Buongiorno from Italia!

My dear friends and followers, it has been a long time!  I have spent the last 2 weeks galavanting around Italy, and finding it mostly so exquisite and overwhelming that I didn’t know how to start writing about it all.  From the beauty, to the food, to the culture, to the bizarre curling irons, I just didn’t know where to begin.  Honestly, I still don’t so I’m going to give it to you a piece at a time.  Sampling Italy is pretty hard work.

Currently and for the next 6 weeks, I am residing in the small Basilicata town of Irsina, south of everything you’ve ever read about.  It’s perched on top of a hill, so that when I look out my terrace, I see this:

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It’s pretty spectacular.  And if you can believe it, that wasn’t even my best view this week.  This one had the slightest edge, and that’s probably because I’m a Cancer (water sign), and thrive near the ocean:

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So maybe it hasn’t been all hard work.  It’s been pretty great.  Still, I won’t sugar coat things either.  Moving to a foreign country where your 5 words of their language can get you a sandwich, if you’re lucky, can be daunting.  It’s been 5 years since I was in Europe, and 8 years since I lived abroad in Australia.  Despite all that getting around, it still isn’t in my comfort zone to launch out into the foreign unknown and do strange things like eat dinner at 10PM, or go on an archaeological survey everyday at 6AM.  I feel like crying maybe more than usual, when my ankle gets crushed and slashed by a metal window as I try to crawl out onto someone’s Italian rooftop deck.  No, those are things I’m still adjusting to.  One thing I knew I’d struggle with is breaking free of my addiction to my smartphone and constant access to the Internet.  My iPhone promptly died a week after arrival, thanks to a busted docking pin or some crap.  That was traumatic for me, but probably necessary.  The growing pains of life outside your comfort zone…

But of course, the joys far outweigh the pains.  It’s truly another world out here.  In each Italian destination, I got a different view of the lifestyle.  The north was far busier and fast-moving than the south.  Fast-moving by New York standards?  No way.  But, if you think Rome is laid back, you’ve never been to Positano.  Good luck getting lunch there if you miss out on the 12-1 crowd.  Stores really do the closing for hours during the afternoon thing.  No one is in a big rush to do much of anything.  Now that I’m in Irsina, I see even more of the traditional Southern Italian lifestyle.

Driving into town a few days ago, I exclaimed fearfully, “Aren’t there any women in this town?!”  We were greeted by several groups of leering, elderly and middle-aged men, huddled around bar entrances and park benches, staring our rental car down and we drove by.  I saw one old lady returning from her Thursday afternoon church service.  One.  Ladies, the south definitely does make you feel more like a fish out of water, and more of a piece of meat, I will say that!

Anyways, I’m slowly adjusting to life here.  6 more weeks is not a long time, but it’s long enough to see all the ways that an experience like this can improve your life, open your eyes, make you slow down, and make you want to learn even more about something new.  I will be backtracking whenever my rather shoddy internet connection allows, and giving you the rundown on all the stops we made to Rome, Venice, Padua, Orvieto, Positano, Praiano, Capri, Irsina, and even 2 stops to malls in Campania and Pompeii.  Good times.  Arrivederci for now!  (That’s one of my 5 words, and no one even uses that anymore.  Boo.)

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