05 October 2005

self portrait tuesday (okay wednesday) #9

six years ago today, we were in italy... more specifically, we had just left venice and were beginning our explorations of the city of florence. each year around this time, I read through that little black suede travel journal, look through my (still unfinished) scrapbook and watch the video footage. have you ever taken a trip like that? one that was perfect in most every way? one that you'd like to go back and re-live over and over, one that sort of defines your life experiences? italy was all that for me.

the planning of this trip began shortly after I suffered a miscarriage in november of 1998. it had been our first pregnancy and we were over the moon about it. family and friends had been excitedly called, names were already being discussed... and then, so suddenly, we lost it. we were in shock, paralyzed by a sort of unfamiliar sadness and frankly, not quite sure what to do with ourselves. when it came time to try again, I found that I was scared to death. it had been so physically and emotionally painful, such a horrific experience (an entirely different story for another day) that I could not even bring myself to think of another pregnancy. we wanted a family but decided we needed some time, just a little more time to heal. and so on a cold january night, we started to talk about traveling. we thought maybe we needed to take a big trip before we brought babies into our lives. initially, we had wanted to backpack through europe but were overwhelmed by the broadness of it. finally, we settled on italy. our combined years of art history coupled with my italian heritage sort of sealed the deal and well, that was that. I threw myself head first into the planning and research and it was all I could think about, all the time. every penny went into savings. I tried to teach myself the language (forced it down ward's throat, too, playing cassette tapes in the car whenever I could). once I mastered certain phrases, I couldn't stop. I loved the rhythm, the cadence of the language. "ABBIAMO BISOGNO D'INDICAZIONE!", I'd proclaim to no one in particular at the local k-mart (which means: I need directions). yes, I was driving everyone crazy but truly, it was the best thing for me, all this dreaming, this planning. it was just what I needed.

and it was an almost perfect trip. the weather was perfect, the hotels were perfect, everything was just as I imagined, only better, a thousand times better. save for an unfortunate gondola incident and a disaster involving the closing of the train station in rome, I can do nothing but wax poetic. in fact, I could fill a big fat book with all the wonderfully delicious little details. so much art, so much history, culture, so much beauty. venice swallowed me whole with all the teeny tiny alleyways, the fragrant hanging laundry, the large wooden shuttered windows in our hotel room that begged to be ceremoniously flung open each afternoon as the singing gondoliers passed us by. the vibrant, not-to-be-believed colors of the island of burano, the hundreds of pigeons in piazza san marco. and florence will forever have my heart, what with all the buzzing vespas, with michelangelo's david and botticelli's venus and the exhilarating, terrifying climb to the top of the duomo's belltower. florence has the most fabulous fleamarkets ever and was also where I experienced the best meal of my entire life (at il cantinone, a hidden restaurant in a cellar that we quite literally stumbled upon). the sunflowers of tuscany, the smell of grapes, of wine, of the earth. and rome- grittier, dirtier and more human than I had imagined but so fantastic. crumbling and ancient, but completely urban. so many fountains, so much, so much, so much. too much. my head is spinning just thinking about it all. and the love. oh, the love. shortly after we arrived back home, we discovered that I was pregnant. and that ava-girl of ours was born about nine months later.

so, if you feel like taking a little trip to italy, come along with me. click here to be magically transported.


  1. OH MY GOODNESS! I loved reading about your Italy experience! I actually spent a summer studying Italian art & culture in Florence while I was in college. I thought I was going to fall over when you said that your heart is in Florence. A piece of my heart will forever remain in Piazzale Michaelangelo. I would find my way up there at least twice a week to watch the amazing sunsets overlooking the Arno River and all of Florence. Italy TRULY is magical. I have told people that my heart belongs there...and they look at me like I'm crazy. I never experienced reverse culture shock so bad, but when I returned from my summer abroad I was truly heartbroken. About every other month I try to convince my husband that we need to move there for a couple of years. He hasn't bit yet. But maybe if I say it enough...he might! Thanks for jogging my Italian memories...it is exactly what I needed today!

