Have you any idea what is Il Palio dei Micci or The Donkey Derby ? Finally after three years of attempting to witness this Palio dei Micci, or as I call it… the Donkey Derby, I now fully comprehend this Fantastic Event! I have been every year only to have it rained out due to it presiding outdoors. Its an annual competition/festival event that takes place in Querceta, Italy. This year was the 59th year of participation. Eight different teams, each with their own color symbolism, compete to win in four categories: The Donkey race, the Performance, the Drummers, and the Parade/Fashion Show.
Il Palio dei Micci is a famous festival near the beach in Tuscany, near Forte dei Marmi & Viareggio Italia. It’s an annual Medieval Festival that incorporates all of the different neighborhoods, le contrade, to compete against one another.
One of my very good friends is in charge of her team’s very elaborate & costly costumes that they annually recreate. Last year she won first place for costume design! Years ago she walked in the Parade as the Queen… Her husband once as the King… as her children also participate in the event. It involves almost every member of the Versilia Italia Community.
The neighborhoods take this event very seriously, with everyone donating their time and money to be the best Contrada! Members of the community start to prepare for the following year almost immediately after the event is over. They have sagras throughout the year to raise money for the elaborate costumes and the unique parade platforms. I heard that they even inject the donkey with a shot of cocaine before the race starts to make their donkey go the fastest. IDK, never seen that before. It’s a year of hard work for one day competing to be the best!
I have been to the event two years in a row & have never seen the Palio or the Parade, la Sfilata. In the event of rain, the event is postponed to the following weekend. It has rained EVERY time I have driven to the coast to attend. Today we are driving to Forte Dei Marmi to attend the Palio tomorrow and there is a 40% chance of rain. Please Mother Nature, smettere di piovere! Please don’t rain tomorrow!
Primo di Maggio in Italy is the 1st of May, translated as Labor Day in Italy when Italians go on picnics or attend festivals or concerts. For Primo di Maggio I attended a picnic organized by my husbands best friend since he was 12 years old. The location, an old family-built stone Tuscan Farm House that has since been abandoned, but serves as a party/picnic spot. Families came out with babies & picnic blankets, in total about 60 people were in attendance. He hired two men, one an uncle of another childhood friend, to bring out the meat and work the open rotiiserie pit – sausage, chicken, pork, liver, bead and lots of sage salt and olive oil. Simple Tomato Spaghetti was served per i bimbi, the kids. The really good wine was hidden in the pantry inside & I got to drink the fancy juice! Mothers brought home-made dolci. Everyone brought money to donate to the food and wine cause. After lunch everyone played and laughed & continued to get even sillier. Tuscan slang was tossed back and forth, me understanding about 50% of all of the jokes. Everyone had a fantastic time and enjoyed la giornata in camagna!
The dreaded part about going on a vacation is often all the preparation and time mounting up to actually arriving there. Stuffing all the necessary belongings into a tiny suitcase, careful not to forget anything. Arriving to the airport two hours in advance, security lines, disgruntled airline employees. Sitting still for 10 hours-straight stuffed like a sardine in a tiny aircraft seat, crying infants, terrible airline food, crooked necks from trying to sleep sitting up. Arriving only to find lost luggage or a delayed second leg.
- Check the weather of my travel destination before I begin to pack – Rain Jacket & umbrella, winter gloves & scarf, sunscreen & bikini. Be sure to pack your suitcase the day before you are scheduled to fly out. That will give you time to add anything that you have forgotten as it comes to you. It also allows you to wake up on travel day already relaxed and ready to go.
- Weigh my luggage on my bathroom scale. I don’t want to get to the airport and realize I have to take something out bc it is over the weight limit. Check with the airline that you are flying to see what the weight limit is for checked bags and pack accordingly.
- I have my frequent flyer airline “800 number” programmed in my iPhone under my favorites & I have the airlines app on all my iDevices. This way I am in direct contact with my airline. I am able to check-in online 24 hours in advance using my smart phone. I get automatic updates any time there is a delay or gate change or any other update. I call the airline or look online to double check my seat assignment to see if there could be something more comfortable. Most often now a days flights are fully booked, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
- I also check what type of aircraft I will be flying on. Understanding what aircraft means knowing if I will have my own personal entertainment monitor. If I have one in my seat, I won’t bother to download too many movies on my iPad. I used to not look and would end up paying for & downloading the same movies that were available free to me on the flight. If there is no personal entertainment device, I download at least three movies to be sure that I am not stuck watching some idiotic film.
