VERONA — One honeymoon. 90,000 kilometers. 321 days. Two rules: 1) never take an airplane, and 2) never pay more than 15 euros for a meal for two.

Elisa Bocca, a 32-year-old interpreter, and Alessandro Bocca, a 37-year-old photographer, are the Italian stars of this global honeymoon. They travelled through the United States, Mexico, South America, China, Russia and Europe — 26 different countries in total — finally arriving back in Verona where they started.

“As soon as we met, we started to talk about this project,” says Elisa, “It was a dream; a lot of people thought we were completely crazy: I gave up a permanent position, and Alessandro dropped all the work he had taken on. But we weren’t happy with our lives, so we jumped in the deep end. Now we have lots of unknowns in front of us, but we are new people, positive people, and very aware that we have made a great investment.” 

Both because Bocca is scared of flying, and because going slowly means you can capture every single detail of the journey, the duo chose to travel only by bus, train and boat. They recounted their adventure, day by day, on their blog www.coipiediperterra.com. Their transport requirements had a huge influence on their itinerary and their chosen destinations. “We wanted to go west to follow the spring and the summer,” says Alessandro. “We had designed our ideal route, but costs and transport timetables made us change our plans.”

Photo: coipiediperterra Facebook page

The United States, for example, was not among the destinations on the top of the newlyweds' original list, but after spending night after night on the Internet searching for an Atlantic crossing, Miami emerged as the best solution. “We discovered that cruise ships sell off tickets when they have to relocate from one corner of the planet to another, with discounts of up to 80%,” recalls Alessandro. “So we crossed the Atlantic spending very little, then in Miami we bought bus tickets for 26 euros each which took us the 4,000 kilometers to the border with Mexico.”

Cargo ships and no-star hotels

To get from Chile to Hong Kong, the two globetrotters jumped on a cargo ship. Again thanks to the Internet, they found a cheap transfer on a merchant ship: 28 days sailing across the Pacific with 24 crew members.

“It was definitely not a relaxing holiday,” says Elisa. “But meeting new people and being immersed in new cultures all the time has made all our efforts worthwhile. Each time that we reached a new place we looked for somewhere to stay — sometimes with friends, or with friends of friends — but always hunting for the cheapest solutions: hostels, no-star hotels, families renting out rooms or sofa beds."

On the Great Wall - Photo: coipiediperterra Facebook page

The same thing applied to buying tickets: In places like China or Asia, they could do everything online. But in South America, she recalled: "You had to check everything hundreds of times, sometimes only to find out that the bus you were waiting for would come by a week later.”

Here are some of the tallies: 47,000 photos taken, 130 places slept in, more than 2,000 hours spent on transport. Romantic, captivating and, with a few adjustments, doable for all budgets. “You need to be flexible and make a few small sacrifices, knowing that, for a year, your house will be a rucksack on your back,” says Alessandro. “We calculated an initial budget, even though we knew that it would be difficult to make a reliable estimate. But on balance, we can say that we have spent a very similar amount to how much we would have spent during a year in Italy, taking into account rent, bills, car insurance for two cars, and food costs."

And one final calculation: "It is true that we haven’t had a salary for these last 12 months, but I can assure you that as people we have gained infinitely more.”