On the Edge of Burnout in Florence, Italy

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We had no clue how tired we were.

Like, mind-numbingly, horrifyingly, exhausted. I was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown and depression was looming overhead.

Remind me why we do this again?

Our bank account was almost non-existent. We had been doing back to back press trips for 3 weeks. We hadn’t had a single day to ourselves. Oh, and I realized that this isn’t how I want to travel in the future.

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We are slow travelers. It sucks that it took us to get to this point to realize it. More power to you backpackers that fly through any place in a matter of a few days.

Italy had brought me to tears multiple times. Rome is hard. Not only was it the only country where we had a serious language barrier (they refused to allow me to speak Spanish to get points across), but the chaotic nature was just a bit too much after going full speed for long.

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How did people vacation here?

It wasn’t until we arrived to Florence and into the company of the amazing guys over at Beers & Beans that we were able to feel okay. They allowed us to slow down.

For the first time in months we were able to slowly get to know a place. And over a period of 2 weeks I became enamoured with Florence. This is my type of town.

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It was clean. It was kept. The buildings were freshly painted. The pigeons were held at bay. I didn’t feel scared to walk around at night. It was small things like this that allowed me to finally breathe – to relax – to enjoy what we work so hard to have.

It is an art hub. Michelangelo called this place his home along with Leonardo, Raphael, and (no, not Donatello) Botticelli.

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While walking around the city lost in my thoughts I realized that this was the Italy I had iconicized in my head. Street performers had accordion music bouncing off the walls. The golden hour here was one of the most magic I had ever seen.

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Eye candy was everywhere.

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I got to have an awesome cappuccino and a cannoli is the amazing Piazza dei Republica.

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…and when I needed solitude, Shaun and I would walk to the only open air museum in the world. Open 24 hours, this place is where we would sit on the steps, talk, and just stare in awe at the beauty of the sculptures exhibited. The place was virtually a tomb at 2:30am but one of the most calming locations of the trip.

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Every couple of days we would make our way down to the farmer’s market to pick our our produce for our homemade meals. We would stock up on local house wine or peruse the aisles of the grocery store picking multiple cheap bottles to try with our pasta. An evening stroll would turn into a quick gelato run.

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Things were just so perfect.

I feel so incredibly lucky that we got the opportunity to live like locals and to slow down. I think I would have given up everything and headed home had Beth and Randy not had been there to be our guardian angels.

There really is nothing else like being in an amazing city with amazing friends.

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35 Responses to “On the Edge of Burnout in Florence, Italy”

  1. Amanda Pomilla Hagood December 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Oh dear! I’m sorry to hear you had such a rough time, especially in Rome. I know you travel very differently than the average tourist (which is awesome!). I didn’t have a tough time at all in Rome, and it was Florence that I had a harder time bonding with even though I thought I’d like it more…I think I needed more time with it, and the one night I got to eat dinner out, the food was terrible (how can that happen in Italy?!)

    Anyway, I’m glad you found some folks to brighten your world and ease you off the edge. It’s an amazing life you lead, but I’m sure most people won’t understand how difficult it can be. It looks so glamorous in bullet points, doesn’t it 🙂

    I hope you always find good people on your travels!

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      HAHA! Yeah, I’ve heard that Florence is kinda hard to find good food. Due to our budget we stuck with cooking and eating pizza so I didn’t get to check out the restaurant scene.

      It is always seen in bullet points. The grass is always greener!

  2. Bethany ~ twoOregonians December 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Dead on. We bumped up against burnout in Italy, too, and had to just blow the whistle and call “STOP!” Your stories of the better-paced life are music to my ears. Markets and wandering the streets and spending time with good friends… Glad you guys you spend time with Randy and Beth and enjoy the calm life in Italy.

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      I think Italy is just what brings people over the edge. It is a hard country if you aren’t prepared for that.

  3. The Dad December 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    love the TMNT reference.

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      I had to! We were giggling the entire time.

  4. Tom @ Waegook Tom December 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Three weeks of back-to-back press trips DOES sound exhausting. I’m glad you guys took it slow in Florence and just relaxed. Rushing about from place to place does take its toll. I’m more of a fast traveller, but when I’m on the road I do need to take the occasional few days to do nothing but walk the streets, read books and chill out in cafes.

    It blows that you had to get to the brink of depression to realise that such a packed schedule in such a short space of time isn’t for you guys, but at least now you know what your tolerance levels are in the future.

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      I wish I was a fast traveler. We could see more for a smaller amount of money! lol. I just get so tired from constantly moving around too much – that and repacking my backpack a million times just gets depressing.

