It is, of course, the season of giving. But it is also the season of receiving for, while I love to give, I also have come to understand it is just as important to be able to receive. So, in this season, I am led to reflect on all the receiving we do when we are on our trips in Orvieto each spring and fall.
One of the reasons to travel is that it is a tremendous way to learn – not just about the places you visit, but about yourself. It is through contrast that we see ourselves more clearly. One reason I love staying in one place for a week so much is that you have the time to truly recognize and think about the contrasts. If you rush from place to place when you travel, you are so busy keeping your schedule that you don’t have time to observe deeply, to interact in a meaningful way with others, to get to know a place.
When we travel to Orvieto we have the time to observe, interact and get to know. And what I recognize in this season of giving and receiving is how much people in Orvieto give us and those who travel with us – how much we receive.
It is hard to describe, nay, it is impossible, to relate the warm, open welcome and honest hospitality we receive from so many people in so many ways. Here is a sampling.
- The convent Bed and Breakfast at which we stay is a nest, a retreat, a nurturing home. Without fail we are treated to some incredible, delectable food prepared by the hands of our hosts. But what stuns and humbles us is the loving, joyous welcome they provide.
- Across the street from the B&B Alberto works in his ceramic shop named “The Court of Miracles.” He puts down his work whenever we walk by to talk with us and share insights on life and living in Orvieto. Alberto is in charge of preparing the 400 museum-quality period costumes worn in Orvieto’s most important community celebration, a job he has to perform for weeks in advance, every night from after dinner until late into the night. What does he do during this most intense and busy period of his year? He invites our groups to a personal tour of the costumes he is readying.
- Erika, nearly 50 years as an American ex-pat in Orvieto, married an Italian, raised her children in Orvieto. She offers her time, her car, her insights and knowledge so we are better prepared and ready for our guests. She selflessly gives of her time to our groups, and acts as translator whenever we need it.
- Vicenzo, the dentist who pays a house call on a moment’s notice because one of our guests has a toothache.
- Pier Giorgio, incredibly busy as the director of Slow Cities headquartered in Orvieto, inviting us into his home for an aperitif and dessert, and inviting us to countless events in Orvieto open only to native Orvietani.
The list and gestures goes on and on. And so this season it is with true humbleness that we reflect on the receiving we do in Italy. We receive and those who travel with us receive as well. How lucky is that?