Apologies for the pun.
As a long-time fan of the television show, Golden Girls, Sicily was at the top of my travel list even before I officially formulated a travel list. From a young age, my favorite way to start a story was, “Picture it, Sicily, 1922…” the same way the acerbic matriarch Sophia prefaced hers.
After two years of successfully evading the virus, it finally caught me 4,000 miles away from home.
Driving between sublime places like Florence, Siena, and Lucca, you can catch a glimpse of the mundane side of Tuscany. The strip malls, the car dealerships. The industrial parks with empty loading docks. The barren fields with crumbling structures festooned with graffiti. The red tiled roofs of homes that dot the side of the highway. Details that never make it into brochures or into the stories you’ll share with your friends when you get back home.
I, on the other hand, was desperately trying to memorize it all. Making note of landmarks and highway signs, as they zoomed by the window of my ambulance.
Illustration by Explore Magazine
We were about to start our dinner when the notion of love at first sight was brought up. Our group went around the kitchen and shared their views, which ranged from a resounding rejection of the entire theory to a sweet and serendipitous how-we-met story.
I’m often asked what is my most favorite place I’ve ever visited and, without hesitation, I always answer Amalfi. But it’s not for the reasons you think. Before reaching the picturesque coast, I traveled from Naples to Sorrento with five strangers and an Italian driver obsessed with disco in one of the best (messiest) car rides I’ve ever been in (and that’s saying a lot.) That prelude made reaching the coast all the more special.
Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome over the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, which hangs in the Uffizi. Michelangelo’s Madonna of the Stairs that is on exhibition at Casa Buonarroti. The incomparable Boboli Gardens dreamed up by Bernardo Buontalenti. Each one commissioned by a member of the Medici family.