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The enigmatic American

Tuscany Holiday
Our flat in [Belmonte Chianti](

When on vacation, and interacting with other travelers or natives, the following question inevitably comes up:

"So, how long are you here for?"

And of course, the nationality guess. What I've found, is that most can believe one of my answers, but not both of them together.

"American." and "About 5 1/2 weeks"

Double-take. Happens every time.

Part of the reason is the travelers I'm surrounded by at the moment. All Europeans. Dutch (my son and I can count to 10 now in 4 languages), German, Swedish, and of course Italians. For two weeks of our trip I've chosen the Tuscany holidays route at an Aguriturismo. I'll be posting a more in-depth review of my experience and some tips for my westward homeland inhabitants should they choose this route. My son and I have been having a blast, there are mostly families here, with kids close to his age. It's been relaxing, feels like a second home, and we've met many fun and interesting people from all over.

Another reason, the length. The normal track for an American traveler is 10 days, 2 weeks tops. Our puritan work ethic usually deems two weeks the absolute limit on yearly vacations for our working folk. One of our new Dutch friends told me they receive 6 weeks ... yes ... six (zes in Dutch btw).

Lastly, the choice of an Aguriturismo. An Italian friend of mine had initially suggested it, and while I had looked into it, I never made any firm plans to stay in one. In fact, when I got on the plane at LAX with my son on our way to Milano airport, the only thing I knew for sure was our first couple of nights would be with family. Nothing else was booked, we got up each morning and listened for what sounded fun our interesting, and we navigated in that direction. These destinations are very popular with Europeans. Many of our new friends told us they do this every year as part of their vacation. They forever have held this vision of the American I described in The Magic of Italy as the individual taking a photo near every monument and rushes through their "vacation" with an itinerary that feels like more of a chore to me than relaxation. I will happily pass by several must-see spots and take a seemingly random picture. When I shoot photos during my travel, the photo is merely an anchor to assist me in feeling what it was like while I was there.

It has been an interesting conversation I've had numerous times now. Obviously there is a mold out there for how and what a normal American does during their whirlwind European vacations. Anyone who knows me can attest, I'm not normal.

And I'm perfectly okay with that. Are you embracing your version of not normal? Mine came with an incredible view and a gorgeous pool.

La dolce vita!