I wrote this short piece after visiting Italy for the first time with Max. I don’t consider myself a writer, but had to put this together to remember the moment; I am glad that I did.
Our trip to Italy was drawing to a close. I had visited a few times before, but this was my first time with my husband Max visiting his family and friends seeing where he is from. We had traveled from the West Coast to New York City for the weekend before continuing on to his hometown of Bologna, Italy which is located in the region of Emilia-Romagna . Bologna is known for its wonderful cuisine, universities, and churches.
During our trip to Max’s country we had spent a weekend in the suburbs of Firenze (Florence), located in the region of Toscana, visiting with his aunt and uncle before continuing on to the city (Firenze) staying with his cousin and his girlfriend. Firenze is a charming tourist city known as the home to Michelangelo’s famous statue, David, and the Ponte Vecchio, known for its jewelry stores that line the pedestrian bridge. Actually both of us love this city and we consider moving here some day.
The second week we traveled to Venezia, which is located in the region of Veneto. We were lucky on that day trip because we just missed another planned train strike! Italy is famous for having airline, train and bus strikes. Reaching the popular tourist attention of Piazza San Marco tears streamed down my cheeks. I am a very emotional person, and easily express my feelings. I was so overjoyed at having reached the square that is essential Venezia once again, this time with Max. While exploring the town I took many photos of the canals, gondolas and locals.
Now we were on our last full day in Bologna and were headed by bus to the park behind Max’s old house where he had spent a lot of his childhood playing. Arriving to the open green space we exchanged hellos and conversation with the owners of the gelato stand. I had met the family a few days before and enjoyed their genuineness, which was a breath of fresh air compared to the scene in Los Angeles.
After talking with them we took a walk by the stream, skipped rocks, and enjoyed the silence. Looking at the even larger public park across the river all I could see were hills. We held hands, took in the fresh air, and relaxed. Our walk lead us on a path that ended near a rusty old basketball hoop. Max told me that it had stood in that spot as long as he could remember and as a kid he had spent many days playing basketball in the very spot we now stood. I could easily imagine him here playing during his youth.
Taking a seat at a picnic table we ran into a friend who Max had not seen in five years. It amazed me that he could run into someone so many years later like this. Call it a small town? Call it coincidence… or as I began to see on our last day the beauty and charm of Italy, its simplicity. The country continues to develop, but its roots of valuing family and living life not just for riches are still there.
Soon we were joined by another friend of Max’s and moved to the picnic area. While I had a beer Max had an Orange Fanta as we sunbathed, smoked, and talked. I couldn’t speak Italian well, but I enjoyed adding to conversation when I could and became even more vocal when conversation was in English.
The day passed with other close friends arriving to say their goodbyes to us. Eventually we had a nice stroll on the grounds with one friend’s dog, and threw the ball around with another friend’s young child. It was so nice to be without all the modern conveniences that pollute our lives and to enjoy people in the outdoors where nature controls the world. I loved this day.
Eight hours later, which seemed like only one hour, we headed back to Bologna where his grandma, mom and sister live. Spending this day in Casalecchio di Reno reminded me of what life is about. We often get so caught up with our daily schedules of going out and bringing in the money to make our lives comfortable, versus taking time to enjoy family, friends, and to just relax. On this day I was once again reminded which path makes me and so many Italians the happiest, and I was happy to experience this day with my husband.