It appears this will be more challenging than expected. Looking at flights I realized that I will not be able to be in Cerda for the artichoke festival, apparently this is a very popular time to travel to Italy. Very disappointed, but I will move forward. So now, a date is yet to be determined. On the budgeting front, looks like about $7500.00 will suffice, guess I know where my pay check is going this year! Looking for a good language learning program that is effective and affordable ( any suggestions?) For now, I am using a free online program from BBC and it will do for the time being. I feel that if you travel to another country you must have a basic understanding of the native tongue. I have learned several words and see this as a taste of the language. I do have to admit, it is a lot harder than I thought. I speak French almost fluently but Italian is not as similar as I thought it would be. My next step is to browse the blogs and look for hot spots that only locals know about.