (30) and Abbey (26).  Bill and Shirley love European travel and have visited over a dozen countries together with their family and friends.  They plan much more travel when Bill retires in the next few years. Find Bill on Twitter: @billwrobleski
Abbey lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.  She’s a Physician Assistant in a general practice focusing on family medicine. She is an avid traveler around the US and Europe.  She studied abroad for a term in Barcelona while she was at University.  She’s a graduate of Connecticut College (New London, Connecticut) and South College (Knoxville, Tennessee).

 

Places mentioned in the show

  • Borghese Gardens – Rome
  • Taormina – a hilltop town on the east coast of Sicily, near the active volcano Mount Etna
  • Syracuse – city on the Ionian coast of Sicily, famous for its ancient ruins
  • Ortigia – a small island which is the historical centre of the city of Syracuse
  • Castelmola – just up outside of Taormina with amazing views
  • Noto – a city in southeastern Sicily, known for its baroque architecture
  • Ragusa – a hilltop city in southeast Sicily
  • Catania – has an airport as a gateway into Sicily
  • Piazza Armerina – where you can find a villa with Roman mosaics
  • Matera – a city on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy
  • Puglia – southern region in Italy that is the heal of the boot

Food & Drink

  • mushroom soup – topped with high-quality pork fat or cured bacon just makes such a soup even dreamier
  • cannoli – Sicily is famous for its cannoli and in particular the pistachio one
  • pistachio pesto ravioli – a Sicilian classic the pistachios used in the pesto here instead of the usual pine nuts

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Transcript

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