This week, we are closing the chapter on our summer adventure in Italy.
On this week’s podcast, Russ and Mika are recording live from their home in Arizona, where they are decompressing and reflecting on their recent European adventure.
On today’s show, they share their top five travel recommendations for Italy and Florence specifically, as well as some of their favorite locations and activities that they enjoyed while they were there.
You’ll also hear the lessons that they learned, and some of the most inspiring parts of their adventure that they are taking back with them to the United States.
In this episode, you will learn:
• Whether they made the right decision getting a rental car.
• Why the cliche travel destinations are worth visiting too.
• Tips for time management when traveling with family.
• How they are transitioning back to life in America.
Mentioned in this episode:
• Russ Perry on Instagram
• Mika Perry on Instagram
• The Sober Entrepreneur by Russ Perry
• The Russ Perry Show
• In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate
• Chill Radio on Apple Music
• Portrait Roma
• Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler
• Work Out by Chance the Rapper
• Delta One
• Taste Florence
• & Other Stories
• American Express Travel Agency
– I’m Russ Perry.
– And I’m Mika Perry, and you’re listening to Good To Be Home.
– Good To Be Home is a weekly exploration of entrepreneurship, family, marriage, sobriety, and how we balance our business and life.
– From our family to yours, thanks for joining us and welcome to our home.
– Hey, everyone. Welcome again to another episode of Good To Be Home. I’m Russ Perry.
– And I am Mika Perry.
– And welcome, literally, to our home. We’re actually sitting on the floor in our bedroom back in Arizona. We are back from our five and a half week Europe vacation and in today’s episode, we are gonna be closing the conversation on our Italian adventure, Italy part two.
– Yep, hope you caught the first one and enjoyed that. So we’re sharing kind of the second half of our trip and then also a lot of the insights that we gained from this experience.
– But as always, before we get to that, we have our world famous segment, RLEL, what we’re reading, listening, eating, and loving. So, Mika Perry, you always go first on this. After you.
– Thank you. Alright, for reading, I am currently reading a great book. You may recognize it because it was on Russ’s list a few weeks ago. It is In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate and it is about addiction, and it is fascinating and insightful and what I’m learning is just, well, two things, how much the impact of parenting is on children, which then becomes addiction later on, and then also, the current community of let’s just call them addicts or especially the vulnerable areas in cities, or where, you know, a lot of the homeless population are or addicts are, just the compassion that we should have for them because of the insane challenges they were basically born into, in many cases. They didn’t have a chance and a lot of that is just the family situation and structure that they were born into. So it’s really heartbreaking.
– I know we’re trying to keep this segment shorter, but I want to share something that I remember from this book because it’s profound. This is probably one of my top books I’ve read in recent memory. Dr. Mate was having a conversation with some law enforcement, he lives in Canada, and he was having some conversation with some law enforcement. He was sharing that the law enforcement agent was like, “Why should we help these people? “They are choosing to hurt themselves,” in reference to addicts. “They’re choosing to hurt themselves, “they are destroying their lives,” and basically said we should just let them die. It was this really profound thing. Rather than getting triggered by this, Dr. Mate said, well, we have entire healthcare systems dedicated to people who are choosing to live unhealthy with what they eat, the sugar, the diabetes, the weight. We are committed, you never see a doctor saying, “We’ll let that person die, they’re overweight.” I mean, all the heart problems, everything that is a trigger, that’s caused by the same basic concept that you have control, you choose. And the reality, what he meant was is that, like you said, we don’t always, and these people don’t always, and it’s a human dignity and human right to help them.
– Correct. Yeah, so amazing book. I’m right in the middle of it and I was just completely into it on the flight home from Italy.
– Yeah. Okay, so listening, I’m a huge fan of iTunes Radio, so Apple Music, we are subscribers to that, and I’m probably one of the only people in America still not on Spotify. I’ve never used Spotify before, really.
– You’re not missing anything, babe.
– Apple Music is where it’s at.
– I know you’ve mentioned it before, but I want to put my two cents in, and my favorite is the Chill Radio. So it’s almost kind of like if you’re at like a cool outside patio lounge situation kind of music, so I like that when I’m just kind of chilling out. Okay, eating. I want to, since we are wrapping up our Italy experience here, I want to mention the last thing I ate in Italy, which was gricia pasta. Now, carbonara is what Romans are known for, and I think you might hear about that here in a minute from Russ, but I have an egg allergy and carbonara is made with egg. And so gricia is actually pasta just like carbonara, but without the egg, so it’s guanciale, which is almost like bacon, and cheese, and that’s it. And it’s amazing. Loving, I loved, loved, loved our hotel in Rome. Might be one of my favorite hotels in the world that I’ve stayed at, Portrait Roma. I might share a little bit later. But letting you guys know, if you are going to Rome, please look up Portrait Roma. Worth every single penny in service and atmosphere and just the whole experience.
