Volcanoes blow, plans change, an officious French Air France agent, Marie, pulled strings and somehow we got to Italy and back as planned, with Paris for a few days at the end. You return reflecting about it all, knowing that travel is not an especially sustainable act, and you want to feel that it means something. It’s expensive and thrilling, sometimes uncomfortable. But we’re human and there’s a timeless urge to know what’s around the bend, for seeing and meeting fellow humans who are on the planet with us at this moment in time – like this munchkin soccer player on the piazza in Montepulciano who’d been kicking the ball with his papa and decided to take a little break.
Our usual travels tend to be more of rivers, mountains and seashore. A sailboat, kayaks, bikes and boots. But life moves on, sailboat’s gone, and a husband who had never been to Europe had the urge and I was more than ready to return. A trip back to Italy and France after many years sounded fine, and it was our 23rd wedding anniversary. Plus, my new lens was burning for some photographic action.
Home just a few days, I’ve been dreaming of our trip all week long: mazes, narrow streets, arches, mosaics, the stone and gold – they’ve come together as impressions in my sleep, a jumble of the countryside, hill towns, museums and cities. Dizzying, absolutely incredible and at the same time too much. The arrangement of pictures here reflects that, Italy all mixed up with Paris and visa versa.
Profoundly different than my four months in Europe thirty years ago. Well, O.K., I’m older. Hordes more people, my sensibilities have matured and now there’s the euro. Language barriers subdue travelers’ bluster. I felt less than myself at times, not quite whole in the face of trying to communicate, which was to not communicate, in another language. The beauty was that I tried and so did they, both Italians and the French (though yes, they were a little less forthcoming in that regard) and we found our way to each other with moments of comprehension, humor and warmth; and with that I felt compassion for immigrants who lose themselves to language for a few months, or years or a lifetime. Language holds our character, our sense of humor, sense of self . . . all of it. It was humbling to lose that edge, even for a small time.
The food. One big burp might suffice – that’s considered polite recommendation in some cultures. I ate pasta every single day for three weeks, every dish of it fabulous; along with a bunch of whatever local wine was there; fresh-squeezed blood orange juice nearly every morning, which we often prepared ourselves along with espresso and a croissant or biscotti; cheese and bread for breakfast, num; locally ripened asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, locally produced proscuitto, pecorino, parmesan . . . chocolate mousse in Paris that almost killed me. Enough already. I’ve come home with the urge to make crepes – anybody out there know how? – which were made on the street in both Italy and France; to make Montepulciano’s handmade pasta, Pici; and a big bowl of the killer chocolate mousse. I’ll keep you posted.
Art everywhere in landscapes, architecture, people, museums, galleries, food. As a painter in training I swooned and Paris was almost too much. Serendipity is a sweet thing. Our nephew’s show at a gallery in Rome happened during our four days there. His work and that of his colleagues, followed by our celebratory meal together made our trip to hectic Rome worthwhile. As did the Caravaggio exhibit.
Hey, did you hear about the heist that just happened in Paris? Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, right out the window? I swear, in every museum we visited the art caper flicks went through my mind – even if we haven’t actually been to the Louvre, we’ve been there in a caper flick. With guards and glass and a rope literally surrounding the Mona Lisa at the Louvre you could hardly see it let alone fathom taking it away. But somebody pulled it off just a couple of days ago at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. It’ll be a movie.
I snapped pictures from Venice to Rome to southern Tuscany, Florence and Paris. All mixed up here as one big happy photo family, which is what we are, or aspire to be.
More travel pics in the gallery before long.