  5. TammyOnTheMove December 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    Such a shame that you had a hard time in Rome. It is such a beautiful city. I am glad it all worked out for you in Florence though. I loved my stay there two years ago. Since I am not a full time traveller unfortunately I can’t travel slowly, so I know what you mean by travel fatigue. I always make a list of things I want to see, but by the time I have done a few I am just too exhausted to go on more. Gosh, just realized I sound like an old lady at the tender age of 31. :-/

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

      It was beautiful! It just had its price for me.

      I’ve done the lists of things to see (in Japan!) and when I came home I needed a vacation from my vacation!

  6. Cate Brubaker December 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    I wish more people understood the difference between vacation and travel. They are two very different animals.

    However, I am so glad that your moment of peace caught up to you in Florence.

    You guys rock!

    Love,
    Cate

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

      It is a super huge difference. If my life was a vacation, I would be in zen mode the whole time.

      *crosses fingers to win lottery*

  7. Amanda December 6, 2012 at 1:37 am #

    Gorgeous shots, as usual.

    I’m glad to hear Florence was able to save you from your burnout. The city is definitely on my list. Maybe next year…

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

      Thanks lady! Florence is an easy city to get good shots!

  8. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures December 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Fast travel sucks, but for people who aren’t full time travelers it’s all we have! These photos are GORGEOUS!!!!!!

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

      Thank you lady! I know the reason for fast travel – Shaun and I did it for many years until this point. I guess I got spoiled on our Latin America tour when the pace is so relaxed.

  9. Michael Hodson December 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    I know the feeling well. Was going through it right about when you guys were also. Sometimes it just gets to you and you need a little down time. And wine. And cigars.

    Damn it. Now I know what I want to do tonight.

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

      I think TBEX killed me a bit with all the trips before and after – which I guess now I know my limit. It just sucks to learn the hard way.

      Happy cigar time!

  10. Pete December 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    You picked a pretty nice spot to unwind and get your travel mojo back. Be sure to ask Dalene about her little run in with this city whenever we cross paths 🙂

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      Will do. Berlin soon? 😀

  11. Alex December 12, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    When I’m on a one or two week trip, like I was to Iceland this summer, I don’t mind going FULL ON NON STOP, because I know it will be over at some point. But for this big trip I have coming up, five months back in Southeast Asia… oh, I am taking it slow. You can’t travel fast-paced for five months without a big burnout. Even three weeks of intense travel can leave you needing a vacation 🙂 Glad you got one!

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      Two weeks I can do. We were on like crazy for Iceland – but after that I start fading fast. Good luck in SEA!

  12. Ayngelina December 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    I totally understand what you mean, back to back press trips while they sound amazing are really back to back work trips. It was a good idea to just slow down and don’t leave until you feel better.

    • Erica December 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

      I think we were just so stoked we were chosen for so much we wanted to take advantage of the opportunities! But GOOD LORD it was hard!

      • Ayngelina December 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

        I get that way too, now I turn down stuff if it’s too short. I need a few days to just chill, you know like what tourists do 🙂

        • Erica December 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

          That totally follows the “you live you learn” rule. I now know for the future! 😀 Being a tourist is a super important part of putting ourselves through this.

  13. Abby December 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    What a place to recover from burnout. Jealous! And — I FEEL YOU. I need major rejuvenation.

    • Erica December 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

      Yeah. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to recover. Sending healing thoughts YOUR way!

  14. Sebastian December 14, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    OMG, this looks and sounds so beautiful! Been many time to northern Italy and to Napoli but that’s about it… How sick is this photo of the chess players in front of the church! LOVE IT!!!!

    • Erica December 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      I saw that picture of the chess and squealed. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect moment!

  15. Emily in Chile December 14, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    I am still very much a fast traveler just because of time constraints and being a crazy who wants to see it all, but this sounds like heaven.

    • Erica December 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

      Major kudos to you. I just can’t do it. Kills me.

  16. Tiana Kai December 18, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    I love this post! The pictures are great and it’s so nice to read that you both were able to use Florence as your refuge. I’ve been in Florence since April and love it and learn to appreciate it more and more. One day I may not be living here and it breaks my heart to know that. It is a special place, so it’s impressive that you were able to stay 2 weeks! Hopefully you saw a bit around Chianti, but if not, Florence has enough to keep anyone busy and in all honesty why leave when the food is so damn good!

  17. Frank @ The Wondernuts June 14, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    stumbleupon your blog, cool photos! the cannoli look delicious!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      Thanks Frank! They were DELICIOUS.

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