The Case for Just Sitting There: A Better Way to Travel
When you travel somewhere with a list of a bazillion must-see sights all with different opening and closing days and times, it will be hard to convince yourself to just sit somewhere for an extended period of time. Here is why that’s a mistake.
I understand the urge to do every single thing you read about in a guidebook or on Trip Advisor (when will I ever be here again? This trip cost me lots of money—shouldn’t I make the most out of it?).
Just like you can burn out on a job, you can get burn out on a trip. We’ve done the whole schedule-every-hour see-as-much-as-possible trips before, but for a recent trip to Italy we were much more relaxed.
And guess what? We spent a lot of it just sitting around not doing anything…and it was lovely! Florence was hot, sunny, and crowded to the brim with large groups of tourists (who only move in packs, as you may know). Instead of elbowing through crowds and waiting in absurdly long lines, we spent a lot of time sitting. Sitting on a bridge on the Arno. Sitting on a bench in the sculpture enclave on Piazza della Signoria. Sitting in a park with shade! Sitting. Sitting. More sitting.
Do you know what happens when you just sit (in addition to letting your poor tired feet get some rest)? You see things. Hilarious things. Odd things. On the bridge over the Arno we watched a wedding bride and her groom get photos taken with Ponte Vecchio in the background. The bride was full on in her wedding dress and of course this caused many people to stop and stare (and take selfies with the couple in the background).
We spent the majority of our time in Cinque Terre sitting on “our bench” watching waves crash into the rocks below us. When you sit for so long you don’t even have to wait for a spectacle—you can come up with stories on your own.
We had a story about the local man who came and fished off the breakwater every day for about 15-20 minutes (and never caught anything).
We were in Manarola, which is basically one insanely steep hill from the highway to the sea with houses and shops nestled into the cliffs. It’s a pain to walk up the main road, so when we saw a young man with a bike we made up all kids of stories about how a bike is a bad idea in Cinque Terre (we also named him Matt Damon because he was alone but stopped to chat with a young couple—it was just too Talented Mr. Ripley to not draw a parallel).
We watched a toddler and her grandfather pull off an ingenious ruse with the pigeons—grandpa lured the birds by feeding them pieces of bread while granddaughter would sneak attack and chase after them. (No birds were harmed).
In Tuscany we sat. Mostly with wine glasses in our hands. Tuscany was made for sitting and soaking in the countryside.
Even in Rome we made time to just sit. We would position ourselves in a prime spot—like on the bleachers in front of the forum ruins. You could sit and imagine ancient Rome as well as people watch all of the entertaining tourists.
Next time you’re planning a trip, resist the urge to schedule every moment and embrace the times when you can just sit and watch the world go by.