Ahhh, Italia. There’s really not enough good things to say about it. Read the first section of “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert does as good a job as anyone to explain how and why Italy is so easy to love. It was definitely a mental break in that we didn’t have to engage our brains or gear up for anything other than figuring out train/bus schedules and where to eat. I hadn’t realized how much energy it takes to hold a simple conversation with someone, much less to participate in ‘normal’ activities like a few hours at work until we returned. It took a full 2 days to interact with anyone other than Brad, and I eased in by starting with my healer lady, then a couple from our support group with Brad, then my very good friend from CA who came for the weekend. By the time she left, I felt I was back up to (the admittedly slow) speed I was before we left. But hoo.... the mental requirements to engage... I underestimate them.
Anyway, Brad and I made it to Sorrento after a small mishap with the trains (the idiot at the airport’s train station gave us two tickets to Naples alright, but he neglected to tell us that the train to Naples left from a different terminal than the train from the airport was taking us.) We were so dazed by jet-lag that we hardly cared if we had the right train, as long as it went to Naples (where we caught another train to Sorrento). We are now die-hard believers in traveling internationally with only a carry-on bag. It makes everything so much easier!!
Sorrento was our jumping point to the Isle of Capri, Amalfi and Pompeii. Rain was predicted throughout the week but (shockingly) the weather favored us! Cloudy certainly, but ultimately sporadic and we managed not to get wet the whole time. Capri is beautiful, we ended up taking a big long walk around one end of the island and working up a sweat (the picture of us standing on the landing overlooking rocks in the ocean below). Brad was set on seeing the Blue Grotto (the picture of us with boats behind us heading into a cave) which was an experience. We heard that people couldn’t do it the next day because the water was too high - the opening into the Grotto was only about 3 feet high the day we went!
The Amalfi coast is Italy’s version of Big Sur - picturesque and dramatic at every turn. We had a quintessential Italian experience in the town of Amalfi when we got lost amidst the buildings in search of an elusive chocolate shoppe. An ancient woman was hanging her laundry over the balcony, singing. The tones reverberated off the walls and she was unaware of us. We thought initially it might be a recording, the voice so powerful and moving. Oh, it was a stunning few minutes. She let us take a picture of her once she realized we were soaking her up.
Pompeii was bigger than we’d imagined, thoroughly impressive. It had to be a pearl of a city in it’s time.
We traveled north to Florence for a day, it was like coming home. The Arno river, the Duomo, the piazzas, the market, the fake statue of David, the Medici buildings...all familiar and comforting to see they hadn’t changed. The Mille Miglia (1000 mile) race was going through while we were there, which thrilled Brad to pieces. All these wildly expensive foreign sports cars passing by - a full 25% of our pictures from the trip are those cars!! I, meanwhile, was picking out chocolates at the nearby pasticceria.
We spent Mother’s Day in Florence until 3:30, then to Rome where we had cappuccinos at the Pantheon. The picture with me making an ‘A’ was taken on top of the Duomo’s tower, one of my most favorite places on earth and where I want a portion of my ashes scattered when the day comes. I was there feeling anxious and sad when my first marriage was falling apart, again after a marathon feeling victorious and optimistic, and now, feeling betrayed and sad and confused as I once again looked upon that beautiful, beautiful city surrounded by the green hills of Tuscany. Of course had a good cry. The picture was before the cry but just the act of making the ‘A’ started me in that direction.
All in all....a very good trip for the situation. I recommend Italy to anyone trying to escape their life.