Our Towns is really our Tale of Two Houses. Ah, the complex fascination of expat life (challenging, frustrating, but so blessed)! In fact, new acquaintances often ask, “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.
We probably should ask, “Do you want the long or short version?”
I stopped counting moves at Number 50. I guess I figured what difference does it make? 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! But 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, coffee, and pillows. Will travel!
Our two villages.
For online safety reasons I use pseudonyms. (Yes, I’m a bit old-fashioned.) I blog about Italy’s beautiful places and the colorful, wonderful characters who populate them, because I know you want to meet such delightful people! But I feel it’s important to protect their identity and privacy. So you will find only pseudonyms and general indications in these stories.
Our main home
In Abruzzo, Beautiful but Forgotten
Along a ridge of the Adriatic foothills, our peaceful little town of 3000 is surrounded by beautiful “patchwork-quilt-countryside”. Gorgeous views look down toward the sea on one side and stupendous snow-capped mountain peaks on the other.
Our house, between 200-250 years old, has odd nooks and crannies, rounded cupola ceilings, and a bathroom halfway between the two floors. Plus a delightful little garden and veranda out back. The espresso pot’s on – wanna come over?
Sounds breath-taking, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s just because of the great love I have for this place. And awe over 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! With 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? And 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
In the Campania region, Beyond Forgotten
Becoming owners of our main home left us awestruck, but when we inherited Hubby’s ancestral home, which we call our summer home, it just seemed crazy!
This village in the Salerno province lies right in the heart one of the Cilento area’s national parks, one of Italy’s sadly forgotten areas. Only two roads lead 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 of only 500 people. Or 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. With 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 (which we’ve actually lived in) to palaces, and fine antiques to clapboard furniture (which we’ve owned).
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, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Minnesota, Connecticut, 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? Where is home for you, and what makes it so?
Image credits: Bridge & scenerty are my own. | Sofa.