– Alright. Well, on to my list. So, reading, I finished a massive biography. I don’t read biographies often, I have a whole collection of them I need to get through, but this was the biography of Walt Disney by Neal Gabler. I tore through it. I mean, it was so cool. Walt Disney’s one of my icons and heroes in terms of a creative businessman, and this book followed his life as well as a lot of the things that I never knew. Now, I talked to my buddy, Nick Long, who lives in California, and he knew this, but I didn’t, but apparently, Walt Disney, a lot of his success was actually because of his brother, Roy Disney. So he had a business partner, just tons of information. I’m kind of annoying the family now because I just have an incredible depth of Walt Disney facts all available to myself at any time. Listening, Chance the Rapper is out with new singles, I believe four of them. My favorite on this is his single, Work Out, and we did do a health and wellness episode, which by the way, if you don’t know, you can go to our website, goodtobehomepodcast.com, to check out any of the past episodes, including our first Italy one. Anyway, his hit single, Work Out, is a catchy summer tune, and my favorite line on this, because I really felt a kindred spirit during trying to be healthy in fitness while also eating gelato and pasta every day, his line, “I missed my workout, but it worked out.” So that was a great one. Thanks, Chance, for getting back into the game, releasing some music. Actually, we might see him when we go to the Philippines. We’re looking into a concert there later this month.
– That’s random.
– I know, right? Eating, as Mika hinted, carbonara. I ate carbonara every day I was in Rome. Sadly, so wait, tell me what carbonara actually is again.
– Okay, so it’s the sauce.
– Okay, what is the sauce?
– It’s known in Rome. It is egg yolk, cheese, like Pecorino Romano usually, and guanciale, which is pork jowl or pork cheek.
– Got it, and then the type of noodles are those thick tube noodles.
– Now, that’s contested in Rome, but you either do like a rigatoni or some people think you need to do like a spaghetti.
– Okay, so here’s the crushing truth of this. I get back two days ago, go meet with my team member, we’re like, “Jim,” who’s in Italy with me, too, “Let’s go get some Italian food. “Oh my gosh, they have carbonara on the menu.” And it was like barf-onara. It was so gross. It was like an alfredo sauce. I mean, it was terrible. I didn’t even finish it. It was horrible.
– And they put peas on it, right?
– Peas, and yeah.
– I saw that picture.
– It was gross, and there was a meatball on it, but that’s their thing, they do meatballs, but I must make it.
– Romans would cry seeing that. They’d be so angry.
– I’d cry. I cried. I actually kind of packed it up as if I was taking it home and then purposely left the box on the table.
– You’re really mean.
– I know, it was kind of passive aggressive. Alright, and I’m loving Delta One business class. I was a big fan of Delta. Delta and I think American carriers overall get a hard rap internationally with flights. I loved it. I thought it was smooth. We did have a canceled flight, which kind of threw a curve ball.
– I was gonna say.
– Once we were on the plane, I really was a fan of it, and I think they’re working hard. I can tell, the branding, they had little touches, which I noticed as a branding creative guy, like mints at the end and the products and stuff. I just thought it was nice. I thought it was better than Air France on the way out.
– I disagree.
– Okay, well, on to the main event, ladies and gentlemen. We’re gonna wrap up our big Italy trip. So, again, catch the first episode. We spent five and a half weeks in Italy, five days in Paris, most of our time in Florence, a little trip to Venice, and then three days in Rome. It was a whirlwind tour. We’re back, we’re having a good time getting back in the flow. School actually starts next week, which is crazy. For us in Arizona, it starts the first week of August. But if you missed the first episode, there was a pretty monumental debate between Mika and I across a topic that really shook the world, and this was whether or not we should’ve gotten a rental car. So we recorded the first episode right really days after we were arguing about this and we kind of left everybody hanging, so I know people have really been on their edge of their seats, probably.
– Yeah, probably.
– Maybe. And so the opinion was Mika was stressing out, there’s all these rules in Italy of where you can drive and fines and fees, and I was like, look, I don’t care. Let’s just get a car, it’s gonna be helpful. Does that sum it up?
– Pretty much. It was a risky move and highly stressful to have a car in Italy. If you’ve been to Florence, if you’ve been to Italy, I feel like you know what I’m talking about. Tons of rules, there’s cameras everywhere, there’s these zones that are super scary, and where I was coming from was I did not want to leave Italy with a million dollars in fines just so we can drive around.
– So, Mika, I will let you share the verdict of whether or not we should’ve gotten a rental car. I’m gonna count it down. Three, two, one.
– Da da da, I was right.
– So dramatic.
– We have to. It’s a radio podcast.
– This is so Russ. Okay, so it was worth it and it forced me to get creative and I eventually learned where I could park, what streets I could go on, and it was really helpful for our trips to just the grocery store. And where I was coming from was a financial thing of, is this even worth having this rental car if all we do is go down the road to the grocery store, if that’s what we all get it for? But what I learned is that for you, Russ, your priorities were different and your expectations of this car were different from mine and that you were fine with if that’s all we have it for, fine, that’s worth it, whereas I was trying to max out the value of this car.
