What is Travel?
The last time our family was in Italy together was a year ago. I flew from LAX into Rome with the kids. Renato was waiting for us there. He had gone ahead in September to make the most of mushroom season in Garfagnana (more on mushrooms in future posts). We stayed for a season and at times forgot it would ever come time to leave again..
Taking off on a journey is part of my health. I understand this puts me in a category with others who crave movement, change, and perspective. There are a lot of us in this group. I don’t think we always need to move to the same degree or distance to satisfy our appetite for adventure. We can earn ourselves a perch that overlooks new territory by escaping into a book or spending time with someone who has a different story than ours. We can learn a new skill (or enhance one). When we taste a native dish that has been passed down for generations in a culture that is not originally ours, we depart from what we know. We can meditate. These experiences are opportunities for travel, for moving into new space toward fresh discovery, added understanding.
Whatever teaches us, open us up, or grows us in some way, is travel.
This blog falls into that category, because as I write, I explore ideas such as movement, home and wellbeing. I move from one question to the next, exposing my misunderstandings, my joys, what troubles me. I open up - to commentary, criticism and new questions. I realize that this is the point: tying together a string of good questions or curiosities that shoot beams of light out ahead, suggesting one or more new paths.
Landing in Italy never fails to move me on the inside. Light reliably pours in. I learn something. I imagine the longing for Italy we experience while we are away is a gravitational pull toward the physical places we know and love.
The emotion of touching down in a place that the heart calls home is undeniable. Coming down on the tarmac in Italy closes a void. It releases the taut connectivity of nostalgia into a pool of reprieve that spills over as we settle into a life that both moves us and keeps us present.
At Fiumicino Airport we are greeted by Papa' Renato and Zio Giorgio. After a short and restful visit with family in Rome, we head to the Garfagnana, where our heart is anchored.
The train ride from Roma Termini to Barga-Gallicano takes about 3 hours. The kids stay pretty entertained by looking out the windows, climbing over seats and stumbling down the aisles. In the image below we were only one day into our arrival, jet-lagged, train-spun, (but well-fed already from our visit with Zia Margherita) and waiting for Zio Gigi to fetch us from the train station in Mologno and take us and our trappings to Via del Turello in Barga.
The movement of being at home
What I found there on the lower plateau that stretches out beneath Barga was a sanctuary of sorts. The view never ceased to make my blood speed up even as it grounded me. I must have taken a thousand different versions of this photograph for the pure love of trying to capture something I know I cannot . The green that lay between us and that backdrop gave us a playground for many afternoons and mornings of being in the open and feeling free.
The inward movement that I experienced in this place teaches me. I go back to the photos and they bring up emotion of departure and arrival. They remind me of the movement that happens on the inside when we allow ourselves to be in a place.
GETTING THERE BY TRAVELING NATIVE
Those hundreds of images I captured against the Alpi Apuane are similar to the light that pours in on arrival - they evidence the connection I have with a particular place. Having journeyed through the challenges and victories of another year, the desire to keep moving toward that special place is still ours. We will get there by fueling our inward movement and allowing ourselves to be at home wherever we are, traveling native.