Vacation chronicles: Local talks memories from an Italian getaway
Special to the Snowmass Sun
“Where did you spend your offseason?” is a question we’ve all come to know too well, especially since the majority of us who live here structure our well-being around those precious shoulder months of little work and all play. Many of us visit our families, others go to the sands for surf, some stick around to hit the bike trails early, and the few and far between do it big — in Europe, that is.
For local snowboard instructor Shayna Yellon and seven of her closest family members, Europe called, and they followed — in an 11-hour plane ride all the way to Italy, the land of food, wine, art and history, for a weeklong vacation she says will be remembered as one of the best family trips ever taken and an experience so rich in education and culture that she couldn’t repeat it if she tried.
Snowmass Sun: What turned you and your family on to Italy, and what cities did you visit while you were there?
Shayna Yellon: My father, who celebrated his 60th birthday this year, is enamored with Italy and wanted to plan something for the whole family. My three cousins and I spent two days in Rome exploring the city and nightlife before meeting the parents at the train station to spend the rest of the week in Florence.
SS: As far as dining goes, what were the highlights?
SY: Italy’s food is truly incredible, and every restaurant offers something unique. Our favorites were II Latini, which was one of our cheapest dinners in Florence but the most elaborate, offering whole plates of rabbit, veal and pork in a family-style manner to be passed around a long table; and Trattoria Omero, a restaurant situated on a hill across from Galileo’s house outside the city. The staples of the week were drinking Chianti Classico, tasting a handful of different olive oils and, of course, eating a lot of gnocchi, which was literally served everywhere.
SS: What are some of the sights you and your family saw throughout the week?
SY: We walked through the Ponte Vecchio, the prominent closed-arch bridge over the Arno River that houses jewelry and art shops; took a nine-mile bike ride through Tuscany to a classic Italian family winery; and toured through the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world that holds the greatest collection of art I’ve ever seen.
SS: What was your favorite experience of the week?
SY: Hands-down, our visit to Fattoria Montagliari, a family-owned and -operated farm in Tuscany that has been producing wine since 1720. There we had the opportunity to take a tour of the winery, try some amazing Chianti and Vin Santo and participate in a cooking class given by the family. Our host Bruna gave us recipes and taught us how to prepare a traditional Italian meal — from bruschetta to a ricotta cake — as we drank wine, tasted 30-year-aged balsamic and ate in the dining room overlooking the vineyards. At the end of the day, we had the pleasure of taking a case of the family’s wine home with us, which made the experience even more memorable and special.
SS: What kind of advice can you offer to those who might be planning a trip to Italy for the first time?
SY: I would definitely say exchange your euro in the states first because it makes for an easier traveling experience. Also, don’t be haughty about taking tours — the guides there are highly educated and can really help you learn the history of the place, where to go and what to see. Unlike the States, Italians often work on a bartering system, so if you find something you want to buy, you can always barter with the merchant for the right price. Lastly, you don’t necessarily have to have an itinerary for each day; allow yourself room to change a plan when something really cool comes up.