Andare, Partire, Tornare


1998 Italy journal exerpts

I think, perhaps, that I'm destined to be cynical, but to always come across as hopelessly naeive in my writing. I can't ever capture what I want to describe in a few concise words, like a Japanese artist painting a bamboo grove with a few sharp strokes. Instead, I resort to cliche, or to soppyness. This all came to mind when I finally found the journals I kept from both trips to Italy, four and then two years ago. Some of my journaling is great in that it brings the scene back to me, but I fear I won't have the flair to ever write for a travel magazine. But I do feel the urge to post some of the entries, and some of the sketches, perhaps, from these days. Self-indulgent, perhaps, but as SWOOP mentioned, it *is* my journal, after all!

May 30, 1998. 1:41pm. Perugia

It was worth it. All that anguish at the train station, all the sleeplessness and discomfort - Perugia is worth it and more. It's hard to understand how much magic is contained in the phrase "city on a hill" until you come upon one, perched delicately on the side of a steep cliff, turning pink in the last daylight. From here, the surrounding countryside is laid out for you like a dream of flying.

I sat on the steps of the church and ate a gelato, feeding the cone to the pigeons. Then I walked through the antique market. There are plenty of tourists here, but they all seem to be Italian tourists. A very nice gentleman named Gianfranco tried to get a date with me, until I said blandly that I needed to call my husband, and whipped out all the wedding pictures. He smiled, and said politely that he'd see me around!

Classes begin tomorrow. I rather wish the couple sitting next to me weren't making out quite so emphatically - the sucking sounds are annoying!

June 1, 1998. Perugia

Probably my most miserable day yet. After meeting up with the rest of the group and Gino Casagrande (a very nice man), we went to the university to get organized. All was well until I tried to leave - the two steep flights of stairs caused me to sit by the wayside, losing the rest of the group. I kind of coughed/threw up and sat there for a while, then tried to return home, only to get lost. After I made it home, I had a bout of - well, I'm not sure what to call it. Hysterics? Athsma? It felt like an athsma attack, which I haven't had since I was about ten years old. I've been really concerned about money, which has, I think, led to my not eating well. Combined with the up and down walking, my body revolted. I made the fatal mistake of trying Pepto Bismol and upchucked glorious pink everywhere. This situation may turn out funny in the long run, but at the time I was ready to claim some medical problem and flee home.

I napped for a couple of hours and set out again, forcing myself to buy some decent (and rather tasty) dinner. Adding to my money problems as I discovered, was the fact that I was not converting the money right in my head. I underestimated prices by about 1/3. I pray that the money for the loan comes soon.

I feel nothing like a traveler, and a lot like a ninny. And I'm also the fuddy-duddy of the group, it would seem - everybody else is really into the bars. Ah, well - it'll all work out, hopefully.

19:37 (later that same day)

It's wonderful the changes that can occur in a day. This morning I was lower than an earthworm, pukey, dizzy, et al. Now I'm ensconced in an apartment with Chris and Christina, who are very nice, and three others, only one of whom I've really chatted with. She showed me where the Co-op is, and I bought groceries - bread and Nutella, yum! I'll have to get one of them to show me the trick of lighting the gas stove - it refused to do it for me.

What's amusing is that there is an extensive rant about how much I hate Naples later on in the 1998 journal - my second trip there was definitely the better one. For example, I had a bathroom without several inches of standing water on the floor, I had a room that wasn't subject to the loud and neverending snarl of traffic, and I didn't have to stay my first night in a hotel whose lobby smelled of pee. Much better, vero?

Exerpts from 2000, plus some sketches, next entry...

1:11 p.m. - 2002-07-09


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