Highlight: Italy top to bottom – in ONE day

October 2nd

I can’t believe it is October already. We are now 5 months into the post-retirement portion of our journey. We have almost exactly 100 days of travel remaining. Nearly half of our total year abroad will have been spent in Italy. I thought that when the time came for us to leave Italy, I would be ready to go, but I’m not. I’m never ready to leave Italy it seems.

Today is our last full day here and we are traveling almost the full length of the country. I’m finding that each piece of the day is a little farewell to a land I love. We started the morning by cleaning up our adorable little apartment in Salve and writing a thank you note to our charming hosts, Claudia and Giancarlo. We packed our two suitcases, one backpack, and one guitar into the car and headed toward Bari.

Our path took us past the town of Gallipoli on the Ionian sea to say a brief goodbye, then up past Lecce and over to Brindisi on the Adriatic for a more prolonged farewell. We dropped off our car in Bari, grabbed a bite to eat, and are (in questo momento) traveling on the train beside the sea. Soon we will turn inland and wind our way between mountain ranges, ending our journey in Milan, 687 miles from where we started. Here. I’ll show you.

George and I were reflecting yesterday on how much of this country we have seen on our various trips. Italy is divided into 20 regions and we have spent time in 18 of them. Only the island of Sardinia and the Val d’Aosta (in the way northwestern corner) have eluded us, but that is all the more reason to return. We have seen way more of Italy than most Italians (at least that’s the impression we get from our conversations with them.) We have been from the snow-covered Alps in the north to the arid and rocky Greek ruins in the southernmost reaches of Sicily. We have been baptized in three seas; the Tyrrhenian, the Ionian, and the Adriatic. We have marveled at the masterpieces on offer in her great cities and in her national parks. We have shared food and wine, stories and laughter with her people. We have been bewildered by her politics, and bewitched by her music and poetry.

All of these things sound like reasons that I love Italy, but the truth is that my love for Italy is beyond reason. I love so many places in the world, but Italy seems to have taken root in my heart like no other place on earth. I am sad to say goodbye, but I know that she is always here waiting for me.

 

P.S. Don’t think you’ve heard the last about Italy from me. I have several stories left to tell that will show up as “flashbacks.”

Word of the day: Parigi

Image

Parigi (Pa-REE-jee); Paris

Yes, you guessed it, we are in Paris for the weekend. We left at 4:30 this afternoon, after George’s last class. We took a bus from Florence to Pisa, a Ryanair flight from Pisa to Beauvais (an hour north of Paris), a shuttle bus into Paris, and 2 metro lines to our hotel neighborhood. When we came up out of the underground, we had no idea which way to head, so we just picked a direction. It was the wrong way, but it lead us right past a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, all lit up and sparkling like a jewel. What a lovely welcome to the city of lights.

Eiffel Tower

Who could resist taking this photo? Sometimes, you just have to be a tourist.

We figured out our way to the hotel on Rue Cler, settled in, and then went downstairs to enjoy a glass of wine (for me) and a kir royale (for George) in an outdoor cafe. We love the street we are in, and are so excited to see all the shops open in the morning. This is George’s first ever visit to Paris, and my first in 23 years. We are just buzzing with the excitement of being in this amazing city.

I wonder what tomorrow’s word will be…