Scattered Thoughts – From Here to Italy

I’m home from the ‘best ever trip to Italy’, and I’m having some trouble organizing my thoughts. “How was your trip?” everyone asks. “W-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l !!!!”, I respond over and over. I zig zagged from the top of the boot to the heel and back again,stopping to visit friends (meeting some for the first time) along the way.
I learned some things while I was in Italy. First, I can be more generous and show greater hospitality. Also, wine with lunch does not necessarily constitute alcoholism. Things don’t always go as planned, so it is important to be flexible. How many times did I hear people say with a shrug of their shoulders “Well, this IS Italy” ? They have come to expect the unexpected, and roll with the punches. I learned that it is worth the time and energy it takes to properly prepare fresh ingredients because every meal can and should be a celebration. Believe me, home cooked Italian food is something worth celebrating. I discovered that there are more ways to flush a toilet than I ever dreamed possible. Look up, look down, look all around, there is a flusher somewhere! The one that stumped me was cleverly hidden behind a curtain. And finally, my language skills need some work. Well, actually they need a lot of work.

The first family I visited lives in the south on the Adriatic. This was the first time we were meeting in person. Until now, we had only seen and spoken to each other over the internet. They picked me up at the airport all smiles and kisses, depositing me in the backseat while they made a valiant effort to speak slow enough for me in my jet lagged stupor to understand every third word or so. Before I knew it we were rocketing along the highway, weaving in and out of traffic without a care in the world. I happen to have a strange reaction to speed. It makes me giddy. I spent the next 30 minutes trying not to giggle like a little girl so they wouldn’t think they had an unstable, hysterical American on their hands. Of course we landed – I mean, arrived safely in time for lunch, which seemed more like dinner. I won’t dwell on the food. Let me just assure you that everything you have heard is correct. It is spectacular, fresh and abundant. In this home no meal was ever served without a carafe of homemade wine, and usually ended with a homemade liquor. I could get used to this. The youngest son (about 14 years old), home for lunch from school helps himself to a glass of wine. Nobody slaps his hand or even raises an eyebrow. I wonder… “Is he returning to school after lunch? How do Italian students stay awake during Algebra class after eating a big meal and drinking wine?” My algebra days being behind me, I’m planning on a riposa (nap) followed by the traditional passeggiata before dinner.
My next stop was a fairy tale village called Barga in northern Tuscany. It’s a medieval town complete with four story palazzi hugging narrow curving lanes. From my third floor window I could see much of the town and surroundings mountains. It was magic. Enchanted. I felt light headed, as I climbed the winding stairway to the top floor where the walls are frescoed and the rooftop views stunning. I stayed at Casa Cordati ,the home of a deceased painter of some renown and considerable skill. There is a museum featuring his works, lovingly curated by his grandson. I wandered through the museum rooms marveling at the works and gaining inspiration. It was worth the hours of unpredictable train travel, with late arrivals and missed connections to get here. I’m hoping that the difficulty of finding Barga keeps it hidden from hoards of tourists until I can return to spend more time.
I’ll continue this in my next post when I visit more friends in Tuscany and travel up to the Swiss border.


1 Comment

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One response to “Scattered Thoughts – From Here to Italy

  1. Glad you liked Italy, you caught the spirit of the people 🙂

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