Sunday, July 13, 2008


After two years of recriminations and lies, Expat Mike has officially returned for six weeks while I live in Italy. I have actually traveled quite a bit since last we saw each other. (You've never looked so thin, by the way.) Last summer I was in Ireland for a week, and in January I spent 10 days in South Africa. Both were excellent trips with little time for caustic commentary.

I've been planning to repeat my summer excursion to Amsterdam basically since I left. I didn't feel the need to return to Amsterdam per se, but I wanted another chance to live abroad. I had actually been thinking about non-European locations, with Buenos Aires and Sydney/Melbourne high on the list. But I never got around to planning anything, and someone else was paying for the flight, and that's pretty much all I needed to know. (Loyal readers smile knowingly: I am cheap). So we'll save those other trips for another time.

I've rented an apartment on Via Labicana, at the bottom of Esquiline Hill, home of Nero's entertainment extravaganza, the Domus Aurea. After four weeks in Rome and a weekend in Lausanne, I'll spend a week trekking through Venice, Florence, and Milan, and then five days at a workshop in Bellagio, on Lake Como. The Bellagio trip is what brought me to Italy, my vacation is just along for the ride.

People have been asking me what I plan to do here, and the honest answer is that I don't really know. I know that I desperately need a break from a) thinking about tenure and b) doing things, some of which might help me get tenure. I needed to go to a place where I would be so busy doing other things that I'd stop thinking about work. I'm pretty sure I'll go to Pompeii, and probably Naples for the archeology museum and the piles of trash. Maybe another day looking at nearby ruins. But mostly I want to just walk around, look at pretty building, gaze at some ruins, and eat good food.

Time to go. Here's the only thing you wanted to know anyway: gas is $9.24 per gallon.


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