I’ve been asked why I have still written so little about Italy, and as with anything, when it’s close to me… it always takes me longer to let go of, to put out there, to breathe life into the memory with words that never seem to do the justice I see in my mind.
Italy was incredible. Oh so small a word that seems. The hills of Tuscany rolled on forever as the miles of grapes hung in their glory as far as the eye could see. We were there for a total of 8 days, and I probably spent a full 24 hour period pulling the car to the side of the road to catch a photo of something that had taken my breath away. And there were ten million moments like that I had to pass by.
In the United States, we build roads wherever we want to… if there is a mountain there, we move it… or build over it… but in Italy, you go through them. As soon as a mountain appears in front of you, there’s a tunnel that you go through, then the light is shining through from the other side and you’re staring into a beautiful valley, then a tunnel, then a valley, it happens quickly and majestically.
The hillsides that are not covered in grapes or ancient buildings are speckled with wildflowers. The air has a clean crispness to it that fills your lungs until they feel as if they can hold no more. We drive from Rome to the southeast toward the home of our ancestors, Potenza. Go figure this is the only place we get flipped off in. It was very much like home. 😉
As I am driving and operating the camera, of course we have to make several dozen pit stops, sometimes I find I am parking the car just off the side of the road, but not quite far enough to keep passing cars from honking, having to swerve to avoid us, and kick up gravel at us. This hardly slowed me from making some very dangerous camera stops. Well how often does a girl get to do a photo shoot of Italy? Not every day I tell you, not every day.
This is the GIANT SUV that we rented while we were over there. It would probably fit in my big Coach purse, but on the streets there it was extremely large. This was a blessing and a curse. The “funnest” part about driving this thing was its stick shift… in Italy they put REVERSE where 1st gear goes. Boy is that friggin hilarious the first 5 times.
The best part of driving in Italy was the company. My Grandmother was riding shotgun and my mom was in the backseat as the navigator. Since none of us speak much Italian… we spent a lot of time cussing each other in English as road signs left us staring at the stars wishing Santa could somehow come early and deliver a GPS.
The second best part about driving in Italy was the frequent stops for FAST FOOD. Don’t roll your eyes yet, when I say fast food, I mean we stopped at a grocery store and stocked up on paper plates, plastic cups… Salami, prosciutto, olives of every shape and flavor, ricotta cheese, provolone cheese, fresh bread, and bottle after bottle of vino. Then Mom and Grandma kept our plates and cups full as I drove.
Things in Italy have a natural tendency to look old, mostly because…they are… but the land, looks as if no one has settled there. It seems there is space in all directions and it stirs the natural explorer that dwells inside. We hated to lay down and sleep at night, afraid we may miss something. Our time was limited, yet we were grateful for every second.
We learned a lot about ourselves and each other on this trip. There were navigation moments that were so extremely frustrating we were all about to walk in opposite directions, there were heartfelt sunsets on terraces while dinner was served that seemed as if we had all met in a dream, and there were hysterical moments lost in translation but not lost in memory. There’s so very much more to the journey, and I will tell it, piece by piece as time permits.