Up at the Villa
Greetings fellow travelers, writers, Italophiles!
I love to travel — my bags can be packed in 15 minutes. And I especially love Italy.
My only authority as a travel writer is that I have a passport and used to love to hear my family members speak loud, passionate Italian to one another. I knew I wanted to go where that language was spoken one day, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been to Italy many times now — but never enough.
What’s been really great for me has been traveling over the years with good friends. Also, with my husband. Ah . . . Tim. My constant traveling companion, and the catalyst for so many crazy and wonderful stories that need to be told.
If you’ve ever had a funny or frustrating or life-changing experience in another county or another country, then UP AT THE VILLA is for you. And whether you’re planning a trip to the Sistine Chapel or to your comfy flowered sofa, this beautifully illustrated collection of true stories, practical tips and lessons from the road will be excellent company.
What? You don’t have Linda’s book yet?!
Named one of the “Ten Travel Books I’d Give My Girlfriends” by journeywoman.com
Top ten tips for getting along with your spouse
(or anybody else, for that matter) on the road
- Be flexible. Especially if you can’t drive a stick shift yourself.
- Keep shopping time down to a minimum. Sure, souvenirs are necessary, but you’ve got more important things to do, so pace yourself.
- Make time to do something the other one wants to do that you would probably not do if you were traveling on your own. You could be very pleasantly surprised.
- Do a little research before you travel so you don’t miss the things you both want to see.
- Stop before you get cranky. This means taking ample time for meals, beverage breaks, resting along the way and knowing when to call it a day.
- When one person senses danger, trust them and go with their instincts. If nothing’s really wrong, at least you’ve got a great story to tell.
- Spend a morning or an afternoon apart. I like to roam around and take photographs; my husband likes to get up really early and see the sunrise, then watches the early morning hustle-and-bustle in the town. Share your experiences.
- Make one night a splurge. Go to a good restaurant, drink good wine, stay there long into the night.
- Have a sense of purpose, but leave time for serendipity. If you only see the things you already know about, you could read about it in a book and not have to spend all this time and money.
- Interact with the locals. Even if you speak their language like a 10-year-old, everybody appreciates your effort. See the place from their eyes, answer their questions about the U.S., have a real exchange. It can bring you all closer. And that, to me, is what travel is all about.
Media Questions & Answers
1. What aspect of travel really excites you?
Pretty much everything, from deciding what to pack to the knowledge that I’m going to see something I’ve never seen before. Sometimes it’s a famous location or piece of art; other times, it’s walking through a small village and trying to blend in with the locals.
2. What is your worst travel experience?
Being in a really fabulous city (London) with somebody who wanted to sleep all day.
3. Have you had any life-changing experience while traveling?
Yes. My first trip to Italy in 2000 brought me face-to-face with the realization that I really am Italian, something I’d learned from my father to be pretty quiet about.
4. How do you keep your sanity when traveling with a group?
Have a plan before you go. Take two cars. Be flexible.
5. What is your #1 tip for staying sane when traveling with a spouse?
Remember to laugh.
6. How do you best navigate in a country where you don’t speak the language?
Always get a phrasebook beforehand and try to learn a few basics: Good morning, how are you?, how much is that?, where is . . .?, good-bye and thank you, at the very least. In most European countries, if you make an effort to speak in the language, the locals will make an effort to speak English. In countries where the alphabets are wildly different from ours and there’s no hope of their speaking English, smiling, being polite and pleasantly pointing will go a long way. Remember what your mother told you about the Golden Rule — it works all around the world.
7. In today’s economy, people may not be able to spend the money on travel as they have in the past. What advice can you give to those who still want the adventure of seeing new places?
Some of my most favorite trips have been taken in the very state — or even the very county — in which I’ve lived. Make an adventure of visiting a nearby place that you always passed by because you thought it was too touristy. When I lived in New York City, for instance, I never actually visited the Empire State Building or took the Staten Island Ferry until two Danish exchange students were dumped on me one day because their host had an emergency appointment. I asked them what they wanted to do, groaned at the thought of it, took them anyway and had an absolute ball! So if you can’t take a big trip right now, check into a B&B, go to a museum or visit a National Park — there’s lots to do within 100 miles of home.
8. What is your favorite travel destination and why?
The next place I go. Because I love the excitement of a new place.
9. What message do you want readers to take away from UP AT THE VILLA?
That all travel is valuable and that it can help you find your smile.
