Warmth. If I had to use one word to describe my time in Italy that would be it. It seems strange for me to say that now, because the truth is I kind of stood out like a sore thumb in most of the places we went. Especially to the street vendors…it was like they could smell American Tourist from a mile away. I learned how to forcefully say “NO” very quickly.

I know my trip, my journey was different from many who visit Italy. I went to see family. A family that I long ago accepted as part of my life. Because we both loved this unique amazing young man who became my third son. With out them, I would never have experienced the amazing joy of loving a child, not born of me, as though he was indeed my very own blood. I accepted this family to love, to cherish, even from the other side of the ocean. We had talked a little here and there. Skyped when Lorenzo lived here, but never had I felt the warmth of their hug or seen the full beauty of their smiles. It was past time. Captivating. I was lost to Italy and its charm with just one glance. I fell completely in love with Lorenzo’s family from the first hug, to the last wave and tear at the airport. The truth is, I loved them long ago, because how could I love my Lolo without loving the people who helped him become who he is. I will miss them all, every day, for the rest of my life. No regrets. What an amazing family, and oh what beautiful hearts they have. One of the most amazing things that happened was my best friend Amanda’s German son came to Rome and surprised her. Lorenzo and Henry planned it and kept it a secret from us. It was the most beautiful surprise and though he could only stay 3 days, it was the best 3 days to have them both together.

So I am forever lost to this place, to its history, to the living history that is older than my own country. I am American by birth and Italian by heart now, and it is a thing that expands the love I was capable of  beyond anything I ever imagined. No fear opens amazing doors, or perhaps I should say, walking right through your fear does.

Is it strange to say that there was softness to the buildings, to the designs, the subtle changes in architecture from area to area? A gentle beauty that just made you gasp out loud. Being surrounded by so much amazing history almost became overwhelming. I wish that photographs could truly capture the whole of it, but there is an atmosphere, a feeling in the air that cannot be shown even in the best of photographs, it can only be felt deep within. But isn’t so much of the world this way. The people, the feelings, even the very air changes how you feel in a moment, in a place in time. I am from a place of great beauty and hardship, a land not perfect but so breathtaking if you only look. Louisiana is in my blood and I love to share our culture with others, but this time it was I who got to experience so many new things and stare wide-eyed at the beauty that perhaps many Italians don’t notice as much any more because it is their everyday. I wish every where in the world, we could all slow down just a moment and look with new eyes at the lives we have been so blessed  with.

Then there is the food. Simple, amazing, rich, elegant, yet so pure that there is no equal for it anywhere else in the world, that is Italian food, real Italian food. It is developed in layers, sometimes very fast and sometimes so very slow. Even something as simple as a pizza, a potato sausage pizza, is mind-blowing and life changing. If you know me, then you know I am a foodie. First that doesn’t mean I eat a ton of food, no it means that I appreciate the beauty of cooking together, of being crowded in the kitchen, of standing elbow to elbow and laughing, or singing and sharing the recipe of food that is a very real part of who you are. I love that food, in every culture around the world, brings people together, it is different, it is beautiful, it is connecting and special. If you want to see a country, experience it’s culture, eat the food, not the tourist food, the real food. Eat something that scares you and enjoy it with a passion. Except horse, I just couldn’t bring myself to try the horse that was on the menu in Venice. Nope, never gonna happen. EVER.

Do nothing with reservation but instead face every fear. Travel. If you have been thinking about it but telling yourself no. If you have thought “But I’m just a farm girl from a little Louisiana town, why would I go anywhere?” Stop, and just take a trip. The world beyond our door is amazing and it holds a beauty so few of us see. Trust me on this. If you are brave enough to board the plane…then hold nothing back. Ride a ski lift, cuss a little, pray a lot, fear dying, and then when you reach the top, capture the most mind-blowing views….…then be brave enough to ride it back down, but with less fear and only an ounce more trust, but still…..…do it.

I end with a message to this beautiful family that I now proudly call my own……Thank you seems so small. You not only took me and my dearest friend Amanda in, but you loved us every day we were there. You went out of your way to make sure we were having an amazing time and I cannot thank you enough for it. My heart is broken and at the same time more strong than ever before. You have forever changed me in the best of ways, for this I hope you are abundantly blessed each and every day.

