Italy From Bottom to Top: Saying Goodbye
I’ve never felt more a part of Italy, which makes for a sad goodbye. Spending so much time in its mountains (even shaping them with my own hands!) and all the people I’ve met over the last two months of travel—these are things I’ll never forget. Georgeta Perhald, Sommelier and Manager of PR for Rocca delle Macíe winery, spoke of how Italy changed her life, and how she could see it changing mine. “You cannot help it,” she said. “You stop thinking about what you put on the outside of your body, and begin thinking about what you put inside.”
Italy changes you. Witnessing such ancient traditions as the trulli, meeting smiling Italians who, as part of their culture, say hello and goodbye every time they enter and exit a store or café, walking among buffalo and tasting cheese only a few minutes old. The senses are heightened by the influx of carefully prepared dishes composed of carefully produced ingredients.
Suddenly, a 25-euro bistecca fiorentina seems more important than a new pair of sunglasses. The array of powerful flavors and aromas is so intoxicating that you forget to do what makes sense and begin to just do what you enjoy. You do it for no other reason than because you want to, as Armando, of Il Parma Delizie Alimentari, might say .
I’ve been able to watch the terrain change region by region, from the bottom to the top of Italy—from Puglia to Veneto—and I’ve seen a plethora of unique cuisines and landscapes. Every 30 miles brings a new Italy, with different traditions; different mountains, islands, or beaches; different wines made with different native grapes. Italians are proud of their regions, and even if one or two try to chase you off their property with a pitchfork , most will take the time to share some secrets. Massimo Criscio knows this, and shares his knowledge.
I’m at that point in a trip, only two days from its end, when every bone in my body aches for extra time. I hold each breath of Italian air a moment longer, hoping to incorporate it into my body. I watch Kristin packing her backpack, carefully wrapping the bottle of ’98 Brunello di Montalcino so that it won’t break in transit.
Tomorrow we’ll catch a train to Naples, where we will spend two nights before boarding a plane for JFK International Airport. Direct flights run between Naples and New York City during the summer months, and Meridiana Airlines offers some of the best deals.
We’ll say goodbye to the friends we made at Italy Farm Stay and to Antonello Siragusa and his family, and then we’ll say goodbye to all of Italy. But all of the people I met—Italian, American, Romanian, German, etc.—all of their words and smiles will remain. Life is beautiful, and as Giuseppe Siragusa says ” Don’t make problems.”
I’d like to thank everyone who accompanied me on this journey. I’ll continue to publish articles on EuropeUpClose.com, so always feel free to contact me with questions in regard to your own travel plans. Until then, so long from Italy From Bottom to Top.
Written by and photos by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com