I met my wife in late 2006. We got to know each other quicky and before long, I had asked her to marry me. I met a woman who likes to travel. A LOT! So when it came to planning our wedding, travel was incorporated. Sure, people travel for their honeymoon, but for their wedding?
Our best laid plan eventually landed us in Italy where we were married in June of 2008 in the Tuscany region just south of Firenze (Florence). At that time, I was not as psychotic about sustainable transportation as I am today, however, I was still smart enough to know that driving in Europe is expensive, difficult and at times, scary. My short experience with driving there, netted me a ticket for driving down one block worth of pedestrian zone in Firenze to the tune of 90 euros. It was also the only time we rented a car while we were there. In hindsight, we probably didn’t need to either.
The rest of our trip was spent riding the Italian version of HSR, TrenItalia. We landed in Rome, took the short skip from the airport into the city and hopped a high speed train for Venice. That afternoon, we arrived in Venice. We spent a weekend there, and then travelled back south to Firenze, again by TrenItalia. We spent a week there seeing the cultural spots and exploring further out from the city center on foot where the locals are more numerous and the tourists aren’t which, by the way, also comes with a proportional drop in the price of goods being sold. As far as urbanism goes, Firenze was a fantastic place to visit. Dense development everywhere, and walkable streets. Of course, it’s a tourist town and the center of a historical arts movement so not to be compared to a place like Indianapolis. But still a pleasure to experience and take lessons from.
The last part of our trip took us to southern Italy and the Amalfi Coast, a beautiful stretch of Mediterranean coastal towns. We spent 4 days there and also travelled the majority of the route there by HSR to Salerno where we hopped a coastal bus to our final destination. We flew back out of Rome after travelling there by intercity rail which was not quite as fast, but cheaper and absolutely PACKED with more regional citizens.
It was a fantastic experience. The train rides were comfortable. We got to see lots of the country side and I got to avoid more traffic tickets by avoiding the pedestrian zones. After watching Obama’s State of the Union address last night, and listening to his rhetoric regarding his HSR vision for America, I thought it only fitting to describe my experience with HSR; one I would call a pleasurable one. If you’d like a more technical overview of the Italian HSR network, click here for the wikipedia page.