– Really, what she’s saying is I was okay with wasting money, but the point here is had we been there two weeks, no way we’d have gotten a rental car, but the length of time, and honestly, thank goodness it didn’t happen, I was honestly concerned, because I was working a lot, that there would be some scenario where Paige falls down the concrete spiral staircase and you need to go somewhere, to a hospital, and take her somewhere and the last thing I need is us trying to figure that out. So it really was also, in the back of my mind, a safety, insurance kind of thing, but turns out it was great. I would recommend it. Mika is right, though. If you’re going to Italy specifically, there are whole essays around how gnarly it is to drive between traffic cameras, parking, fine zones, and all that stuff. So do your due diligence, but moral of the story is I was right. Let’s move on. So we’re gonna go through quick three sections here. These are our recommendations from Italy, specifics, lessons we learned, and then inspiration we’re taking back here to the States. So it’s a lot of content and we’re gonna try to get through it, but what we want to actually have this episode kind of be two parts as one, if you literally are going to Italy, here are tips for you, and then if you’re just looking to travel in general, then we want to have that be some value, as well.
– And then also, what we gained from our experience of travel and how that applies to our life at home, which kind of comes back to the whole idea of why we invest in travel, because these are the benefits that we reap after the trip is over.
– Yeah, I saw our neighbor at the gym, Paul, shout out to Paul and Lindsay if they’re listening to the podcast, and we were catching up and I told him one of the biggest reasons why we do all this and go through all the energy to get everyone around and do it is so that we can get outside of our comfort zone and take away some new experiences that we can bring back here, so here they are.
– Alright, let’s start with our top five recommendations. Now, we’re getting specific. We want to give you guys names and resources that you can use should you go to Italy or Florence specifically, maybe a little bit of Rome, tips here. So I know I love to look things up on Trip Advisor and Google it, and actually, Instagram is a great resource for travel these days, just look up the hashtag of Florence and a lot of restaurants and experiences can pop up that way. So little tip there. Russ, can I start with my recommendations?
– Sure, go for it.
– Aww, thanks. Okay, so here are my top five experiences, things I loved in Italy that I want you to know about. Number one, the really cliche things are actually awesome. So, for example, the gondola ride in Venice and then lunch on the Eiffel Tower when we were in Paris were the best parts of the trips in many ways. I think maybe you and I both went in with like a, well, we’re gonna do the Eiffel Tower for the girls, the gondola, it’s like, let’s do it cause we’re in Venice.
– I did not want to do the gondola.
– You didn’t.
– We had just taken the train, it was hot, we were there, it’s packed. I was like, we’re doing the gondola, and then–
– And then what? What did you think?
– It was magical. I was like, transformed and transported into another world. It was so amazing.
– It is beautiful. So if you go to Venice, definitely do it. I used Trip Advisor to book it, which was super easy, so very cliche in how I booked it and what I booked, but those are two things I highly recommend. Number two, a food tour. We went on a food tour in Florence. We actually did this the first time in Chicago and it is a wonderful way to get to know the city that you’re in, wherever you are, and it’s led by a local. So not only do you get a history tour while you’re going around, but then you know what to eat as you’re going around, and Russ and I love food, so I don’t think we’re necessarily foodies, but we definitely have an appreciation for it, especially when we travel, so this was awesome. The food tour that we used was called Taste Florence. I can’t remember the lady’s name who was our tour guide. Awesome, though. You guys, definitely do it, even if you’re not into food. You’ll just get some bites here and there and it’s just an awesome experience. Okay, number three. I love shopping, so these were my favorite stores, Russ is rolling his eyes, in Europe, or in Italy, I guess. COS, it’s C-O-S in caps, and a store called & Other Stories. & Other Stories, that’s the store’s name. I’m actually wearing their shirt right now and it is an amazing brand that almost is a little bit like Anthropologie. And then COS is almost like, it’s very me. The pieces are structured, great color, great cuts, I loved it. So these are two places I shopped at. We definitely did do a little bit of designer shopping in Italy. I feel like it’s the birthplace of some of these brands, so we definitely took advantage of that.
– I kind of enjoyed shopping, too.
– You did.
– At Gucci.
– Russ loved Gucci.
– I’m a fan now.
– Yeah, you’re a Gucci guy.
– I didn’t know he was from Florence, he’s from Florence.
– So that made it more important.
– Well then let’s drop that, too, is the Gucci museum. Here’s a little extra tip is Gucci Garden. If you’re a Gucci fan, go to this museum. It’s an amazing experience and the store actually has limited items that are only sold at that location.
– I disagree. Even if you’re not a Gucci fan, you should go, because one thing, so here’s the thing about fashion brands, guys, if you’re not into it. Fashion brands are the testament to focus and hard work. If you look at any of the fashion brands that are the big name brands that are around, these people have been working at it for decades or longer. I think Gucci was founded in the ’20s, and here we are, almost 100 years later, and it’s still rolling. It’s like having a peak right now in mainstream culture. So as much as this can be compartmentalized to a girl thing, fashion, I love studying fashion brands because it just is like a really good master class in dedication, innovation, hard work, and focus, and that is a huge, tons of business lessons and tons of practical lessons from that.
