It is with great difficulty that I write this post. In fact, this is attempt number 2 at blogging on Udine. Never did Jase or I imagine that we would become so emotionally connected to near strangers in an unknown land, yet after not even spending half an hour with our family in their house we felt like we were at home with people we had known our entire lives. So, as you can imagine, emotions are running high as I reflect on our time there.
We arrived at the Udine bus station after a bus trip through breathtaking countryside. We caught a train from Vienna to Villach, a town on the border of Austria and Italy, and from there the bus. Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by Daniele and his daughter Serena and then driven to their house in the village of Zompitta, not too far out of Udine.
Over the next 10 days we relaxed, ate, drank and toured the surrounding countryside. But our stay in Udine was never about tourism. Yes, during those days we were driven around to many beautiful villages however it wasn’t so much the sites we were seeing that made it an amazing experience, more the people we were sharing our time with. Whether it was watching Daniele make use of his Italian/English dictionary, listening to Claudio speak Italian and Andrea do his best to translate, or enjoying the beautiful scenery of the mountains with Giuliano, sharing time with the family was the most wonderful time we have had on our trip so far.
I have so many fond memories of our 10 days in Udine that I am finding it difficult to gather my thoughts and articulate them clearly. I close my eyes and remember. I can see Serena sitting on the couch using her laptop, or Ombretta standing at the stove making us more tea. I can hear us all sharing a laugh over “terramoto”, “ecco” or any of the other little jokes we had. I can feel the strong embraces of everyone as they greeted us at our welcoming dinner and as they said goodbye on our final night. I can taste all the coffee and vino we drank and all the tears we shed as we said our final emotional goodbyes at the train station.
The sense of belonging and attachment Jase and I feel towards the people and town we have just experienced has completely taken us by surprise. My words will never adequately explain how I am feeling or our time in Udine, so for now a rough quote from a conversation we had with Claudia on our final night will have to suffice. As we spoke about how connected we felt to everyone and the country, Claudia said that it’s as though there is a part of your heart on the other side of the world. And I guess that does sum up what I am feeling. As I sit here with tears swelling in my eyes, thinking of the father, mother, sister and extended family I have left behind, I really do feel as though a part of me will always belong in Udine.
To my fabulous Italian family; thank you so much for opening up your homes and your hearts to welcome both Jason and I into your lives. We feel so privileged to be able to experience Italian living first hand with you all, an experience we will always treasure and hold close to our hearts. We look forward to seeing you all again and want you to know that just as you were so generous with us, we will be with you. If we don’t see you in Udine first we await your visit to our home in Australia.