I breathe in deep… rain pounding on the open beamed ceiling of the circa 1800 Villa I have come to call home.
The French doors are wide open – large droplets flying from all directions – gifts bouncing off lush leaves of trees and vines encircling our two acres. My feet are bare, feeling the spray as the gravel road just beyond the tile threshold dances with the rain.
I take another deep breath – the freshness and the aromas of the rose petals filling me. This is Italy. I’m really here…
I catch my reflection in the French doors, and a woman returns my gaze tenderly. The antique linen, in soft folds of fabric on the other side of the glass, rest with the few rays of sunlight to enfold her. She is soft, dreamy – almost angelic.
On the verge of more emotions I have only just learned to experience, I gently make the few steps to pick up my camera, my gaze never leaving her. I take her picture. Only one. It captures the moment, and I smile… cherishing the beauty that has found me.
This is the way it has been since I began this journey to Italy.
It started the moment I checked in for the flight, and this country with all it offers in its invitation to revel in the moment, has opened up its ancient power into the present – and into me, ever since…
Breakfast in the garden of Hotel Villa del Parco, the midday train out of the hustle and bustle of Rome, a savory dinner at the Taverna Saturday evening, and the attentions of a lovely young Italian man later Saturday night and Sunday afternoon… truly, I am in the moment.
For me, it is a sense of truly being “present”. Allowing myself to feel into the pauses between the beats and the doings of “getting here” to truly take in the energy of people and places in a way that honors and nurtures my soul.
It’s about the love affair I am having with this country through my camera.
It’s about the sensuality of the language as I learn new words and ways of expressing myself.
And it’s about the ease with which I am starting to get to know the group of five other women and one man who, though previously strangers to me, are now to be my fellow adventurers for most of the next 12 days.
There’s just something that happens through the sharing of story: whether it’s through the images, shapes and colors I see through the lens; in the intense brown-eyed gaze of an attentive man; or whether it’s simply in the late night banter of my colleagues over bottles of wine, prosciutto, and fresh bread…
There is such a sense of newness of life – and of history – at the same time. And they merge.
From experiencing gelato and limoncello for the first time; to home-made pasta; to wandering solo for hours among acres and acres of rolling countryside and cypress trees which reach to the sky… to now this, my second day – where I have done nothing but sleep, eat and write; I genuinely feel like I am experiencing the serenity that is Tuscany.
I breathe deep, and then, I breathe deep ever slower again. The rain has lifted as smoothly as it came, and the sun comes out just enough to warm and dry the earth. A rooster crows in the distance…
Availing myself of the interlude, I savor some slices of fresh tomato from the garden accented with balsamic vinegar, fresh cut basil and ground pepper, and I pause… entering-in to the tranquility and the quiet that is my mind and my heart – now.
I AM here.