gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Tag Archives: travel

Arthur Frommer on the healing power of traveling to Europe

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As often happens in my household, old papers, magazines, and brochures pop up because my mom is constantly going through things in an effort to downsize. I recently came across a travel magazine entitled “Planning Your Trip: Europe ’95.” That’s right, it’s from 1995. In it is an article by travel expert Arthur Frommer on his love for traveling to Europe because of its restorative power. I strongly identify with what he has to say, as I also find traveling to Europe rejuvenating, and just a few lines will give you a sense of why:

Some people take pills to restore their energy. I go to Europe. Some people go out dancing to lift their spirits; I go to Europe. To me, a week or so in the Old World is a restorative more powerful than any regiment of diet, medicine or exercise ever devised. It does me good to turn my back for a time on familiar scenes, and head for the gentler, slower, more traditional life of Europe. 

He goes on to talk about the old world charm, which more than simply being an endearing quality of Europe, actually truly connects us with history in a way that we cannot experience in the U.S. because of its young age compared to Europe – “This communing with the past – so much a part of the European travel experience – provides solace, and a sense of human connection and continuity that awes me.”

Featuring a picture of Café de Flore in Paris, one is reminded of the slowness of life in Europe and the afternoons spent at the café with an impeccable espresso or cappuccino and good conversation.

 

“Picture, if you will, Spain”

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To be a traveler  in the 21st century is to sometimes feel a sense of loss even before one leaves the house: The planet has been mapped with such an oppressive exactitude that it can often seem as if we’re living at a time when everything is knowable.

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This quote from a piece in the November issue of The New York Times Style Magazine struck me for its accuracy, but also its sadness. Social media, especially the rise of Instagram, allows people to snap and post pictures like it’s their job (myself included, I must say). While this gives individuals a great amount of creative freedom and allows their viewers to share in their experiences and see things they might not otherwise be able to see, it also robs people of having unique experiences of their own because they’ve already seen these amazing things and shared in your experience before having their own.

Autumn in the Berkshires

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I truly believe that Autumn in the Berkshires is the most beautiful time of the year anywhere in the world. The Berkshires hold a special place in my heart after living there for only one year, which was far too short a time. Pictures definitely don’t capture its beauty, but here are just a few to make your heart melt (or at least they make mine melt)!

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Berkshire seasons

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The Berkshires take on different auras throughout the seasons. Autumn is arguably the most spectacular season and people travel to Berkshires just to see the fall foliage, but all of the seasons are endearing in their own way. These are pictures of the four seasons in all their glory.

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Winter

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Spring

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Summer

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“My Roman Intimacies”

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I just read a really genuine, authentic, intimate account by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison about her trip to Rome, and having traveled there recently myself, it was a delightful read that brought me back to my own trip. I thought I’d share some excerpts from it to give you some insight on what it’s like to fully experience Rome.

 

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“Rome cannot be learned by rote. It is absorbed through the pores.”

Everybody watches everybody else and calls this minding their own business.

Perhaps you do not think these matters are worthy of discussion. But to enter into Roman life, you must do two things, one of which is to take coffee seriously (or take seriously the Romans’ love of coffee, which they regard as both invigorating and relaxing, and their desire to discourse thereupon). The other is to not exclude the Baroque from your affections – do not, that is, remain overly attached to simplicity. 

“…if you enter a courtyard in Rome, you are treated as if you have done something clever; trespassing is invariably rewarded.”

A city that anticipates all one’s needs and fulfills some needs one didn’t know one had.

“…ecclesiastical garments and undergarments are sold together with babies’ booties and women’s filmy lingerie. Perhaps this has a metaphysical meaning that I cannot grasp.”

My body, as is so often the case in Rome, has understood something before my mind has.

I dream incessantly, intensely, fruitfully when I am in Rome. My unconscious mind replicates the topography of the Eternal City. It caresses anomalies: it reaches an intuitive understanding of the past (my past), only to see more levels, deeper levels, hidden pasts, leering like a satyr smiling like a becalmed saint; it meanders sinuously among artifacts lost and found, unknown but known; it plays hide and seek; it travels many ways to arrive at the same place.

“There is no color in the world that is not represented here, no texture, no flesh.”

It occurs to me that Romans are taught to see things from all sides, and not entirely to trust the face of things. 

Everybody I know in Rome wants to live on Via Giulia. I do too.

“You may never have this kind of Roman holiday…But if you are radically and transparently open to experience, you will stumble on something equally wonderful. One always does. Rome is generous.”

…that a child’s mind might have conceived but that only a genius could have executed.

It is marvelous to climb lower and lower into the ancient world. 

There are times, in my love affair with Rome, when I wish to be nothing but passive. Rome will always be there – that is my hope and conviction. There is no need to rush here and there. It is enough to know that delight is all around me. When I feel this way, I spend the better part of my day sitting in a cafe facing the Pantheon, eating ices and contemplating the changing scene. Perhaps that, after all, is why I love Rome. In a city suffused in history and teeming with the most operatic people on earth, it is possible to be absolutely still.

Pictures from the Eternal City

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I thought I’d share some more pictures from my recent trip to Rome!

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La Dolce Vita

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Chronicles of our trip to Rome, which was really special because it was the first time that we went as a family in 13 years. Considering I was born there and grew up there for the first eight years of my life, it was a momentous trip for us.

