Healing Mindset

Italy Slice of Life and Meditation

Some of the best meditative, self-reflective and breathtaking moments I have spent on this Earth was when I studied abroad in Italy back in 1989 and 1989 for a total of a year. 

In the summer of 1988 I studied Italian (intensive) at the School for Foreigners in Perugia. The school paired the students with others around the world. My roommate was from Germany. She was tall and blonde and I remember respecting her a lot. I don’t remember a whole lot of details as to why except that she was intelligent, was kind, her English impeccable and we shared a commiseration about our “house mother.” 

www.pixabay.com, Dagny Walter

Bless her soul as I’m sure she’s not alive anymore. She had grey hair curled up tightly around her head like someone had curled their hands around it to turn upward and inwards, wearing a “housecoat” like my grandmother Florence wore back in the 1970s with stained floral prints and dark red edging, and shuffled around the house in her stained slippers. I remember paying her the equivalent of $400 U.S. in Lire to stay at her place for a month. That’s pretty good money ($800) I would think back then for two boarders for a month.

I think the only time she left the house was to get groceries but we didn’t get cozy chatting about her life. That would have actually been an interesting story to learn about her. Me being a twenty year old American girl probably wasn’t someone she wanted to have un cafe with and talk about her life story.

She was pretty stressed out all the time about how much water we used and also if we were sneaking to use the telephone when she wasn’t around. I think she actually locked up the phone with a padlock for real. Water was super expensive.

You have to understand that calling internationally back then was insanely expensive. I don’t think it’s cheap now but back then you just didn’t know how much things cost until you got the bill. 

My brother came to visit me and we would go to the telephone shops where you went in, claimed a telephone booth and sat down to call the United States. There was an old machine that clicked numbers counting up and the horrifying thing was that you never knew how much each click cost or how long you talked. We’d talk really fast to our parents who were back in Pennsylvania probably wondering if we had already spent our monthly allowance doing who knows what. We would come out of the booths with sweaty palms and ask for our conto (bill) and they’d push the piece of paper across the counter and waited. 

Plus you had to do a money conversion in your head (it was lire back then instead of Euros). “Sixty thousand lire? Elliot, that’s like fifty dollars!!?” I yelled at my brother, “Oh my god!” and still say “Grazie” to the shop owner because you needed to show respect because I was a foreigner in their country.

I look back on those days with a really warm heart and happy joyful smile on my face. I’ll never forget the times I spent in Italy. Sounds kind of trite, I might think, but there is so much to my experience, which is why I enjoy writing and talking about this gorgeous country. Today I can feel the soulful smiles pass across my vision like I were looking at them today. 

Being twenty and never having spent time in Europe, it was all a very educational experience. Daily I would be greeted with something new. I would meet people constantly from all over the world, no matter where I went or what I was doing. That is one amazing beautiful thing about being in Europe, in general. Here in the United States the only time I felt even close to having such a cosmopolitan feeling was when I lived in New York City. 

In order to bring to you the essence of what I experienced when visiting and living in Italy, I have decided to write a luscious meditation experience for your brains. The microcosm of tranquility and peace encapsulated in a page or two of descriptive sensory language… for you. Thank you for continuing to be a part of my writing journey. (Someone please remind me to scan all my fine art photographs from Italy…)


Guided Meditation in Tuscany, Italy

As I sit on the side of a hill above one of the gorgeous green valleys in Perugia

I feel the sunshine on my cheeks

The warmth of the light around me

Filling me with a sensation of freedom

No one I have to go see

No where I have to be but here

My journal in my lap, open to the next page that 

Is open for my next set of words to describe yet another 

Glorious day of a new culture

I write about my day, my pen writing large letters to 

Express my joy that I feel

After I write some more I feel complete

I lay back into the grass and breathe deeply

My journal on my chest

I appreciate this book that holds so many secret quiet moments

Where I have written words of laughter, words of kindness I felt

Descriptions of people who I met 

Boys I have met who loved life

Girls who befriended me simply because I smiled at them today

Drawings of places I dreamed about while sleeping in a room

With a window wide open with no screens

The black night sky with stars twinkling into my room

I dream of the cafe with savory sandwiches and black espresso

Where I found another relaxing place to write my story

In that wooden seat next to the blacktop bistro table…

I remembered the villa where I stayed with one of

The families associated with my school

The mother of the family was a countess it turns out

From Switzerland, her husband, a caring handsome man

In his fifties

They cooked us four or five course meals daily

Meat, soups, salads, pasta with a light red tomato sauce 

made purely from freshly squeezed tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper

My roommates were two or three Americans

I didn’t associate with them much outside of our quarters

We always ate on the veranda because we could

Bread always bread with olive oil and garlic smashed in it

The wine. Always wine except for breakfast when we would drink

Cappuccinos, bread, butter, fruit

On the veranda again we would watch the sun come up to warm our arms

One day our house father would take us to the wine store

Out in the country away from anything to close to anything

There was a barn-looking building and humble signage

He parked anywhere

His little compact car fit anywhere especially because 

There was no one else there but the shop owner

Buon giorno, signore…. Good morning, sir

He carried several gallon sized glass jars to the back and we walked back with him

There was a tall machine with side dispensers that looked

Just like a gas station would have. I couldn’t see all the equipment behind it 

But I knew that we would receive an incredible amount of wine, red wine

The dispenser clicked with each gurgle of spouting burgundy colored liquid

That insisted on filling the jugs within a minute or two

Beautiful red wine

We carried them back to the small car and thanked the owner. 

House father just looked at me and smiled…

Sitting at the cafe I realize it was time to leave for home

Or at least where I was currently staying

I picked up a delicious sandwich from the cafe to take home

Where my German roommate would probably be

We could hang out with some tea

As I make my way through the streets

Where there was little room for big cars

I could smell bread cooking through open windows

Passing another “bar” with rich coffee seeping out the doorways where 

Shop owners stood, long white aprons flowing

Arms tucked behind them as they nod to me

Buona sera, signorina, Good evening, miss

Above me there were always signs that

Laundry was completed because the hanging blankets from window sills

Flapped in the wind. Fresh sheets, linens, pants, blouses

And even some underwear dangled precariously

I smiled. I feel so present, so alive in that moment

I begin to eat my sandwich on the way, I couldn’t wait til I got home

She won’t mind

Prosciutto, cheese, hard bread, the saltiness of the ham 

Delicious and nourishing

The bells from the closest church begin to ring, back and forth

Back and forth, back and forth until it told the precise time

I breathed in deeply, I breathed out with confidence. I feel

Like there was nothing to be worried about today. Not thinking about anything

Else other than my physical sensations of walking home.

Experiencing the place that I currently call home, my mind full

From the teachings of my school

We read another few chapters from this book from southern Italy

Written in the 1940s in a dialect that I also learned along side 

Classic Italian or Italian from Central Italy, Florentine, beautifully

Spoken, eloquent, elegant, and made you want to listen to them

Speak for hours on end.

Southern Italian was similar in comparison to how American English 

Changes when you visit the southern United States back home

Words are abbreviated, words meaning different things, words combined

Beautifully converted to another word that was almost easier to pronounce

Different names and landscapes, fisherman, changes in cuisine

Ocean stories, speaking a little bit slower, 

darker skin more frequent compared to the north

The book was a rich study of southern culture here

I look forward to another day of reading this book 

on the hill beyond the school where I write daily

What time is it? I don’t care. 

What a glorious clear dark blue sky, turning colors and transforming

Into night

Pleasantly coaxing me towards the apartment

I reached for my key to let myself in

And wait for my friend

One last tea before bed, I write in my journal 

Buona notte, good night

Blessed be.

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