I sat on the edge of Ponte Santa Trenita bridge at sunset, facing the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. I watched the crowds of tourists and their flashes of light reflect across the the surface of the Adige River. I wondered if they were trying to get a shot of me in it. Perhaps I was some sort of “abstract and lonesome object” placed along the edges of the bridge that would make for an interesting composition. That could’ve been a possibility. I sat with my hands leaning behind me, and with complete silence, I gazed across the river at Ponte Vecchio Bridge and watched the setting sun give its final kisses to the historic edifices of Florence. It was my last day in Florence and all I could think about was how marvelous of a world we live in and how little we appreciate being in the present moment of life–watching its natural wonders and experiencing it without any interruption from the modernization of our lives.
Earlier that day, my CouchSurfing host, Pando, gave me the keys to his Vespa and requested that I give it for a ride. Despite my inexperience with driving Vespa’s, I thought, “why not take a chance and enjoy it? I’ll come out alive anyway.” Of course, the coming out alive was completely pure luck, but there were definitely moments I could have spun out of control! I took the Vespa and rode through the countryside in Tuscany. I had no map, no sense of direction, and no service on my iPhone to use the GPS–but it didn’t matter, and I wasn’t scared. I knew the direction I wanted to go towards and followed whatever road that led up. If you can think of travel–or just about anything you do in life–this way, enjoying any environment and circumstance you’re in will be delightful. Sometimes, the best rewards come from following your instincts. You don’t need maps or plans to enjoy the present, just a positive, curious, and fearless attitude.
The trees were ablaze with shades of orange, red, and yellow. The stormy clouds crept silently above as I sped through the empty roadways. The whistling wind howled through trees and its leaves to remind me that rainfall was approaching. Despite the treacherous scenery and unpredictability of when rainfall would land, it was a beautiful sight and experience to take in. I reached the top of a mountain to take in the views. The Tuscan countryside, with its vast vineyards and olive groves, its orange and yellow villas, and narrow cobble roads, made riding a Vespa and discovering the heart of Tuscany, an enchanting experience that left me beyond spellbound to the nature of Italy. I spent an hour or so by myself to take in the beauty of nature and the haunting weather above me. It was a perfect chance to reflect on the state of culture, the world, and the things people take for granted.
Being surrounded by nature is a remarkable experience. I’m not a super-green-enthusiast, but I do love the outdoors. Nature is definitely an enchanting gift–so glorious and honest to human life and the world we live in. If you think about it for a moment, it calls us when we are desperate to breath in life; provides us shelter for when we need a warm house; feeds our hunger and replenishes our thirst; invites us to seek its hidden treasures and mysteries; allows us to use its resources to aid our lives–and yet we destroy and abandon its gifts ungratefully. When we do not care and appreciate the enchantment of Nature, we are punished with floods and storms that destroy what we were given. I’m not religious or anything, but I am spiritual, and believe that what we take from this world should be used respectfully and gratefully. I sometimes think natural disasters is the Universe’s way of providing second chances to people and places–a sort of way to “replenish our souls of artificial delights”.
The one day in Verona that I spent was quite charming and enjoyable despite the pouring rain, strong winds, and my soaking socks. I stayed with a very lovely, caring, and driven girl who reminded me a lot of myself. We shared very similar interests and point of views, which are the best kinds of connection to make when meeting new people. We made Pumpkin Risotto together for lunch and it was molto bene! I may try to attempt making my own version of this when I get a chance. There was not much I wanted to see in Verona besides the Casa de Giulietta and the architecture of the buildings, but I suppose it’s because I care more about spending the time to take in all that I see and just wander around. I love wandering. Paola and I stopped in this tiny cafe that served the best cappuccino I have ever had. We sat inside and watched the rain fall angrily on the marble roads (yes, Verona has roads made of marble).
During the evening we laughed and drank at this very cozy Osteria. I had wine from the Veneto region, which by the way was the BEST red wine I’ve ever had, and prosciutto on flat bread. It was comfort in your mouth–deliciously tingling every taste bud–not to mention a really nice pairing of food and wine. Paola’s boyfriend, Francisco, was very warm and friendly too. I’ve never enjoyed such a time with new people as I did with Paola and Francisco. The evening thunderstorm beat down on Verona as we slept. Lukily, by morning the rain clouds had drifted and we were greeted by a spotlight of sun. It was a glorious and fresh morning. I parted ways with Paola that morning, said my many “grazie’s”, and set sail for Venice.
I wrote laying on my bed in Venice gazing out the window as the rain fell. I stayed in the Cannaregio and Costello islands of Venice, a place the locals call the “Real Venice”, which I won’t argue with–they were right, and I fell in love effortlessly. It was away from the tourist areas and in a location where buildings were splashed with bold colors of green, yellow, and red. The way of life seemed so tranquil and special here. Clothes hung from clothesline strewn across windows, the elder women swept golden leaves aside to clear out the alley way, and the sounds of laughter from children began to adorn the streets as the storm finally gave its last hurrah. It was a calm and delightful Monday–a Monday different from any Monday I’ve ever lived.
What a feeling.