Updated October 2015
By Cacinda Maloney
Contemplating my next travel dates, I sit in reflection in a small town in Italy called Nervi, having just returned from Santa Margherita and Portofino. I have some amazing stories to tell, which I will write about at another time, but I thought today should be the day I write about the grass. I am constantly searching for prettier, greener grass and while in Italy this week, I have decided that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Sure, the Italians have made quite a place for themselves. The imagery alone… while I gaze out my window brings me instantly to a romantic idea of how things could be.
The white, majestic, castle-like buildings with their gorgeous gardens are stunning (this one outside my window at Villa Pagoda
is actually named EDEN!)
The houses up on the hill, all in the perfect color tones of burnt-henna orange, Bordeaux ruddy red,
and creamy buttercup yellow,
make me dream that this could one day be my home.
Along herringbone brick red stones on the boardwalk pathway to the imposing sea down below,
I see the thin Italian runners along the seacoast making their daily trek amongst the beauty. Old people with umbrellas, either for the sun or the rain,
who usually sit in the faded turquoise blue green benches with wrought iron feet
along the boardwalk, looking so elegant in their Italian wear.
Take for instance, the last night I was there; I had dinner at a fabulous neighborhood, family-owned Italian pizzeria. They welcome you with open arms, sit you down and bring everyone champagne to celebrate the arrival of our group. It really does feel like coming home. They are loud and boisterous, laughing and serving you unbelievably delicious food.
Throughout the night, they bring surprise after surprise of all their homemade pastas and pizzas.
and the grand finale is the strawberry layered shortcake that the grandmother made with the welcoming words for my new friends, who once lived in this lovely little neighborhood in this seaside town.
Now I realize I will really have to dig down deep to convince you that the grass is not as green, but let me just say that sometimes things are not always as they seem. Of course everything mentioned here about Nervi is grand and wonderful and makes you wish you were from here too. But then, can you imagine having to take the train everyday to school or to work, if you didn’t have a car (which most don’t seem to)? How much added time that would add on to your day, plus the added walking you would have to do on a daily basis and not just straight walking, but walking straight up the mountain? Or constantly having to navigate uneven cobblestone surfaces? or the crumbling staircases?
And as I look around closely, things are not clean like they are in America, nor new, and with graffiti everywhere.
Also, think about using a sink or a bathtub that is at least 50 years old. Think of not sitting on a toilet, but instead, putting both feet on a ceramic foot holder and squatting to go to the bathroom, in a bathroom with no toilet paper, not that they are out of toilet paper, but that they just don’t supply the bathroom with it. This isn’t everywhere, but you will run into it every once in a while. Think of sweeping with a broom that is made from sticks and leaves. Think of run down housing areas and small, tight quarters for your house, apartment or room. With old electric outlets and extra plugs that don’t seem to work. The paint is crumbling on the walls in most places I see.
Also consider that the homes here, when you walk in them, they seem more like 1850’s than the 2000’s. The homeowners keep everything that was ever given to their grandmother, amazing or not, still in the family home. Think of sharing your home with everyone, and again in those tight quarters.
And then there are the canine calling cards,
sure they might be everywhere, but they are especially in Italy, since it is possible that they are not required to pick up their dog’s poop, like we are in America.
Sometimes, I think I forget how wonderful my home and my city are. Perfectly manicured landscaping in front of majestic mountains
with sunsets that rival Monet’s paintings,
I live in a place where architecture, although not ancient and grand, is soothing and picturesque. I forget that people come here for vacation in the winter; that they love our weather, the golf, the resorts and the beautiful mountains that we have here in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
Our homes are new, massive and roomy, spaces that we have created with the perfect color of paint and decorated with all the finer things we have gathered from our travels, our lives, and our loves.
As exquisite as Italy is, I want to find that delight right here at home in Phoenix, AZ. Don’t for a second disregard from where it is that you come, for you do not know what the shade of grass will be like on the other side of the world!