The next morning, we woke up in Villa Velina for the last time this trip. On the way home from dinner, George suggested we leave as early as possible and drive up to Fiumicino, drop our luggage at the hotel, return the rental car and take a train into Rome to walk around a bit and have some dinner. George knows how much I love Rome and so I figured this was a very strategic move on his part to make sure I left Villa Velina. It worked! When we awoke, we quickly showered, packed and covered the sparse furnishings in plastic sheeting and began our journey.
On our way as we wind around Mount Vesuvius, we are always dumb struck at the sheer size of it, even as we realize it almost appears as two separate mountains today after the nuclear-in-scope 79 A.D. explosion that froze Pompei in time and kept it covered for centuries. As we gape at it, George and I always imagine the dotted line from the side of each remaining peak, meeting at one central point way, way up in the sky. Wow! That’s an entire mountain, almost larger than what is remaining, that was displaced. And we think of the dark volcanic sand an hour and a half south, on the beaches of Positano, and realize how far some of that ground traveled to find its new home! I take a picture every time, while George is driving, but my photos are never able to do justice to the sheer size of the remnants of Vesuvius.
We continue up the autostrada, past my favorite trees and on to Fiumicino to drop off luggage and the car.
As we depart from Termini, Rome’s main train station, we are reminded that the Christmas season is upon us. Not that we wouldn’t see decorations in the U.S., considering that this is Thanksgiving weekend, but the Italians don’t have Thanksgiving to mark the official beginning of the Christmas season. Here in Rome, Christmas is in full swing, with beautiful lights strung along the vias and adorning buildings everywhere as we decide where to have dinner.
We settle on a restaurant about a block or two from Termini that doesn’t appear too touristy, and go down a half-flight of stairs to enter. We are not disappointed with our food. I chose a seafood and pasta dish, one of my favorites. We strolled the streets a bit after dinner and then returned by train to our Fiumicino hotel. We always enjoy Rome!
Although we stay on the airport property, it’s our policy to arrive in Fiumicino very early. Since all flights to the United States must clear though a special terminal (Terminal 5) before being transported to the main airport gates, you never know how long it will take. Although, I certainly wouldn’t care if we missed a flight . . .
We spend our extra time having a delicious Italian pastry and, for me, a morning prosecco! One last real Italian bubbly on “the soil”. George comes along as I pretend shop for jewelry at Bvlgari. Unfortunately, I will have to leave this €16,500 necklace behind!
At last, we board and find ourselves flying high above the Alps.
We couldn’t have predicted what happened next. As we settled in after takeoff and my obligatory Alpine photos were taken, George and I began to discuss what fun we had had and how surprising it was to learn that we could survive and actually thrive and enjoy our lives in only 425 square feet of living space! We loved the views and location of Villa Velina from the start, but were a bit concerned about the size of the space. But what we learned was that it lived so LARGE! From the gigantic views to the spacious rooms, we felt freed from the trappings of society. From our 85-wine-glass collection back home to the many other belongings we had both accumulated over the years, we learned it felt great living without such a heavy load on our backs – and this was the biggest surprise of the whole trip! In Villa Velina, we had only what we needed – each other, a spectacular view of the world around us, the bare necessities and a beautiful, although small, abode – but that made us feel happier.
This conversation led to a major revelation for me. While still high over the Atlantic, I looked at George and said “let’s call Mary Pat and talk with her about putting that big house of ours on the market and find something more manageable to live in”. As this stream of consciousness thought became words, we were both a bit shocked by it. We loved our home and although it was much bigger than we needed for the two of us, we loved throwing huge parties in it. We also loved playing “weekend bed and breakfast”, but our “bookings” had been dwindling. As the grandchildren got older, there were weekend activities that prevented them from traveling and we found ourselves going to them instead.
Really, my surprise revelation, made a lot of sense. Italy had totally changed our view of our future. We no longer planned to just hang out where we had been and continue our current lives as we flowed into our retirement years, wondering what to do to entertain ourselves for the next phase of our lives. Now, there was Italy . . . a true game-changer. Now, we were busy learning Italian, immersing ourselves in a new culture and friends and new horizons to explore. We saw ourselves taking the party and our friends and family to Italy. Why not position ourselves to fully enjoy our new future?
P.S. Our home was listed 28 days later and sold in 6 days . . .