i became more familiar with the grape in it's liquid form, enjoying a glass of wine with every third breath.
i saw old sailing ships which stirred up stories of pirates and romance, plank walking and treasures buried in the blue depths....
i conquered hilltops and rocks and wandered five beautiful villages. small breaks were taken each time we came through the wild into civility, breaks for fresh olive or rosemary focaccia and water refills. breaks to breath in the views and salt air, to admire the locals going about their day-to-day routine amongst us tourists with backpacks and hiking shoes.
i danced barefoot with my cartwheeling brother in medieval streets. the moment we arrived in Lucca i felt as if we had stepped off the train and splashed down into the ink of Shakespeare's Verona.
i saw the tuscan sunflowers i had seen in so many paintings. i was living a history, mine and Italy's. I felt so alive there, i was out of my comfort zone mingling with language barriers and it was energizing. that barefoot night in Lucca found me arriving back to our hotel with blackened feet, it took about 3 showers to get it all off.
there is no better way to experience a place than by foot, feeling the ground beneath your feet, absorbing it through touch. every sense gets played with. as your heels rock to toe, your eyes shift left to right up to down, your nose drags in the scent of hot pavement, herbs, perfume, fresh baked breads and pastries. your ears pull the sound of honking horns and laughter off the air, seagulls and distant radios, clinking glasses from a cafe. your tongue wraps its taste-buds around fresh pasta and pesto, tomatoes and cheese, a soft hazelnut cookie, a glass of ruby wine or sparking prosecco.
i lost myself in Italy and find myself thinking back on it more often than not. it affected me in a way i can't explain, it's a place to feel honestly alive. i hope to get back there some day.