Saturday, April 18, 2015

Italy Again?

Trevi Fountain, Rome

 “Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. 
 Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become 
common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” 
~ Wendell Berry

"You're going to Italy again?" (emphasis on again) a friend recently asked me. I didn't answer immediately preferring to look at her for a second or two.  "I don't know how you do that," she continued. "Why keep going back?"

Why, indeed.

It's not something that I can really explain. It's not something that even I understand. I feel as though there is a huge chain yanking me back. (On second thought,  it's probably not a chain. Maybe it's a strand of maccheroni alla guitarra.  :-) )  The aching for the place never leaves me. I'm hoping I can someday figure out why.

This trip, though, will be different for several reasons.

Pettorano sul Gizio
 Last year, a number of people asked me to take them with me the next time I went back to Italy. I thought they were joking, but they weren't.  Not long after I returned to the States in October, I discovered that they were serious. The thought of being able to share what I know about that beautiful country thrilled me more than I could ever put in words. I was in.

Fast forward to April 2015.  I have two groups (five people plus moi in each group) who will each spend two weeks in Italy with me this year.  I'm taking them to Rome, Sulmona, and Bologna. From each of those bases, we'll hit a number of other cities like Florence, Venice, Modena, Rocca Calascio, Scanno, Pacentro, and Pettorano sul Gizio, birthplace of my maternal grandparents.

The first photo I took in Bologna after I woke up there last year.
If you know me—and only four of the 10 going with me do—you know they will have a trip nothing like one they'd get from Brennan or Globus or some other tour company.  They'll get to see a bunch of stuff that they would never see if they were stuck on tours that gave them 45 minutes to look around a location. Except for the four days we're in Rome, tourists won't be running over them. Our day trips to Florence and Venice will start early to give them the opportunity to see both before the tourists wake up. I have a lot planned, but they'll have a lot of free time.

 Here's my theory on this entire trip:  I will share everything I know about everywhere we go. I will give them the best experience I can give them. And, more importantly, I will give them time to get out and experience the life themselves. I won't herd them, and I won't hover.  They'll have fun. They'll have an adventure. They'll love it. (I hope.) And I'll tell you all about it.

Once the second group leaves, I'll be back in Bologna for about a month.  My friends and relatives in Abruzzo cannot understand my love of Bologna, and they shake their heads at my staying there.

After Mike joins me though, we'll head back down to Sulmona for a few days. My grandmother's village celebrates its patron saints with a two-day festival, and I need (yes, need) to experience it.

So, yes, I am going back to Italy again (emphasis on again), my dear concerned friend.  I will go back until I can't.

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