– Absolutely. Number four, here are some restaurants. In Florence, All’Antico Vinaio, so that is a sandwich shop. You probably saw it on my stories. It’s so good. I don’t even like sandwiches, but there’s a reason why there is a line around the building every single time you go there. It is just, I can’t even describe it. We actually had brought back some bottles of their truffle and their artichoke spread that they use, and I have been scouting out cured meats like salami and stuff and actually tried making bread again last night to try to replicate this sandwich at home. I’m determined. I even bought eggplant. Did you see that’s in the fridge?
– Cause I’m gonna sauté that.
– Yeah, I’m gonna go for it. But I just know it’s not gonna taste the same. Anyway, Florence, All’Antico Vinaio, amazing. On the other side of the river, we went to this one small restaurant all the time. It’s called Alla Vecchia Bettola. Awesome pasta, get the penne. And then La Ménagère, we went there on the last date night that we had in Florence, date nights possible because we had a nanny there, and it was beautiful, and I’m typically not, I don’t like the avant-garde dishes that are a little bit, you know, they’re kind of getting a little too creative, and that’s kind of the vibe I got of what this place might be, and especially in Rome or in Florence or Italy, I just want a good plate of pasta. But it was beautiful and delicious and the service was awesome and if you go in there, people recommended this to me because they said, “Mika, it’s so Instagram, you will love it.”
– Right, I was gonna say, if you’re an Instagram husband and you need to scout a location, this is the one.
– But we didn’t take any pictures in there. We just enjoyed the dinner, the date night, it was awesome. So those are my Florence top picks, although I could probably rattle off 100, cause everything was amazing. Oh, gelato, La Sorbettiera and Perchè No are the two best.
– Okay, guys, this is a lesson. I don’t know if I’m going out of order here. If you’re getting gelato, don’t get it in the display cases where the ice cream is exposed. You want it in the closed cases where it’s like a drum or a barrel that they’re opening up to get it. Learned that on the food tour, that’s a free one for you all.
– Alright, Rome, I loved Da Pietro, Emma, and Dillà, and these are three that were recommended by my fifth and last tip, is the Portrait Roma. They have a lifestyle team, concierge. We typically don’t rely on concierge when we travel because I feel like their recommendations are skewed sometimes to partnerships and relationships that they have locally. But here, Francesca was our best friend and I cannot tell you the amazing service and recommendations they had, including these restaurants. We’ll link them into the show notes here. Please visit the hotel and the restaurants. But again, the hotel there is a building owned by the Ferragamo family, so inside is, you know, little touches of Ferragamo everywhere, which you didn’t know.
– I was like, wow. They really scored a good marketing partnership with Ferragamo on these toiletries, and then you were like, “They own the building. “There’s a store on the first floor.”
– Yes, yeah. And here’s guys not noticing the details. But just a beautiful stay there, beautiful, so loved it. There’s only 14 rooms.
– That was a huge difference.
– Yeah, it was very boutique-y.
– Super secure, if you’re traveling with family, this was actually one of the things that I loved is the kids could kind of, not free roam, but they could go around or be at breakfast and walk down to the room and it’s all secure, all locked up, they know you, they know exactly who you are. There’s probably I think only three people on staff at a time, not including food people.
– And they let you in by looking at you in a video thing. Yeah, so very secure. Anyways, those are my five top recommendations.
– Alright, on to my recommendations, which you will discover are fairly in line with where my roles are. So whenever we travel, I tend to be the guy who gets us there, and Mika fills in the details. So despite the great rental car debate, now concluded and being decided, there was actually a better recommendation than getting a car, and that was getting a scooter. So my recommendation for Florence specifically was another Francesca, not the same one from Portrait Roma, but another Francesca. This Francesca was kind of like your great Italian aunt who would make you eggplant parmigiana. Imagine that lady. But she was amazing. Her company is called, I think it’s Knowleggi.it. K-N-O-W-L-E-G-G-I.it. They’re a private rental car company.
– I’m totally linking that.
– Yeah, they’re a private rental car company. You can get anything, vans, cars, scooters. We got it for awhile, and here was the icing on the cake. So I actually returned the rental car and left the scooter key in the rental car at the airport. They didn’t know who the scooter key belonged to so they called Francesca. She sent someone to go get the scooter key and return it back to me cause we still had a couple more days left on the scooter rental. I mean, this is the kind of service that they did. And when I asked her when do we return it, she’s like, “You know, whenever.” Just totally chill, like the reviews are too good to be true on Trip Advisor, but it is legit. Now, continuing on our transportation theme, I think that’s my biggest takeaway for all of this, we booked some of those private car services while we were there. These are the people you see holding the signs with your name of it, those kinds of services, and it was a lifesaver with luggage and a family of five.
– The first one was in Paris, right? When we landed, we had someone waiting there, and that was awesome.
– So we didn’t need this all the time, but if you are traveling with a family and a lot of luggage, spring for the extra, you know, 20%, 30% these services cost. It’s not that much more than a taxi and someone’s waiting for you, typically English speaking, to help you with luggage. So the two that I recommend is hireinitaly.com and then when we went to Venice, we did Blitz, which was a dope yacht charter thing. It was awesome, I felt like James Bond on this.
– Good branding.
– Yeah, really good branding.
