For romance and adventure, start with a dose of playfulness. I took a seat at the bar inside the Terminal. I had one hour to kill before my flight to Rome took off. Next to me, a handsome man wearing Prada sunglasses sat down. He had on a shirt that looked like he was coming from, or going to the Mediterranean.
“This seat taken?” He asked.
“No,” I said and smiled, “You can sit there.”
“Would you like a drink? I hear the bourbon is good here in Kentucky.”
“Yes, it is and I’ll take one.”
“Two Bourbons on the rocks” he said to the barman without taking his eyes of me, “So where are you heading?”
“Really?” I asked, feigning surprise.
“Yes, but I stop over in New York City first. We should meet in Rome.”
I smiled again and looked away, “Oh, really?” I asked, interested in his proposition.
I watched, for a second, the people rushing to and fro. The airport was filled with folks who would never know us or know what romance and adventure we were plotting. There was something so liberating and bonding in that. We were in our own world.
“Yes. Really,” he said confidently, like a man in a boardroom, “I land in Rome on the 15th at 8:30 in the morning. Meet me at Trevi Fountain at noon. I’ll be wearing a linen suit. And I’ll take you to lunch.”
I blushed. It was funny flirting like this with my husband. I liked it. So did he.
For the next 50 min, we carried on a conversation pretending we didn’t know each other, imagining what we might say and do in another time and place if we were both single and happened to have met each other at an airport bar.
“So tell me about yourself,” he said.
“Well, I have a son. I just moved to Kentucky from the Northwest. I love pizza and I’m a photographer.”
“I have a son too. He’s three. We also love pizza and pretty photographers.”
“And do you love Italy?” I asked
“Yes, I think so. After this trip I might know for sure.”
I lean over and kiss him, as his wife, forgetting we had just met.
“Wow. You sure are forward, little lady!”
I laughed and blamed it on the Bourbon.
“Sorry. You are just so cute and it just feels like I’ve known you for…ummm…longer than half hour.”
“It’s okay. I liked it.”
We talked until the ice in our drinks had melted and it was time for me to board my flight. We synced our watches, kissed to the point of butterflies, and said see you at La Fontana di Trevi in 72 hours.
And there began plans for our Italian Rendezvous.
Actually, plans for our Italian Rendezvous were set in motion a few months back, one Cecil family “Italian Night” where the red wine and homemade ravioli went straight to our heads and we ended up buying two non-refundable tickets to Rome. Our three year old was not invited, which left the little issue of 10 days of childcare to be addressed (my amazing parents stepped in to help). Being slightly inebriated is not a recommended course of action for trip planning abroad. The truth is, wine had little do to with it. We already had the playful, spontaneous spirit within us, and Obama’s stimulus check for first time home-buyers in our bank account.
You’ve heard the saying, if it is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well, right? Well, we try to live our lives by this slight variation: if it is worth doing at all, it is worth doing romantically.
When I arrived to the Fountain of Trevi, I took a seat on the cool stone where I had the best view for people watching. Was he here already? I scanned the crowds.
I was there for several minutes alone, anticipating what our reunion would be like. I was giddy like a teenager-I was in Rome, at the foot of a fountain, awaiting the love of my life: what woman wouldn’t be?
When I felt the gentle hand on my back, I knew it was him. From the corner of my eye I saw his linen suit, but more than that I felt his familiar presence, my husband. We had pretended to be strangers in an airport bar in Louisville, KY, crossed an ocean independently of one another, stood in immigration lines and got our passports stamped, traveled by train and metro from Fiumincino airport to the heart of Rome, successfully made it through the crowds of tourists tossing coins into Bellini’s beloved fountain and we were standing together, again. We embraced for a long time, privately celebrating our rendezvous that felt like time travel back to the most romantic time on earth. The 72 hours a part made the reunion feel like a home-coming even though we were in a foreign country. Standing in the middle of one of Rome’s most popular tourists destinations, it felt like we were absolutely alone. And that is exactly why we chose to do it this way: Taking separate planes to Rome and then rendezvousing at Trevi Fountain, set the tone for 10 days of unforgettable romance and adventure.
“Are you hungry?” He said.
“Starving.” I said.
“All right then, let me take you to lunch.”
He held out his elbow like a gentleman and I grabbed like a lady and we headed in the direction of pizza, and our most amazing vacation yet.
Make it romantic
When planning your next trip, why not search for the most romantic way to do it? It doesn’t have to be anymore expensive, and you’ll have made memories you’ll talk about for the rest of your life.
We were on a budget and our goal was to find nice places (we are out of the hostel phase) for around $150 USD/night.
- Traveling south to Puglia we stayed in a variety of rooms– ranging from well-rated and inexpensive guesthouses and bed & breakfasts to an elegant agritourismo accommodation in the middle of an olive grove.
- In Trani we stayed at Hotel Lucia, getting the name from our Lonely Planet Guidebook and calling the day before to reserve. (I’m able to speak just enough Italian to make a reservation and get directions. This far South in Italy, it’s a good idea to not rely solely on English).
- We used Web Car Hire to book our affordable rental car so we could tour around Otranto, Martina Franca, Alberobello and Ostuni.
- In Lecce we stayed in the heart of the city in very affordable and nice Bed & Breakfast town house (70 Euro/night with breakfast) .
- We used Caffee Lletto to splurge one night on a luxurious agritourismo accommodation in Puglia, booking one month before we left on our trip. (105 Euro/night).
- In Matera we stayed in an unforgettable B&B built right into the rock, called the San Pietro Bari Sano Residence, which we also found in our LonelyPlanet guide and called the night before.
- In Napoli we stayed in a rooftop terrace Bed & Breakfast that we found through the BBItalia website.
- For our last two nights, we returned to Rome and used Sleep in Rome to find a romantic flat that had with a rooftop terrace overlooking Vatican City. (We booked two weeks ahead and took advantage of the Last Minute section to find the best deal).