Posts in travel
Conversations with Grandad

Whenever I could in those months I’d get a bus – with or without my friend Clare – and go *somewhere else* and that’s where the magic was, up and out of Florence, where shopkeepers didn’t roll their eyes and reply in English to our dodgy Italian and where I didn’t have to pretend I didn’t understand English to avoid American tour groups. (‘But today we’re supposed to be in Florence. This is Firenze – what have we got wrong?’)

Once we were out of the city people looked kindly on us speaking the language. Old men in suits in bars bought us espresso and joked they were going to marry us. We walked and walked and got sunburnt and talked about life and drank wine and then as the sun looked like it might disappear we made sure we were on our way back to Firenze. 

My Grandad’s cousin Romy had grown up in Perth but in her 30s decided to move ‘back home’ to a place she’d never known as her own home, just that of her parents, in Sondrio, right on the border with Switzerland.

All the puzzle pieces had been there in the past, and had I touched on them all. It was like I’d been circling, dancing around the edges for years. But until now, the timing hadn’t been right to create the picture. But enough now, it’s time to make the leap and see what happens.

Read More
Some like it hot

Just a hint of chilli is nearly too much for my father-in-law. My mother-in-law though, is borderline obsessed with curry, especially the very fashionable turmeric, which has even made its way into some varieties of foccacia, giving it a bizarrely un-foccacia-like hue I’d call ‘highlighter yellow’. Last night at the dinner table my husband was dropping Tabasco directly on my tongue, so you know where I stand.

When I asked him exactly how you’d describe a ‘hot’ woman, ‘bella’ was his answer.

‘I expected something a bit more creative,’ I said.

The guy at the petrol station said ’Ciao bella’ to me after I gave him 10 euro for fuel. It’s not exactly…spicy.

Anyway the reason I asked him in the first place is because there was a bit of controversy in town this week.

The annual ‘Festa Pic’ – literal translation ‘Hot Party’ or ‘festival’, in its eleventh year, was on again.

And far from being about women, it’s about chilli.

Read More
Friday night lights

‘Can you watch Giulio for a second?,’ his dad says. One of my best friends in Australia has a son born a day after him: they are both obsessed with climbing at the moment. I have a soft spot for Giulio too: he looks exactly like my sister did when she was little. He runs away from me, chasing the cat. I pick him up, put him on my hip and stop to look around. My mind flashes back to New Year's Eve, standing in this spot with sparklers, drinking prosecco from plastic cups. simultaneously wondering how I ended up here and knowing it’s exactly where I belong. My mind flashes back to New Year's Eve, standing in this spot with sparklers, drinking prosecco from plastic cups, wondering what the next 12 months would bring. 

Read More
Venus and Mars, Australia and Italy, coming home

This swing between Italy and Australia that we’ve put ourselves on means at times we might not feel at home in any one place. But I reckon there’ll be times we feel completely at home in two places as well, and I hope that we can have the flexibility, compassion and generosity with one another, with our families, our friends, and our vastly different but equally breathtaking environments (hello, Western Australia and Tuscany!) to be fully appreciative and conscious of what we’ve been given, and what we have to give. And that’s a lot.

Read More