Italia – Sei Bella

The first full day of daylight savings time always tends to leave me a bit out of sorts. It’s a mix of figuring out what time it should be and what time it really is, adjusting to the changing light, and mentally preparing for getting up super early on Monday morning.

I started the day with a walk through the neighborhood – the weather has been unseasonably warm of late and the sun was out despite weather forecasts to the contrary – and moved into the afternoon with what was ultimately a busted trip to a nursery that I’d heard about on my perennial gardeners group but ended up being a dilapidated greenhouse in the middle of a North Carolina field off a dirt road.

After all that, I decided I was just going to come home, sit myself down in my favorite chair with a little Lady Grey, and watch one of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun.

I just love this movie – I’ve seen it at least a dozen and a half times. For those unindoctrinated, it’s the screen adaptation of Frances Mayes’ book, about a divorcee who buys and renovates a villa in Tuscany. I am a hopeless romantic, and it never fails to leave me fully charmed by the Italian lifestyle, the people, their genuine good nature, and their take things as they come attitude.

The movie, in part, prompted me to travel to Italy in 2019, a wonderful trip that was our daughters’ first time abroad and our second, in which we tried to cover far too much ground – Rome, Positano, Tuscany – and which only left me wanting for more.

The thing is, Italy and its people are everything that movie represented and then some. During our short time there, we met deeply bronzed old Italian men with white hair and pot bellies sunning on a doc in speedos as we waited for a ferry to Amalfi. We climbed miles of stairs in and around Positano, passing shrines to Mary all along the way (she truly is, as Frances Mayes observes, everywhere). We spent a Sunday evening watching young and old meet in a town square in Montespertoli, talking and playing checkers. We watched, from a lovely Tuscan farmhouse, an impressive storm roll in over the scenic countryside (and had an owl shown up, I would have been delighted, but not a bit surprised). We even stumbled upon a real, honest-to-goodness, flag throwing competition in Voltaire, a walled town somewhere east of Florence. It was for real and wonderful! I cannot wait to go back and spend more time there, exploring, eating, speaking the language, and meeting new people.

Every time an article comes around about some Italian town selling houses for $1 euro, I threaten my husband that I’m going to do just up and do it. Somehow, I have not yet, but the very idea … it makes me swoon. I want to renovate an Italian villa. I want to meet a woman who knew Fellini and has lived her life without regret.

I want to live a fuller, perhaps less American life. One that is not hurried and stressed. One in which we don’t work all the time. One in which we are content with an old, imperfect house filled with meaningful things, not just things we bought at Home Goods to fill a corner.

Well, anyway, that is why I love that movie, and perhaps why I watch it so often – to remind myself of the path I want to be on, so I don’t forget to take a deep breath, laugh, smile, connect with people.

Buona sera, my friends.

Categories: This and That

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