When most people think of Italy, they think of great food and wine, charming Italian
men, women on Vespas and – if you are of a certain age – Sophia Loren (OK, not
even I am that old!!).
Italy is all of those things to me, but it is so much more: it is a place where I feel at
home in a way I don’t anywhere else in the world. I can get by in Italian – and only
occasionally get the quizzical look I know so well when an Italian really really wants
to understand what I mean but between my somewhat limited vocabulary and
terrible verb conjugation just isn’t getting it – and having been here so many times,
I know my way around. (I was very happy to zip into town in just 30 minutes from
the airport – a new record! AND I didn’t get lost!!) Over the last twenty years I have
been here more times than I can count – both for business and pleasure – and for
that, I am very, very grateful.
Although I often found myself here with my ex-husband (and am now quite often
in the company of his mother or my son), I now feel very comfortable on my own.
The town where I have a teeny, tiny little apartment is one where over the years
I have developed both acquaintances and friendships and where – when I finally
make it into the driveway – I breathe a sigh of sheer and unadulterated pleasure
and contentment. I love Montreal and will always call it home, but this little town
makes me feel what in French is called ‘comblee’: kind of fulfilled, kind of content,
and completely …. complete.
I use this trip as a mental replenishment of my soul (wow that sounds pretentious,
but it’s true). When I am here, and for at least a little while after I return, I am
relatively stress-free and focused. I can write, I can think, and there is little and
nothing that hampers either one of those things. Of course, getting ready to get
here is always a marathon: the gallery has to be taken care of, the house has to
be handled, the dogs have to be managed – even if my ‘other’ life is on hold, it’s a
kind of ‘managed hold’. So to all of the people who make this trip possible – family,
friends, co-workers, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
Giulian arrives today and on Monday we plan to hit Parma and the antiques fair.
After that we will check in with some of our favorite poster dealers and bookshop
owners … I’m looking forward to seeing them and uncovering some of the special
things they hide in their collective basements and attics. Paola, Giancarlo and the
rest of you – get ready! I’m on my way!!