Five Ways a Trip to Italy (Almost) Ruined My Life

by Nancy Brook on October 1, 2015

AmalfiWhen the opportunity to take a trip to Italy’s infamous Amalfi Coast came my way, I could think of nothing more wonderful. The stunning cliffs over the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea, the beautiful weather, the delicious food…. it was hard to come up with a good reason not to go. Of course, for a working mom of three, finding a way to make it happen was easier said than done.. School age kids are busy; they have activities, they play on sports teams, they have tutors, and most of all they need someone to chauffeur them to school and back when you live several miles away. Thankfully, I had amazing friends who volunteered to help me out and make the trip possible. Here are five reasons why my trip to Positano, Italy (almost) ruined my life.

1. The food.
Many people assume that Italian food is delicious; they’ve tasted pasta, they have eaten at an Olive Garden Restaurant. Italian food is as varied as the regions of Italy. On the Amalfi Coast, fresh simple mediterranan style cuisine was the standard and it did not disappoint. Tomato salads, zucchini, eggplant and more varieties of pasta than I could list, each with a different sauce. Portions that were sized just right- and that was just the first course. Pasta was followed by some other delicacy; veal, steak or chicken, lovingly prepared by a family member or family owned restaurant. It put our local restuarants to shame. And did I mention the desserts…Let’s just say I did not lose any weight on this trip.

2. The beauty
Even if you are not a photographer, it seemed hard to take a bad picture, no matter what kind of phone or camera you were using. Beauty was everywhere- from the tile on the floor of my villa, to the flowers growing outside, to the dramatic views of the cliffs surrounding Positano. I was taken by how gorgeous the scenery was, everyday, everywhere I went. From the island of Capri to the town of Ravello, the views were dramatic and rich. I know our country has beauty as well, but this was consuming, and abundant!

3. The people
While most of the Italians I encountered in the small towns I visited spoke little English, they could not have been more friendly or polite. They were exceptionally kind and helpful.I heard repeatedly that because summer was considered the tourist season, many locals worked seven days a week throughout the spring and summer months. Yet, no one complained. No one mentioned stress, or pressure, or anxiety. For a mother from Palo Alto, this was a welcome change of perspective.

4. The meals
The tables were set with beautiful brightly colored linens. The plates, mostly painted ceramic, were so pleasing to the eye. A bowl of cereal would have tasted delightful prepared and presented in such a way. And may I add, that meal time was leisurely. I am so used to quick family dinners, with kids half sitting on their chairs and occasionally paper plates if it has been a rough week. Our meals in Italy, were an event. There was wine, and conversation, and no one was in a hurry to get back to work.

5. The history
Italy is old. Buildings are old, and the history is everywhere.  The locals were happy to tell us all about it. Our own villa, we learned, had been a refuge for the jews during World War 2. Those who had escaped and come through Italy had been welcomed, many had become artists and were responsible for the beautiful Italian plates and ceramics we saw at the local shops.

So, now that I am back on US soil, and have returned to my family and my job, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. The trip was everything I could have wished for and more. I have an iphone filled with fabulous pictures, one more beautiful than the next. My visit to Italy seemed to highlight how busy we are here in the States, how we bustle through our days without noticing all the special details. I hadnt realized how important it is to me to have such beauty all around.
I have a group of eight new women friends who experienced this amazing week with me, and can understand my difficulty with “re-entry”. Unlike a trip to the California beach, or a visit to Disneyland, Italy isn’t a place I will be able to return anytime soon. So for now, I will head back to my kitchen and boil a pot of water in preparation for some good old fashioned spaghetti. Maybe I’ll open some bubbly water just for fun. Or serve the pasta on beautiful plates. Why not?IMG_0487

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