It’s hard to summarize our trip to Italy last week as my history with Italy is much deeper than our last week in paradise.
During high school one family trip took us hiking throughout the Alps with Geographic Expeditions. While sitting in an Italian piazza a little boy came up to my brother and I, holding out a toy, charming us with his softly spoken Italian. The only problem being we couldn’t understand him. The views from this trip, coupled with this unforgettable little boy, set me down the path of all things Italian.
My desire to understand this beautiful language landed me in Summer School at the University of Washington, spending 4-5 hours in class daily with flash cards demanding my attention in the afternoons and evenings. It was worth it. Two summers in a row even. When I had the opportunity to study abroad I followed the footsteps of a dear friend and went to Florence. During my months abroad I traveled all over my home-away-from-home Florence, finding the best gelatarias, paininis, pastas, and vino. Taking advantage of only 4 days of school a week I found myself exploring all over Europe.
My time in Italy taught me that my desire for things to be in place at all times isn’t nearly as fun as things haphazardly falling into line as things seemed to do again and again abroad. I learned from missing trains, nearly being run over from scooters on narrow streets, and things not working to my plan that sometimes life is better when the unexpected occurs.
All of this explanation is to explain why, even with only two weeks of work left before we embark on our around the world trip, we jumped at the chance to join Eric’s family for the 40th wedding celebration of his parents. We said yes before we knew we’d be staying on beautiful Lake Garda, in a villa, with 12 other friends and family. Before we knew daily gelato, Aperol spritzers and chocolate would be reality.
And just as time and time again I’ve been charmed by Italy, my love grew stronger after our time in the North. We spent our time relaxing in the villa Limonia, a house that had at least 6 terraces to accommodate every position of the sun throughout the day. Eric and I found a hidden path to the beach and went there daily for a dip in the pristine waters of Lake Garda. We traveled in and out of the little towns along the lake: Torri del Benaco, Salo, Garda, and Lazise. I went on an 11 mile run smiling at every turn of the lake-side pathway that dazzled me with views. We enjoyed two of the four acts at Aida in Verona.
Most of all we loved every dinner outside on the patio overlooking the lake. The dinner parties ranged from 9-16 of us, all sharing delicious food and wine with at least 2-3 languages spoken throughout the course of a meal. Eric and I loved the tradition of the cheese platter being passed around the table after the meal, along with the dozen or so chocolate bars we were sampling.
We had a huge dinner one night to celebrate Lynn & Tim’s 40th wedding anniversary that was made complete with stories from other family members about when they had met and funny anecdotes along the way. It was so special to be there that night. I couldn’t help but think of how that’s 38 years away for us!
It was a dazzling trip but unfortunately as soon as it started it was over as we had to head back for two more final weeks of work. Even with all the travel time and jet lag, every second was worth it. If living in Europe was a bit cheaper then the destinations we have chosen I’d be doing my best to return to Italy for longer!