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This is a very different kind of travel for me

I've eaten more olives in the last five days than I have in my whole life. Already I've helped empty twelve bottles of wine and that's just at home.

After a month in the States, post-Australiasia, I'm away again, on my way to France for the summer. Today though, I am in Italy; Sarone, to be exact, in the Perdonone region of the north, about an hour from Venice and nestled under the Italian Alps. I'm visiting one of my best friends (Julie) who happened to move here 2 months ago with her husband (Cody), since I just couldn't come up with a better way to get acclimated to Europe than spending a few weeks in Italy. It is my first time here, and I cannot, to save my life, figure out why that is.

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I arrived on Monday, and have filled the week with beautiful car rides along the countryside, and even more beautiful meals think velvety risotto with perfect asparagus and a thousand delicate cheeses, crispy pizza with mozzarella, spinach and buttermilk, and very good $1 table wine, for starters. Naturally, there have also been late nights of seemingly endless conversation. We spend time after sunset and into the morning on one of the two porches of their gorgeous, quiet villa either the one overlooking the huge front garden, or the other providing a memorable view of their fig trees, a landscape of the faraway town, and the neighbor's vineyards. There we sit and laugh and sip; evenings of wine and prosecco, of fresh, bright, smooth limoncello, made from the neighbor's lemon trees and makeshift distillery.

The days are equally as enjoyable. On the first, Jules and I went into a small nearby town and, for reposo (e.g., standard afternoon business break) had cappuccino for 4 hours in the middle of the cobblestone square. On others, we drive deep into the mountains, through tiny villages and overlapping towns with tall church buildings and vast vineyards, sand-colored homes, neverending fields, narrow, winding streets and the flower gardens! Every window, every doorway, every where, there are reds, blues, purples, pinks, yellows, each wooden basket sitting there with the sole purpose of making your day brighter.

Today was a trip to Caorle, a fishing town off the coast of the Adriatic Sea, for an afternoon under the sun, made even sweeter by multiple scorpinos (vodka, cream, Cointreau, lemon italian ice), priceless little voices of Italian children pleading with their parents (literally, "Mama Mia!!"), and the solid gong of bells from the stone church overlooking the beach. In other words, I know life isn't too bad right now.

Of course, this is a very different kind of travel for me.

I'm not alone, for one, and for another, I don't have any nonprofit visits scheduled in the near future. That makes being here despite it's perfection strange. That's not a complaint on the pure pleasure experience that has been Italy so far, but it does help confirm that my favorite kind of travel does involve, in some way, shape or form, charitable service and connecting to the surroundings in a productive way.

At any rate, I'm guessing that even without a community center around the corner, I'll continue to enjoy every moment here that there will be more beaches and pizzas and eavesdropping on the fascinating, animated conversations of handsome businessmen in tailored suits or old women in weathered flowered dresses and headscarves. If anything, the next couple of weeks will include two longtime friends, a map, and a very, very, very small car. That's all I know at this point. We definitely have a few ideas, a lot of flexibility and at least two weeks' worth of time. I'm curious to see where we end up.

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Posted in Entertainment Post Date 05/15/2017






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