Rosalba, Alessandro, Raymondo, Christina, Julia, Masilliammo, are just a few of the wonderful people I met during our family adventure in Italy. We soulstrolled our way from Florence to Positano, staying in airbnb villas in Mercatale Valdarno and Positano. We wandered by foot, traveled by train, drove through winding Tuscan hills and sunflower covered fields via manual car, covered the sea via various boat rides and flew there and back by plane.
SoulStrolling™ is the practice of paying attention to your life wherever you find yourself, cultivating awareness of the now, and listening to your hearts desires and longings. I happen to love this practice. “The purpose is to be in the present moment and enjoy each step you take.” Thich Nhat Hanh
This can be challenging while traveling. It was unusually hot in Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. Sweat dripped from all parts of my body, steaming my glasses, causing my naturally curly long hair to bloom into a giant puff ball and testing my sport deodorant to its limit.
We encountered some twists and turns and unexpected surprises: missing luggage, shopping for necessities, my almost 52 year old body deciding to have an unusual ‘cycle moment’ at the wedding, the plumbing in our airbnb rental in Positano deciding to back up and share its’ waste and water with us. Oh, the glories of travel.
I also had so many wonderful experiences that there were moments when all I wanted was for time to stand still. Jumping off of a boat into the sea with my family, floating on my back in the pool, watching fireflies flit through the warm night on our drive down a hillside, dinner outside while the warm winds wafted the Tuscan hillside, digging my toes into the pebbly Positano beach, strolling to the grocery store and engaging in my limited Italian with the vendors, standing at the bar sipping my morning macchiato, sipping Brunello di Montalcino at Altesino winery. Hundreds of moments, each calling to be savored.
My heart and soul expand when I travel. Curiosity is ignited and I want to hear peoples stories: Have they always lived where they do? How did they find themselves at the place where they work? I ask and listen as they share their stories.
I connect with my joy of learning a new language. My Italian is limited to a few phrases, but ones that take me into conversations where the listener seems to think I know more than I do, and I am mesmerized by the conversation that flows. It can feel very strange and uncomfortable to attempt speaking a foreign tongue, but so much fun to try.
I enjoy revisiting things I haven’t done in many years – like driving a manual car. My initial nervousness and apprehension gave way to driving joy as I shifted gears, traveling on the highway, shifting down to exit, entering roundabouts and weaving on curvy windy roads.
I got to watch my adult kids play: in the pool, the sea, laugh in the car, crack jokes at meals, engage in card games, ‘Clash of Clans,’ dance at the wedding, and more.
Summer in Tuscany gifts you with some rather large bugs: flying fluorescent green beetles, monster bumble bees, fuzzy brown flies with dark green eyes, large spiders, many small ants and geckos in kitchen cupboards. It’s good to practice not freaking out when they buzz by, land on your head, or say hello from your cereal bowl. It also helps to look before you sit down – being stung by a bee on your butt is not a pleasant experience.
Appliances in Italy work differently than those in the U.S. Tips to future airbnb renters: ask the host to explain everything to you – from light switches to dishwashers, washing machines to stove tops, ovens to fans, toilets to showers, air conditioning (if it’s available) to heat, recycle/trash and where it goes (down to the town, home, outside, pick up times).
The glorious, wondrous food: Platters of grilled prawns, pici pasta with pepper sauce, papparedelle with wild boar, mouth watering gelato, plates of melon and proscuitto, caprese salads, swordfish with sun ripened cherry tomatoes, muffins in Positano, pizza in Napoli, limoncello, ricotta gnochi with eggplant and creamy tomato sauce, orange duck, octopus and potato salad, eggplant parmigiano…the list goes on. Confession: It’s kind of hard to come home and cook.
I spend a fair amount of time before soulstrolling™ abroad researching where to stay: location in relation to things we might like to do and where we’d like to visit. To arrive and have this trip unfold as it did was magical.
One highlight came on our final day in Naples. I’d chosen a small hotel, Chiaja de Charme, close to the dock where we’d be arriving by ferry. I had no idea we’d be so close to the Teatro di San Carlo and that La Bohème opera would be playing the day we arrived. We wandered past queues of very well dressed men and women patiently awaiting for the doors to open.
Tip #1 – When you travel, ask questions, even if you’re not certain what will unfold. We found the ticket line and discovered we could go dressed as we were (swimsuits under our clothes from an early morning swim, hot and sweaty) and there were tickets for sale: 20 euros for adults, 5 for students. To see an opera! In this amazing theater! And it was starting in 10 minutes.
Tip #2 – When magic happens, say, ‘Yes’. In fact, this SoulStrolling™ adventure unfolded because our family said, ‘Yes’ to an invitation. Over a year ago friends invited us to their wedding celebration in Positano. There were many reasons we could have said, ‘No’: cost, budget, uncertainty of family commitments, work. We collectively decided to say, ‘Yes’. The planning, timing, where we stayed, what we did, unfolded from there.
If you’ve longed to stroll in Paris, consider joining us for our upcoming SoulStrolling à Paris this October 17 – 24, 2015. You won’t be disappointed 🙂