– Did you see the material in there?
– Yeah, I did.
– Now, man, I just have all transportation on here. Maybe that’s the only recommendation, cause you do take care of all the food stuff. But don’t be afraid of trains, everyone. Trains. This is gonna change my list a little bit. So trains were fantastic, really chill, awesome to get around, and this is no news to those of you who’ve been to Europe a lot, but if you’re new to traveling abroad, the Europe train systems are phenomenal. You show up 10 minutes in advance, you get on, you get off, super streamlined. No specific recommendations there. Number four, now, I used this service before. We used it twice in Italy. It’s the website withlocals.com. With Locals is like freelancer tour guides that you can book and they can take you around. We did a tour in Florence about halfway through. It was a private tour. Me and Mika and our friends, Jim and Erin, and this was walking in the areas we had walked in for weeks and still discovering new stuff. So I loved this, you can book it, it’s all around the world. I did it in Thailand, we did it in Rome again, I did it actually with the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, but it was just really, really great. I love it, I highly recommend you use this service. And then I actually had a hard time with the fifth one. I was trying to think of something really creative here and really different, and I think, hang on, I don’t have a fifth one, to be honest.
– So that’s all I have. I just have four recommendations. Well, you know what? No, I actually do have a fifth one. I’m gonna throw this one out there. I think it was on an older list. How we found the Portrait Roma was through a travel agent. Dun dun dun. We actually had to use a travel agent through American Express, their travel service, because all the hotels were booked in Rome cause it was a high season, and I don’t know, this kind of bucks my stereotypical opinion of professional travel services.
– But don’t you use someone to help you book with points, the flights, like a broker?
– Kind of. I don’t use that as much anymore. Flightfox.com is the site I’ve used. I’ve kind of figured out their system so now I can do it myself. But it is helpful when you’re trying to negotiate and navigate, and this was a sure bet, using their services. AmEx Travel, so if you have an AmEx card, don’t be shy on that.
– Okay, so now you have our top favorites from our experience and traveling as a family, it is fun. We had a blast. We made so many amazing memories. But at the same time, it can be challenging. In some ways, you know, we say that this is a trip, not a vacation.
– That is key. I learned that from Mr. Walt Disney’s biography, cause he would take tons of trips around the world and he said to his team, “This is not a vacation. “I’m working, but it’s a trip,” where he would go, and I love that distinction, because a trip is about learning and knowledge and experiences, where a vacation’s just like, let’s turn off and check out.
– Yeah, and that definitely was not this, and even if we wanted to, we couldn’t, cause we had the kids there. But from those challenges of traveling with kids, from this trip and others that we’ve taken, we can really gain some lessons learned that we can reflect on after the fact.
– Okay, so first lesson is around language learning. Don’t over-complicate it. I tried to take a bunch of lessons in advance and learn a bunch of stuff, and the reality was nothing could have replaced just actually getting there and trying it and doing it. So if I was to do it all over again, I would start my studying only a couple weeks in advance, not a couple months in advance, and just binge study for two or three weeks on vocabulary, just raw memorization of vocabulary, and then just drop myself, maybe a couple live lessons on Verbling on structure and how the sentences kind of work, and then just roll with it.
– So not like verb conjugation like you were doing.
– Oh, man.
– Did that ever come in handy, Russ?
– Why do I always do it so complicated?
– This is a theme for you, Russ, is that you go all in.
– I want to tackle Japanese the correct way and actually learn it, so I need a new way to do it.
– Yeah, let’s investigate this and report back.
– Okay. Another lesson is really think about time management while you’re there. Probably the biggest arguments Mika and I got in were when we weren’t really clear about the plan between everything that we were doing, whether it was who’s going where, what the dinner plans are, and we like to be planners, not in a sense that we need every detail figured out, we can definitely go off on a whim and do stuff, but we just got a lot of people we’re trying to coordinate, and then this also expands out into my team, really understanding that time management is critical to make sure that when it’s time to communicate my team or if I have a couple hours to work, I have a clear plan of what I’m going to do. Sometimes, I would burn two or three hours of work time or late nights trying to sort of figure it out cause I’m tired, I’m not clear on why I’m even working that late, and if I had better time management strategies at the time, then I would’ve gotten more sleep, I would’ve been more productive. Another lesson that I loved was no electronic mornings. This was a thing where we would do with the kids where we would actually, there would be no electronics, but I also adopted this from time to time where I wouldn’t get on my computer, I wouldn’t do the phone, cause we had wifi, we had connectivity while we were there, and I found myself being able to really, really focus on the experiences while we were there with that. And then the other lesson that I learned, really a lot of what I was doing was trying to coordinate my family, coordinate my teams, is that if I didn’t have a clear vision or a clear outcome that I wanted to achieve, then it was super confusing for my teams back home, specifically around what it is I wanted them to do, and I wasted probably several meetings or rounds of meetings just getting caught up with people rather than having an idea of like, look, this meeting is about this, this is what we’re gonna talk about today, and why this was a lesson for me was because I just don’t ever feel like I’ve had this much on my plate when I’ve traveled before. We have multiple businesses, lots going on, we were there for a long time, and so the lesson for me just taking that away was don’t waste other people’s time. If you don’t have a clear vision of what you’re wanting to get or talk about or do, then spend some time to figure that out, because time is precious and it’s easily wasted without that direction. That was it. I think your lessons are better, but that was kind of more my quick ones of thinking about what I would do differently.
