Arriverderci, Roma by Ilana

Last Saturday morning we shoehorned all our many, many bags into a rental car, navigated the streets of Rome by car for the very first time, and bid arriverderci to this fantastic city that has been such a wonderful home to us these past 7 months.

It was hard to leave. In the end, we’d been so happy there. Of course, as is always the case with moving,  by the time we finished packing and cleaning (how is it possible we had so much stuff? how is it possible that we’d made such a mess?) I was desperate to escape. I always find the misery of packing a good balm for the sadness of goodbyes – by the time you’re through it, fleeing feels good.

Plus, there are exciting adventures ahead. We’re now on the last day of a week in a beautiful Tuscan villa that we rented with Jordan’s parents, where we’ve had the chance to explore Lucca, Siena, Pisa, Florence, and the tiny picture-perfect village at the top of the hill we’re perched on: Montecatini Alto.  (Stay tuned for a post about that fantabulous week.)  Tomorrow begins a six-day road trip south along the Adriatic coast and through Calabria to Sicily, and then we’ll spend the following month at two different Sicilian rentals: one on the north of the island and one on the south. We’ll then visit Berlin, Amsterdam, and London before arriving back in our lovely green city in early June.

I know: pretty awesome.

But before we begin the itinerant part of our sabbatical, I wanted to write a bit about our last little while in Rome. And in particular about the run of amazing visitors we had over the last month. First up was Travelly Family, aka Don, Vara, Ava, and Max, friends from Victoria who’d been biking and journeying through Europe and Morocco since last June. We initially met up with them in Barcelona, a trip I completely neglected to blog about- though Tillie did include Barcelona’s famous funicular in her Scary Experiences  post. To sum it up: we had a wonderful long weekend there, walking winding streets, staring more or less open-mouthed at the inspiring architecture, eating delicious tapas, and, best of all, hanging with Travelly Family. Ava and Max are conveniently around the same age as Eva and Tillie, and we all got on like a house on fire. As Vara put it, we basically didn’t stop talking, walking, and/or eating from the moment we said hello to the moment we reluctantly parted. Luckily we got to see them again when they reached Rome a few weeks later, and it was particularly exciting for us to share our Roman life with friends from back home.

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With Travelly Family in Gaudi’s Park Guell, Barcelona
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Sampling traditional Catalan fare in the famous La Boqueria market
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Hanging around Montjuic Park (worth the funicular ride)

Just before having to say goodbye to Travelly Family we got to say hello to Jordan’s parents, who will be with us until Mid-May. They have come for an always-much-anticipated extended spring visit ever since we moved to Victoria, and this year they followed us to Italy.  Their visit is always its own highlight: the kids just kind of glow to have their grandparents around. This year it’s extra fabulous to explore Italy together – and, as always, I can’t recommend the ratio of 4 adults: 3 kids highly enough.

This March we also welcomed Eva’s two best friends, Parker and Rowan, who traveled sans-parents to spend their spring break with us. Our little apartment got a little more crowded with two extra kids afoot, but they were fantastic company and it was a total joy to host them.  Plus, their visit provided the perfect excuse to revisit Rome’s greatest hits before hitting the road: we strolled through the Centro Storico, braved the crowds at the Coliseum and Forum, and gazed at art (and art and art and art and art) at The Vatican. I also indulged in one last weekend away, taking the three girls to Spoleto, a small city in Umbria, where we climbed the narrow streets, took in the views from the hilltop promenade, and, best of all, biked on an Umbrian bike-path that took us through green country and beside hilltop towns.

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The friends out and about in Spoleto
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Umbrian bike paths

(Actually, maybe the real best-best of all was that these two girls were as into sampling Italian cheeses as we are, and we made sure to be good hosts and find every excuse for serving up a fancy cheese plate that we could.)

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Fancy fancy

 

We’re looking forward to getting to Southern Italy, a region Jordan explored and studied quite a bit for this book he wrote several years ago. I’ve been reading Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli – Levi, born in Turin, was exiled in the mid-30s to a remote village in Southern Italy for anti-fascist activity.  His account of the poverty, isolation, and, as he puts it, paganism, of the Italian south is devastating and fascinating – and led to real reform. It’ll be interesting to explore the south after reading Levi. Of course I know that Levi’s south is gone, and thankfully the Italy we’ll be traveling through this coming week is no longer overrun with malaria.  I’ll keep my eyes out for paganism, however, and let you know what I find.

Meantime, I’ll admit to missing our Roman life too. Here’s a favourite image from our life there:

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Avi’s “bedroom” with Eva & Tillie’s “bedroom” in the background
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