Homecoming Eve

It’s here… the end of the road for this trip. And what a journey it’s been. I’m glad I have this blog as a record because I could never go back and recall it all at this point.

Even the blog is just the highlights for the most part. I tried to tell some fun stories and share the delights of discovering Italy all while throwing in a bit of art and history and personal musings. It’s been a great exercise in preserving the trip.

On today, my last day, I spent the afternoon with new friends, Francesce and Edgardo. They invited me for lunch and served a beautiful salad of radiccio, fennel, walnuts, orange segments and big fat green, briney olives. Man were those good! I love green olives! There was also fresh bread, homemade mayonnaise and fragrant red wine from Montecarlo. Such a treat!

ImageFrancesce was working on painting a piece of ceramic ware – it’s her new hobby – and she got out a piece for me to paint. I was thrilled as I had really wanted to do this! I looked up a pattern on the internet and copied it on to a small bowl and painted it. The paint is very dull as it sinks into the unfired piece, but it is supposed to come out very glazed and colorful when it is fired. Francesca will have to get that done after I’m gone and I can’t wait to see it.

I had walked to my friends’ apartment and packed up some things to take them. I had grocery staples like rice and flour and sugar and coffee and laundry soap – which they might as well use up. And I left a couple of canvas boards and my easel with Francesce. She can use them – and maybe if I visit again, I can borrow the easel back.

ImageLate in the afternoon I headed back to my own apartment. It is a cold day and the street lights were already on. It was surreal to walk the cobblestones on a route I’ve taken so many times, realizing it would be the last walk that way for now. I took my time and enjoyed the shop windows, the people milling about, the foreign language that just sounds like music in my ears.

I tried to capture it all, bottle it up and save it for a time when I want to savor the sight and sound and flavor of a wonderful experience of a lifetime. And to know that when I conjure it up in my mind in the future, there will still be real people here, going about the same streets and activities just like they are today.

I tried to imagine what I’ve enjoyed here and it is quite a list…

  • Hanging out in cafes
  • Local markets and restaurants
  • Walking everywhere
  • Spending time on the wall
  • Flower markets on the corners
  • Cheap, good wine
  • Bells chiming on bicycles coming up from behind
  • Buying really small amounts of groceries
  • People laughing and chatting in the streets
  • A sea of umbrellas when it rains
  • da Felice pizza al taglio
  • Views of the red tile roofs
  • Thin crust pizza baked in a wood-fired oven
  • Ancient architecture that looks like frosted cakes
  • Gelato
  • Local street people
  • Greeting by kissing both cheeks

I so appreciate this chance I had to make a dream come true and I didn’t do it by myself. Family and friends were very supportive in many ways. I can’t thank everyone enough.

But I have to give myself a bit of credit, too. People here have commented that it must have taken courage to go to another country where you don’t speak the language for an extended period of time. Well, I don’t know if I’m courageous or just plain stubborn, but I did wrestle down some nagging doubts to make the trip.

I don’t think there is a perfect time in anyone’s life to do such a thing. My past year has been a great upheaval. I moved from my home of 22 years into a small apartment and the whole timing got so crazy that I was only there two nights before I left for Italy! Now when I go home – it is to a strange new place full of unpacked boxes!

Was it convenient? No. And it took my whole family to get me moved and shoved off onto an airplane for foreign soil. So don’t be thinking I’m brave or “lucky” or anything like that. In some ways it wasn’t wise at all – I have no idea what I need in the new apartment. I am going home to almost no appliances and no car. I sold everything that wasn’t nailed down to fund this trip.

And I’m glad I did. If I waited for the perfect time and for money in the bank, it wouldn’t have happened. I turned 61 years old while I was here in Italy and my feet feel every day of it. Who knows if I could even have gotten around this country in a few more years. As it was, I pushed myself (very hard!) and it was worth it.

ImageTraveling for pleasure is so rewarding. It forces you out of your narrow little world into the big picture. You have to learn to adapt to different ways of doing things you might not be used to. And so many things are new for the first time that it is like being a kid again. Then, once you master a few challenges (like Italian trains) you realize you can do more than you thought. It creates a sense of adventure in yourself you might have suspected was long-gone.

ImageThen, of course, you have the memories. No one can ever take those away from you. I certainly don’t intend to start living in the past, but this adventure has given me food for thought for a long time to come. And I’ll just have the best dinner conversation ever when people ask me what I’ve been up to.

