Friday, 21 November 2014

"The Tourist has returned!" [But I don't want to be a tourist!]

And so was the warm welcome (in quotes) from Pietro as I was back to the studio after a side-trip to Faenza (Region of Emilia-Romagna), ceramics capital of the world. Even if [you think!] you have no interest in ceramics whatsoever, and it takes two trains and over three and a half hours to get there from here, a visit is highly recommended, for Faenza è una città bella! Friendly people, good food, easy navigation, and best of all - hardly any tourists, at least this time of year! It was a bit jarring to be travelling again, going through Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence on the way there and back: "Who are all you people?!?" All of this made me really reflect on a discussion we had last week with Isabella, a ceramics teacher from Insituto Lorenzo di Medici, at La Meridiana with a group of students for the day. It was my good fortune to join them for lunch (prepared by the lovely Alessia, the office assistant), and we were talking about travel and Florence and how, once one has spent any time there, one can really want to call it "my Florence". Isabella observed (paraphrasing!): "You are not a tourist. Tourists come and go and try to see everything in a day but see nothing, because they're too busy taking photos, and trying to see everything. You are a traveller. A traveller takes time to experience the culture, to live in the culture." Yes, even though I have travelled little, I am a traveller. This had already come more clearly to light from the forward in the book, "Betty Woodman. Teatros. Théâtres. Theatres." (2005), which observes that "Any traveler in principle warrants a safe harbour." in discussing that potter's time split between homes in New York and Tuscany: "Two very special places...which evidently feed her creative force." I am blessed to have Ontario and Tuscany, the latter if only fleetingly but more than ever, always with me, travelling.

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