6:30am. We slept with the windows open last night and wrinkled white cotton sheets cover our bodies. I hear the birds first; their songs float like notes of wind chimes in the air. The weather has been spectacular this week with blindingly-bright sun and pale blue skies.
I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to Italy five times in the last 18 years; my first trip was a two-week stint with a group of fellow college students as part of a team to help renovate an apartment space for a pastor of a local church in Rome. It was the very first time I’d ever been out of the US; I’d just met The Professor a few months prior – we were good friends but we weren’t dating. That trip changed my life in a lot of ways but most significantly, it opened my eyes to an entire culture different than my own. And even though The Professor and I were just friends, I knew I wanted to make another trip and take him with me.
Last month I traveled to Italy for a week at another Jovial Culinary Getaway; I attended as a guest this time versus working as a photographer and videographer – and I traveled sans The Professor . . . internationally . . . and I lived to tell about it . . . barely.
If you follow my Instagram feed, you’ll know that I’m back in Italy this week, sans The Professor; it’s the first International trip I’ve made by myself – a feat that is, by some estimations, a miracle because I’m incredibly directionally challenged, as in ‘any way I’m facing is North’. The Professor still has students to teach and while it was difficult to leave him behind, I managed to travel from the Midwest to Italy without incident – yay me!
I left my home in Washington State in 1996 and remember writing the word ‘Rome’ in my journal; I had never traveled out of the country and had absolutely no reason to think I would be going to Europe let alone Italy, any time soon. But I did. In December of 1997 I traveled with a group of college students to Rome and spent a little more than two weeks helping in the construction of bedrooms for a church family there. I’d only known The Professor a month before leaving on that trip – we were just good friends and had even discussed the fact that neither of us were looking for a relationship.
Well we’re home; a little jet-lagged but home and sleeping in our own bed after a 24-hour travel day. I have to admit that the last leg of our journey was grueling in a very small puddle-jumper with about 35 teeny-tiny seats of which I’m convinced were made of concrete and wooden spikes; it felt as if I was being tortured for those last hours on a plane. But Italy was so, so worth it!
We’re here in Italy for the next 7 days; it felt as if we were coming home – that familiar feeling of seeing good friends, laughing and catching up and seeing the beautiful Villa Boccelli.
The Professor and I are headed off for Italy to attend Jovial’s Culinary Getaway, Gluten-Free Italian Style; we’re attending as particpants this time and I have to say, we’re pretty excited. We’ve had the privilege of working with Jovial this past year and we always have their products in our pantry – but we’ve not attended the class as students so this is going to be great fun!
Some of the people The Professor and I have enjoyed getting to know this past week . . .
The Professor and I have been very fortunate to have opportunities to travel quite a bit the past few years; it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s challenging and it has stretched both of us in ways we’ve never expected. It’s probably been more of a growing experience for me than it has been for The Professor – primarily because I’m more of a control freak than he is – and anyone who has traveled knows that sometimes you just have to roll with things and let them happen . . . not necesarily my strong suit . . . but I’m learning.
Musical pairing – Koop Island Blues by Koop
I fell in love with Spaghetti Carbonara during my trip to Rome several years ago and it’s been one of my all-time favorite comfort dishes ever since. Perfectly cooked al dente pasta wrapped in a silky, luscious sauce made with egg yolks and parmesan cheese, doused with copious amounts of black pepper and pancetta folded into the mix. It’s the stuff dreams are made of I tell you!