Best of Italy
When I think of Italy I think of lush, rolling hills dotted with small towns with medieval foundations, bracing espresso, and food bursting with taste. During my teens and early twenties my parents took my sister and I regularly to visit family friends in Vicenza, as well as to various other parts of the country. For most of those visits I was at the age where going wasn't really a choice. I enjoyed those trips, but it was a passive enjoyment. As soon as I had a choice in where to go, Italy fell off the itinerary. Until this year.
To celebrate my parents' 45th wedding anniversary we decided to take a family trip to Europe and make a stop in Vicenza. Even though it had been 15 years since I'd last been there it was both completely different and familiar.
I'd forgotten the winding streets and different levels of centro, how businesses close in the middle of the day so people can go home and take a nap after lunch, and how incredible the food tastes. Oh my God, the food. I remembered it in the abstract that it was fantastic, but the reality was so much more. It's as if they took all the ingredients - tomatoes, garlic, meat, etc. - and concentrated the taste. Steamed vegetables with olive oil will make you cry. Salami and cheese are more luscious than you thought possible. And don't even get me started on the pasta.
The things I remembered came back in fits and starts. The roundabouts, the wall that circles the city center (centro), and the church on top of the hill that overlooks the city. The pizza place on that hill, the main square in centro, and the look of the apartment buildings all over. But the thing that came back the strongest was the pace of life - slower and simpler. After a day the outside world had completely fallen away leaving me with only my immediate wants and needs.
It was both a pleasant trip down memory lane and a new experience that left me with a taste for more.
Photos by Sophia Dunkin-Hubby