I love the coffee culture of Italy. A cappuccino in the morning alongside a croissant or another pastry. In the afternoon, a simple caffé (espresso). No frills. No complex flavor profiles, no slow pour overs, just espresso. Sure, put sugar in it, if you want. If not, don’t. Drink it fast, drink it slow. Stand at the bar and have a conversation with the barista or move off to the side and read the paper. Pay afterwards. Just enjoy.
I knew I couldn’t leave Italy without a tour through the Italian countryside. So I convinced my sister to take me back to a castle where she did a vinegar tour and tasting when she first arrived in Florence. And to the castle did we go. Hoping to get a more “authentic” experience, we hopped on a local bus and headed into the Tuscan countryside. After escalating the hustle of the city, the hills started to roll and fill with vines. It felt like a movie.
I was reminded of one of the most important tricks of travel on our way up to the castle: trust. An important trick of life, really. But especially important when traveling. We knew we we’re supposed to ride the bus for about 50 minutes to a stop named Greti. After leaving the city limits, the stops ceased to have names. So to ensure we got off at the right stop, I asked the woman in front of me. “La fermatta Greti?” The driver acknowledged by broken Italian and made a gesture to suggest that the stop wouldn’t be for a while. After another 10 or so minutes, I made eye contact with the driver. He must have seen the concern in my face because again he gestured, “not for a while still”. Five minutes later, he said, “Greti, la prossima”. Add I finally knew all along he was watching out for us, making sure that we got to our destination.
Trust yourself, and trust those who you ask for help- most of the time they will have your back. It is very refreshing when we finally understand that we are all just waking though life, ultimately each of us attempting to arrive at some final destination. Sometimes, we just need a little help getting there.
(march 16th, 2014)
I sit here on a train at sunset passing through the Italian countryside. I see men smoking in their backyards, women washing clothes and hanging them out the window. For a while I saw the sea. I imagine a place where young Italian men and women jump carefree into the ocean. I hear Nona’s making pasta in the kitchen. I watch Nono’s helping to make sauce for the pasta; Nono’s just like Sergio I met on the plane over here. Sergio is an old Italian man, in his late 79’s I would assume. He is an Italian citizen and a Canadian citizen who has been in Toronto for the last few months with his children. He smelled of afternoon coffee and smoke; he coughed like it too. Although Sergio was a bit chatty, he did teach me a few things on the ride over. They include:
Life’s not that easy, but it’s not easy for any of us.
When you have problems, leave them where they come from, don’t bring them with you.
One glass of wine with every meal is wonderful (read: necessary), just never get drunk.
It’s Sunday evening and I sit here on this train dreaming that I could speak Italian. I did properly answer the question “En que carrozza siamos?” which I hope translates to “what car are we in?”. “Cinque”. But still, I’m left craving to know more. I’m dying to know another language that is beaming with emotion, character, and passion.
As I write this we’re passing by mountains. Foothills, a beautiful backdrop for the vineyard, olive trees, and other train cars I see. The little villages nestled in the foothills make me want to spend years here. They make me want to know the people who peer out the shutters, who sing Italian and cook garlic. They make me want to know the stories of the people of Italy. Good thing I’m here for a week to explore a lot of what Italy has to offer; people, language, food, and wine. and everything else i can only dream of.