Saying Goodbye in Italy is Never Easy
I always say I’ve fallen madly in love twice in my life… The first time was 20 years ago when I met my husband on a blind date, and the second time was three years ago when I stepped off the plane into the magical land of Tuscany. I guess you can call that a blind date as well. As my two-week sabbatical came to an end I found myself missing my loved ones and already missing the country that I had come to love. When my driver Dejan, who is now a dear friend, picked me up from my hotel to bring me to the airport the crying began.
On the drive we passed the majestic cypress trees, the sun bleached terra-cotta rooftops, and the miles and miles of vineyards. Thoughts of, “will I ever see this again and if so when would I be back?” flooded my mind. As the tears rolled down my face Dejan attempted to divert my attention by telling me he was on a new diet in which he already lost five pounds in a week. “What kind of diet is that?” I asked. “Oh, the diet that you make the soup filled with cabbage,” he replied. “The cabbage soup diet?” “Si, si that is it, Cabbage Soup!” Who could possibly resist laughing at an Italian living in the land of food and wine on the infamous American Cabbage Soup diet? However, that was only a momentary lapse in the tear storm. I continued to cry during the entire 11-hour flight to Orlando (that poor man in the seat next to me). Three years later saying goodbye has gotten easier, however it is never a short or simple task.
When the Italians bid you farewell, it is never just, “Ciao.” Whether in person or on the phone it’s “Ciao, Ciao, pause… ok, ok, Ciiiaaaooo…” One of my most cherished friends in Italy, photographer extraordinaire, Silio Dante, takes the lyrics of Michael Jackson’s song, “Never Can Say Goodbye,” to heart. The end of the phone call starts out like this: “Ok honey, Ciaoo,” says Silio. “Ciao, Silio,” I reply. “I looovvee you honey, tio amo, amore mio, ciiaaooo,” says Silio. “Awww… ti amo, amore mio, I love you too!” I say. “I miissss youuu hoonneeyy, ciaoooo…” replies Silio. “I miss you too, ciao!” I reply once again. At the risk of boring you I will just say this same script repeats itself for about five more minutes until I hang up the phone in the middle of that last, “Ciiaaaooooo.” I hate to do it, however those international minutes are ticking by on my cell phone. This story is a testament to Italy’s passion-filled people that live life with their hearts. It is also the reason I knew I had to return and establish the beginnings of a life in the birthplace of my father, grandparents and ancestors. So when planning for a departure from Italy, please remember to allow an extra five minutes for a goodbye you will never forget. Ciiiaaaooo,…Ciiiaaaooo…Ciiiiaaaooo……………..Ciao!