YOUR VACATION IN LIGHTS

A Trip to Italy Is A Single Girl's Best Friend

Kerry Jo Richards (center), pals and a cooking instructor in Florence.
Kerry Jo Richards (center), pals and a cooking instructor in Florence. (Courtesy Of Kerry Jo Richards)

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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Kerry Jo Richards of Kensington is the inaugural contributor to our Your Vacation in Lights feature, in which we invite Travel section readers to share the dish about their recent trips. It's a big, confusing travel world out there, and you can help your fellow travelers navigate it. Your hot tip can be the next guy's day-maker; your rip-off restaurant, the next family's near-miss. To file your own trip report -- and win a digital camera -- see the fine print below.

THE TRIP: The Single Girl's First Trip to Italy

WHO WENT: Five single women, mostly in their thirties (four of us work together), plus a grandmother and two college boys.

WHERE: Rome, Florence, Siena

WHEN: May 2005

WHY: Why not? I'd never been to Italy. When two of my girlfriends from work mentioned to me separately that they were considering trips there, I not only jumped on that wagon, I designed, planned and launched it.

HOW LONG: 18 days.

GETTING THERE WAS . . . Miserable, but aren't overnight flights always miserable in coach? The train from Rome to Florence was lovely -- and cheap.

IT MADE IT ALL WORTH IT WHEN . . . I climbed to the rooftop of my villa outside Florence and realized I could see the Duomo and the whole city spread out before me. Any time of the day or evening -- this was the place to watch the skyline.

I GRITTED MY TEETH HARDEST WHEN . . . I was accosted by little old ladies. All over Italy, I was pushed, shoved, elbowed and generally mistreated by packs of senior citizens. I was shoved at the Vatican by a French contingent of blue-hairs. A group of wild women almost ran me over on the way to the loo in Assisi. Forget roving bands of teenagers -- by the end of my trip, I would start twitching whenever I'd see a walker.

I CAN'T BELIEVE I . . . Let the waiter drive me home. Our first night in Florence, we walked down the hill to a little restaurant called La Capponcina in Settingnano. At the end of the night, it was late and we didn't want to walk back to our villa. Our new friend Vito took off his apron, left his customers and drove us up the hill.

BEST/WORST THING ABOUT MY HOTEL: For one week in Florence, we stayed at a villa called Il Verone in the suburb of Settingnano. The best thing: the amazing views and comfortable beds. The worst: climbing the hill up to our house. I was lazy and took cabs home.


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