Left turn at Livorno

I was thinking about road trips yesterday and thinking about planning a little something. Then, I was suddenly reminded of my last wrong detour.

Livorno, Italy.

See, I had this idea that, according to the map, we could just take the train (for about 3 Euros and twenty minutes) from Pisa to Livorno and see the coast. It appeared to me… that we were just “that close” to the sea, and coastal greatness.

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“Coastal greatness” was not immediately apparent when we stepped out of the train station. There were beautiful palm trees, but not much else that made a couple of Canadian gals wanted to hang around. The industrial area and a lack of tourist information or people willing/able to speak english to help us out, had me second guessing my “see the coast” plan.

Then, we saw this sign. Didn’t feel like a good sign.


However, it was daylight, and we were up for adventure, we decided to venture forth and take a quick glance around town, on foot.

We discovered casinos, and casino-like places where one could gamble among a few lovely palm trees. Thinking maybe this could turn out to be a lucky detour, I put a 2Euro coin in a slot machine. Nope… not a winner. That was enough of a sign. We bought our train tickets back to Florence and grabbed snacks for the road.

At the snack shack, I gambled on a little green jar of pear juice. An Italian specialty, it said. Loved it! That juice was amazing. Definitely memorable. Thank you Livorno.

There are no wrong turns. Just experiences.

Just a lovely bit of architecture on our walkabout

Better stories start with travel. 

But my town has nothing to offer

Have you ever said this? “My town has nothing to offer.”

Travel can help.

Nothing but blue sky, open road and red rocks.

Here’s the thing. When YOU travel, you see and experience new things. Perhaps you come home with a business idea or a fabulous way to plan events or promote your own industries.  Or perhaps, in your travels you meet a friend and invite them to visit your community at some time.  That helps your town. You help your own town by travelling and returning with new ideas and renewed energy.

The other side of the coin is when you INVITE tourists to your community, you stimulate the economy. You see, when tourists come to visit, they stay in your hotels and eat at your restaurants and buy souvenirs in your shops.

Staff that work in the tourism and hospitality industries are often students, and when you put money in the hands of students (through employment), they SPEND it. That’s a good thing…. no, it’s a great thing! When your part time worker is not burdened by a mortgage or a heavy debt load, they spend money on dining and clothes and car repairs and social events etc.  Their disposable income is much more than the burdened family, so these part time employees are injecting new money into the economy rapidly.

It’s the circle of LOCAL. When a student shops locally, with their paycheque, they help shop owners provide additional jobs, which in turn pays for groceries, and car sales, which pays for taxes and health care, which pays for music lessons and birthday parties and so on and so on.

But what if  you’re back to the stumbling block of “our town has nothing to offer?” That’s impossible! I offer you Pisa, Italy as an example. Simply a small community with a bell tower built on swampland, that started to lean and a builder who never took credit for the error. Hundreds of years later, tourists are still gawking at the sight and also paying $35 a person to climb the legendary example of construction gone wrong.

So, I believe every town absolutely has something to offer! You just have to look at things a little differently. See things from a new angle! And invite the tourists to come.



Italy: Yes, Please!

Italy… I don’t know where to even start!

It was an amazing experience. Unlike anything or anywhere I’d ever been. Would I go again? In a heartbeat.

And I would definitely go in February, March, October or November. As a Canadian, I like my space. I don’t like crowds and I’m simply not accustomed to waiting more than 15 minutes in any line.

Even the locals in Florence told me, that they flee the cities in July and August. The cities are too hot and far too crowded. The place to be is by the sea. And I got the impression that tourists are not completely welcome at their seaside hideaways, some of the last undeveloped tourist areas.

September is a lovely month, for weather. But, it’s also harvest. Their agricultural economy depends on the grape harvest, which is then followed by the olive harvest late September, early October. Their culture and livelihood are so intertwined with this annual ritual that I wouldn’t want to get in the way as a tourist wanting to tour wineries.

In late February, we had lovely weather, about 15C most days. I was comfortable in a light jacket, and with a scarf in the mornings.

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As far as tourist sites, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the wait was less than 15 minutes and you could just walk up and purchase a ticket at the desk. In tourist season (April-Sept) you would need to buy tickets on-line, in advance and attend at your scheduled date and time to avoid waiting 2-3 hours in the walk up line. You have likely read this several places if you are already researching a trip to Italy or Europe

Flight deals can be had, especially in the low season. If you choose to go to Italy in October through February, you can watch for airfares as low as $650 on sale. High season, you would budget for $900 or more per ticket. (Taxes in, return trip from YWG)