How to keep an 11 year-old boy from getting bored in Italy: Plan the Unusual, Freaky, Fun and Totally Alien for him.
Of course, I want this voyage to change Lucas' outlook on life and have a longterm effect on who he becomes as a man. When I went to live (for just under a year) in France in the Seventies, it changed my whole outlook on life, politics, food, and culture. I learned some of a new language. I saturated myself with French folklorique musique and put up with the likes of Johnnie Hallyday "rock n roll". Of course I want him to see the miracles of The David and Sistine Chapel, but I don't want to bore him with waits on extremely long lines and hall after hall of statue after statue. I mean, how much marble can a young boy take (that is, unless they are the colorful, rolling kind)?
I want him to notice all the small things too... how we are the same but oh so different from people living in another culture: Clothes hanging on the balconies to dry, tiny grocery stores selling really fresh and flavorful fruit and strange looking veggies, lemons as big as grapefruits, weird 3 wheeled cars, roads so curvy and twisty that you have to hold your breath around each hairpin, "old" buildings not just 200 years old (as we have here in Pennsylvania) but over 2000 years old, and after dinner a stroll (passagiata) instead of watching a overly long episode of America's Got Talent....
I've also loaded my Google Earth pin maps with lots of other interesting and fun options: Italian go-karting (a real sport there), a cool amusement park (for a fun break), a huge cavern (Grotti di Castellana near Bari), thousands of real dinosaur footprints (Puglia), a prehistoric "caveman" (Altamura Man), bread that can last for a month (Pane Altamura), a hot air balloon ride over Tuscany, the "Manhattan Towers" of San Gimignano, a Ghost Town or two, a volcano, a night sleeping in an Oz-like house called a Trullo (near Alberobello), huge radio telescopes, an abandoned missile base, sea caves, a boat ride below the cliffs of Amalfi (I'll let him drive the boat), a tremendous sinkhole (he bacame a sinkhole expert after last year's science project), and some other surprises that neither Lucas or Lisa know about. Maybe we won't get to all of them, but depending on the mood and the weather, there are lots of things that I hope will keep him from getting bored.
And if all this fails, there's gelati... pizza, more gelati... then more pizza... then gelati...