Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Souvenir shrine, or what I bought in Italy

My favorite post-Italian trip ritual (outside of crying and lamenting my exile) is to lay out my souvenir haul on a table and arrange the items for a “group photo.” Yep, a group photo of my souvenirs. It’s essentially a tiny, secular shrine to all the things I love about Italy. Probably sounds sad!

Odd thing is that in my post-trip melancholy, I find that seeing the little bits and pieces of Italy I’ve cobbled together to bring back gives me a tiny jolt. Right now, in particular, a steady bolt of vacation memory euphoria comes my way every time I catch sight of a small ceramic wine carafe decorated with an image of grapes that we bought in Vieste, in Puglia’s Gargano peninsula. Essentially my life depends in this moment on its beauty, on how lucky I feel that I persuaded Mike we could fit it into the suitcase.

Also a set of "Buongiorno" coffee cups. The “O” at the end is actually a little picture of the sun! Dying over here right now from the Mediterranean madness for quaint and picturesque.

And a beautiful picture of Florence – is it an engraving? Not sure how to describe it. And many many other things, including books, of course (Rossella Milone’s Cattiva AND a book of poetry Edith Bruck gave me as a gift and finally Sciascia’s book about the Aldo Moro kidnapping); magazines, the weekly puzzle magazine Italians are crazy for (not the only weekly puzzle book for sale at the giornalaio, if you can believe it! Not even close); a Florence coloring book of important paintings from the Uffizi (for Leo, though I can attest it will satisfy big colorers, too), plus two baby bottles of wine from Puglia (which is to say bottles of wine that are small, not baby bottles you might give to a baby) and a quartino wine carafe, like you get in a trattoria.

Putting the two wine carafes aside, the items I prize most whenever I return from Italy are inevitably made of paper. The books, the magazines, the Florentine paper. I even bought a roll of paper with the Florentine giglio to line dresser drawers and kitchen shelves. And I am not even thinking of all the little receipts and business cards and brochures I tucked into my purse and which followed me home. As they did last year; the bag of receipts from Torino is still sitting in my closet. If I were to look at them, I would find -- like Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs -- a trail of the places I visited.

So there you have it – my souvenir group photo. Holding onto the trip by gazing at my shrine.

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