Monday, August 1, 2011

Goodbye to Italy...Hello Reality

I am back home from a transforming ten days in Italy.

Just now I finished watching "Roman Holiday", with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck having a breezy fling in Italy's Capital City...and sharing a tearful goodbye.  It perfectly captured the heartbreak of leaving a beautiful, historic country of many contrasts.

Today we shopped for the kinds of food we enjoyed regularly in places like Rome, Sienna, Volterre, the Cinque Terre, and Florence.  I made sandwiches from flat bread, tomato, arugula, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, fresh basil, and olive oil.  I washed it down with "frizzante", or gently sparkling, I could find only Pellegrino...but it was fine.

After being filled with awe at the incredible architecture of the Renaissance cathedrals, the ancient stone Forum and Colosseum, and one incredible painting after another, in a place where the doors of restaurants opening in back alleys can be adorned with images by Michelangelo, and where exquisite shops and restaurants pop up on dusty streets that look like back alleys, it hit me hard when we got back to Chicago's O'Hare airport.  In spite of the jingoistic attempts, by video, to portray the United States as the sentimental amusement park of the world, the first image travelers saw upon entering the customs area at O'hare were dingy bare walls, flat surfaces, and harsh lighting.  Welcome to Chicago.  Welcome to the U.S.

Along with the latest film reviews and current events, I will devote the month of August in this journal to sharing stories and original photos of our travels: The people we met; the local customs, from the hotels to the way food is served; the way history suddenly felt alive to me for the first time; the humor of our tour group; the unexpected delays and annoyances; the terrain as well as the layout of the streets, and the beauty and neglect of the buildings...and yes, even the dogs.


  1. Sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed yourself! It was strange for you to be missing, but the photos are stellar. Don't you just love how parts of Europe are at such a freeze-frame? Never been to Italy, but you're referencing the glorious Roman Holiday definitely made me want to go even more.

  2. Luke, thanks for visitng me! I wish you could have joined us. Watching Roman holiday was a blast...picking out familiar locations. They still sell Roman Holiday calendars in gift shops all over Rome. Chances are I will mention this again in your 30-day blog-a-thon. Come back soon for more photos!

  3. So good to have you back - missed you last weekend.

    Chuckled at the mention of Pellegrino - my Mother is a regular visitor to Rome and got hooked on the stuff. Until we did a blind taste test this Christmas when she actually preferred the fizz and flavour of the supermarket own brand. She still drinks Pellegrino though as the memories the label brings back are worth more.

  4. Ben, I missed you too. Wish you could have joined us.
    Amusing story about Pellegrino and your Mom. I myself am developing a real taste for it!