What People Are Saying About Up at the Villa
“I was hooked at the first few lines of the prologue in Linda Dini Jenkins’ Up at the Villa: Travels with my Husband. Recounting a wildly romantic tale of a young, ’60s-era Southern California man and woman who meet by happenstance at lunchtime one day and set off on an extravagant life of love and travel, the book’s introduction is enchanting. Being a sucker for a great love story, I was eager to see where this travel book was going to take me. But a reader would be mistaken to think this is just a travel book. In fact, it is part travelogue, part memoir, part recipe book, part poetry tome and part advice column. And it is, in part, a personal love story, as Jenkins is clearly compatibly connected to her travel cohort, husband Tim, who sounds like exactly the type of person everyone should travel with — adventurous, fun, impulsive, intrepid and unflappable (except when pressed to speak French, as the chapter titled Lost in Lille attests)…”
— Karen Eakins, Home and Away magazine
“Up At The Villa: Travels With My Husband is a humorous travelogue with poetry and recipes sprinkled throughout. Linda Jenkins writes about her travels with her husband, not only to Italy but to other regions also. She writes in a style that makes reading the book easy and fun. After reading this book, it made me want to go out and travel more with my wife!”
— Dan’s Journal
“Anyone who has traveled with a significant other knows the ups and downs of the journey. And Midlothian resident Linda Dini Jenkins recounts them with wit and warmth in Up at the Villa: Travels With My Husband. A love story as well as a travel memoir, Up at the Villa combines stories, essays, poetry and photography — as well as recipes and tips for travelers (through the world and through a relationship). So are we there yet? Maybe, maybe not, but the journey’s the important thing, as Jenkins points out in every page of this book.”
— Jay Strafford, Richmond Times—Dispatch
“Up at the Villa is part travel journal, part cookbook (yes, there are recipes!) and part poetry book. There are even a few travel tips and language guides. It is just the kind of book I love because you never get bored reading it. Linda Dini Jenkins has done a superb job of capturing the joy of traveling whether it is a day trip or a two—week adventure in Italy…Travels in Italy are the primary theme of Up at the Villa, but there are also stories of trips to Paris, Brussels, Vermont and even South Orange, New Jersey (which happens to be where I was born). If I had to pick one theme in this collection of travel memories it is that you have to enjoy whatever experiences come your way when you travel. As much as you may plan, things never go exactly as you think they will when you travel, but often the best experiences are the ones you did not plan.”
— Jackie Willey, www.amoretravelguides.com
“Midlothian [VA] author Linda Dini Jenkins’ new book is part scrapbook, part travel guide and part memoir told in short, chunky essays, poems and vignettes. With tasty tidbits such as how to cook exotic snail, handy French phrases such as, “I am going to kill my husband” (Je vais tuer mon mari) and the history of the all—American hamburger, Jenkins takes you with her and her adventurous husband on their gigantic leap across the pond. Ranging from poignant to silly to helpful, Up at the Villa provides a good model for documenting your own life’s journey — no matter the other passengers or how bumpy the road.”
— Valley Haggard, Book Editor for Style Weekly and Belle
“Travel Reading – Book looks at the challenges of traveling as a couple: One of the big challenges of traveling as a couple comes when one member of the pair has different desires and expectations. Linda Dini Jenkins tackles that issue in her new book, Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband . The author admits that she is a planner and her husband is a seat—of—the—pants kind of guy. Her 192—page paperback book covers the couple’s travels to such places as Tuscany, Lombardy, Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Brugge, and Paris. The collection of personal essays, stories and poetry creates a portrait of a marriage that shows how fundamental conflicts in day—to—day situations can result in amazing discoveries on the road. The book follows the couples’ problems with languages, food and worker strikes, all encountered often by regular travelers.”
— The Salt Lake Tribune
“Up at the Villa is more than a travel memoir — it is a book about exploration and education. In a unique way, Dini Jenkins illustrates her journeys through multiple locations and with various genres. From poetry and narrative, to learning guides and directions, the author paints pictures with words, inviting the reader to learn with her as well as about her. Most important, the book invites the reader to relate, which she does successfully with each chapter.
“Dini Jenkins sets the book’s ultimate thread as her relationship with her husband. However, it does not reveal every detail of their relationship in a linear way. With each location they visit or revisit, she describes their interpersonal interactions, sometimes with judgment and other times using simple observation. She ultimately describes the progress they make in their relationship as a journey of learning about each other, whether by enjoying a sunset in Italy or revisiting his hometown in South Orange, New Jersey.
“Dini Jenkins’ style is detailed, regardless of the particular genre in which she writes a chapter. Yet, she avoids often trite travel memoir styles by providing personal context about the unique history of a location, landmarks, menus, or traveling in groups. Similarly the landmarks, menus, or traveling in groups. Similarly the accompanying photographs display unique angles to a location, such as two Vermont cows with the caption ‘Ben and Jerry’s.’ Once again, the reader relates. At the close of the book, she shares ‘how to’ or ‘why go’ guides about each location. The details surpass any traditional travel guide; they simply pull out a single theme, from a unique Tuscan recipe or antique art that can’t be missed.