An old proverb says that “the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I think that is true, but I also think in order to travel, you just have to decide to make it happen. No one is going to show up at your door with cruise tickets and tell you to pack. It’s up to you. And it doesn’t have to be to Italy. I hope when I go home that I will look for travel discovery opportunities right in my own neck of the woods.

I’ve also tried to think what I am most looking forward to at home. Naturally it is seeing my family. Being away from them when I am not used to it has been an adjustment. I’ll be glad to have a phone again and be able to stay in touch. (And a reliable internet connection!)

And the only other thing I can think of??? Cheddar Cheese. Yep, I have sorely missed cheddar cheese. I have not found yellow cheese anywhere I’ve been in Italy. So my first lunch back in Ohio is going to be Taco Bell with extra cheese. And then I’m going to make my ham and cheese quiche that I love to have for brunch – and a super spicy Bloody Mary. And after I take a nap and all that wears off, I will steam a whole head of cauliflower and top it with…. more cheddar cheese. If my eyeballs don’t look jaundiced when I look in the mirror, I’ll have to go out for more shredded cheddar.

So now it’s time to putz around here, finish packing, do a few dishes, take out the rubbish and make it look like I was never here. I still have the paintings to wrap and pack… speaking of which…

I have purposely not posted photos of any of the paintings. They are no great shakes but there’s a few nice images among them. And they are really the climax of my trip. This whole Italy dream started years ago when I was a college art student. Like I mentioned yesterday, I didn’t really break any new painting ground. I worked at it and I have 16 paintings to take home. It is my “Italian Collection.”

All of the paintings are gifts for my family. Ellyn is having a family dinner this Saturday and I plan to set them all up for show. Then everyone, kids and all, can draw a number out of a hat. Whoever gets number one will get first pick and so on. Three people on my painting list can’t make the dinner, so I am going to post photos of the paintings on the blog earlier in the day. That day just happens to be December 15th, which is three months exactly since I left for Italy. You all can see them then and missing family members can text in their choices for the drawing. Immediate family, of course, will have to stay out of the blog that day so as not to see them ahead of time.

So thank you to everyone who has taken this journey with me and encouraged me to keep going. It has been a pleasure to share it with you and it helped me keep a fresh eye out so as to tell you all about it.

Tune in Saturday for the Gallery Show!



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ellyn
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 23:14:29

    That is a beautiful bowl you painted. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done and see the vibrant colors. What a nice souvenir!

    Oh, and I love the picture of the allée of London Planetrees. Is that on the wall? It’s so pretty.

    I like the idea of posting the paintings on the blog. The final big reveal. 🙂

    I think you should end this blog with a photo of you happily preparing to munch on a Taco Bell delicacy. Followed, of course, by a photo of you gagging at the awful taste of something that legally probably doesn’t qualify as food. Spending three months in Italy gives you the right to have sophisticated taste buds, you know. You might not want to muck those little gems up too quickly…

    I’ll be seeing you in a matter of hours! Love you, with a kiss on each cheek. ♥


  2. Paula
    Dec 12, 2012 @ 13:20:16

    With a little melancholy I again, say, thank you Starr. I’ve said it before, I have loved every word of your escapades in Italy. I will miss this everyday. But……… no more than you!!! Welcome Home when you get here. Glad you could at least have Mary Beth to go and share with you. And thanks for the invite! See you sometime!!! Safe travels Etc. etc. etc.!!!


  3. Pam
    Dec 12, 2012 @ 16:49:32

    Starr, what are Carol and I going to do without your daily blog? We have continued to feel the soul of Lucca through your eyes and it has been wonderful! Enjoy your family and we are looking so forward to seeing your paintings. Thank you for three months of wonderful reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Divorce Magazine

Since 1996 Divorce Magazine has been the Internet's leading website on divorce and separation. We provide advice about divorce law, divorce lawyers, family law, custody, support and other divorce related issues along with a directory of divorce professionals.

Old Design Shop Blog

Free Vintage Images

thomas campi

making every day a work of art

Arty Velarde

making every day a work of art

Urban Sketchers

making every day a work of art


making every day a work of art

Danny Gregory

Inspiration for creative folks like you.

Cathy Johnson--Art, Life, and other Oddities

making every day a work of art

Roz Wound Up

making every day a work of art

%d bloggers like this: