by Lisa Becker
From the beginning, this trip has not been as I had imagined. My prior travel to Bella Italia was a beautiful and new experience, rich in wonder and my own naivety. My life experience until then had consisted of little more than the desired stable home life and innocent youth. This time around I crossed the ocean as a world traveler, a career woman, and a nurturing wife. The small novelties of my first Italy experience have sadly worn away yet, I hold in their place a more substantial and deeply imbedded appreciation for differing cultures and beliefs. The sights, smells, and sounds may be the same today, but my experience is less superficial.
Our first stop in Florence provided welcome relief from the daily grind and a chance to acclimate to the unknown. Given the opportunity to clear my head for the first time in months- maybe more- I made the most of those two days as a tourist. The Uffizi, gelato, and pizza filled my heart and my stomach.
When it came time to board the bus to Cagli, my restless desire to begin a new journey overwhelmed any feelings of uncertainty. Arriving in Cagli was like hitting the pause button. Life slowed down. Our tourist group became the exception, not the norm. We suddenly had more freedom to wander, but fewer places to go. Yet we stopped going; we stopped moving. We focused solely on the next hour, the next minute as our confidence dissipated into the mountain air. The comfort we felt in Florence was quickly displaced by the uncomfortable feeling of the unknown. The city was waiting for us, but we were not yet ready for it.