|Grounds of Villa dei Papiri replica at Getty Museum|
It all happened centuries ago, according to the account in Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Eat, Pray, Love, but, to me, that doesn't make the story any less romantic. It began when Latin, changing as it went, spread from country to country to spawn the French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian languages. There were so many dialects, though, in each country, that a carpenter in southern France could not understand a woodworker from Paris. In Italy, consisting of dozens of city-states, people from one town could not understand the people two towns away.
When it came time to choose one dialect so that countries could be united by a single language, the largest, most powerful cities in each country dictated the language choice. The French dialect spoken in Paris became the only acceptable dialect as did the Portuguese used in Lisbon and the Spanish spoken in Madrid. It is only in Italy that the most powerful city did not determine the spoken language.
In Italy, the intellectuals rejected the dialects of their largest cities, Rome and Venice, and turned instead to the lyrical beauty of a poet's language. Unlike all the other countries in Europe, it was literature, not power or wealth, that determined the choice. And it was Florence's dialect, home of the Renaissance and Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy, that served as the basis for the Italian we know today.
You've got to love a land that became united by adopting the beautiful language of a poet. No wonder I never tire of it.
Still, it looked as though David and I would have a difficult time getting there. Cheap flights were not available, and as we struggled to find alternative transportation, our trip began to grow like Topsy.
At one point, we thought we might fly into London since it was less costly than flying to Rome, take the Chunnel over to Paris after a few days, and then train down to Florence. Then, of course, we'd have to travel south to see Pompeii and Herculaneum, so we'd might as well spend some time on the Amalfi Coast since we were so close. And, what the heck, wouldn't it be fun to get over to Spain where I could introduce David to my friends whom I hadn't seen in four years? David decided if we were going to southern Spain, we should at least set foot on the African continent, so what about spending a couple days in Morocco?
By the time we finished dreaming, we had ourselves going, during a five-week period, to five different countries! That would have stretched our decidedly frugal budget to the max, and any savings gained from the flight to London would have been long gone.
Luckily, the alert I'd placed on Kayak months ago, finally had some good news. The flight to Rome was $750 plus taxes. We jumped on it and a trip was born.
The gestation period stretched into months, but we are pleased with the final result. We're planning a five-week trip with a week each in Rome and Florence, nine days in the Sorrento/Amalfi area, twelve days on Spain's Costa del Sol area, with a side trip, perhaps, depending on the political climate, to Morocco for a day or three. And, as always, we'll be doing the trip on a tightwad's budget. I'll tell you all about the planning in upcoming posts.