Tomorrow we leave at 3:00 am to drive to Rome to catch our 7:00 am flight back home. It's been an amazing two weeks. I have loved Italy, and particularly Soriano, but I am also looking forward to being back home. There are two good things about foreign travel....you get to experience a different culture, and you appreciate your own.
The people are wonderful. Sweet, kind, patient, friendly. They value community. I've so enjoyed watching the people of Soriano stroll through the town square saying hello to each other. The old people gather together on the church stairs or in front of cafes laughing and telling stories and watching as the world goes by. They take care of each other...the old care for the young and the young care for the old. I've watched grandparents stroll their grandbabies around town and smiled each night when I saw the adult children of the elderly help their parents and grandparents take part in the nightly stroll thru town. Family is important, in fact vital, here and that's the way it should be.
Antonia lives in the medeivil district of Soriano. She was shy to have her picture taken, but enjoyed showing off the flowers she has growing on her porch. She wouldn't smile when the camera came out, but she blew us kisses when we said goodbye.
The Italians also take care of their animals, in their own way (at least they do in Soriano). The town's stray cats make their way to the butcher shop each night where he puts out scraps of meat for them. And Bella, the town stray dog visits the different restaurants in town where they always have a nice treat for her...and they all chip in for her vet bills, making sure she's healthy.
Of course the food has been good. The olive oil can't be beat and they make these great little round breadstick things with fennel seeds that are addictive. The wine has been the best. For only 4 euro we've had a darn good bottle of "vino della casa" with dinner every night...going back to paying $35 - $45 for a semi-decent bottle at home will be a sad adjustment.
Pasta and vino....we had a lot of both!
It goes without saying the history is awe-inspiring to a new world gal like me. People at home speak with pride about living in a 100 year old home, but our neighbor here in Soriano has lived in the same house that her family has lived in for seven generations and our apartment that we've made home this last week was built in the 13th century...I guess they built things to last back then. Castles seem to be on every hillside, works of art carved into every building and fading fresco's beckon in the most unexpected places.
Art and history and finely toned marble asses are everywhere.
As a Catholic, I've felt a lot of pride seeing how the culture of Italy is so entertwined with the church. They respect and honor the church, and the monuments built to religion are nothing less than mind-blowing. St. Peter's grandeur and art and the spirituality and beauty of St. Francis will remain with me always.
Frescos of the Madonna are in every town in Italy.
Well, of course you can't love everything about anyplace, and there are some bad things about Italy.
The worst has to be driving....it requires an iron stomach and nerves of steel. Every driver races like a madman, using the lines on the road as merely guides instead of rules. They pass on blind corners, tailgate like crazy, and cut in front of you. Pedestrians take their own lives in their hands by daring to cross any street. Thank god Eric has done the driving and not me. And while I'm on the subject of driving....the Italians also have an odd aversion to road signs...the GPS would say, "take a left on SP5" and yet you would never know where SP5 was...it's not marked...anywhere!
While wine, clothing and food are affordable, toiletries are very expensive. I paid 20 euro for a very small tube of sunscreen (I think it's a controlled substance here) and feminine products are equally high. You can only buy toilet paper scented and with printed flowers (I'll take unscented plain white any day), and non-fat milk, yougurt and margarine are no where to be found.
Energy is expensive here, so it is watched closely. While drying your clothes on the line sounds romantic, it leaves your clothes kind of crunchy and smelling a bit funky. And, I've a new found love for my dishwasher at home.
....and the smelly
My sense of smell has undergone serious assault since I've been here. Medievil sewer systems don't compare to our modern ones at home so toxic odors emanante from drains, bathrooms and behind ancient doors covering dusty storage caverns underneath buildings. And...no A/C means BO...on me and on everyone else.
All in all...yes, I have loved being here, but as Dorothy said, there's no place like home, there's no place like home.