– So my thoughts here are kind of based much more on parenting, from a parenting perspective, and the main thing that I learned that I felt like a-ha, or you know what, this is a good insight here, is that for kids, nothing is normal when you travel. So not only do you have these exotic experiences that you’re giving them by taking them to a foreign country, really simple things like their bed, their food, their surroundings, their schedules, even just the setup of the home and where their room is in relation to yours and the kitchen and the bathroom and bugs that are at home and they’re here in Italy, and just everyday living that’s different brings on its own challenges for kids. Kids are very sensitive to change and takes adjusting much more than we do. So I think you need to buffer your time and your mental energy for that and be mindful of your patience when dealing with them, because if you step out of that frustration if something is happening and they’re acting up or having a tantrum or things are not going as well as you hoped for, you have to realize that wait, they’re, you know, plopped down into this foreign environment in so many different ways that they don’t have the tool set to adjust to on their own that we have to help them and be patient with that. That was my biggest takeaway.
– That’s huge, and I think it applies to adults, too.
– Yeah, yeah, that’s true.
– You can think about that, as well.
– Yeah, yeah. Yeah, when things get stressful and you and I are arguing more on the rental car or something, realizing that wait a minute, we’re out of our element, we need to give ourself a little bit more grace and buffer some flexibility into that, with our reactions or what we say or anything. Specifically for having a toddler, Italy, they eat so late, and actually, I think they’re not the latest country. Like I think even South American countries, like Argentina’s even later, you said. But for Italy, it was like, restaurants don’t open til like 7:00, 7:30. They open for lunch, if they’re open for lunch, and then they take a break and reopen again. Very few restaurants are open throughout the day. And for us here in Arizona, we are like the early bird special people.
– Us and the retirees.
– Even on date night and then when we go out for dinner as a family, our reservation’s typically around 5:30 because we like to get our kids in bed around 7:00, and so we had to deal with tired kids at dinner because in some places, like Rome, we didn’t have a kitchen, so we had to go out to dinner. So just know going to Italy, moms, dinners are gonna be late, so you may have to be prepared for that.
– How did we prepare? What was one tip?
– Oh, good question, how did we prepare for that? Well, sometimes, I gave Paige a nap, because she’s kind of losing her nap, but knowing if we had a night dinner planned, then I would put her down for a nap or if we went out, it’d be great because she’d sleep in her stroller and get like an hour or 30 minutes in, which was nice, to give her a little bit more of running power, staying power at the end of the night. And then you and I definitely don’t allow electronics at home at the dinner table, absolutely not, and even when we go to dinner out here, back home, but in Italy, we just said, you know what? I want to eat peacefully.
– Go for it.
– Here you go. And we felt a little bit of guilt, I think maybe the first time or two we did that, but I think quickly you and I just said, you know what?
– It doesn’t matter, our sanity’s more important.
– Literally, like, screw it.
– Yeah. And I think there was a lot of gelato bribes.
– Oh, yeah, we definitely bribed. That’s another strategy, and we’re fine with that, because it’s temporary.
– Right, and it’s effective manipulation for children, so good lesson.
– Great lesson there. So those are some of the challenges we had. I think pretty typical, right? The time zones, I think, you know, brought some challenges with both our schedules and routines and getting used to, and then also for your business, but I think overall, it ran really well, so I’m really happy with that. So this trip was just awesome and really inspiring for both of us in different ways, and I think we got a lot of takeaways from it that we’ve brought home with us that now we’ve been here for almost a week, not yet, and we’re applying it, I can see we’re applying this to our lives here. So obviously, I loved the food, and so that’s coming back with me. Not only did I bring jars of things like fig jam, the truffle sauce, and some olive oil, we stayed at a villa that had an herb garden and so I use that in my cooking because I noticed a lot more fresh herbs being used as a very prominent feature or note in a dish. Like they put rosemary, sage on the menu item. It’s not an afterthought. And so they really value that flavor and so I was inspired to start an herb garden, so I am the worst person at keeping plants alive, and I am determined to start. I’ve now researched gardening and I’m starting off with little pots that I’m gonna plant these herb gardens. In line with that, the ingredients used in Italy were just breathtaking. The flavor, the quality, I mean, it’s just, they know what’s up, and they definitely focus on local. So I’m inspired to shop better here in Arizona and look for better ingredients and be okay with paying more for that. I think before, I’d be like, oh, it’s just a tomato, it’s fine, oh, this one’s on sale or this is easy. So last time I was at the grocery store a few days ago, I was about to grab these tomatoes and I said you know what? No, these look better. I smelled them. Same with I bought melon and I smelled them and looked at them and put more thought into the selection of the ingredients I was bringing home to my family. Another food thing. I love to eat, you guys. I learned how to make focaccia, which they call schiacciata in Tuscany, and I learned how to make that, so I’m making that here, and I tried my first batch yesterday. Definitely different than back in Italy, so I’m gonna have to make some adjustments, but it’s really cool to learn something new and then bring it back with you. And a lot of people take pasta making classes. I went the bread route.