All of my love to each of you.

Concludo con un messaggio a questa bella famiglia che ora orgogliosamente chiamo il mio …… Grazie a te sembra così piccolo. Non solo ci ha preso in, ma ci è piaciuto ogni giorno eravamo lì. Sei andato dal tuo modo per assicurarsi che avevamo un tempo incredibile e non si può ringraziare abbastanza per questo. Il mio cuore è spezzato e al tempo stesso più forte che mai. Mi hai cambiato per sempre nel migliore dei modi, per questo spero che tu sia abbondantemente benedetti ogni giorno.

Tutto il mio amore per ciascuno di voi.

*****The photographs are a mixture of Phone photography and camera photography. There are a couple images captured by Lorenzo and a few by my dearest friend Amanda.

America, Italy, and Germany. A beautiful mixed family. My heart is so full!!!

Lorenzo’s sweet grandmother on his dad’s side. Aunt’s and cousins. When you say Mimosa in Italy, this bright yellow tree is what they think of, not champagne and OJ.Lorenzo and his grandfather. He was a pilot for many years. He is amazing!!!This donkey is Olivia…Olivia knows how to open the front door and let her self in if you don’t watch her. Lol.Lorenzo’s gorgeous mom and her dad. And Lorenzo’s little brother.Santa Severa Castle Off to Venice. I loved all the different trains!!! Well, I loved them at the time, later I almost hated trains. But that’s another story for later. I loved how everything was stacked so high on the boats being delivered. Since there are no cars in Venice, even the Ambulance is a boat. It is also the only boat not restricted as far as speed goes. It was easy to see the need for the restrictions as the ambulance passed by and the waves from its wake broke high over the sides of the docks. Supposedly Marco Polo’s House. I thought the Venetian fire hydrants were very neat. Me and Lorenzo had to stop and listen to this musician. He was amazing and well deserving the tip Lolo left him. Even though we were in a hurry, his music was just memorizing enough to make us not care about time. Instead of taking a Gondola ride, we took a gondola class. Our instructor was amazing and being a true Venetian his passion for his city was just beautiful to witness!! This fish market was huge!!! Carnival costume. Just to give you an idea of how overwhelming tourist can become on Venice, we arrived on Thursday, and until Saturday morning there was an estimated 50,000 people in Venice. Saturday morning that number almost tripled. There was traffic jams of people and though we had wanted to watch the parade, we quickly found ourselves heading back to our apartment that was in the area the actual Venetians live. There is was quiet and peaceful and while I may have missed the parade, I was grateful for the beauty of our quiet little area. .Trieste to see Virginia and her sweet family!!! Breathtaking. Virginia kept apologizing for her town being small and that after seeing Rome we might not enjoy it, but the truth is, Trieste is stunning and has views Rome didn’t offer. Such a gorgeous place!! I mean just look at this amazing shot Lorenzo took!!! He told me once that I had better not lose too much weight because he likes my soft shoulders…….perfect pillows to sleep on, apparently that hasn’t changed. Lol.I know this is kind of far down but this is the day we arrived, at the airport. 14 hours of travel is not kind. Lucilla is am amazing cook. Gandalf loved the extra attention. Cooking pancakes with Lolo, and Zoolander fierceness. Hahaha. Cosimo is also an amazing cook!!! A beautiful little town named Ceri. Basketball time!!!!Yes, I was that crazy American mom yelling and clapping loud….and getting weird looks. Lol. I call this place Harry Potter town….because that’s what it reminds me of. I had to ride a ski lift to get this photo…….I don’t want to talk about that. It was traumatic. Kind of…or maybe I was being dramatic……but it was scary!!!! This dog was 85% wolf Savory crepes, brotherly love, and the stunningly gorgeous Elena!!!Simone’s carnival costume. The children’s parade!!!The front of Lorenzo’s home Look at those faces, they are double trouble and the cuteness between the two of them, they can get away with anything. A wedding dress shop. At the airport saying goodbye. Or trying to, we left it at “see you soon” because I simple could not say goodbye. This family has stolen my heart and I can not imagine not seeing them again soon. So my life has forever changed. For the better. And I am completely ok with that.



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