Every time I pack my bags, whether coming or going, I remember that very first visit in 1987 when I was 19 years old and came for my junior year abroad at the University of Padua. I’ll never forget that sensation and sense of urgency: record every aroma, flavor, view, and sound — I thought to myself at the time — there is something here that will reveal greater meaning in life’s time; I don’t know what it is yet but I know it’s there.
Now I’m 47 and nearly 30 years after that first sojourn, I still experience that same feeling — every time, coming or going.
Yesterday, following the last seminar and tasting at the TerroirMarche festival in Ascoli Piceno (three mini-verticals of jaw-dropping Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi), I made what might have been the most beautiful drive of my life.
Departing from Ascoli, I drove through the Apennines to Norcia as the sun was setting before me in the west. And as I headed on from Montefalco and Trevi toward Pisa (where begin my journey back to the states today), I drove past Lake Trasimeno at dusk. Awe-inspiring!
All in all, it was a five-hour drive but it seemed to go by in a flash.
In another time in my life, it was poetry and literature that opened a window on to Italy and Italian culture for me. Today, it is a wine glass that I see through but darkly.
As for Petrarch who, upon discovering a manuscript of a work by Cicero, remarked that he was enchanted by the words even though he did not [yet] know what they meant, Italy is for me a text that I continue to parse with great and joyous curiosity, scanning each syllable and scratching its surface looking for a greater and deeper meaning in its rhythms.
Arrivederci, Italia, you never cease to amaze me. Thank you to all who hosted, poured, and shared their thoughts and impressions. It was a long and rich trip for me. Thank you.
Now to get back to my love and the place where I belong…