There is an inexplicable feeling of sharing something you love with someone you love. I travel alone a lot. I mean, really a lot. And while on my own I can move quickly, make my own decisions, interact more efficiently, there is nothing like being able to show Italy to people and watch it unfold in front of them. That feeling is magnified when the travel companion is a family member which was the case last week when I brought my daughter to Italy for the first time. In true teenage fashion, her response when I announced that she was coming with me was, “It’s about time, Mom.” True gratitude, right? But in a way she was right. 15 years of her life and I had yet to share with her the thing that, after my family and friends, is most important to me and closest to my heart. It was a treat for her but a true gift for me to finally be able to share this with her. I was nervous. What if she didn’t like it? What if she was intolerant of the ways of the Italians? What if she was unimpressed with the sheer beauty and magic that had impressed me from the first moment I stepped foot in Rome? Please please please let her love it.
I needn’t have worried as she is an intelligent observer and a great traveler. Her observations and reflections were amazing. She noticed things that I had long taken for granted. The Trevi Fountain in Rome took her breath away much as it did mine on my first visit to the Eternal City 28 years ago. I can’t tell you the last time I stopped to appreciate the fountain. But for her, I got up early and we ventured out into Rome before the crowds so she could admire it in all its glory.
She observed that Siena felt more real than the other places we visited, she was in awe of the natural beauty of Tuscany and became overcome with laughter at the “roads” we were on - basically patches of dirt path strung together by potholes. She loved the ornate decoration of the Baroque churches of Rome - a style I thought she would find cluttered and overdone. She dined on gelato and pizza as I knew she would, but also tried other local specialties.
I handed a part of me over to my daughter this week. I will admit that I would have been disappointed if she had hated it, but I knew there was a chance that she would not be as enamored as I am. My love affair with Italy is a unique one and has grown stronger over time. But as we strolled through the streets of Siena on our last day, she made the declaration that one day she would live there. My job here is done.