Saturday, May 23, 2009


Departure Day arrived all too quickly. We are almost on our way back to the United States after a crazy week of sorting, piling, weeding and packing our belongings. Actually, by the time you read this we will probably be somewhere over the Atlantic, misty-eyed and exhausted.

We took over our friends’ taverna, which we divided into sections of “to take” and “to store”. We mounded up clothes, started stuffing them into duffel bags, then retreated for a little perspective before returning to the piles and yanking out other non-necessity items so as to lighten our very heavy cargo that will accompany us. I hate packing for even a two-week trip; trying to decide what to pack after three years’ residence has been a miseria. Not knowing exactly when we’ll return has made it more difficult, since we know we’ll be back il piu presto possibile and will need certain items. {Sigh.}

Thursday we took a sanity break and spent the entire day in the centro storico of bella Roma. We love our friends but they live so far from the centro that I wouldn’t call this area Rome. In fact, their house is just a smidgen from the GRA, the ring road that encircles the city. It is nearly as opposite the charming centro as you can get.

We visited some churches and museums that we had never seen, despite our many visits to the Eternal City. We learned long ago that it would take an eternity to see the treasures there. As anyone who knows me knows, I am a Caravaggio fan, so we were able to take in some other paintings I had previously missed. We were most impressed with the astounding art collection, opulence, and narrative at the Palazzo Doria Pamphili. Exhibition lighting and arrangement could be better, but…wow! I had no idea. The place is packed with paintings. We enjoyed a caffe at their pretty coffee bar and tea room, wondering how we had missed this place through all our trips.

The Corsini Gallery was much smaller with some less impressive displays, but in what has become typical of our experience in Italy, we had a spontaneous surprise opportunity open up for us. One of the exhibit rooms was occupied by the academia for a lecture. I asked one of the security guards when it might wrap up so we could plan whether we had time to wait to enter or should just shove off for lunch. He shrugged broadly, voiced his displeasure that they were overstaying their allotted time, mumbled something I couldn’t make out, then hurried along a corridor.

I spotted a restroom and popped inside. When I exited, Bryan and the guard were motioning me to hurry my way down that hallway. He opened a broad wooden door and hustled us through, pulling it quickly shut behind us. Then he flipped a few switches which illuminated the sala, and we were flung into beautiful heavenly scenes as we gazed at lovely paintings (unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to really read and internalize the names of the artists). I don’t know why the room was not open to the public, nor why he singled us out from the handful of others waiting to see the occupied hall. He gave us a few minutes to take it in, then peeped out the door, gave us an all-clear signal, and we scampered away whispering tante grazie to our benefactor for the sweet serendipity.

We huffed and walked and sweated our way all over historic Rome, capping the day with an aperitivo at a lovely, quiet, panoramic roof-top terrace before finishing up at the Fontana di Trevi where we plunked in our coins for good luck and a speedy return.

We bought a few little souvenirs, as well as a larger keepsake, but I'm going to keep you in suspense before revealing more about our impulse purchase.

I can’t really believe we will be leaving, and yet the accumulated luggage tells me it’s true. And while I was weepy and melancholy all week in Ascoli Piceno, today I feel lighter and more positive then ever that we will be returning to Italy before too very long. The Trevi won’t let me down!

Wanna read more? This month's column The End is Nigh details our Farewell Tour.


janie said...

Valerie and Bryan-it's been a wonderful time following your adventures for the last 3 years! I remember when I discovered your blog a few weeks after your arrival in Italy and it's hard to believe so much time has passed. Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing what the future holds for you. Buona fortuna!

Lost in Sicily said...

Oh you will definitely be back and I will be waiting to read more about your adventures! thanks for all your great stories!

Jane said...

Valerie, there are only a few in our circle that can understand your feelings right now. Although we were there for a shorter time than you and Bryan, I am feeling your longing as you write as well as feeling my own. I never stop wishing we were back. I am sure that you and Bryan will make it to bella Italia again--not just for visits. For us, we make due with short returns each year. But..with that said..there are many things to enjoy here and respond to--chief is the opportunity to worship again in a community that shares your beliefs. I'll be reading your entries as you acclimate. Why not a short trip out to San Diego--certainly in March for the ST GTG.

Louise at Abbastanza Buono said...

Valerie and Bryan,
As part-time expats your latest post almost made me cry. We go through a similar trial twice a year when we leave our Italian friends to return to our American life. You are wonderful writers and can't wait until you are back in Italy finding more treasures to share. Keep posting periodically to let your fans know how you are doing. If you get to the Seattle area please get in touch via our blog. Boca al lupo agli Stati Uniti.
Louise and Dom

carol in dc said...

I can't believe I keep coming back for more of this torture. My heart is breaking!
...but I can't wait to hear about your secret purchase. hope to see you soon

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Valerie, I hope you and Bryan will be able to return sooner rather than later.

Those three years went by quickly.

Valerie said...

Janie - Thanks for coming along on the ride! The time really flew by, huh? Stay tuned...

Lost in Sicily - Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoy them. When we get back to Italy we want to make it to Sicily!

Jane - I know you understand our emotions and pinings. Italy gets under your skin, into your blood, on your nerves, in your brain, and stays in your heart! We'll definitely be back asap. But we will enjoy the positives of the US (once the shock of this car accident wears off!)

Louise - saying farewell is always hard, isn't it? I hate goodbyes. I'll be posting regularly, as always. I started the blog quite a while before we moved, and will definitely continue writing. I'd love to visit Seattle, I've never been there!

Carol - I'm sorry! But thanks for your commiserating and vicarious suffering. I hope to see you when I am in DC next week. I'll send you an email.

Ragazza - do we! ;)

Lisa Diletti said...

We'll all miss your wonderful stories! We were planning on calling you when we were there this summer! We know you'll make it back - just like we know someday my husband and I will be living in Italy. Our oldest will be going to the University of Bologna in 2010 - living with his grandmother in Ascoli before he starts university - i was hoping he'd get a chance to meet you and Bryan while he was in Ascoli. I have had him reading your blogs - which have been great for him. Hopefully you'll be back before you know it! If you have time when you're in DC, drop me a line. In the meantime, all the very best wishes.