Photo Credit:  M.G. Peak

Photo Credit: M.G. Peak

I am back following a little summer hiatus as I traveled to Europe with my husband and daughter.  We visited Berlin, Germany for a work trip my husband was invited to and on the way, we stopped in Floridia, a small town in Sicily where my parents were born, to visit my mother’s family.  We soaked in the Italian sun and the healing salt of the Mediterranean Sea; we devoured the best food on earth; and I got to spend time with the aunts, uncles, and cousins that I have not seen in over a decade.  Most importantly, I was able to introduce them to a three foot tall, fiery, and somewhat bossy American – my daughter. I feel like a changed woman!

Hello Mediterranean Sea - I LOVE YOU!

Hello Mediterranean Sea – I LOVE YOU!

It felt so good to be back to the place I fondly refer to as “The Motherland”, since that is where my mother was raised and most of her family still resides there.  It was a place I loved to go as a child.  A few times growing up, my parents would pack me and my sister up for the entire summer and we would venture out to Sicily to stay with my grandparents or aunts.  I had nine cousins all pretty close in age to us, and we would have a blast.

Me lookin' bad ass on a vespa with my cousin Salvatore

Me lookin’ “bad ass” on a Vespa with my cousin Salvatore

My cousin Ramona with my sister and me when we were unafraid to pose in bathing suits.  How did we not get pinched by the cactus?

My cousin Ramona with my sister and me when we were unafraid to pose in bathing suits. How did we not get pinched by the cactus?

Ever since my daughter was born, I have been yearning to connect with that side of my family again.  Life, marriage, and babies, have all caused time to lapse so quickly.  But I wanted so much for them to meet my daughter and husband. I also wanted my husband to see firsthand where I inherited my fiery temper and all of my other traits 🙂 So when my husband told me about a work trip to Germany we would take together, I jumped at the chance to turn it into a family trip to Italy – since we were in the neighborhood and all.

The best dish of food I have ever devoured in my life, with a side of wine for lunch.  And that was just the appetizer!

The best dish of food I have ever devoured in my life, with a side of wine for lunch.  And that was just the appetizer!

I am very glad we did.  It was so amazing to see my family again and to meet my cousins’ children.  That’s when it hit me – WE were the grown-ups with families of our very own.  And as we watched the cousins play together, my uncle called it the circle of life. We grow up, have children of our own, and life goes on as we enjoy the richness of family.  It was a beautiful thing to witness.

Cousins!

Cousins!

So that’s why I feel rejuvenated.  I experienced a little bit of paradise – not because of the beautiful landscape and the food (did I mention the food already?) but because I was surrounded by love and family who took care of us.  They welcomed us with open arms and dropped everything to take my little family around to see the sites and keep us entertained.  Despite language barriers for my husband and little one, we ALL felt really, really loved.

I am convinced that the Italians have this lifestyle thing figured out.  Enjoying life with passion and fervor, being close to family, and finding joy in the simple things (like amazing food), is what I want for us.  It’s most likely why the country has made a list of top ten places for human longevity.  I am going to try to live that way, for as long as I can, for my daughter’s sake and for our own health and well-being.  I am going to start tonight by having eggplant parmesan for dinner!

 

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