When the clouds roll away on a coast spring day, everything gleams with fresh intensity.
I’m busting out the tubes.
So Max proclaimed, and it was true. Also true is what Julie said to me back in Florence just a couple of days before we left to go home. “Oh, you’ll be happy to get home, but about February, on a cold grim day, you will feel a deep unquenchable yearning in your soul for Italy.” OK, maybe those weren’t her exact words, but very nearly. So, in an effort to recapture some whisper of the flavour of that time, I have turned my eyes to coffee. Luckily, I have many, many pictures of it to choose from.
I dream of espresso, aromatic and sharp, but sweet. Sipped from thick, white porcelain cups. Even at the gas station, they would not serve a “To-go” coffee – Paolo brought it out in its perfect little cup with saucer and I drank it by the pump. It was all so delicious, every one. But the best was in the piazza of Santo Spirito, or the Boring church as Max called it.
I see his point, but I could never find it boring to sit on steps which felt the feet of Michelangelo.
And I do long to go back……… I knew I would.
Day One in Rome must have been a bit of an adjustment for my sweet, patient, globetrotting friends. From the second I clunked out the door my eyes were filled with the spectacle of light and texture and the astonishing age of ancient stones – and I did not want to miss a single inch of it.
I probably took 45 minutes just to get to the end of our block – and not only because of the cobbles (have I mentioned the cobbles??) I couldn’t roll five feet without stopping for photos, and I’m pretty sure that is not the usual rate of exploration for my friends. But no one rushed me, and in fact we all found our rhythm – Max ranging ahead to scout, Paolo a bit ahead subtly directing Vespas and cars around us, and Lisa – well she was behind me. I have a feeling she didn’t mind too much (after the shock of slow wore off). I’ve seen the photos she took, and they are amazing.
So we snailed, and discovered, and uncovered details that quick movers might miss. Like the lions on the lintels.
And street art.
So the poor scoot, made for malls – not battlefields, ran out of battery and one of my fears was faced on the first day. I don’t know why I worried, Max was a skilled and careful pusher and we made it back. I was perhaps a bit shaken and stirred, but so incredibly full of wonder, I couldn’t have cared less.
Never will I forget the first day I was somewhere else, somewhere so far from home… somewhere as amazing as Italy.
It was all very fine, in fact extremely exciting, to wake up in Rome at 4am, have coffee with my companions and leap out into the day… Jetlag! World Travellers have Jetlag, and it is a breeze!!! One evening nap, that was all. So I think, It’ll be the same when I get home – a couple of funny days maybe. Easy.
Well, I have been corrected. I had Grand Designs of catching up on all my posts, sketching reams of drawings, and beginning scads of paintings – all in the first week back. Instead, I wake up at 4am, wander around my sweet warm home in a grog, and turn into a bobblehead at 7pm every night. Nothing can keep me awake, not even a bright crackling fire or pups squashing me, not coffee, tea, a nice glass of Malbec or even the opening game of hockey season. Oh well.. at least finally today I managed to pull out an ink drawing I did from the bell deck at the Masseria and as I added colour, my mind flew back to Puglia.
Cool October breeze, some sun and some rain, I’ll take it easy and soon enough I’ll be back to normal. I still can’t believe I did it. Drowsy weirdness is a tiny price to pay for such an adventure, mine forever now.
And, the good thing about being sleepy all the time – – my dreams are filled with Italy. Slowly, my blog will be too.
Lisa Marr’s vision, her sensitive eye never misses a thing.
The Medici Chapel, The Bargello, The Loggia, The Uffizi, La Specola, The Duomo and a zillion other churches.
Michelangelos (and copies of Michelangelos and possible Michelangelos and what we believe to be falsely attributed Michelangelos and even some Michelangelo graffiti which was my favorite of all) and Donatellos and Bronzinos and Cellinis and Botticellis and Pontormos and one show-offy Jeff Koons.
Paintings and sculptures and frescoes and carvings and some truly creepy wax medical models from the late 18th century.
75 Virgins (and counting).
Rennaisance and Gothic and Mannerist and Medieval.
Otrarno and Santo Spirito.
The house where the Mona Lisa lived.
Blue sky and white clouds.
Sketching and taking turns reading The Catcher In The Rye out loud in the late afternoon.
Fig gelato and Pear/Ricotta gelato and Melon gelato and Peach gelato and Forest Fruits gelato and Stracciatella gelato and Pistacchio gelato…
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Thick with humidity, the skies unleashed torrential, awe-inspiring rain, thunder and lightening. Our first morning, we woke at 4am jet-lagged, and realizing we would have to move to a more accessible apartment – 500 year old (or more?) Roman steps too daunting. But we had to wait out the storm, and it was glorious. Lightening even struck right in the square below our open window.
But Santa Barbara loomed above, protecting us. We laughed, drank espresso and ate sweet, fresh pastries gathered by Paolo (during a tiny window of less rain) and the dismay of wrong lodgings faded away, replaced by excitement.
Do not even ask about the Zebra.
At exactly the right time…sun…and the streets dried in minutes. Off we went, just around the corner – home Rome with a lift.
Usually our travels revolve around teaching. This trip is all about learning.
Instead of heading back to VanTech with the rest of the kids, our nephew Max is taking his ninth grade year off to explore the world… We’re not sure whether to call it Home Schooling, Unschooling, School of Life, the Grand Tour or just a plain old good time but we’re excited to see where it all leads.
Our dear friend Sheryl is a talented artist with a passion for Renaissance painters. This is her very first trip abroad. All of us are new to dealing with the often frustrating issues and surprise perks of mobility-challenged travel: How the heck do we get up those stairs? Hey! We get to go to the front of every line! No access?!?! Free admission! Experiencing the world from this new viewpoint is a humbling lesson in strength, faith, patience and perseverance.
There never really…
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Nope, not business class. But Ladies on Scooters with Escorts get assistance to bypass every huge meandering line of poor sweaty people just trying to get checked in or through security. Hours of misery. Max reminded us, and sure enough it was like the seas parted. As good as Gold.
I was nervous to leave the scoot at the plane door, but in we got.
All was well, and my scooter awaited me in Frankfurt – but then the Mis-Adventures began. After a four hour layover, we again boarded – this time to Rome…
Lufthansa Captain: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have landed and are at the Terminal – but the person in control of the docking mechanism is not here. they say it will be a few minutes. (pause) I don’t know what “a few minutes” is in Italy.”
Sure enough, no scoot. A Tall thin paramedic angel named Francesca pushed me for miles in a wheelchair and the intrepid Paolo finally tracked it down. In one piece.
Off we trooped, found our pick-up, had a fight with him, made up, and sped out to the city – – and my eyes, bleary eyes, grew wide with sights of Roman walls, tall pines and earthy coloured buildings – all troubles were forgotten when we arrived in Campo de’ Fiori…