– And turns out that we learned this actually our first time to Italy, most Italians just buy dry pasta.
– They don’t actually make fresh pasta.
– And fresh pasta’s only appropriate for certain dishes.
– Right, and you have to use it immediately, so you can’t really keep it very long.
– Plus, I can’t eat it cause it usually has egg, so, bread, here we go. Okay, a different note of something that I noticed in Italy is the driving. Now, everyone kind of knows stereotypically that it’s crazy driving there. Drivers are quote unquote crazy, and it is because there won’t be any lanes, you know, lane markings, and they’ll really just like, no regard for you, you know, we’ll go for it. They’ll get in your lane or whatever. But I made the remark to you, I was like, “Russ, have you seen a single accident “since you’ve been here?” And I did not the entire time see an accident, not even a fender bender or like a little bump. And it’s because everyone is focused on driving. Nobody is texting. Nobody is just relaxing. People are like driving for their lives. And because of that, they’re safe. And so I was driving this morning after I drove the girls and I checked a message, I was like, oh my gosh, no, this is awful, and this is why we’re running into each other left and right here, is because we’re not paying attention. So I am committed to be a much more mindful driver. I feel like I always have been, but I got to see the result of what it means to be a mindful driver, and it’s those Italians. They are on it.
– Did you know, in his latter days, Walt Disney was not able to drive himself home because he lost his ability to focus on the road?
– He just was getting old.
– Oh, that’s sad.
– Yeah, just a fun fact for you.
– One thing I did that you may have seen on my Instagram is that I went on a social media break while I was in Italy. I took an entire week off, and while that may sound very trivial and like, okay, not big deal, but I think it kind of is. I hear of people doing a weekend off or whatever, but I committed to a week. It went really fast and it was absolutely amazing. It was awesome, and in fact, I’m gonna do it again here in Arizona, and I’ll report back. But if you’ve thought about a social media break, go for it, you’re only gonna get benefits from it. And really, no one cares if you’re gone for a week. Really, you’re not that important. I’m not that important. No one probably missed me. It’s fine.
– You know?
– Advertisers missed you cause you weren’t looking at their stuff.
– At their products, yeah. So I went on the break, and because of that, I had more time to think and my mind was open and I was journaling and while we were in Florence, we went to the Moleskine store and I bought a Moleskine journal and I wrote so much, and I didn’t journal, I actually just took notes on things from podcasts and things I read and just ideas and lists of what I want to talk about in a podcast or blog. So love my Moleskine journal. I have it now, I’m a huge fan. And that’s it.
– Fantastic. Well, I think my list is a little shorter, but my inspiration, I really just have an ongoing theme about quality. Quality was what I took away from this whole trip. Now, the different dimensions of quality. First, quality time and quality experiences. We did a lot with each other. We went to the tourist places, we went to the non-tourist places, we got off the beaten path at times, and every time we did that, it was something that was intentful, we had a reason that we were doing it, we made time for that experience in our day, we talked about it, and I realized that there’s probably a gap here in Arizona where we don’t necessarily do that as much because we’re just so stuck in the day-to-day of life. Work, school, extracurriculars. And so one thing I’m gonna make sure that I do, we talked about this, is I’m gonna get a printed calendar with the girls and actually calendar out with their input, okay, we’re gonna do this and this is gonna be a day where we’re planning quality time, they’re enrolled in it, cause every time we were in Italy, we kind of had this ongoing, hey, Friday, we’re gonna be going here. Tomorrow, we’re going to the Eiffel Tower. We’re gonna take a train on this day. And it was fun and they could look forward to it and we planned it and there was a lot of that going, so while the frequency may not be as high as Italy now that I’m back home, that’s one thing I’m gonna make sure that I plan on, to have that conversation and the anticipation and then making sure that it’s really cleared out on my end.
– Well, and I think we do that because there’s finite time there on a trip, and so you only have a certain amount of time, whereas here, you think that you have infinite time, but you know, do we? You don’t know.
– No one does. All of our time will come.
– So value the time. Yeah, value the time that you have.
– Next in quality is quality clothes and color. So for those of you who don’t know, I pretty much wear black all the time. In fact, I’m sitting here in an all-black outfit right now. So this next thing might not seem like I’m being truthful, but I promise, I bought a lot of colorful clothes through my main man, Ricky Lopez, over at Stitched Clothing. Ricky is a fantastic guy, shout out to Ricky if you’re listening to this. I love giving to shout outs to people who probably aren’t listening. But he pushed me outside my comfort zone. Mika’s helped a lot, too, in getting colorful clothes.
– Well, the reason why is I guess I told Ricky, cause Russ got custom suits by him, it’s in Las Vegas, and while I was there, I said, “You know what, this summer, we’re going to Italy. “I picture Russ to look like this Italian, “European, like get in the vibe,” cause I think what you dress kind of then affects the mood around you and the atmosphere. So I’m really glad that you bit the bait on that and were cool with it.
