As many of you know Kathy and I just returned from a fabulous trip to Italy and parts of the northern Mediterranean. It was notable by its breadth. We covered so much ground. So many experiences. Of course people ask what did we like best? I like to ask what did I learn?
In Rome we went to the Vatican Museum which was off the charts. Tapestries, statues and paintings as far as the eye could see. But a more important thing to me was a concept presented by our guide, Antonio. He put forth that we do not see things as an inert process but as a series of refracted light beams that are then focused by the cornea and transmitted to our optical nerves.
Forget about the science. What it really says is your and my view of things are in many ways totally different. They are our brain’s interpretations of light. My view of green and red and brilliance and darkness are a result of how my cerebellum processes it. So too the metaphor of life and moods. In a world that tries desperately to compartmentalize, each one of us are beyond different. Don’t get nervous. Celebrate.
I guess the sophisticated part of my retinal structure was malformed. I enjoy going to museums but I don’t have the true eye for fine art. I thought the Mona Lisa was too small. Ditto the Sistine Chapel. Especially with three hundred people in the room. I would have loved more to talk to the artist than to meditate over his or her works.
For me the real beauty of travel is the people, vistas and yes in a tacky way the ambience. You know how I feel about rhythms of a city. How about a country? There is a way of life that is just Italian. Nuts? You bet. The language has a romantic lilt and you feel like a Guillermo or Theo when you let Gratzie, Bonjourno or Ciao/ Prego roll off your tongue. It was great.
I was not looking for the celebs. I wanted to talk to the hotel clerk, a waiter or just someone sitting next to you sipping cappuccino. I am not wowed by the fast and famous. I am humbled by the ordinary.
There was a woman, Gabriela, that served the dining room for breakfast in Rome. She and her husband were from Rumania. The population there was down from a peak of 25 million to the current 8. The young people had to go somewhere else to find work. She had a three year old daughter. They saw her once a year. They had to leave her behind in Rumania with her mother so they could work. Now that is something to meditate over.
Incredibly there were few fast food outlets in the cities as well as the towns. Cafes, bodegas, small shops were in. Big boxes and malls were not in evidence. There was an interdependency of life. Someone brought the vegetables. Another the fish. Flowers were fresh picked. Hand gesticulations and shouts abounded. There was élan. There was a stupid thing called communication and camraderie.
If I was an oncologist I would set up shop in Rome. There is smoking everywhere. Iran wouldn’t need nukes. Just send more cigarettes. If cell phones cause cancer this whole population is being wiped out. They take their time doing everything except driving. In all our meals only once did they bring a check without my asking for it. I don’t know if the Med is an anachronism in real time or if these people really do have the secret to a long life.
Whether it was Italy, Monaco, Spain or Portugal, the views of the countryside and water were magnificent. I think I understand why the Renaissance exploded with emotion. You just want to paint, write or compose to try in some way to portray the emotions in your psyche. To have that scorned and locked in for so many centuries must have been devastating.
Men built statuaries, castles, fortresses and monuments to themselves. In churches it seemed to praise God but it was more important to praise themselves and become noteworthy. I saw mega yachts lying at anchor or moored with no owners in sight. There were big and fast cars everywhere. But there were little ones too. Funny, they all got to the same point somehow.
I will remember the feel of Rome with narrow streets and small bistros. I will remember the shorelines of Amalfi rather than a particular edifice. I reminisce about a bike tour of Barcelona. A small wine shop that our guide took us to. I will constantly wonder how 125,000 people live 550 miles off the coast on an island called Madeira? I will think of Annabelle, Massimo, David and Paolo.
Yes, I am unsophisticated in so many ways and that’s just fine. I am an incurable romantic. Now I will only eat my pasta al dente. Cheap red wine works fine. Am I happy to be home? Sure. But more importantly I am beyond happy to feel alive. Life is good.
Ciao Bela As Always
Ted The Great
Kathy and Ted traveled approximately 15,000 miles on this little junket with over 11 stops.
Ted gained 3 lbs and Kathy none.(I think she cheated.)
Land: 116,000 sq miles (Colorado, New Mexico or Arizona)
Government: 946 seat holders get paid 140,000 euros per annum.(Highest in Europe) You only have to be present 30% of the time to get paid.
Population: 40 million
Land: 195,000 sq miles (Larger than California)
Population: 10 million
Land: 35,000 Sq Miles (Maine, Indiana or South Carolina)