Soon – about one more day – the first steps of my 11th journey to my loved Italy will be taken. From the 11:24 Intercity from Lithgow Station until the 20:12 Regionale drops me at Sarzana Station takes 42 hours and 48 minutes not counting the initial and final walks. In the matter of flights, especially the 14 hour leg to Dubai, all I can say is that I ENDURE them but that the pains evaporate by the time I reach the Immigration Desk. I am here. I am in love again, even though I know I will be disappointed by this dysfunctional, chaotic but perfectly beautiful country.
I again go through the thoughts of why I am doing this. I feel vaguely guilty about the waste, the privilege, the sheer vanity of it all. Whom am I benefiting? What am I achieving? Will it make me stronger, better, wiser? I can’t answer any of those questions; just hope.
Mainly I hope for a decision – whether I can move on and finish the Helen Cochrane biography or whether it is time to hand it on to someone else. If it is to be me, I will need an injection of energy and enthusiasm and new confidence unavailable to me at home. Sarzana may provide this.
There will be happy reunions with friends and colleagues, hikes in the National Park nearby with its views over the Gulf, walks along the waterside from Lerici to San Terenzo and back, ambling aimlessly through the alleys and piazzas of Sarzana. All these are delicious and familiar pleasures. New for this trip, I hope to walk from Aulla to Massa, a 40km section of ancient pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome (the setting for Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’) and which passes through Sarzana.
Above all, I hope to start writing again. These last two years I have had trouble writing a shopping list; an email is a major challenge; writing creatively has been impossible. I am banking on my accommodation being conducive – a home away from home but in this most beautiful little Italian city, charming and honest.
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