“Finally, Dini Jenkins invites the readers to finish their stories by providing space at the back of the book for the reader to share their own thoughts and learnings about personal travel or to paste ticket stubs from choice locations. While she calls her writings ‘subjective,’ this simple portion of the book reminds readers that all of us share individual truths about our environment and how it’s shaped us. She leaves no stone unturned in this honest, educational and inspirational piece.”
— Laura Cococcia, www.armchairinterviews.com
“Jenkins revels in the sweet life enjoyed by Americans renting Tuscan villas. She and her husband have traveled throughout Italy, and she has recorded some of their typical travel experiences in towns such as Verona and Naples. Time spent in French cities including Paris and Lille add a complementary note. But not all her encounters have been wholly positive: her dread of scorpions was put to the test in a converted mountainside Tuscan mill. American drivers spoiled by automatic transmissions will find Jenkins a kindred spirit who is both overwhelmed by manic Italians barreling down expressways and incapable of navigating uphill intersections with a stick shift. Lest she be accused turning a critical eye only on European venues, Jenkins includes chapters on her Vermont home and on South Orange, New Jersey. To enliven the prose, photographs and drawings of all sorts illuminate just about every page of text.”
— Mark Knoblauch, Booklistonline.com
“With the beauty of her prose and poetry, Jenkins provides a window on all of those small things that make Italy so alluring. At the same time she artfully captures the nuances of relationships and what makes them tick. A lovely book.”
— Kathy McCabe, Editor and Publisher,Dream of Italy Travel Newsletter, www.dreamofitaly.com
“Up at the Villa: Travels with my Husband by Linda Dini Jenkins is a great collection of stories from Linda Jenkins, who recounts her trip to Italy (and surrounding areas). It is not only a travel log that describes the beautiful Italian countryside and culture, but her relationship with her husband, Tim. Their very different personalities lead to unexpected adventures. It’s 192 pages and is a great read. I highly recommend it if you are planning to travel, or wish to travel vicariously through Linda’s eyes. Oh yeah. It also comes with delicious recipes and must—have tips for travelers.”
— Margaret Oleska, publisher of www.localtalentbooksmusic.com writing onwww.divinecaroline.com
“First, let me say that I love the cover. It is simple and free and depicts perfectly the life of the author. She is a free spirit. She has traveled the world, and I would now title her as a professional traveler. She put together stories, lessons, tips, poetry, and suggestions for this breezy book. Not many of us can live the carefree lifestyle she has. Most Americans cannot even afford a short day trip! Live vicariously through Jenkins. Who likes airports, anyway?”
— Debra Gaynor, www.ReviewYourBook.com
“If your typical travels center around tourist hotels and planned agendas, you’ll enjoy the vicarious thrill of traveling with author Linda Dini Jenkins. Her new book, Up at the Villa, combines a fresh mix of personal essays, travel narrative and touching poetry inspired by hertravels. The poetry is a wonderful way for one to remember the feelings and flavors of life’s experiences. Following Jenkins and her husband on their travels, you’ll learn a bit about some European cultures, and useful language prompts so you’ll be more prepared than Jenkins who, at moments, laughs about the approaching “language danger” when attempting a conversation with a merchant. Those of us who are equally challenged trying to speak a foreign language to pay for a small purchase or buy a train ticket can empathize. The book includes high—quality photos and lovely illustrations, making it a relaxing experience to browse, or to plan your next adventure. Based on her travel experiences, Jenkins also offers coping strategies for group travel. It’s a great way to combine visits with friends, and shared experiences, such as when renting a villa, but we all know the realities of living with different people require great understanding. Up at the Villa includes memories of the author’s trips to Paris and to Brugge, Belgium, but most of the travel is within Italy, including Tuscany, Lombardia and Liguria. There are a few abrupt shifts to other random places, including Bermuda and Idaho. Collapsing many years of happy travels, memories and experiences into a charming flashback of life’s travels, Up at the Villa is a pleasure to read and its factual details are easily absorbed along with the personal adventures. You’ll notice the anecdotes vary whether on an escorted tour of the Almalfi Coast or the more intimate experiences traveling as a group without a guide. You see lots more with a guide but nothing so unpredictable as what travelers can do unescorted, in a foreign country, with a bucket of snails.”Jenkins’ poems tell it best:
We were happy here, his conversation fusing with the sound of the waves, with the brush of his broom on the steps/Fading in and out, like the best kind of dream, just behind your eyes,/Just before you blink and it is gone.
“Jenkins, like many of us with travel in our veins, eventually interprets what “sense of place” means and how “home” can be just where you are at the moment. Up at the Villawill leave you aware of the importance of noticing, slowing down, seeing and being open to opportunities. Tomorrow, they may be unavailable or you may be moving on to other stops on the road ahead.
…We are an inauthentic part of it, of something better, simpler,/More pure. At least that’s how it feels. Up at the villa,/We pack our treasures well, hoping to keep the lessons/Safe for the impossibly long journey home.
— Helen Gallagher, www.blogcritics.org