I love travel memoirs. Love.Them.
Stories and earned wisdom from people who have gone to far-flung places testing the boundaries of comfort and cultural idiosyncrasies fascinate me. Let’s be honest; I like hearing how people have fumbled through cultural faux-paux. Funny, charming, and commiserating over crazy bureaucracy gets me turning pages.
“Turning Tuscan” by Sam Hilt gave me 14 pages of Kindle highlights. Fourteen pages. Here are some favorites:
“The fact that our village had been left behind as history marched onward was one of the things that we found so attractive about it. We enjoyed the feeling there of being outside of time. Every day, nothing happened.”
This could easily be written about vast swaths of Italy, but certainly of Bobbio – and one beautiful reason Villa Sollievo is located there.
In observing his local cathedral:
“People participate [in church] according to their inclinations and convictions. There are the pious, mostly elderly, who attend Mass daily. There are those who attend only on Sunday morning and holidays. (Most of our close friends fit in this category; despite reservations and doubts about the ultimate truth of Church dogmas, they find value in the tradition and their children all go through the rituals….) …And there are others who simply never attend Mass. Yet, even these folks participate actively in the major holidays, helping to string lights around the town for Christmas, carrying processional candles up the mountain on the eve of Good Friday, making baked goods for fund-raisers… There is no guilt-tripping, no apparent competition around who is more pious. I’m not sure how better to describe it than to call it a very relaxed and inclusive form of Christianity.”
This is the Italian culture that no one really talks about; that the majority of Italians aren’t so much “Christian” in the way that Americans think of a “Christian nation”. And also why pastors and missionaries who talk about having a relationship with Jesus are often thought of like an interesting but crazy uncle; or maybe needing to see a shrink.
And yet, there is this:
“All the Italians have to teach us is how to enjoy life on earth.”
And they DO. The whole culture is based around everything that makes life ENJOYABLE. And in our task-driven, uber-busy rat race to accumulate more things…most of us have forgotten how to LIVE.
When is that last time you took a nap after lunch, belly laughed for hours playing card games around the table with your neighbors after an exquisite meal, or riding around town on the cutest scooter? You know you WANT to. Why do we think we can’t PURSUE fun, but try to find our worth in how work-busy we are? When did we get so tired?
THIS is why Villa Sollievo is in Italy.
Come visit. You’ll see what I mean…