Travelling for the last 8 weeks has created some memorable experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life. This amazing country has provided me with so much (including some extra kilograms that I definitely hope will be coming off when I get home). This has truly been the trip of a lifetime.
From the north to the very south, I have met many amazing people, eaten some incredible food, imbibed in some seriously good wines, seen spectacular sights and heard some astonishing sounds. For me though, the memories will forever be imbued with colours.
For starters, the breathtaking beauty of Italy’s scenery is an artist’s palate of shades.
There are verdant greens – silvery olive trees dotted everywhere, rich deep greens in the Tuscan pine trees, golden tones in the grape vines as they near the end of the season, blue green leaves in the forests of chestnut trees. There are crystalline blues – azure seas, incandescent blues glowing in the many grottos along the coastline, violet and indigo blues off the coast of southern Italy, clear summer skies over the Dolomites. There are oranges and yellows and reds, most noticeable as the sun sets over the sea. There were even the occasional greys and blacks of summer storms, and the Sicilian sand and solidified lava flows.
Of course, then there’s the food! Deep red tomatoes that taste the way they used to taste when my Dad grew them in the back yard. Mulberry reds of the many excellent vini rossi. Shades of green in the pesto sauces and the pistacchio gelati. Deep purple of olives and eggplant. Yellow, cream and white in the pannacotta and limoncello. Mamma mia – I will be in a food coma for years!
The essence though of this incredible country is the warmth and kindness of the people I’ve met along the way. These qualities will always be bathed in the golden hues of the Italian sun as it warms the terracotta. Universally, in the families who have hosted me, in the restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels that have fed and accommodated me, and even in the hectic Naples traffic where we were caught in its evening chaos, people have smiled at me, advised me, pointed me in the right direction when I was lost, fed me, ferried me around, told me (politely) where to go and enveloped me in genuine friendship.
There is also the rich redness of the passion for life which all Italians display. It seems to me that in everything they do – eating, talking, driving, drinking, walking, breathing – there is energy and life!
This is the most enduring memory I will bring home with me and will forever represent the true colours of this extraordinary country.