Small Town America, through the eyes of Waldo, FL

In a recent drive through Waldo, Florida on the way to the awesome Waldo Flea Market and Antique Village (the biggest in North Florida!!), I was surprised to find that this Florida Ghost Town looks a lot like the midwest – just warmer and with more palm trees.  The trains come less frequently, the downtown district is full of empty storefronts and vacant lots, and there wasn’t a person to be found.

Going throughout these sorts of towns in the Midwest I usually find that I can place a lot of the blame on Wal-Mart.  The big box that pays small salaries has obliterated much of our once-thriving small town squares and downtown districts.  While I don’t know this to be the reason for the state of Waldo, I’m sure that Mr. Walton isn’t far behind.

There is an odd beauty to these little ghost towns, and while this isn’t my home, it reminds me of all of our homes in small town America, and why we left.

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Travel Bug: Civitavecchia, Italy

 

Travel to Europe is long and at times stressful, but the journey to Civitavecchia was totally worth it.  A somewhat worn-out seaside town, the views from almost anywhere are beautiful here.

Upon arriving in Rome, you board a train out to Civitavecchia, usually for the express purpose of docking a cruise ship a day later, and this trip was no exception.  Having traveled for about 30 hours without sleep, we walked from our charming bed and breakfast up into the town for take out pizza (post-afternoon nap, of course).  The shop was filled with locals, which meant that this was going to be great pizza.  In fact, we hadn’t encountered any American tourists in this town at all.

We stayed the night at Bed and Breakfast Casamica, which has only two rooms.  The other room was occupied by a friendly family from Madrid, who we ended up chatting with for a couple of hours over a bottle of wine and a slab of prosciutto as the sun set.  Our room lead out onto a patio shaded by an overhead lattice of grapevines and a beautiful view of the Mediterrean Sea.  Unlike the other seaside port areas I’ve been to, this town appears to be unaffected by the influx of American tourists that take over every summer.  Maybe I’m just deluding myself, since Civitavecchia is the main port to Rome after all, and, I’m assuming, innundated by tourists during the high season.  But this particular day, I saw few people who looked American (i.e. wearing Nikes and fanny packs), and heard virtually no English.  Although the local venders and business owners don’t appear overly annoyed if you don’t speak more than five words in Italian, they also don’t cater to tourists…. There are no golden arches jutting into the sky over the red roof tops, no run-of-the-mill cheap souvenir shops with stupid t-shirts reading “I got drunk in Civitavecchia”…. you get the idea.   The point is, I’m sure there are far more charming and “Italian” small towns out there, but the view and close proximity to Rome definitely make it worth a visit, perhaps during a few week days that all the cruise ships are at sea.