Saturday, June 1, 2013

I Dream of Italy!

I’m beginning to believe in signs. Maybe I always have. As a nine year old at the Balboa Fun Zone in Newport Beach, I squandered the last quarter my father had given me for games to have my fortune read . The gypsy fortune teller came to life as the coin clinked through the slot. She then clanked and clunked and swayed into a mechanical trance. She may have even winked at me. She raised her hand and then she jerked to a sudden stop, her face becoming as implacable as it had been before the clink of the coin.

There was a slight gasp, mine perhaps, as a card dropped magically into a small open drawer just below the frozen gypsy’s glass encased throne. It was my fortune... And it said...“You will go to the moon before you are 21 years old.” ... And I believed her! This was just 2 years shy of Neil Armstrong’s great leap for mankind in the Sea of Tranquility. How could I not believe the gypsy? Anything was possible in 1967!

I am now 55 and I have not been to the moon. But I still believe in signs, and when Italy began cropping up in almost anything I read or watched, I knew that, this time, destiny was firmly within reach. 

The first sign was an article I read in the New Yorker by Sean Wilsey, about his time as a gondolier in Venice.
Venice had never really registered on my travel radar – it seemed so old and flooded and touristy. But Wilsey’s article captivated me. Always a copious researcher, I spent nearly an hour on Google Earth, scrolling in and out of satellite images of the lagoon, the canals and the islands. I had to go there! Both my sons had visited Venice on a school trip and I could not let them one-up me. Having never been to Italy, they had one-upped me, but I think my whole summer in France as an exchange student trumps their 2 week trip to Italy, but I will not get competitive with my children!

Scrolling through recommended reads on my NOOK, I found The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I was captivated by the setting and it didn't take long for me to imagine myself boating along the coast of the Cinque Terre, a mysterious Hollywood star at my side. Those cliffs, the decrepit village, the fishermen so set in their ways, the lovers lost and reunited. I cried. Not only for the lovers, separated for 50 years only to be rejoined as one was dying, but for myself, because I wasn't in Italy. It was a sign...

Then a late night's Netflix surfing brought a movie that just had to be another sign: Roman Holiday, William Wyler’s love letter to Rome, starring the most perfect of star-crossed lovers, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. And I cried, all the way through, because their love was so perfect, and Eddie Albert was so goofy-ly perfect and Rome was so perfect and it was all such a sad and beautiful fairy tale. And then I cried because there was just so much Italy in my life and I was not there.

The final sign was the most powerful. I've joined an online group of food bloggers and a regular listing of new blog posts comes into my inbox daily. A link recently caught my eye and I knew it was another sign: La Tavola Marche! A farm, an inn and a cooking school in Le Marche - magic! My trip to Italy is all planned, and until it becomes a reality, I can still dream of Italy! 

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