Want to hear something kind of crazy?

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I want to tell you something that is kind of crazy.  I, Melissa, mother of two, have never put both my kids in a car and driven them somewhere all by myself.  And these kids aren’t weeks old, mind you.  My “baby” turned one this spring.

The other crazy thing?  I haven’t driven a car since last August when we moved here.  I haven’t driven in Italy at all.

Back when we lived in DC, I was never a big driver.  When we were in Maryland, I sometimes drove to the metro or shopping or to visit my friends in Virginia, but I didn’t drive all the time.  Once we moved to DC proper, I mostly stopped driving.  I walked Henry to day care.  I took the bus or metro to work.  When we did family outings on the weekends, James would drive.  I did pull shifts–usually the early morning shift (no shocker there)–on our drives to SC, but I could still go months without getting behind the wheel of a car.

I’m a nervous person and a nervous driver.  Not driving much exacerbates this.  Living in cities exacerbates this.

I usually don’t mind it at all.  I have plenty of stores within walking distance.  Public transportation is still a challenge with the two kids, but it is there.  We can get where we need to go sans automobile.

But something happened earlier this month that has me reevaluating my no drivo status.

We visited Lake Bracciano on a weekend.  Although our trip out took longer because of a flat tire, this volcanic lake is only 45 minutes from Rome.  Motor sports are limited, and the lake is a pristine and quiet place.  It is rimmed by three towns to explore and an awesome (and free!) airplane museum at the sight of Italy’s first airport.

Even though the lake is crazy close, we opted to do an overnight so that we could explore more.  Our agriturismo, Agriturismo Il Castoro, sits on smaller, neighboring Lake Martignano.  You have to go down some serious dirt roads to get there.

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Even if you don’t stay there, you can pay a few euro to access the expanse of grassy beach lined with hammocks.  You can pay a few more euro to rent a paddle boat–some with their own slides–or grab some refreshing beverages at the small cafe.

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Because of uncooperative weather (I swear, it is always stifling except when I actually have aqua access), we didn’t frolic in the water.  (Although we did all touch it; Mac was particularly nonplussed.)

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We did enjoy some time swinging in the hammocks and feeling the grass between our toes.

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As we strolled, I could not help but think, I could do this.

I could load up the kids on a random weekday and hit the lake or explore a nearby town or do anything we wanted.  We have fun at the zoo and parks in Rome, and I’m trying to get better about picking off new sights with the kids, but we could just go.

Of course, exploring a new town with the adorable weirdos sounds downright frightening.  I’m not scared of my kids, per se; however, sometimes I am definitely intimidated by them.

But things change.  And faster than I think too.

Not that long ago, I could barely grocery shop with the two kids by myself.  Now we have a produce guy, an egg lady, fish dudes, and I can get around the store with the two of them if I need to.

Not that long ago, Mac refused to move anywhere.  Then I spent HOURS walking behind him holding his hands.  Now I walk beside him and sometimes dash to keep up as he darts off a few steps on his own.  (He still refuses to crawl though.)

At some point, trips with these guys may not seem so crazy.  I need to be ready.

Even if that means getting behind the wheel of a car.  I’m planning to force myself to practice when town empties this August.  Our car is already lightly “Romanized.”  No one would notice a few more scratches.

Deep breath.  I’m an adult.  I can do this.

Other Trip Highlights

  • We hit up Il Castello Odescalchi in Bracciano, site of famous weddings such as Tomkat’s.  The self guided tour involved some stairs, but went over well with the kids.  Shocking to NO ONE, Henry loved the weaponry.

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  • Historic Bracciano is fairly small.  We wandered, checked out views of the lake, and enjoyed lunch outside at Pane e Olio.  Service was slow (they were slammed), but the food was very good.

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Pistachio pasta FTW

Pistachio pasta FTW

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  • We drove through Trevignano, but didn’t get to explore this town.  Unlike Bracciano, which overlooks the lake from on high, Trevignano is down at the water.  Several restaurants on the water looked pretty sweet.
  • We enjoyed an evening wander and dinner watching the sunset over the lake at Il Vecchio Salus in Anguillara.  Although we didn’t go, Anguillara seems to have an expanse of public beach along with a jump park and rides area.

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  • If you have kids or any interest in planes, definitely check out the Italian Air Force Museum.  Fun (oversimplified) fact:  Italians built lots of seaplanes because they didn’t feel like building runways.  This free museum has several hangars of planes to delight the kiddos.  Even though half of it was closed at our visit, it was still worth the trip.  Did I mention it’s free??  Cafe inside.

