A week in Tuscany re-visited

My bloody MacBook Pro went on the fritz on the train ride to Florence. I just got it back yesterday. I was without it for eleven days, an eternity for a blogger.

I had traveled to Florence to hook up with yet more friends who were visiting Italy. Originally, I had hoped to spend two evenings with them. Unfortunately, my train suffered a break down which prevented me from catching the connecting train in Bologna. By the time I reached Florence and the restaurant, everyone had understandably gone and the restaurant was closing up. Fortunately, I had been able to message them about the travel problems.

The next day we were able to have dinner at a very famous restaurant in Florence that is considered to have some of the best food in Italy. Considering all the tiny hamlets peppered with family trattorias throughout this phenomenal country, I don’t know how anyone can make that determination. Nevertheless, the food was quite good.

This group is the last of the friends I will be seeing before I return to America. I’ve hooked up with roughly a dozen people at five different times since I’ve been here. Other friends popped into Italy for short stints and I was unable to connect. But, with those I did see, it was wonderful.

And it was amazing. I didn’t feel homesick seeing them. I recall when I moved to Southern California in the 80’s I had felt so lonely and homesick so often. Of course, back then, I had very little money. The Internet hadn’t been invented so it was difficult to communicate since we didn’t have Skype or Facebook. Phone calls were prohibitively expensive.

Now, with the advent of these new technologies, Oregon doesn’t seem so far away. I can hook up to video links and see familiar favorite places in Oregon. I can Skype with friends. Internet phone calls are free. Instant messaging is free. Even phone calls are dirt cheap.

And having the continuos stream of friends arriving helps, too.

After leaving my friends, I hopped a train for La Spezia to visit my cousins there. Gioberto, cousin of my birth father, Giulio, is a rotund man who also happens to be a phenomenal cook. His children Debra and Tania always shower me with hugs and kisses when I arrive.

Initially, I had thought of staying only about three days but Debra insisted I stay a week. She was holding fast to our original agreement in May that I would come back to visit for the full seven days. Since I am leaving in about a month , she wanted me to stay as long as possible.

And she reiterated to me many times that I needed to remain in Italy, or at least in Europe. She pointed out all the family members in Italy, my brother in Kazahkstan, my nephew in Russia and, now, my new relatives in Ukraine.

She also, worringly, pointed out the recent school shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. We watched in shock as traumatized people wandered about the campus of Umpqua Community College, some covered in blood. She told me to stay where it’s safe.

It is a tempting decision to make. I suppose if I had been able to find work, I would stay. But right now the lure of Oregon is tremendous. Maybe it’s because I’m gradually checking out emotionally and resigned to returning. I don’t know.

But the great thing about this experience of living as an expatriate in Italy is that my eyes have been opened to future possibilities. Who’s to say that I can’t come back for extended periods after I retire? I could rotate between Italy, Ukraine and America. At some point I could get my Italian citizenship which would facilitate living in Europe without restrictions.

For now, though, things are winding down. I have to meet with the manager of my apartment building about allowing someone to view the flat. I have to communicate with the utilities to make sure my accounts are paid up before I leave. I have to make sure that mail is forwarded back to America. I also have an upcoming trip to Cairo.

I wish I had taken the Cairo trip earlier. Right now I just want to relax and savor Italy and my family. I have not spent as much time as I should have with them. I have stated before that I’ve probably stayed away too much in my efforts not to intrude in their lives. I have only a few weeks left to make them sick of me…

This Cairo trip interrupts that desire to wind down. Nevertheless, I’m anxious to go. Egypt has been on my radar since 2010 since my ex and I made a trek to Europe. Initially, we were to hit Egypt and, later, Italy. But, political instability and the collapse of the government caused us to choose Greece instead. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to visit. Now I’m going to do so.

And I’m excited. I’ve found a hotel with a view of the Pyramids. I want to take a Nile cruise. I want to visit Alexandria. I want to see Tahrir Square where the demonstrations took place and visit the bazaar.

Mostly, I want to trace some of the route of the Holy Family as they fled King Herod with the Christ Child. It will be awhile before I return to Europe and, with Ukraine now on future agendas, I will have less time to visit other places–like Egypt.

So there’s not been much going on without my computer. Just a need to write down what has happened. An effort to get caught up. My plan is to try to write each day, no matter how mundane the information might be. I suddenly have this need to chronicle every detail. I’ve written scores of blog and Facebook postings but now it’s seeming so sparse.

Other than Egypt, postings might be kinda bland. But, for me, they will be necessary.


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