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Posts Tagged ‘Spello’

Transitions

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Today I leave Spello, my home away from home for these last two weeks. I begin slowly heading west, toward the last leg of my European journey. As I pack and clean and assess the “stuff” of travel, I always become introspective. A transition is happening both physically and emotionally with the feeling of something quite rich and wonderful coming to an end, and the anticipation of what is around the next corner building. This is maneuvering through the liminal space, a feeling of in between. It is disquieting for some, puts you on edge. There is a great wide open space of unknown.

I tend to think of it as a mourning process. Not saying good-bye necessarily, I certainly plan to be back here many times to come, but more of an acceptance that with the inevitable movement of time and us with it, there is a letting go. I try to take the “live in the now” approach. I’m happy where I am in the moment. It’s a piece of practicing mindfulness, being present, that we often forget to do. We get so caught up in train schedules and passport requirements, worry and wonder if we’ll get there on time, will we know where to go, what if we get lost?!

But the truth is, we are maneuvering through the liminal space all the time. In fact, even when we are just sitting, thinking, a memory triggered, a sound heard – no matter what, our neurons are interacting to create thoughts and that process requires a space over which to travel. Essentially we are traveling by just being, physically and psychologically through time. This form of travel is just as important as the getting on a plane kind of travel. We’re just not so aware of it. And I certainly don’t have the quantum physics knowledge to begin to explain the how’s and why’s but I feel a part of it and that’s what matters most to me.

I was reflecting on all the forms of transportation I will have utilized in these eight weeks. Planes, trains, cars, boats, elevators, bicycles, escalators, trams, gondolas and buses. I could have taken a zip line at one point as well as gone paragliding but I preferred staying on the ground. My feet have carried me the most, miles and miles of hiking, exploring and lugging up and down beautiful hills and roads.

The most travel I’ve done so far on this trip has to be time thinking. I remember trips with family, the first time I was ever on a plane, the time I got off of a train in a town in Spain that was not where I expected to be. I have moments that I wish my friends were with me, seeing and experiencing what I’m experiencing. I think of all the paintings and art that I want to create just to honor the colors and landscapes amassing in my head.

Today I will try to enjoy the packing and cleaning and getting to the train station on time. Did I really bring all this stuff? I will check to make sure my passport is in my purse side pockets, probably thirty times, just in case a magical fairy decides to steal it or put it somewhere else just to stress me out. And I will step into the liminal space bidding “see ya soon,” or “a presto” in Italian. But I never say “good-bye.” With all this traveling and moving about, there’s no end. Just new beginnings.

Buon viaggi!!

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After refilling the well on the Istrian coast of Croatia, I returned to Italy, to the familiar and beloved hills of Umbria. I spent a summer here two years ago and the country mouse in me was ready to reconnect to the farmland and medieval hill towns. Although neighboring Tuscany gets all the glitz and glory, thanks in big part to a certain book and movie, it is Umbria that has heart.

Actually, I haven’t traveled here enough nor will in my lifetime for this undiscriminating eye to appreciate the idiosyncrasies that make these two regions differ. If you are drawn to the ochre and green fields that form a quilt of hay, olives and grapes against the lavender hills and deep green cypress trees, then you’ll love Umbria. If you marvel at the charms of Cortona, Montepulciano, Siena and the granddaddy Firenze (Florence), then you’ll want to visit Orvieto, Spoleto, Assisi and the little daddy, Perugia.

My home for two weeks is Spello, sitting on a hilltop just south of Assisi. This is small town Italian living. I pass the corner gelateria each morning on my way to my daily hike. The locals are drinking espresso, playing cards, wondering who this American is bopping about. There are several family-owned markets, enotecas with their stacked shelves of wine, art galleries, tourist shops selling the pottery this area is known for, and a selection of cafes with spectacular views to the valley below. I see Assisi with its Basilica honoring St. Francis gleaming in the sunlight.

As I venture through the maze of archways and alleys, past churches and houses, I see centuries of history in the limestone and brick. There is an amazing contrast once you step outside any of the Roman “gates” that mark the entrance to Spello as the realities of modern life begin here. I walked to the SuperConti, a mini Walmart of sorts the other day. It was amazing how quickly I was sucked back into the lure and convenience of prepackaged food and all-in-one shopping. As I worked my way back to my apartment in the old city center, the sky opened up in a much needed glorious rain storm. I ducked into a pizzeria to wait it out. For just a millisecond, I felt a frustration that I couldn’t jump in my car and drive home,

And then I remembered, that is not why I was here. I don’t need a car, I don’t need prepackaged food, or prepackaged anything for that matter. If for only two weeks, all I need are the hills.

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