As I get closer and closer to the end of this amazing journey I am truthfully both excited to go see my people (and fury creatures) at home and sad for the 'home' that I'm leaving behind. There is something about this magical place that imprints on your heart so deeply that even a fleeting thought of leaving stirs up a sense of longing. There are things that I've learned and witnessed that I need to make my own at home, and I fear that I won't.
How do we slow down? How do we appreciate each other? How do we have family meals every day? How do we hold on to everything that is soooo good about the country we live in while learning from cultures that out date us and know a thing or two about survival and the good things in life.
I find myself hoping that when I'm a bit older, and my kids have left the nest, my friends and I will meet and share life just like this. On any given night, while I sit, taking it all in, on the steps in Piazza Repubblica, they come. They come from different directions and meet in this middle sanctuary. I can't understand what they are saying and maybe my romantically formed notions have missed their mark- but I don't think so. I bet they are talking about the weather, their families (who are probably steps away), the world and I KNOW THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT FOOD! It's simple and it's real! I'm enthralled with the idea that they aren't calling each other to schedule a time to meet. They are doing life together and meeting daily in this special place because no matter how hard they work they take time to value each other.
If you sit in a café, sipping on your ‘TO DIE FOR’ Café Espresso, out of your real piece of china (slight exaggeration) you witness families meeting, talking and oh my goodness eating together. (Craziest thing- it’s ok to consume calories here.) I digress. One thing you don’t often see is people checking their cell phones. They aren’t distracted by the world. They are content with where they are and who they are with. You don’t see people walking with their head down because heaven for bid they run into someone they have to talk to. They stop and chat. They smile, they speak loudly and there are a lot of happy hand gestures flailing about. IT’S BEAUTIFUL!!!
There is an entirely unique quality about it that I’ve never found anywhere else. If it were a musical composition the harmony would be perfect. There is a sense of familiarity and reliability that is hard to find in most places on earth. For the kids and I, we have found a sense of peace in the fact that we can walk up Via Guelfa and people that we recognize or have personally met are saying “Ciao” (which is reserved for someone you are familiar with) to us. It feels like you belong. (FACT: Via Guelfa will literally kill you and I’ve found it to be awesome, silent punishment for sassiness- it is so steep!)
The familial way of doing things around here is on display for the world, literally, to see. There have been a few times, while quietly witnessing (i.e. people watching) the world around me, I have felt this deep sense that they are trying to teach us all something about how the world could look if we all got back to our roots.
In my appreciation for all that is right with Tuscany, and more specifically Cortona, I have not lost my love and pride for all that is right in my own country and my home town as well. I admit, I'm in love with this place, but I love my home. I pray that I hold on to the values I've witnessed being lived out here!! When I walk back down Via Guelfa for the last time on this particular journey I will forever be grateful that we were afforded the opportunity to learn and grow from the magical presence of this place. It's part of each of us! I will deeply miss my new friends and we will long to come back, but we will certainly take with us something that this place helped us focus on and strengthen just by being here: EACH OTHER.