With love, from Venice

Amore…I love that word, in both English and especially in Italian and Spanish. Actually I probably love it more in Italian and Spanish.

Looking back over the past two and a half months traveling all over Italy, I have realized that this phrase I started using “ciao con amore” (goodbye with love) has grown and evolved throughout my trip. It’s come to really mean a lot to me and to be very special – really, it gives me warm-fuzzy feelings…do you know what I mean? Nah, not literally, but in all seriousness, it gives me a strong, steady feeling of appreciation for others.

With friends Marilena and Flavio in Milan

The phrase was born in my emails to my dear Italian friend Marilena. Attending her wedding in Milano this past April was what first instigated my idea to start this trip in Europe with Italy. Since then, I have used the phrase very sparingly, keeping it primarily between her and me in our communications.

It’s a ‘heart-rock”!

Then recently, I had the fantastic opportunity to road trip from Rome to Riace, Calabria with a new Italian friend, Rachele. From a fantastic week there (which you can read about in another post called “Visiting Southern Italy – Riace, Calabria“) we drove along the southern coast line of Italy to the region of Puglia where Rachele has a beautiful trullo beautifully laid out in the countryside near Locorotondo. A gorgeous and restful week there was the culmination of my tour of southern Italy and I was drawn back to Rome for a few days before actually departing Italy for Spain.

While many of my blog posts are written to provide helpful travel tips and insight with the sense of experiencing local culture, this particular post is much more a reflection on my saying good-bye to my recent time in Italy. I mean it well, and somewhat humorously, that I affectionately started referring to Italy as the black hole that was sucking me in…and in all the best of ways. I originally expected to be there three, maybe four weeks and ended up there for over two months! I certainly plan to be back there again and think it will always be in my life in some way, so maybe it will succeed in drawing me back…

With Friends Rachele and Rita

The people I met all along the way showed me such warm hospitality. As open and welcoming as any culture I have yet to experience, I was treated like part of the family whether I was staying in someone’s personal home or even in a hotel managed by an Italian family.

And the romance…I have been pretty quiet on this front, yet now want to confirm that Italy’s reputation for romantic and sentimental men has been confirmed, at least by me. From a dinner date at the Dolce Gabbana “Gold” Restaurant to sunset hikes to see hidden Roman fort ruins dating back to B.C., to having a restaurant owner close his establishment early and make me a private dinner in his restaurant…in Rome I even encountered one who claimed “love at first sight” for me! Goodness…what’s a woman to do with all this? I found that being honest, which in some cases was that I was only interested in spending time as friends, still resulted in adoration and being treated as one man put it “as a princess”. So I enjoyed the private boat tours through Venice and the moonlit tour of an old Tuscan castle…and I got to make new friends, learning that Italian men are very brave by loving in the moment and for the most part, unconditionally. Now I have even higher standards when it comes to dates…as if I wasn’t already demanding enough! I think one of my personal favorites was a ride from a wonderful Italian man who I enjoyed several dates with – his kindness and gallantry even went to the extent that my extremely heavy bag was crammed into the front-loading trunk of his Porsche.

Yet, like any good single traveler, I must continue on in my journey (at least for now). So on to Spain I have gone. I go with such a rich feeling of having Italy with me and making it back sooner rather than later. This is where my phrase “ciao con amore” is beginning to be used more liberally and frequently because I want to always move on from an experience with amore.

For you as my readers and followers, you can still go on experiencing my travels through Italy as I re-live them in my blog. I have a lot more stories to get caught up on and you will not have to miss out. You can get the amore and the Italian tales here. So for now, ciao con amore! Hola Espana!

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