I have never been to Italy.
I’ve read about it in travel magazines, dreamed about it while watching Fellini films, “Enchanted April” and “Stealing Beauty”, and absorbed a bit of it through my Italian friends' cooking and la dolce vita. I’ve dreamed of visiting the country long before “Eat, Pray, Love” was ever published, and longed for all things Italian: shoes, wine, men, pizza, art, vineyards, trains, Venice, waterways, canals, Popes, saints, laughter, and gelato.
view from the window just before landing in Rome
So, when MB invited me to join her in a expatriate writers class being held in Rome, I knew it was the perfect time to put my life in the American Southwest on hold for a couple of weeks and head to Italy.
MB flew in from Crete, and I from the U.S., and we met at Rome’s Leonardo di Vinci airport. After hopping on the train, and schlepping our luggage 17 blocks through the cobblestone streets of Rome’s historical district,
Tonight was our first meeting with our professor, who is teaching a course on “Expatriate Writers in Rome”. Our reading list includes Mark Twain’s “The Innocents Abroad”, Henry James’ “Daisy Miller”, the poetry and letters of Shelley, Keats, and Byron, and Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Marble Fawn”. We meet the other twelve members of the class who have come in from various European countries. We’re all exhausted. We all need a better internet connection. And we all can’t wait to fall into bed after another exhausting day.
After class, MB and I sit out on the balcony, overlooking the terrace and drinking glasses of red wine and smoking long, thin, Ms. Club cigarillos. We speak of old loves, and new loves, and somehow, as the lights of Rome illuminate the night sky we can’t help but feel that magic is afoot, and the ghosts of Daisy Miller, Mary Shelley, Margaret Fuller, and Beatrice Cenci are hanging out in the shadows, watching- and possibly blessing- our great adventure.