First Week in Italy
July 3, 2012
Where do I begin!?!
I’m typing this in Barcelona. I arrived in Italy a week ago and just flew into Spain.
So much has happened this week, so many fantastic synchronicities that I’ve lost track. I leave for the Spanish desert soon, but here’s a quick recap of the last magical week, and my plans for the future:
Sunday night I flew into Firenze, favorite city ever. Quite accidentally/synchronistically, I got into the country without a stamp in my passport (the Italian guy say, “Ok, it’s a Sunday!” when I asked to cut through to a different part of the airport, not realizing I was bypassing customs). So it seems all my worrying over how to stay in the Schengen for more than 90 days doesn’t matter now… Woohoo!
In my last post I wondered whether I’d still love Italy as much as I used to. In certain ways I do – I love love love the language, for one. It delights me to listen to it. The food, of course, is great, as is the gelato – it’s been about 95°F in Firenze, the perfect excuse to eat gelato once (or twice) a day. BUT, I just don’t want to live in cities anymore. I’m much happier in natural settings. So that’s interesting.
So Sunday night I flew into Firenze, and my couchsurfing host Dario came and picked me up at the airport. Dario is the best couch surfing host ever, and happily granted my wish to go hunting for fireflies, scootering me up to the woods outside the hills of Firenze, where bats swooped at us and we almost crashed into a group of cinghiale (wild boars) on the way home.
I was planning on hanging out in Firenze for the week, and then going to the European version of Burning Man in Spain, Nowhere, which Dario had told me about. But then the first day in Firenze I saw on Twitter that the Dalai Lama was visiting Italy. I love the Dalai Lama, and it’s one of my life goals to meet him, so I freaked out and began googling around and saw that he would be giving lectures in Milan on June 27th & 28th. The next day I hopped on a train to Milan, got tickets to the almost sold-out event, and saw the Dalai Lama. He gave talks on Buddhism and religion and on the 28th did an initiation that was unexpectedly moving for me. I didn’t understand much of it with my mind (he spoke in Pali, translated into Italian, and my vocabulary for spiritual matters isn’t that great), but I understood it with my heart. I also realized how liberated I’ve become, how much closer I am to being truly free. A beautiful thing. I did not get to hug the Dalai Lama, as was my wish, but hopefully I’ll get to do this before I die. Well, before he dies…
I met some awesome people during the event, and decided to stay in Milan an extra night to meet up with some couchsurfers who also love the Dalai Lama. So I met Anita and Lorenzo. Both of them had, coincidentally, done their thesis (theses?) on Nomadism, and here I am, a Nomad… AND Lorenzo runs in INCREDIBLE gelateria in Milan called Il Gelato Centogusti, with 100 flavors – amazing flavors like Salted Peanut, Wasabi, PESTO, Ginger and Cinnamon, Sesame Honey Rice… I tried at least 25 of the flavors and they were all AMAZING.
Thursday night was the European Cup Semi-Finals, so I got to experience the absolute insanity of Italian soccer fans. They beat Germany 2-1 (there’s a big rivalry) and the streets were backed with yelling, chanting fans for hours. The two Italian goals were scored by Italy’s first black soccer player, Balotelli. There’s a very British-sounding chant that starts, “Balotelliiiii, he’s a strikerrrrrrrr,” but the guys I was with couldn’t remember the rest of the song, so they just screamed the first line over and over and over.
Again, via Twitter, I found out about an American woman named Dana Lynn Anderson who runs an institute in Umbria called Awakening Arts; I wrote to her and found out her center is affiliated with the Ananda Spiritual Retreat Center for Yoga and Meditation. So I signed up for a three week service/yoga/meditation program I begin on July 15th.
Following my bliss!!!