The 20 stairs connecting our main living area to the garage provide me a little extra cardio this time of year. Each time we make this trip across the Atlantic, I’m commissioned to drag our three-piece hard-sided luggage set up the stairs only to take at least one back when Jill realizes how far over weight we’ll be if we fill all of them with everything stacked on the bed. She is a Master Packer. No one can prepare a suitcase like Jill.
As our traditions in Italy have blossomed over the years, so too has the list of goods needed to keep those customs alive. Early on in our travels to Montanare we learned that America and dear friend Amedeo share the same birthday. The first year we suggested a fun gathering to celebrate the joint occasion. Over the years that fun gathering has grown and has now turned into a village-wide, American style, 4th of July blowout party, complete with a whole roasted pig and everything else you would enjoy at an American 4th of July bar-b-cue.
We carry much of the party’s requirements with us each year. Between the Old Navy, $5 Red, White, and Blue 4th of July shirts that everyone in Montanare now wears like a badge of honor, canned baked beans, brownie mix, and a plethora of anything festive to hang across the courtyard at Ca’ Di Maestro, one entire suitcase is dedicated to this Italian-American celebration. When Daniela was very young, this party suitcase transported all the needed items to keep a toddler alive. Her needs have miniaturized to include electronics, a journal, a bit of 4th grade summer homework, a trinket or two that remind her of life in the free world, and books that may or may not get read in between hours in the pool. My corner of one rolling suitcase hosts just a few critical pieces, including two pairs of walking shorts, a couple shirts to keep my skin from frying under the Tuscan Sun, and too much gear made by Nikon.
There are always those last several items that seem critical, like the mini tripod, another dozen batteries, and that set of shoes I might wear. This year, with my initial voyage to Sierra Leone (Africa) following our few weeks in Italia, it’s easy to pass on that option pile. It turns out that the reason the travel clinic turned my arm into a pin cushion and sent me home with a half dozen travel medications is that just showing up for this trip could kill me. I have medications and remedy’s for nearly any tropical abnormality ever covered in Med School. I know this trip, both to the old country and Africa will be life changing.