  2. i fell upon your photos last night prior to reading this post and went asleep dreaming i was there. how beautiful the images and i can only imagine the experience. i'm imagining you learning the language and rolling the "r's" to perfection. i am sorry to hear about losing your first baby, how devastating that must've been. it's good to know that trip revitalized you and brought a new baby into the world. italy and the way you described it sounds other worldly and i hope one day we too will experience the magic. thanks for sharing this story and beautiful photo's - they are absolutely stunning!

  3. andrea.... what a lovely post! and the photos are simply divine!

    i hope your next trip is just as rewarding!!

  4. What a truly moving post and photos. WOW. I had the priviledge to travel to Malta a few years back (island just south of Sicily) and this brought back of lot of my memories. I would LOVE to be able to go to Italy someday....thanks for the virtual trip....so lovely.....

  5. I am so glad you got to go, especially now that you have two little ones and the chance of going any time soon is slim. I have always loved the photos you took on the trip. Beautiful!

  6. first of all thanks for sharing your story. i am so sorry about the loss you experienced. your trip sounds amazing amazing amazing.i've always dreamed of going to italy. this trip sounds and looks so fantastic. oohh how i dream of someday going on a trip like this.

  7. i think people get banished from the SPT group for posting on wednesday!!!
    i love this post. so wonderful to get lost in your writing and imagery for a few moments.
    dan and i always talk about where we'll go first "someday" when we are freed up again to travel.
    i appreciate more and more as i get older, new cultures, new people, new places, new experiences.
    thanks for sharing yours.

  8. i should have started my comment by saying how sorry i am that you lost a baby. i have never miscarried, but my sister has and we are very close. i remember crying over the phone with her as she was losing her baby. it must be such a difficult thing. i am so sorry.

  9. Sounds like a great trip! After reading this and your "itchy" post, I must say, you need a fun vacation break. I hope you get to visit Von in New York soon, and I hope I get to see you when you do!

  10. I would LOVE to visit Italy alone. I need to do something alone. (with Jon)

    Your pictures and story made me cry.

  11. thanks so much, everyone... for indulging me.. and for all your kind words about our miscarriage.

    aj fabulous- lucky you! getting to spend an entire summer in florence! studying italian art and culture! what a dream. florence is a little piece of heaven on earth. so glad you enjoyed this, thanks for your kind words!

    jan- so happy to have helped you to have lovely dreams of italy. if you can't actually go there, dreaming about it is the next best thing!

    glam jo- my family is actually from sicily. would love to visit that region! would love to hear more about your trip to malta!

    molly- thanks so much for being so sensitive... and you're so right-- the older I get, the more I appreciate travel (and all the adventures that come with it).

    justin- yes, I WILL see you in nyc... hopefully by mid-november!

    joy- yes, you and jon need to go to italy. and I bet you will someday. I'm imagining the photos that you will take! so glad you enjoyed this post (even if it did make you cry... and I hope it was a 'good' cry)...

  12. Andrea,
    This song (lyrics follow) was one of the first single things that let me heal after our 3 miscarriages....have i given this to you before? I guess it is the way it proves to me that our babies are truely in a better world until we can be there too.
    If you can get the song and hear it, it makes it all the more incredible.
    Also, love the Italy pics and your description, now i wanna go too!
    love ya

    Glory Baby

    Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby...baby...
    You were growing, what happened dear?
    You disappeared on us baby...baby...
    Heaven will hold you before we do
    Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you...Until we’re home with you
    Miss you everyday
    Miss you in every way.
    But we know there’s a day when we will hold you
    We will hold you.
    You’ll kiss our tears away...When we’re home to stay
    Can’t wait for the day when we will see you. We will see you.
    But baby let sweet Jesus hold you ‘till mom and dad can hold you...
    You’ll just have Heaven before we do.
    You’ll just have Heaven before we do.
    Sweet little babies, it’s hard to understand it ‘cause we’re hurting. But there is healing.
    And we know we’re stronger people through the growing.
    And in knowing-
    That all things work together for our good. And God works his purposes just like he said he would...
    Just like He said He would
    (Chorus) (Bridge)
    I can’t imagine Heaven’s lullabies and what they must sound like
    But I will rest in knowing Heaven is your home...
    And it’s all you’ll ever know...

    Words and Music by Watermark
    (Nathan and Christy Nockles)

  13. heather-- what a beautiful, beautiful song... so comforting. thank you so much for sharing that with me, for posting it here. xxoo to you.