- Get Cash! If I am going to a different country, I exchange dollars for the local currency at my bank. DO NOT EXCHANGE MONEY IN THE AIRPORT! Its a total rip off and they will take a huge commission. If you forget to exchange your dollars, get cash out from an ATM in the new country. That is the other best option for not getting ripped off. Then use your credit card as much as possible bc your Credit Card will give you a pretty fair exchange rate, however they will tack on a foreign exchange fee.
- Call my Credit Cards to let them know what countries I plan to visit and the duration of my stay. Otherwise I will be in the middle of a shopping spree and have my card blocked by the first international transaction. Then I am stuck either with no credit card or on the phone with the credit card company trying to get everything back up and running.
- Buy snacks at the grocery store to keep in my carry-on. I am not a fan of airline food and usually do not eat what is served on the plane. It usually causes some type of stomach discomfort, makes me feel super-full for days, or just tastes gross. I buy my snacks at the grocery store bc if I wait and buy them at the airport, I will be paying double for junk food.
- I charge all of my iDevices fully and put all of my charges in a bag in my carry-on.
- Get a good nights sleep. I don’t want to be any more distressed on a long cramped flight.
- Get dressed with the Security Line & sleeping in a chair in mind. I never wear too much metal jewelry, belts, or clunky shoes that I can’t just slip on or off. I try to make it fast and easy for me & everyone else in the security line. I wear stylish but comfortable clothes. I find that I get better service if I am dressed nicely… AND I sleep better in a sports bra and cotton clothes. Don’t wear anything that you think you might want to take off to sleep! I had this uncomfortable bangle one time, that I took off and left in the airplane, gone gone jewelry!
- Turn on the news and see what is going on in the world, be it severe weather or God For Bid, Airline Drama.
- Check the Flight Status. I like to use the *** Flight Tracker APP on my iPhone. It shows you if there are any flight delays and real time flying information for my scheduled flight.
- If my flight is not too early, I always make time to work out and get my body ready to sit still in an upright position for hours on end. I always go for a long walk or get into the gym to stretch out my body and tire myself out so that sitting still for so long will be received as more of a break than a punishment. Since I have back discomfort from sitting to long, I prefer to get into the Pilates, Yoga Or Barre studio to strengthen my core on flying day. It makes a big difference on long international flights.
- I like to stop at a good restaurant with my best friends or loved ones on the way to the airport. I make it an event with at least two hours to sit leisurely and relax with my company. We laugh and catch up over a bottle of wine & nibble on appetizers. I have a full meal to tide me over until I arrive in my destination. The snacks in the carry-on are for the plane ride. Its a great way to say goodbye to my loved ones and plan what we will be doing the next time we see each other.
- I arrive to the airport two hours before my international flight is scheduled to arrive, one for domestic. I don’t want to be that person running through the airport holding up the flight. Plus you never know what the security line will be like in the airport. I always check in curbside outside of the airport with the Sky Captains if that is available. There is usually no line & I have never had met a disgruntled Sky Cap. Maybe thats bc they work for tips, so be sure to give them at least $5 for assisting you!
- I call my mother and let her know how much I love her!
- Once on the plane, shoes off, socks on and try to get comfortable. I leave in arms reach my iPad and my travel bag (it contains earphones, eye mask, hand lotion, lip balm, and my Advil PM). I want to have everything I need close by so as not to disturb fellow travelers by constantly getting up and opening and closing the overhead bin.
- I read or write or watch a movie in the first couple of hours. Then I have about two glasses of wine and my snacks during the food and beverage service. As the flight attendants have served and removed all the food trays, I take 2 Advil Pm and settle into another movie, with the hopes of dozing off for the duration of the flight!
- Wake up feeling somewhat rested and ready to begin the fun part of the travel!!!