Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Two Weeks in Italy, or, If You Have to Be Sick, at Least Be Sick in the Most Beautiful Place Possible

This is where I found myself in May: on a ferry zipping along Italy's Amalfi Coast, hopping off to sip limoncello in Amalfi and to wander the winding roads of Positano.

I'm dreaming of Amalfi today as I watch the rain pour down back home here in Maine.  The weather is cold.  The skies are grey.  The tomatoes in my garden are holding their breath, waiting for a hint of warmth.  And so I dream of Italy.  

Pan plays his pipes over Positano
It's important to explain, though, that although I've wanted to travel through Italy for as long as I can remember, the two weeks Mr. Magpie and I spent there were not entirely a dream come true.  The weather was perfect, the people were warm and wonderful, and the food--what we ate of it--was as delicious as it is famed to be.  The problem was not with Italy; the problem was with us.  Four days into the holiday, as our train pulled into Florence, Mr. M. felt the beginnings of a pounding headache.  By evening, as we strolled across the Ponte Vecchio, he was sneezing and coughing, and by the next morning, as we sat down to pastries and fruit at our beautiful b&b, he had completely lost his appetite.  And then, by the time we arrived at our hotel in Verona a few days later, I was sick, too.  When I say sick, I mean one of the worst flus either of us has ever had.  Thankfully, we had practiced conversational Italian for a couple of months before we left.  It was useful everywhere we went, but especially in the many pharmacies we visited, where I learned extremely important words and phrases from the kind pharmacists, including, "Ho un raffreddore" and "ho un mal di gola."  The worst part of this flu was losing our appetites.  I, fortunately, was fine for half the trip, but the second half was sad.  All that glorious food, and absolutely no desire to eat it.

Looking Out Over Florence from the Giardini di Boboli
What amazes me most about the trip, however, is how much we still did.  I have some incredible photos to share with you.  I'm processing them this week, and will post some travel writing and photos in the coming days.  It took me longer than usual, as I was still sick for the first week back after the holiday.  Catching up with life and work has been a challenge . . . after what I would say was a truly difficult spring.  Just crummy, really.  I feel grateful that I had the chance to go to Italy, no matter how sick I was.  Florence was an important city for me to visit, for many reasons, which I'll talk about more in an upcoming post.  

A colleague of Todd's who is an Italian art historian and who has traveled to Italy many, many times, told us that we deserve a do-over.  I agree.  I know we'll return.  That's why I will keep studying Italian and reading up on Italian history.  It's true that many people speak English there, of course, but the more I tried speaking Italian, the more fun I had.  People were incredibly kind about mistakes I made, and I would say that speaking even a little bit opened up whole conversations and possibilities that I wouldn't otherwise have enjoyed.  

More soon, my lovelies, prometto!

Laundry Day in Amalfi