Yesterday we were in Milan

We woke up saying that the first morning at home in Ohio. What a trip, I am  thankful we have a long weekend to think about it and settle in before work days on Monday begin.

After living out of a backsack for a month, coming home to many clothes and many chores, I consider the things I want in my life and those things that I should consider doing without. But, it’s great to come home, home to the luxury of friends and family, familiar things, common things you know to enjoy like a bath, a comfortable bed, and the corner coffee shop!

My ultimate vacation day included 4 hours of walking, a few hours of eating and in discussion with Phil, my husband, an hour or two of rest mid-day, and at least an hour to write or draw. All other time awake was left to explore a town, talk a new language, meet new friends and question a different way of life.

I went to Europe with a thought in mind -to question and write about how people spend their time. How do Italians spend their time and enjoy life? I have a stronger grasp on how I enjoy spending leisure time more than I can describe how those people I came into contact with are enjoying their lives.  Most people we met were hosting a great commodity of their local economy, by supporting tourism, serving us countless prosciutto pizza, pesto pastas and vino. Italians were driving busses, manning shops, tabaccerias or news stands. Gentleman behind the espresso bars served strong shots of coffee and liquor. Everyone kept a clean stoop. Women and their daughters hosted new travelers each day in their seven room bed and breakfasts. Women in wine country hosted five couples and small families, cooking four-course means, dinner and dessert. There were culinary boat tours off the coast of Cinque Terre held by a husband and wife team – fishers of tourists they said.

We met a lot of west coasters from the U.S. hiking in the Alps, booking their accommodations each night along the way. We met most people on their 8 week to 6 month travels all the way from around the world -down under in Australia. We had liters of wine on the sun warmed porches late into the night in Menaggio.  Off Lake Como our voices rose until almost two in the morning -two of us from Ohio, Ken from Slough, England, Stephanie from CA, Josh from Australia. We talked of healthcare and taxes, traveling and work, how we most enjoyed spending our days, family and siblings, parents and traditions, growing up and festivals, and when the chef joined us, of families in Napoli.

New people gave dimension to our meaning and thoughts. Walking with Tokeko and her husband through the gorge of the Alps leading to Interlaken, meeting a married couple our parents age over the course of a few days around Cinque Terre peaks, the Australian friends we sat next to at dinner one evening in Siena -he a contractor and she a reader and past flight attendant -we followed one another home to bedrooms that were right next to one another! We met up again a few days later in a different city. Funny how small the world could be, even when we were all moving. Train riders were great -trying to communicate with the older man who called his daughter to try to translate, the fourteen year old school girls (four of them) who were done with school at one o’clock and headed home, who thought we were Australians and then when found out we were from the U.S. assumed we were from N.Y. or Boston.

Along the way I was so fully relaxed and inspired I thought a way of tapping into that up on my return home would be just to go day by day, recalling photographs, video and my journal. Then, with the ability of the Internet now, solve some of my unanswered questions.

So, here we go, two traveling backsacks…

…into the land near where my grandfather’s family is from Giulianova, Province of Teramo, Abruzzo Italy.

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