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BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST JOANNA HELLER
Related column Written in Pencil, December 2010
Since my first art history class in 1970, I have been wanting to see Siena.
Our trip to Italy is taking on life. And about time.
Forty years ago I sat in classrooms and auditoriums gazing at slides of oil paintings, sculptures, cathedrals, grand bronze doors and frescoed walls and ceilings.
Forty years have come and gone …
An 800-year-old Italian villa, now a working organic farm
Well we’re going now – to the places and the works of the Italian Renaissance. We will see them in the flesh. So to speak.
Plane reservations are in place. Passports, unused for some time, are ready. Some pocket money in Euros. To do lists everywhere.
Forty years since my introduction to medieval and Renaissance art and maybe five years since I first read the flyer outside the Kripalu dining hall – Yoga in Tuscany – and wondered at the possibility of it. Yoga and art and certainly the Tuscan countryside.
We will be staying at an 800 year old villa, a working organic farm, in the hills of Tuscany with a yoga group for a week. Morning yoga, evening yoga, day trips, and meals prepared with food grown just outside the door and brought into the kitchen. This food will not need labels describing ingredients or country of origin. We can walk outside and watch it grow.
Traveling light. I think. How much does this stuff weigh?
So, lightweight super packable clothes … how few will do? What will fit into our really gorgeous new back packs and can we do this whole adventure without using up all our energy maneuvering ourselves and our stuff on and off trains and planes … and the ferry to Isola d’Elba. Where Napoleon’s exile is now a gay mecca.
The guy at EMS said don’t worry, this pack can hold 65 pounds no problem. Did he really think that was worrying me? What the pack can carry? … what I can carry, however, is worrying me.
So how much can I carry? I have no idea.
Try my pack with my two ten pound yoga sand bags? See what twenty pounds on my back feels like? How much does my trip stuff usually weigh? In recent decades I’ve been wheeling it and I have no idea what it weighs. Somehow this trip calls out for backpacks, not wheelies.
I’ll just start with what I think I really need and see how it goes. Or grows.
Rome Roma, Florence Firenze, Breathe! Respirare!
So … we fly to Rome – Roma. Then a train to Florence – Firenze. Get the dictionary. I’m already concerned that my first taste of Italy could be mostly the struggle to communicate and manage our stuff, especially from our cut above steerage economy air travel and that all I’ll want will be a bed. Hopefully not.
So … a few days in Florence, then the yoga week, which is now feeling like the anchor of the trip. A week of day trips with yoga each morning and again each evening, reminding my body and mind self to settle into the moments so as not to lose them or myself.
Settle. Stay present. Do not get caught up in travel anxiety. Or fatigue. Translating currencies, directions, train schedules. Whatever. Stay. Breathe and settle.
Lately I’ve been thinking of this as settling into nothing much. More about this some other time. But for now, I just need to remember that I know it is possible for me to find this calm settled feeling. I have found it before. For brief moments. Unfortunate … how easily it evaporates. Repeatedly.
Michelangelo, Titian, Brunelleschi, Cimabue, Giotto
After the yoga week, we’ll have two more weeks to see as much more of Tuscany as we can manage … Siena, Lucca, Elba, plus some time in Venice and Rome. We’re working on the logistics of using the Italian rail and bus systems, but we have our international driving permits just in case.
Some “don’t miss” stuff … the back streets of Rome and Venice, Florence and Siena. Michelangelo. Titian. Leonardo. Brunelleschi. Cimabue and Giotto.
So so much. Free opera every evening in Lucca, Puccini’s home town!
A camera. Our last travel camera survived a dip in the Virgin River in Zion National Park five years ago but later drowned in the lake in Ontario. So, what’s new in the camera world. Small, lightweight with as good a wide angle lens as possible … inexpensive too.
The costs are growing along with the to do lists.
Twenty first century me: il mio sogno si sta avverando
And now I crave an iPad.
The world has changed and so have I since a Frommer’s guide book, a pencil and notebook and an occasional long distance telephone call and picture postcard took care of things. Remember long distance telephone calls from a telephone center and Europe On Five Dollars a Day
This week. A shopping trip to the Apple Store to talk iPads and iPhones. Maybe an Italian dictionary app to go with our paper one. © 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.
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Name may be withheld by request.
This week. A shopping trip to the Apple Store to talk iPads and iPhones. Maybe an Italian dictionary app to go with our paper one.
© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.