After more than a half dozen trips to Italy, it was with great anticipation that I planned a family trip to Tuscany. Renting a three-bedroom villa, I imagined my son, daughter, their spouses, and my grandchild enjoying trekking through small mountainous towns and viewing the cultures that began in medieval times.
I learned a huge but important lesson; everyone perceives vacation in a different way and when you expect one thing but get another, you must adapt. My perceptions of what a vacation should be began with my childhood. A prolific reader, I learned of the history of Italia and became familiar with the particulars of its provinces. Frances Mayes of “Under the Tuscan Sun” fame helped to build numerous pictures in my mind. This kind of background information helped to have an appreciation for what I see.
The Coliseum is not just an old ruin; it is the site of Romans enjoying human combat as sport. As I troll down the steps of the ancient arena, I see the animals waiting below to come out and enjoy their prey, I hear the excited roar of the crowd, and can almost feel the vile pleasure that this place endured. Those feelings are a result of MY personal experiences.
But I forgot that vacation is about family. While all of our immediate family members live within five miles of each other, our busy lives prohibit long visits. Therefore dining al fresco with a view of the Tuscan Valley was one of my daughter’s favorite activities. We all pitched in, especially our chef son-in-law, to use the fresh produce of the area and a few spices to create some wonderful home made meals. My son reminded me that vacation means rest and some of us required long hours to sleep and rejuvenate for the work weeks to come. Again, as in many times since his birth in December, my grandson forced me to focus on the moment. I will remember his delight in seeing Nana first thing each morning. He was kind enough to allow us to take him for a car ride up the mountains, even becoming the center of attention for the owners of a local café. His beautiful blue eyes and inviting smile, encouraged the café owner to take him for a walk so that we could eat.
Vacations are not just sites to be visited; they are moments in a family’s journey. I forgot that and am truly sorry. My family forced me (in a kind way) to refocus and realize that I am indeed a very fortunate Mama/Nana!
P.S. The children left for home today but we are here for two more weeks. I am still looking forward to those mountainous Tuscany towns. 🙂