When I began my career in travel, years ago now, I hoped I would one day get to Italy either for work or pleasure. Perhaps between assignments I might rent a car and drive between the major cities like Rome, Venice and Florence. The latter is where I was supposed to spend a semester of university. Instead, bad things happened and I didn’t travel much at all in my college years or early twenties.
So when I eventually found myself in Italy for the first time for work, I soaked up every single minute and savored every drop of wine as if it would be my last. That assignment took me to Rome and the hill towns of Umbria. It was a trip that could hardly have thrilled me more. And though I wanted to see more of the country, I had to move on. Unsure if I would ever return. I did. Twice more.
No trip ever deposited me in Florence. And while each journey has been incredible — most particularly the most recent, Bologna with my love — every time I departed Italy without seeing the rooftops, the art, the churches of Florence…was a time my heart felt just a little bit, well, sad.
I didn’t think initially that I wanted a career which would involve returning over and over to countries I’d checked off a list. I believed I’d want to get to every single new country, before I revisited the old. Yet as wise Andrew Evans also realized in a post on National Geographic, sometimes returning to a place we’ve already been is every bit as fulfilling as exploring somewhere new.
Thank goodness I saw the light and have opened myself up to returning to Italy over and over because it is just that openness which has led me to the plane I board tonight…….
Which will *finally* take me to Florence! Well, its airport. And from there, Tuscany. BUT — after two nights in Tuscany with Acqua Panna, THEN I will actually get to the city I’ve dreamt of so much: Florence.
Will it live up to the hype? I don’t know. But I do know that I never expected Italy itself to live up to all the hype. And yet every time I return, I fall in love with it more and more.
Bring on the old AND the new. That’s my motto now!