Phew. I – we- have survived September. Visitors, foiled travel plans, new writing gigs, MFA deadlines (it’s mid-semester!), strikes, terrorist threats. I mean, wow, I’m a pretty calm person, but it was a month to almost send me off-kilter.
But now it’s October, time to sit back, relax, settle into….seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
No wait! That is not at all the positive take was going for.
I was talking to my friend recently, he from the land of the famous Fall Foliage in the States, and I said, yes, I used to really love autumn, too. And why don’t you now? he asked. Light grows dimmer and everything’s dying? I ventured, as I stared at the Paris rain.
Hmm, attitude adjustment much?
Wait. Here is a big, bright sunray coming your way. Amidst all the hoopla of September I completely forgot to tell you anything about Italy.
Italy! Just saying the word releases my stress.
You might recall that I was originally thwarted by strikes when I tried to go a few weeks ago. Two days later, though, I was back on a plane that actually flew to its destination.
Can I tell you – instant love? Even though my leisurely trip had turned into a packed itinerary – 4 days of moving from one place to the next – I couldn’t have felt more at ease.
Why? Two words: no problem.
See – and I’m sure I’ve brought this up before – the first response to anything in France is no. Not “no problem”, but “no.” C’est pas possible. And that’s kind of funny, because actually, wait, LOTS of things are possible! Yes, I’d say MOST things are possible!
It’s something I don’t take to heart anymore. You ask again, ask in another way – or just do what you’re there to do anyway. But you notice it again when you’re in a country of smiles and sunshine and no matter what you want or need the answer is “no problem.”
My friend Simone picked me up from the airport in Milan (I was late, but no problem!). We then drove to his lovely family home before heading to Lake Como. It was already late afternoon, but I didn’t feel pressed for time. Because a slow stroll along the lake is what you’re supposed to do anyway!
We then decide to go to Bellagio. Bellagio! Why not! Once on the small, winding road, however, I – or rather, my stomach – thought better of it. Night was falling, I was motion-sick, and we weren’t sure we could go the distance. So we pulled off the side of the road, and watched the lights from other towns light up the lake. Not bad at all.
Because here’s the thing. Travel to me is so much about people and just being open to the experience. Simone and I hadn’t seen each other in 2 years since I had couchsurfed with him in Rome. So we talked and talked and talked, and it was just great.
The 24 hours I spent went something like this: “blah blah blah – oh, wow, that’s pretty! talk, talk, talk – cool, look at that!”
The next day Simone took me to one of his favorite lakes, Lake Alesario, far off the tourist map. I was in heaven.
Until a goose got all hussy, that is. When my sister was younger she was constantly getting attacked by fowl. (I know, how often are you in the position to get attacked by fowl? But really, turkeys, geese, peacocks, any such animal – they’d always go after her).
I had never thought myself cursed with this particular malady, until this goose came out of the water and started walking straight towards us. (Also, a swan hissed at us! Swans hiss?!)
We tried to pretend it was not threatening, but when it got too close, I said, “hey, Simone, that thing is coming straight for us, isn’t it?”
Yes, he said.
We get up, oh, you know, casual as can be. Nope, not running away from the goose. And the goose picks up speed!
“Don’t run,” Simone says. Oh, I’m not running. We’re just walking faster. And the goose walks faster. Wow, my heart was pounding! Simone picked up a big stick – just in case. The goose runs us all the way back up the path.
Ok, time to go anyway. Because now I’m off to the wedding in the gelato factory!
Which, do you even need details? It is exactly what you think it is. I also confess to eating gelato starting at 11 AM. The best dang gelato I have ever had in my life. My friend Julie is lucky – handsome Italian and his family owns an artisanal gelateria? Good plan!
After the merriment of the marriage til midnight, and the morning gelato the next day, we’re off to Lake Garda. Packed, but gorgeous.
At one point, I turned to another guest and said, “I am just so happy I could burst. I feel like I’m high!” She almost spit out her wine.
I stayed with a couple of the groom’s friends, who were absolutely delightful. If you’re ever in Reggio, you could look them up. They’re thinking of starting a bed and breakfast – and I would definitely stay there!
Anzi gave me a quick tour of Reggio before I had to head back to Milan.
It was a whirlwind trip, but completely wonderful. So I only saw the Duomo for 2 minutes? I ate panzerotto! So I spent more time in a car than in Como? I had the best chats ever!
Coming back to Paris feels like home, but gosh if I’m not going to bring some of this Italian spirit back with me.
Oh yeah, another thing? I don’t speak Italian, but between my Spanish and French, I can pick up some things. So everyone said, “oh! You speak Italian! So great!”
Yes. So nothing is a problem and it’s welcomed that I try to speak their language. Come back to Paris and it’s “not possible” and I still get the eye roll when I speak French.
Oh well. No problem. I’ll just jet-set it over to Italy when I need a break. That is, if there’s not a strike.