Buon Viaggio!

So I’m going to Italy.

italy-400

What's it all a-BOOT, Italy? (with a nod to Jack Sutcliffe...)

That’s about the last thing I thought I would be writing, mid-Crisis. I mean, the move and Samantha’s volunteer gig and my own work and the little trips already planned between now and leaving Chicago weren’t enough to obsess about, right? No, let’s throw in a last-minute international jaunt. With my mother.

Not that I’m complaining.

On either count – the suddenness, or the traveling companion. Though I don’t think too many guys my age sit back and think, “Boy, I can’t wait for that trip alone with my 83-year-old mom to a foreign country, one whose language neither of us speaks.” A woman, mind you, as prone to as much worry and anxiety as I am (you see where I get it).

Still, when the dazed feeling clears every now and then, I say: “Holy shit! I’m going to Italy!” And the extra added super-duper bonus: It’s on somebody else’s dime!

Fubine - looks like Italy to me

Fubine - looks like Italy to me

Here’s the back story: My mother’s parents came from the tiny village of Fubine, in Italy’s Piedmont, a region known for rolling hills, wine, and gastronomic delights. Fubine is about halfway between Turin and Milan, not far from Genoa and the sea to the south, and the Alps to the north. (Judging from the town website, asparagus is big in Fubine; they have  an asparagus festival every April that I am just bumming about missing.) All of Piedmont is, from everything I’ve seen, picturesque, if off the radar of the average American tourist. My mother has been to Italy but never to Fubine. Since my father’s death, and with her own advancing age, she has figured she should go sooner rather than later. The trick was finding the right traveling companion at a time when flights were not ridiculously expensive.

Originally my sister was going to take her in the summer, even though the fares would be ridiculously expensive. Then Alitalia came up with an incredible spring fare, my sister couldn’t make the dates work, and I was tapped to pinch hit. Now, there are two key factors that make my stepping in possible: the flexibility of my job and Samantha’s going off on her own excursion; I can rest assured that I won’t be deserting her. Going east to fly to Italy will actually give me another chance to see Samantha while she’s on her volunteer gig, so that’s another nice plus.

Of course, the last-minute nature of this expedition presents some problems of its own. I have to make all the plans in a hurry, but that’s actually not too bad, since I love the planning part of travel: searching out the options, looking for the best deals, informing myself about both the destination and the best way to tackle it as a short-term visitor (the euphemism for dumb American tourist). And I’ll have to work ahead to meet all the deadlines I have for the next few months (because trying to time things around a move and buying a house and economic uncertainty just wasn’t challenging enough…). Maybe even have to turn down new assignments that might arise between now and June, to accommodate this new schedule – assuming there are assignments out there.

Still, even I, Mr. Gloom-and-Doom, can see for once that the pluses outweigh the minuses. I get to explore the ancestral homeland. I have something to take my focus off all of the negatives I perceive swirling around me as the Crisis rolls on. I get to spend time alone with my mother. Days of it. Endlessly. Just me and her.

Wait, I was trying to list the positives here, wasn’t I?

(Ah, just kidding Ma, you know what a kidder I am, right? Right?)

More Fubine - can't wait to post my own pics!

More Fubine - can't wait to post my own pics!

No, it will be good to spend time with a parent as I enter – uh, speed through – middle age and she gets up in years. She seems to think that time is running out for this trip.  I say, given the longevity genes on her side of the family – that good Italian peasant stock – she’s got at least another decade. But that’s her call. And at least now she’s still in good shape mentally and physically, so that’s a plus for navigating foreign travel. Then I think about the time I didn’t get to spend with my father before he so suddenly died, and I figure it’s good to have some extended time with her. Who knows what could happen in the future – to either one of us.

So, it’s been a busy 30 hours or so. Flight booked, car reservation made, inquiries into rooms, other little details. Still some things to nail down. But it will be fun, the rest of the prep work. And certainly the trip itself. I’ve always cherished my Italian roots, even if neither my name nor visage reflects them. And by Italian law, I qualify for citizenship. I’ve explored getting it, figuring an EU passport might not be bad to have, and it would make living in Europe easier in some distant future, when I get to fulfill one of my lifelong fantasies (yes, of course it will happen…). Now I only regret never taking an Italian course, something I had contemplated over the last year or so. I’m reduced to ciao, grazie, prego, andiamo, vino, and pane. Though I guess I could live on those.

It’s really true: I’m going to Italy. I’ll keep you posted.

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~ by mburgan on March 27, 2009.

4 Responses to “Buon Viaggio!”

  1. I was soooo looking forward to this entry..i think this may be a really great trip for you and ma. LOTS OF PICTURES!!!

  2. well u have a good a time and make sure your knowledge of the word “vino” comes in handy quite often! youll need it!!

  3. weird..heather left a comment but its not here

  4. I had to approve it first. Now it’s here.

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