Turning the Backyard into a Trip to Italy

Before COVID-19 hit, my mom and I had a trip planned to Road Trip through Italy to celebrate her retirement from USPS. COVID had delayed those plans indefinitely.

Last Spring was really scary for all of us. Wiping down fruits and vegetables with disinfectant, not knowing what surfaces the virus is laying on, even scared to touch the mail. My family went into a very strict quarantine, I didn't want to let my mom's retirement go un-celebrated.

I came up with the idea to build a Trip to Italy here on Long Island. We'd celebrate just my small family, but it would be a nice day of pretend and make believe to get us out of the house and make the most of these quarantined days.

Step 1: Pack a Suitcase

I packed my mom's suitcase the night before filled with her Euro's and little travel fanny pack she carries with her on her trips. Left out little toiletries in her bathroom and a note that told her when to be ready.

Step 2: Create a Trip to Italy

I spent the morning decorating my sister's backyard and picking up all the Italian goodies for our dinner. For a good trip to Italy you need five places, Ristorante, Bakery, La Gelateria, Cafe, and a wine and cheese bar. I created different stations. The trick is in the details: buying authentic food and using things I already had (a yellow umbrella for my gelato stand or bikes with a basket to create a bakery). Our menus were real menus from Rome my grandpa had saved from 45 years ago.

Step 3: Go on our "Road Trip"

At 2pm, I picked my mom up for her little Italian adventure. The drove her convertible with the top down to the North Shore. The North shore has so much history and great mansions that emulate European architecture. We vistited Chelsea Manor and Planting Fields Arboretum and walked through the floral gardens. The spring and summer blooms are so gorgeous.

Step 3: Surprise!

Time for the big surprise. My mom had thought our little day trip adventure through the North Fork was the big surprise. It was our first day out in the world since quarantine.

Step 4: Buon Apetito!

My mom was so over the moon. The backyard came out beautiful, but the food was the best part. You have to buy real, quality food, desserts, cafe if you're going to emulate Italy. It's just not believable anyway else.