Between composing operas, Giuseppe Verdi wisely said: It’s not hard to imagine that he was referring to the country’s vibrant palette, rich architecture, simple yet delicious food and wine, and the welcoming nature of Italians. Did he also talk about quiet pauses between key moments? Are there things you have to stop and acknowledge because they’re not immediately obvious but only improve your life?
Two and a half years after the global pandemic, we armed ourselves with a vaccine and a hunger for color and taste, and left for Italy with our two children. The dream was to absorb a laid-back lifestyle and, in the process, peel off the experience of massive lockdown and homeschooling.
We made plans to discover the best pizza the country has to offer.Explore your heels and soak up the Tuscan sun when you visit Amalfi. A week later, Ladolce found that Vita was working like magic. Nightly walks where the only decision was which gelato flavor to try. I devour the Neapolitan pizze (I didn’t ask for it to be cut, so it was torn by hand while it was still steaming). Watching the children’s faces light up when they discovered that the croissant they were sharing had a smattering of chocolate cream.
The trip from Amalfi to Puglia, Tuscany and back to Rome, with 2600km on Fiat tires we hired, reminded us of our driving skills in Italy. Autostrada’s extensive network spans the entire country. A seven- or eight-lane exit organically turns into he three thanks to the confident driver driving. Italian radio became his truck back in our adventures.
As we navigated winding roads along the country’s coast, I watched my husband, a landscape architect, embrace the changing scenery. Cyprus and a patchwork of oaks in the north slowly replaced gnarled olive trunks and prickly pears in the south. From fresh seafood pasta to rich bean and beef stews seasoned with bay leaf and mopped up with focaccia, our palates have adapted as we moved from region to region.
Of course, the standout moments were the unpredictable while meticulously planning the itinerary: pauses between big Verdi experiences. At Lido Pantano he found the best pizza of the trip, ostensibly modest at €5. During a day trip to Lecce, I ran into his in-law’s ex-neighbor. Overcoming a steep climb in picturesque Siena and being beaten by young children. With the sun setting over Capri in the background, Massa watches his group of local teenagers fishing and playing soccer at her Lubrense at 9pm. Our daughter lost her first tooth and is wondering if her tooth fairy will come to Italy.
We made mistakes and quickly learned from them. Instead of stressing, we found ourselves laughing when the inevitable travel troubles happened. Instead of complimenting the shopkeeper on the shoes, the husband falsely tells him that he loves him. “Grazie,” replied the shopkeeper, very pleased with the declaration.
Italy is generous with history, music, taste and colour. Greenish-blue seas, gorgeous crimson sugos and passatas, layered sandstone buildings as yellow as buttercups. But what about the Italians and their generous spirit? oh my god. Marco from Umbria made sure we had everything we needed for a perfect stay (another towel? More Nutella for the bambini?).Luigi at Marina Lobla is making sure we had a good day Amazing Day.
A trip to Italy felt like an antidote to COVID
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