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I'll miss the balconies and all that they represent.

I’ll miss the balconies and all that they represent.

The difficulty in visiting a place over and over is that the connections are deeper and

Wine served in a pitcher.

Wine served in a pitcher.

stronger each time. There are many heart-filling moments in this last month that tie me to Southern Italy.

Fireworks in the middle of the night. A birthday???/

Fireworks in the middle of the night. A birthday???

As much as I am ready to be home, I am sad to leave. I won’t really know how many things I miss until I am living without them.

I know will miss being greeted in the Italian way: eyes meeting mine, my hands grasped, each cheek air-kissed. Such enthusiasm can’t help but make me feel welcomed and acknowledged.

Our wish was Gina's command!

Our wish was Gina’s command!

No welcome could be greater than our inclusion by Gina. When we arrive we become a part of her family. Born in San Francisco to Calabrian parents, one part of her heart is reserved for all things American.

The small churches...open for all.

The small churches…open for all.

She is loving and beautiful and embraces us within her deep yearning for the United States that she hasn’t visited in so long. I feel as if a part of her is coming home with me.

Paola and Lavinia (I missed their sister, Maria.)

Paola and Lavinia (I missed their sister, Maria.)

Leaving Lavinia and Paola again is leaving good friends, too. This year Gina translated for us and we learned how much we hadn’t understood of our conversations in past years. Still we all comprehend that our friendship transcends language. Wherever I see Lavinina, on the street, at the store, or on a bench near the pedonale, we recognize our bond.

Rosealba

Rosealba

I felt the same about my last visit with Rosealba.

She helped created my contact with home on my first month-long visit here when I was totally alone. Placidly, she sat by me at a street-side table in her restaurant,

The ancient fortress towns of Calabria.

The ancient fortress towns of Calabria.

smiling and nodding as I used her internet to connect with my world at home. This year I took my computer with me again and we google-translated our conversation.

The food...fuit, pasta, olive oil, and especially the Southern Italian tomatoes.

The food…fuit, pasta, olive oil, and especially the Southern Italian tomatoes.

Her smile was broad when she could truly understand me. I can still feel the lingering touch of her hand on my arm as she held my gaze before parting.

Pizza dough in all it's delicious guises!

Pizza dough in all it’s delicious guises!

Luigi, the only person as sweet as Carlieta.

Luigi, the only person as sweet as Carlieta.

I’ve already talked a lot about so many of our friends. But when I think of true connection, I think of Luigi. I aspire to greet people as warmly as Luigi greets us each time he sees us.

The fish lady

The fish lady

And, of course, I will miss the markets: especially the fish lady and the one white-haired Italian woman in town.

Bruschetta by the bucketload!

Bruschetta by the bucketload! How can I live without it?

 

Maybe most of all I’ll miss the month-long slumber party which never lost it’s joy.

Unless this group goes with me I don’t know if I will return to Scalea…but my heart will return there often.

Sweet Carlieta.

Sweet Carlieta.

 

Nancy F...quietly joyful.

Nancy F…quietly joyful.

Sharon, our resident artist.

Sharon, our resident artist.

Nancy M. with her infectious laugh

Nancy M. with her infectious laugh