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Driving into the city from the airport, you slowly get farther away from the countryside – little pastures with sheep along the highway (not very romantic or charming as I imagine Ireland to be, but still cute!) – and slowly get closer to the center of Rome. Of course, it depends where into the city you’re going, but we were going to our hotel, Santa Chiara, which is very close to the Pantheon. As we drove to the hotel, we went by important monuments, like the Palatine Hill (the ancient palace of Domitian), Circus Maximus (the stadium for chariot races that held about 150,000 people), and the Vittorio Emanuele monument in Piazza Venezia. Upon our arrival to the hotel, we were greeted by the sweetest doorman who embodied Italian hospitality and kindness (my mom actually cried saying goodbye to him when we left). He proceeded to tell us the story behind the statue in the lobby, full of pride for his beautiful, ancient city.

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We spent a lot of our time in Rome simply walking around from place to place, which is really the best way to experience the city because it’s how you encounter Roman life. Rome is…pockets of life everywhere you look – a different perspective from every angle and Italians talking, laughing, bickering everywhere. Italians really know how to enjoy life in a way that Americans simply don’t. The importance that is placed on taking time out of your day to get a coffee (usually with a friend or colleague and rarely by yourself), working at a more leisurely pace, taking a siesta in the afternoon, stopping in the middle of the street to have a conversation, etc. It’s things like this that remind me how communal and laid back Italians are. Rome is not without its hectic moments with the traffic and the chaos, I’ll admit that, but Italians have a relaxed, take in the moment, take in life attitude that I love so much.

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 It’s been surreal for me, walking around Rome, knowing that this used to be my life. Just the usual, everyday routine – going to school, going to ballet lessons, going to a friend’s house, enjoying a delicious meal in a beautiful piazza, and simply living in the center of Rome. It’s hard to believe that I had such a glorious childhood, and I only wish that it was still my life.

Italians appreciate beauty for beauty’s sake. This is something that not every culture in the world does, especially not the U.S. The buildings, the monuments, the streets…everything screams beauty (to me anyway) and there is no escaping it. It begs you to appreciate it, if not for any purpose, simply for its aesthetic quality. I think this, in itself, is a beautiful thing and I think everyone would be much happier if they sought to see the beauty in things.

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Italians have an elegance about them, that again, Americans simply don’t. From their clothing, to their shoes (perhaps the best indicator of elegance), to the presentation in restaurants (waiters meticulously preparing fish in front of you at the table), to the apartments, the storefronts, the cafes, etc. Elegance and beauty are intertwined and inherently part of every Italian (I think). Italians are also very cultured, which comes naturally when you live in a place like Rome. You are so inspired by your surroundings that you can’t help but be interested in great literature, music, and art. Not only are you surrounded by it physically in Rome, but you also encounter it personally in those around you.

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For us, the trip was like returning home. Although it’s been such a long time since we had been back together, going to our favorite restaurant for lunch as soon as we got there felt as natural as it did when we lived there. The waiters remembered us and made our favorite dish, even though it’s no longer on the menu. Walking to my old school on the same route that I did when I was little felt just like I was actually going to school. Walking past our old apartment, however, felt a bit far removed because the street has changed so much since we lived there. Meeting old friends also felt a bit strange because it’s hard to know what to talk about when it’s been 13 years since you have seen someone – not to mention the language barrier, which as much as I wish that it wasn’t present, it was for me. But overall, being back in Rome, back home, felt very comfortable and natural, just like home ought to feel.

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Home sweet Rome 

Place

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It’s interesting how your familial connections can take you to different physical places. For me, par example, I was born in Rome, Italy and lived there for the first eight years of my life because my dad worked there, then we moved to South Bend, Indiana, again because of my dad’s job, and now I’m living in a small town in Massachusetts because my grandparents lived here. It’s just interesting that the place where you are born is certainly out of your control, as is the place where you grow up while you are under your family’s care, and then even when you go out on your own you sometimes end up somewhere because of your family’s influence, as I did. Of course, some people choose to go somewhere completely unrelated to where they have familial connection, but not all. Those that are very close to their families tend to stay close to home or move someplace else where they have family (like myself). But I suppose that those who are not so close to their families, or those who place their career above all else, may move far away from family. These observations may seem rather obvious, but I have recently been struck by the influence that one’s family can have on where one lives throughout one’s lifetime.

Fantasies

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We all have fantasies about what we want to do in life. But the question is, how do we decipher a fantasy from what we want to turn into reality? I’ve often thought about different things that I would like to do, like teach English abroad, make movies, be an interior designer…but I can’t tell if these are things I would actually do, or if I just like to think about them. What propels one to actually carry out an idea rather than just think of it as a fantasy? I think it takes a great deal of perseverance to carry out what you actually want to do. Sometimes it’s easier to settle for something that you might not like quite as much, but is still somewhat enjoyable.

Worldly connections

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Do you ever wonder what random people in other parts of the world are doing? Or how you can personally be connected to people in other countries? What parallels might run through people living completely separate lives in completely different places? Since I love traveling and have been to most of the countries in Europe, I sometimes think about what people might be doing at any given moment in Rome or Paris, or Singapore, a place I have not been to. This thought occurred to me this morning as I was waiting at a stop light and there was a man on a moped in the lane next to me. In northern Indiana, this seemed very out of place because one in a million people drive a moped here. But as I grew up in Italy, I was used to seeing people on mopeds constantly since it is such a common, natural way to get around there. So when I saw this man on the moped this morning, I thought about Italians that were riding their mopeds in Rome at that very moment, a world away. It is interesting how something like that can remind you of something that occurs in a different part of the world, and while you are not personally experiencing it in that other part of the world, by seeing it where you are, you are connected to others that might be doing it somewhere else in the world.

Sometimes I think – How can I be connected to every single person in the world? We can, quite easily actually, because we are all joint by human nature. But we are also connected on a more personal level in that we share similar experiences of thought, emotion, hope, despair, etc. even though we may be worlds apart and lead very different lives. This is one of the things that makes life beautiful – to think about people in other parts of the world and feel connected to them. I only wonder if they share the same feeling…