I am back from three weeks in Italy. Half of this time was in Rome and the other half in Tuscany. Being on holiday is a chance to walk out of my everyday life and have completely new experiences alongside some familiar ones. Taking time out from my own life enables me to reflect and refresh, and to see things from other perspectives.
Four impressions have stood out on this holiday:
- Firstly, every cup of coffee I had in Rome was excellent.
- Secondly, for a country in financial crisis, I noticed receipts for purchases rarely had the name of the company selling, the date of purchase, or the nature of the item. This must give auditors and anyone attempting to stock take or make a statement of accounts, a nightmare.
- Thirdly, judgments based on first impressions are rarely accurate. A former colleague and now friend Shahla Motadel led me into many of the most intriguing cafés of Rome. In these I discovered the most unprepossessing looking cafés often held special experiences; an unusual way of presenting coffee, warm friendly hosts, a special history or interior, or the freshest pastries you might ever have the privilege of eating.
- Fourthly, the architecture and layout of streets in Rome assist people to interact socially with one another with friendliness and ease. The spacious piazzas seemed to encourage people to traverse and gather. The narrow winding lanes required cars and people to co-operate. Morning coffee while standing in a local bar makes community interactions easy, and the trees and gardens are integral to the buildings and people using these spaces.
What memories have I bought back? Learning local cooking secrets from my Italian friend Maria; being taught to make heavenly tiramisu by Maria’s cousin; having porcini mushrooms fresh from the woods; digging and planting a winter vegetable garden in Tuscany with Shahla.
I will never forget picking olives on a family grove in Tuscany and taking them to the huge press along with the local growers, savouring the fresh-pressed olive oil, and laughing uproariously as we toast one another with the good fortune of having a meal together.
Stepping out of everyday life enables both fresh perspectives and special memories.
© Diana Jones