Twenty years ago this month, I was on my honeymoon in France and Italy. He had his 30th birthday in Paris and I had my 33rd in Florence. Sounds pretty epic right? Because it was my idea to go to Italy, I had to make all of our lodging arrangements and even my own birthday dinner arrangements using my so-so Italian speaking abilities at a pay telephone in Florence. As we strolled over the Ponte Vecchio bridge, AT twilight, ON my 33rd birthday, he said he wanted a divorce. Ever since that devastating moment, I’ve referred to my 33rd as my crucifixion year. Yes, this happened, you simply cannot make this stuff up. It will be in the book!
From my very short lived, five month marriage, yes… five months, there were a few takeaways: 1) do not marry another artist, 2) do not think you will turn into a pumpkin if you don’t get married by a certain age, 3) this one being of supreme importance, DO NOT get married because your mother wants you to and, 4) learn to love yourself first. Sounds pretty logical. I thought I’d mastered these at the ripe old age of 33 but alas, it was just the beginning of many more lessons to be learned.
I have come to embrace it all with the mindset that every day is a new opportunity and that everything is a miracle. I have pretty much spent the last twenty years '“engaged to myself” and finally, after much hard work and deprivation of vacations, we (me, myself and I), are going on our honeymoon to Italy starting on my ex-husbands 50th birthday! And it’s all because of and, in the name of ART!
On the flight home from Rome, I fantasized of someday returning to reclaim Italy on my own terms as an entirely different older person and that time has arrived. What is now referred to as a “bucket list”, my fantasy was that I’d return for the Venice Biennale for my birthday since part of my honeymoon package apparently did not include visiting Venice or the Biennale - a giant art fair.
As that older and hopefully, wiser self now, I will take cooking classes, tour the Barolo wine region and do many things out of my sphere of art making while inevitably taking in inspiration. I will make pizza in Rome and pasta in Bologna. Tour the Amarone wine trail, see the mosaics of Ravenna and visit the Venetian Islands.
I’ll spend my birthday touring the Jewish Ghetto of Venice for cicchetti (tapas) tastings and wine pairings. Eat chocolate in Turin, salivate over fashion in Milan and visit the actual Bellaggio at Lake Como. There is even an observatory outside of Milan that I may visit where there is a show in English about Atlantis. I think my head will explode!
This trip is a total dream come true, my very own “Under the ‘Piedmont’ Sun” moment (I have seen Under the Tuscan Sun four times AND read the book!) This is an adventure grounded in relinquishing the past but, it is also very much about being in the present to create new memories for my life, for what it has become and is now as a result of the past. I thought to blog while there so I can share all the details however, I’m going to simply just be there. I will share photos and stories on Instagram and post another blog soon!
Art Awaits my Return
I have often said that Art is my other man. I found Art as my calling as a teenager as the result of trauma. Since then, it has been Art that I have fallen back on to get through everything. Art is how this trip has become possible. Art is the well that contains all of my life experiences, good and bad, from which I create. In the face of everything, I put my whole self, my energy and my truth into my Art and good things are now manifesting.
Another thing I’ve learned through my so called “engagement to myself”, is that we must have gratitude for all of our life experiences. Everything we experience has lead us to where we are now. It is all in the stories that we tell ourselves that create our reality. So, when I am in Venice, I will be sure to toast and give thanks for all of the lessons in life that brought me there. I’ll breathe it all in, relinquishing the past while also looking forward to and celebrating with gratitude, my 53rd trip around the sun.
Where I’ll be going: Rome, Bologna, Verona, Venice, Turin, Ravenna, Alba, Milan and Lake Como.
Me and Art, Then and Now
Thank you so much for reading my blog, please feel free to share or comment below with any Italy recommendations or other thoughts you might have. XO - Elise