The Pettersens take Tuscany

Members of the travel industry ritually self-harmed this week when it was announced that felonious halfwit Tommy Lee would soon be debuting his own travel show on the Syfy channel.

In related news, travel TV producers on both coasts unanimously did not spit out their coffee upon hearing the breaking news that an alarmingly photogenic, professional travel writer, with 47 countries under his belt, and co-author of the Lonely Planet Tuscany & Umbria that’s currently gracing bookstores, announced that he was going to lead his retired parents on a two week tour of Tuscany.

But wait, it gets better. The travel writer’s father has never left the US! In fact, he’s only been on two commercial flights in his life: round trip Minneapolis to LA. His mother has left the country twice: once to visit her eldest and cutest son in Paris in 1993 and a brief trip to Mexico.

Oh, it gets even better! The travel writer in question rarely travels with other people, because, well, they’re often annoying. And he’s never traveled with people who aren’t accustomed to his patented three-minute, single-breath cursing jags and prodigious capacity for wine consumption.

Sweet pole-dancing Jesus, what manner of morbid, viewer-satisfying hijinks will come of all this??

Yes, my friends, the travel writer is me and the parents are, as such, my parents. The time and leisure of retirement has inspired them, finally, to see what consumes the vast majority of my life (outside of drinking Strongbow and watching TV). It helps that both have evolved into enthusiastic restaurant goers over the years, with a special affinity for Italian cuisine. Furthermore, my father, an amateur cyclist/racer since I was a wee boy – who in 2010, at age 66, rode over 10,000 miles, right after a hip replacement – is bringing along his feather-light road bike so as to sweat lavishly all over the Tuscan countryside and possibly recreate key scenes from the 1979 film “Breaking Away.”

Now while Tuscany has its own special brand of travel challenges (unselfconsciously inflated prices, useless signage, dreadful public transport, atrocious internet access), it’s no, say, India in so far as culture shock goes. I’m sure my parents will cope just fine, particularly with me leading the way through an area that I know intimately. Though I do worry slightly that zapping them straight into one of the most visually pleasing places on Earth will spoil them for any possible future trips. I’m belatedly wondering if I shouldn’t have sent them to Berlin, Naples, Andorra or Monaco first.

Feigned drama aside, in all likelihood this trip will be filled with mellow days and lavish meals – until I introduce my parents to my 18-year-old, Italian, exotic dancer fiancée. (In case any travel TV producers are still reading.)

Seriously, I’m looking forward to this. I have never actually vacationed in Tuscany, so this will be a bit of a novelty for me too. And I hope that Tuscany’s business owners, with their astonishingly long memories, will see fit to sing embarrassingly elaborate praises about me to my parents. No really guys, sing embarrassingly elaborate praises about me or I’ll drop you from the book. Haha, just kidding.

(No, really.)