It is often mentioned that goodbyes are permanent, which is why I chose to entitle what is to be the last installment of me blogging about my Italian travels with the phrase ‘see you later.’
When I first arrived in Italy, the stalks of corn were just below my knees, now my head is tilted back just to see the tops.
When I first arrived in Italy it was an American holiday, Memorial Day, and I return on the eve of another, Independence Day.
I have been shown a piece of Italy that is often looked over in the travel books and in the account of passerby’s. The house that my father grew up in still stands, but only as a shell of the home it used to be. The island where my mother’s family hailed from enchanted my mind.
What had started out as a semi-spontaenous trip to Italy, with plans to explore the alternative life of organic farming under WWOOF, took a turn, and instead I learned what it is like to live day-in and day-out in the suburbs of Italy. There’s hard work to be done but it was always rewarded with spending time with the people who matter in life, eating and drinking delicious foods, and trading stories and ideas into the late nights.
I did things that I do back at home, like bowling and billiards, but also did things I would have never done back in the States such as riding on a scooter and mixing my beer with Coke.
Moments of reflection each day were spent with a fresh cup of hot espresso in hand.
I saw a nation propelled with excitement for the World Cup, and witnessed their devastation with the failure to advance out of group. I made friends with people I could only hold small conversations with. I did and saw so many things that it causes my heart to ache just thinking that it will be a long time before I get to feel the same way again.
Today we visited the Abbey at Monte Cassino. It was a very fitting place to visit on my last day.The abbey has a long history, but in the more recent span of its life it is known for a large World War II battle that took place there.
It was a 20-mile drive which gave me plenty of time to stare out the window and think about the ‘last time.’ With every chapter marked by some big change, usually the end of a year or the time I moved back home from college, I think about the ‘last time,’ I do or see something special or unique. The things I was thinking about had me crying again. It’s the littlest things too, like going to the Conad supermarket or admiring the neatly placed bales of hay on a hillside…
The abbey sits atop a mountain, and the road there had plenty of hairpin turns and overlooking cliffs. But the ride was worth it with the view at top.
We got there a bit late, about a half hour before they close the abbey during the week so we didn’t see everything. What I did see was beautiful. The courtyards were mostly white stone accented with a green garden. There were a few doves perched on the rafters. After our mini-tour of the abbey we went to the nearby Polish cemetery. As mentioned before, there was a big WWII battle here, which you can read all about on the Wikipedia page.
And so, tomorrow I believe before dawn for the airport. Through the next couple of weeks I’ll be editing my blog posts about my trip and probably adding a few posts reminiscing about my time here.