Birthdays on Vacation

The View from Assisi

Image 2Today’s not  my birthday. Is it yours?  Someone you love?  Well, then, Happy Birthday!!  As Americans we have certain traditions we’ve come to expect on our birthdays. Cake. Check. Flowers. Check. Table decorated with goodies. Check.  Presents. Check.

Maybe you’ll have a party.

Maybe you’ll have a cocktail or two.

Maybe you’ll go out to dinner.


When we are away from home, some traditions just can’t be upheld.  For instance, every year on my birthday, for over thirty years, I play the Johnny Crawford song, “Cindy’s Birthday.”  Every.  Single.  Year.

I don’t always wear my tiara.  (Doesn’t everyone have a tiara?)

Birthdays on vacation are different.

One of my very favorite birthdays did not come with a cake. It had no ribbons or wrappings. No one other than my traveling companions said “Happy Birthday.” I did not blow out any candles at all.

Assisi, Italy: My Birthday

  • Arrived by train to see the Umbrian Hills overlooking the horizon.
  • Wandered the cobblestone streets.
  • Stood at the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi and said a special prayer for all my loved ones.
  • Had the rosary ring we bought at the Vatican blessed by a priest at The Basilica of St. Francis.
  • Ate dinner on a balcony overlooking the town square.
  • Watched the sunset from the walls of the basilica and ate pastries.

When you expect nothing is when your receive something so much more.  If you are away from home on your birthday, embrace this change of pace.  Remember, no expectations.

Happy Birthday!

Souvenir Ideas: Books

Book of Tuscan Proverbs

For me, shopping on vacation is part of the fun.  I love looking for little trinkets and mementoes to bring back and squirrel into my little nest.  I think there’s really a physiological benefit.  I can feel my heart soar and my respiration change….pretty shiny objects can do that.  🙂  I love bringing back little presents for those whom I left behind.  I can imagine their joy in receiving a special present from so far away.

A particularly good gift idea is a book.

Book of Tuscan Proverbs

Book of Tuscan Proverbs

The beauty of a book, for a traveler, is that it is easy to slip into a suitcase, it isn’t breakable, and it’s a unique treasure that you can’t just pick up in your own local bookstore.

In Florence, FirenziLibri is a wonderful place to find not only new books, but vintage and out of print volumes as well.  The store is located at Via dei Servi, 52.  It’s  a lovely little side street that has lots of other unique shops.  There is something so special about finding a beloved fairy tale from own childhood written in Italian.  This is where you will find locals and won’t be over run by tourists, such as yourselves.  🙂

In Milan, immediately to the right of the Duomo, there is a huge book store.  In Mondadori Bookstore is  filled with a plethora of books and other little book store trinkets.  This could be your perfect one stop shopping.  This store is akin to the giant bookstores we have here in the states.  In addition to books, there are maps and stuffed animals and mugs….just like home, but Italian.

There’s something magical about a bookstore.   Each volume holds possibility.  To find a lovely edition of a classic, written in Italian, or German or whatever the local language may be is something unique and special.