– So it’s less about color and more about quality. A lot of this stuff I got actually was Italian clothes, there’s some shoes, and I realized that there is definitely a feeling and a vibe when you invest in quality material goods. Not only are they more durable, they also are, if you think about the people who are creating them and designing them and building them, they’re actually making a bigger impact than just the throwaway material that you could get from a big box retailer or wherever. So I’m gonna really think about that, and this was then related to the designer brands that we saw. We saw Gucci, I got a lesson on Versace from that guy in Venice who knew all about him and I just can’t even really know what’s going on, but all of these people invested so much of their lives in committing to quality and local production and materials that matter and sustainability. Awhile back, a podcast a long time ago, I was reading a book on Patagonia. It’s the same thing. I actually bought Patagonia swim trunks recently. The reason is because of that commitment to quality, so I’m gonna bring that back. I may not be wearing a lot of color during the day to day, but date nights, for sure.
– Well, I’m gonna add one takeaway for me, too, is in regards to fashion. In Italy, people are not walking around in yoga pants and flip flops and a T-shirt. People are wearing trousers, blouses, real shoes to go run errands, and so I think that’s different than here, the style here for sure, and it’s got me thinking about how I get dressed in the morning.
– It’s a mindset.
– It is, and also what’s socially acceptable.
– But I think, I don’t know, I could kind of care less what other people think. I care more about how I feel and how then that’s impacting my behavior. If I have to take the time to get a good shave, make sure my clothes are pressed, have something nice, that just makes sure I’m paying attention to the details and I know that’s gonna carry over in the way I interact with you and the girls and my teams.
– I love that you’re starting to care about fashion.
– I did call Gucci yesterday looking for a certain piece.
– You did?
– To be continued.
– Oh my gosh. Your side of the closet is gonna slowly transform, or quickly transform, I should say.
– I need more shoe space.
– Oh, no.
– So the last piece of quality is Mika had just knocked this out of the park, so I don’t need to say much more on this, is the food, what we eat and what we put in our body. Biomechanically, I always remember someone saying it’s actually our friends, the Kayyems, Najla Kayyem and Luke Kayyem, food is fuel, so what you put in your body becomes what your body uses, and so if you put good stuff in, it’s good for your body. You put junk in, it’s bad for your body. We ate a lot of quote unquote not great stuff. I don’t know how good for you gelato is every day, but I managed to do that. However, it’s important to think about and with our kids, too. Like, how are we influencing their food habits that they’ll carry with them for their lives? And I will say, the last piece on this is literally inspirational that I got from our tour guide in Rome. So we went on a Rome Colosseum tour. This was Mateo, was his name. I’m trying to remember. Yeah, Mateo, and he was giving a tour and I’m sure he says this to everybody, but it was at the beginning of the tour and he was sort of the breaking the ice with me and Maddox and Reese and he’s like, “You know what? “Because we speak English and you speak English “and Italian is the romantic language, we are all Romans. “We have all descended from this area. “So you may live in Arizona, I live here in Rome, “but we are all together.” And he moved on then and I just really found myself inspired by that, that it was kind of like kumbaya moment, like, we’re all humans, we’re all together. And at the end of the day, despite the differences, despite the foods, despite the travel, despite all the little nuances, I just fell in love and was so connected to the people and the culture, and at the end of the day, it’s like, that’s what it’s about.
– So this really was an awesome trip for us to get reconnected as a family, spend a lot of quality time together with each other, and you and I, too. I felt really connected with you after this trip and during this trip because we had a ton of quality time together throughout the day and I had so much fun and you and I were talking about how this trip was an expression of our love for each other and our family, but just our love for our life and the things that are important to us.
– And on that note, I don’t mean this in a jokey way, I didn’t get bored of you. I loved hanging out with you all the time. So that was kind of cool because we have not spent that much time together on a consistent basis.
– So you realized that you do like me.
– Yep. Thank goodness.
– That we’re friends?
– No, I love you.
– I know.
– Deeply. But it was fantastic. So thanks for hanging out with me.
– So we encourage you to not only visit Italy, but take a big trip like this for yourselves, for your family, invest in new experiences, and like you always say, Russ, book the ticket. Just do it.
– Book the ticket.
– We said, “Let’s go to Italy someday,” and we decided to do it.
– Right, right. Alright, everyone, well that wraps up this episode on Italy, Italy part two. You can check out the first episode on this topic as well as other conversations around the travel theories and philosophies we have, family, all that stuff on our website, goodtobehomepodcast.com. Also, please check us out on iTunes. You can subscribe there and leave us a rating. We would love that.
– Yeah, and share us with your friends. Thank you for sharing on Instagram and your stories when you’re listening to our episodes. We see that and we love it. I feel like we should start a hashtag or something. Don’t you think?
– We’ll figure that out.
– Cool. Alright, well we are really happy that you joined us today and I will leave it at that.
– Alright, take care, everyone.
– Ciao. Thanks for listening to this episode of Good To Be Home.
– And don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and give us a rating.
– See you next time.