I just returned from a seventeen day tour of Italy. There really are not enough superlatives to adequately describe our trip. It was a tour sponsored by the Smithsonian so we had the benefits of both a tour director and a tour study leader. All of the logistics were expertly handled and we were well prepared to appreciate the sites we visited. I will try to get a few pictures up in the next few days.
I can honestly say that I grew spiritually, philosophically, and intellectually on this trip. Returning to the routines of everyday life, I see them through a little bit different lens. I could easily wax ad infinitum on our trip and this may be only the first of several posts on lessons learned, but there are definitely some impressions I can immediately share. Some are admittedly trivial, while others offer a bit more cerebral heft.
First of all, there is absolutely no reason for any American fast food chain to have a presence in Italy. Every time I walked into a little trattoria or osteria I was greeted with delightful food made with fresh ingredients and served quickly.
Italians know how to make coffee. I never had a bad cup of coffee. I also never drank coffee out of a paper cup. If you are going to drink coffee it should be out of a ceramic/china cup. I made a resolution for drinking coffee now that I am home. My first cup of coffee every day will be taken seated and out of a china cup. No more gulping that first morning java from a to-go cup in the car.
America is not the center of the universe. A great deal of history occurred before our great nation was in its infancy. We would do well to remember that. The Roman empire was once though to be invincible. Yet it is now gone. There is no guarantee that America will always be a world leader.
The beauty of sculpture by Bernini or Michelangelo can move me to tears. Artwork from centuries ago is still relevant for today. It does make me wonder if there is any art being created today that will stand the test of time as well as the Italian classics. Is anyone going to care about today's contemporary art in 500 years?
Human nature is the same over the millennia. Pride, greed, lust, among other sins challenge the culture. Short term gains may result from vice but true flourishing requires virtue.
Italy was truly a paradise for me. Good food, good wine, good coffee, beauty and Catholicism surrounded me for seventeen glorious days. I am forever changed.