There is nothing about Italia I do not love. I know I sound like a blushing bride, all floaty and superficial, but as we traversed quickly from one region to the next, I was made drunk on the beauty, the language, the history, and certainly the food. Yes, in love, indeed.
Most, I am certain, have seen these sights before, if not with your own eyes then in photos, so there is little use of me writing another travelogue; but I do hope you come along with me all the same. This trip, two years in the making, finally underway, took a team, all smiles, from the moment we touched down until… well we’re still smiling.
Perhaps it was the boat ride to Venice that made my blurry eyes begin to see clearly. At that glorious early morning sight, the Piazza San Marco rising along the water’s edge, the sleek and polished water taxis and slick black gondolas skirting the narrow waterways, stepping onto the floating island brought us fully present. Reminded of our good fortune the love affair began as they often do, in sunshine.
Stone bridges, painted masks, colored glass, marble and gold and so much more adore every inch of Venice. Everywhere your eye falls is beauty. The Doge’s palace is a labyrinth of craftsmanship, from the patterned floor to the embellished ceiling, with an imposing Mars and Neptune as sentries. We had to remember to breathe all day. To stay present while we too floated slightly off, giddy from art.
Suffice to say that we saw everything we could, every sunrise and sunset, every ruin or church, archway, artifact, and still only caught 1% of what is possible. But we tried. We walked miles and miles, sometimes 6 mostly 8, in a day. Stairs galore, over 400 in the bell tower alone, all with a fierce step, on stones older than anything comprehendible in our young country. Spires begun by one generation and completed by another, far distant one. Standing in the shadows of these magnificent cathedrals with their impressive domes, one simply can not fathom that level of devotion. From Ravenna to Florence, we looked up, and dared to wonder just how was any of this possible. The love of art, of creation, of God? Only that, we concluded.
Our travels also took us to the sea as well, where the sky fell into the water, the trees leafing out and flowering, the olive trees dominating the terraced hillside, and the boats got bigger. Fresh pesto made in tiny shops behind ancient walls. Again we walked, determined to not miss one treasure. Seagulls joined me as we climbed as high as the rocky paths led. Heavenly views from those heights. And once down again, a moment to take a plunge, seized by all for sure.
We feasted: a plate of sliced mozzarella and tomato, drizzled with olive oil and topped with olives in Cinque Terre, a bowl of herb and cheese ravioli in Ravenna, and fettuccine hand rolled with seafood, gelato, yes, so much gelato, and espresso, plenty of that dark elixir to fuel our long days of wandering and smiling and falling so very hard in love with all of this. Bellissimo Italia, I’ll be back…