Our Towns is really our Tale of Two Houses. Ah, the complex fascination of expat life! (Read between the lines: challenging, frustrating, but ever so blessed!) In fact, during lunch with some new acquaintances recently they asked, “So where are you from?” Our response? “Um, have you got an easier question?” So, to make my long story brief…
Having lived all over the USA and Italy, with a brief stint in Mexico, we honestly felt at a loss. Where are we from? I was born and grew up in Michigan. And hubby, born in Italy, was raised in the Bronx, by non English-speaking parents…
I guess we should ask, “Do you want the long or the short version?”
I stopped counting our moves at Number 50. I guess I got to the point of thinking “What difference does it make?” Anymore, I just say “Too many to count!” But I have thought about starting a Making Moving Easy blog, or something like that. I mean, hey I’m a pro!
So, perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, at least tell us where you’re from now!”
But even that is not an easy question. We divide life between two villages and many trips around the nation. Maybe home is really just a suitcase and a bag for our pillows. Our motto is: Have pillows will travel! Scratch that. Our motto is: Have espresso pot and coffee. Have pillows. Will travel!
Our two villages.
For online safety reasons I use pseudonyms. I blog about Italy’s beautiful places and the colorful, wonderful characters who populate them, because I know you want to meet such wonderful people! But I feel it’s important to protect their identity and privacy. So you will find only pseudonyms and general indications in those stories.
Our main village —in the Abruzzo region.
Nestled along a ridge of the Adriatic foothills, our little town of 3000 is picturesque and beautiful. (Images above.) Sculpted countryside, as well-maintained as any public park. Gorgeous views looking down to the sea on one side. And stupendous snow-capped mountain peaks on the other. Our house is between 200-250 years old with odd nooks and crannies, rounded cupola ceilings, and a bathroom halfway between the two floors. Plus a delightful little back yard garden and veranda.
Sounds breath-taking, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s just because of the great love we have for this place. And the miracle of our little house. At age 50, we had given up on ever owning our own home. But God has a way of doing even the unthinkable and impossible!
But it’s really the people, known as snail lovers in this region, that make it special! Their quaint (and sometimes frustrating) country ways: You shouldn’t water your plants. Why are your lights on? You’ve got your heat on already? Their warmth and hospitality: Come in for coffee! Let’s go out for coffee! Or sit down and eat with us! It’s an open-door society and we love it!
And now, please journey with us to the deep south down to…
Our summer village — province of the Campania region.
Becoming owners of our main base home left us awestruck, but when we inherited Mario’s ancestral home, which we call our summer home, it just seemed crazy!
But sadly it’s in a forgotten area of Italy. Only one road leads in and out of this isolated place, my husband’s birthplace. Forgotten, in so many ways…
My feeble words fail to portray both the desolation and emptiness of this tiny hamlet. And the scenic, almost haunting, beauty of it and its people. It’s beyond description. One of those places that must be felt and experienced. To then become forever etched on your mind and senses, and its people forever lodged in your heart.
So how do we answer, “Where are you from?” We are from the places of our hearts.
If I’ve learned one thing from so many moves, it is that Home is not a building nor the stuff in it. Those can be anything from tents to palaces, and fine antiques to cardboard furniture. Home truly is where the heart is. Because Home is the people who live there. The ones you live and would die for. And they’re not always members of your family.
So Home can be many places all at once. Our hearts are scattered all over the world. Wherever our loved ones are, fragments of our hearts remain there. In New York, Michigan, Colorado, Mexico, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Rome, Salerno, Latina, Frosinone, Modena, Abruzzo… All of these and even more are home to us!
Which is why perhaps, for us, home is most of all living nestled safely within the heart of God.
And how do you answer?