Italy Roundtable: A Decade of Memories

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It was just one year ago that the Italy Blogging Roundtable published its first posts. It’s been a thrill to be involved in this project from the very beginning and to watch our membership grow as we shared with you our thoughts and memories. I have especially enjoyed seeing the diversity of sentiments among our bloggers. But what really makes this Roundtable work is the involvement of our readers. So we, all of us, thank you profusely for your support and comments. It seems fitting at this one-year juncture of our blogging roundtable that we talk about ANNIVERSARIES – with special attention to the contributions you have made this past year.

It seems like just yesterday that I first visited Italy. I remember the thrill I felt when I landed at Marco Polo Airport and first water-taxied through the canals of Venice. I can still feel the misty sea air wetting my face. It was love at first sight! I first stepped onto solid ground again on a sidewalk just around the corner from St. Mark’s Square – a breathtaking introduction to my Italian adventures. When I think of those first hours in Italy – in Venice! – I still feel as moved as I felt then. I was and still am in awe of the sights, the sounds, the textures of that hauntingly beautiful city. To this day, it is still my favorite place in all of Italy!

That was back in 2001. It hardly seems possible that I was no more than 29 years old. Since then I have returned to Italy many times, but, as they say, there is nothing like your first time. Sometimes I wonder if I have over-romanticized that trip, but I think not. Italy just has that effect on people. Now, eleven years later, I still experience those same feelings of wonder and awe every time I step off the plane onto Italian soil. I feel as if I have returned home.

“Quanti anni hai?” The Italians are fond of asking this. They mean “How old are you,” but literally the words mean “how many years do you have?” It renders a whole different meaning to the question. I often ask that of myself as I walk the streets and cobbled sidewalks of their country. How many years do I have … to enjoy their warm hospitality, to soak in the ambiance of the blending of old and new, to savor the rich aromas reaching out to me from their restaurants. One trip becomes five, eight, ten. Italy is has become a delightful, mesmerizing blur to my senses and I cannot get enough of it. It becomes mine with each passing moment; I claim it unabashedly. But that doesn’t mean it is mine alone. Italy is best shared – and that is what we are trying to do through this blog.

Sadly, my ten year anniversary of that initial trip to Italy was the first year I did not get to visit there. Circumstances worked against my hopes of celebrating that momentous anniversary in an Italian sidewalk cafe. But Italy is with me wherever I am and the memories sustain me until my next visit. I celebrated that 10th anniversary in my heart. It was enough just knowing I WOULD return. Then, I would lift my wine glass in a belated toast to my beloved adopted country.

Still, it was missed. As always, the next trip is in the works. It is just a matter of time. Until then, I will carry it in my heart and in my dreams. Awake or asleep, Italy remains a part of me until next I see it in person.

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