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Also lots of old cars.  BONUS.

Also lots of old cars. BONUS.

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Other Bracciano Resources

ICYMI: are you sick of the 30 Day EVERYTHING Challenge yet edition

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Welcome back, sports fans.  I’m sorry.  I hoped for the results post on the challenge today, but it won’t be ready until next week.  Between planning for the lake this weekend and truncated naps, I’m a little behind.

Also, if you have any questions on the challenge, please lemme know.  I may do an FAQ post, and it is always fun to have actual questions instead of just the usual conversation with myself.  Not that I’m not a stellar conversationalist.  Why, thank you, self.

Until then . . .

On the blog:

In case you’ve missed it, come check out the challenge.

What is this 30 Day EVERYTHING Challenge anyway?

Did you actually make it?  Well, mostly.  Check out the first half here and the second half here.

Did you like it?  Overall, I’m glad I did it.  See what is working for me and what still needs work.

News team, be warned.  This could be the first of many challenges.  I’m already eying a finance challenge and a minimalism one.  Any other challenge ideas?

On the internets:

Watch swinging your arms around here!  I can’t say I’ve seen all of these, but I do see Italians talking with their hands constantly, even when on the phone.

I’ve just started using, but I’m LOVING this tanning lotion so far.  Noticeable after the first application.  It only has a subtle self-tanner tang and mostly smells a little lemony.

All my DC peeps, can you promise to check this out??

Are you guys also obsessed with the new album from Killers frontman Brandon Flowers??  I could (and do) listen to Lonely Town on continuous repeat (although the rest of the album is also very good).  I defy you not to feel the need to arm pump when that beat starts up.  Here, check out the subtly creepy video.

This is long, but Mindy Kaling!!  I’ve been watching in bits and pieces.  Check out more on BookCon at MMD.

Happy weekend, ya’ll!

ICYMI: where you at edition

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Who has four thumbs and LOVED their quad bike experience? Yup, these two. They had their own bell. I apologize to anyone else who was in Villa Borghese yesterday.

Sorry for the silence around these parts lately.  It has been a mixture of guests, travel, and secret projects.  I’m hoping things will be closer to normal starting next week.  But, of course, no promises.  In the meantime . . .

On the blog:

It is like a million degrees here now.  I have been rocking these outfits on the reg.  I definitely recommend if you are heading to Rome (or anywhere religious and hot) anytime soon.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Puglia.  Haha, just scratching the surface really, but it is a great travel destination.

And here’s how the pacifier usage went down on the Puglia travels.

But speaking of someone who still has more lenient pacifier rules, Mac is one!

On the internets:

Anyone else follow A Cup of Jo?  I recently added this one to my rotation.  Little bits on kids, beauty, life in the city, design, and plenty more.  Here is a tiny house tour I loved.  (You know I love me a tiny house.)

PowerPoint should be banned. This PowerPoint presentation explains why.  But what about all of those sweet PPT skillz I learned at the law firm???  Was it all for naught?

I don’t have a dehydrator, but I need these zucchini chips in my life.

Does anyone use a planner?  This one looks pretty and tempting.  I want to make sure I would use something before getting one.  But right now I have no planning so any planning would be better?

Me:  “Who is that?”  James:  “Uh, Sting.”  Right.  So Sting has a beard now.  Good to know.

Looking for a statement piece for your living room?

Cracks me up: Toddler Adjusting To Society After Serving 2-Minute Timeout

Looking for guidance?  Check out these life lessons from Anthony Bourdain.

Summer is here.  Watch out for ticks!

What has four legs and is completely not kid friendly?  This coffee table, but I kind of want it anyway, fingerprints be darned!

Happenings & Coming up:

Italy had a holiday this week.  Republic Day, to be exact.  We decided to escape the city to see the ruins at Ostia Antica.  Here’s a pro tip:  Don’t escape the city in the direction of the beach.  It all worked out, but there were some packed trains involved.  More on Ostia Antica “soon.”  (It can get in the queue behind Montepulciano and Pienza and Sermoneta and . . . )

My bazillion internet tabs are currently split between Lake Bracciano and Turin.  (And, let’s be honest, a million other things.)  We are heading to both this month, and I am pumped.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend whatever you are up to!