When we told people we were going to be teaching in Italy for a semester, we were often asked, “What are you going to do with the baby?” They weren’t asking how we would manage traveling with her; they wanted to know who in the U.S. would be keeping her for the twelve weeks we'd be gone.
Traveling with a four-month-old is definitely harder than traveling alone, but it’s not as hard as you might think. We survived—and thrived—with our curious little tyke on multiple adventures, through all kinds of weather, on various terrain, and on just about every form of transportation possible.
And the best part: for the past three months, Ariel has essentially gone to work with us. She has had what almost no baby gets: both parents with her all day every day. Not only that, but she’s been surrounded by her “amici,” the students and staff who dote on her and who have become her adoptive family.
Ariel is naturally curious and kicks her feet excitedly when she's in her car seat because she knows we are about to do something fun. Granted, the bumpy cobblestones often put her to sleep, so she isn’t always awake for the site we’re seeing. Some of her favorite books are in Italian, and she loves the lilt of the language.
With Ariel as a conversation starter—usually her smile draws people in—we’ve met a lot of locals and fellow travelers, all with a positive response. Traveling with a baby has brought out the best in people and also in us.
We have lots of stories to tell Ariel when she’s older about the places she’s been and the wonderful people she’s met. We’re thankful for the gift of spending so much time with her, and we look forward to bringing her back to Italy again someday when she can remember all the fun she’s having.
— Paulette Bane, visiting professor
My name is Ariel. I’m five months old, and I’m at HUF this semester with my parents and thirty-three students. Robbie, Mona, and Grant have been my own personal tour guides, taking me all over Florence. Sometimes Grant even gives me my own headset. Florence, or Firenze if you want to be authentic, has lots of cool museums. And most of them have tons of baby statues, which is awesome. The best part is that they have some statues you can touch, which is really thoughtful of the museums since little people like me learn through all our senses. Everyone is so nice to me. I often get to cut line, skip security, and even take special elevators. Did I mention that most of the locals that I meet call me “la principessa” or “the princess”? I really like that. I can’t do everything though. Grant took me to Palazzo Vecchio because it has great views of the Duomo. I wanted to climb to the top of the tower, but the guard said I was too small. I’ll have to wait until I am six years old. That’s okay. I’ll just have to come back one day. Well, I better go. It’s time for my nap.
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