For my 50th birthday my husband took me to Italy for a treat. We went to Umbria which is billed a a quieter version of Tuscany and so it was.
It was beautiful and I learned how to smile again. Our hotel was on the top of a hill and it had been an old castle. The views were the most wonderful thing. You could see for miles: olive groves, woodlands, farmland right down in the valley and mountains in the distance. It was a perfect landscape – a little bit of everything. The hotel grounds were full of birds singing away until the evening. Every day was sunshine but one when it rained. I loved it.
We went on lots of outings in the hire car to smart mediaeval towns full of flowers. We ate some amazing lunches. Italian gelato is exquisite, absolutely nothing like British ice cream. I must learn how to make it. We don’t eat meat but the rich farmland meant there were lots of vegetable dishes to choose from.
There was something special about the area. Pilgrims come from all over the world to the shrines of St Francis. Many saints had made their homes here in the past, living in caves in the hills. I could see why. There was a spiritual quality to the place, particularly on the high ground which I hadn’t felt since the West Highlands. You can feel close to God here.
I felt far from the cares of my life. I could feel the weight of my depression leaving me and even my constant sinusitis got better. I ate too much and drank too much and delighted in everything. On the last evening I sat on the terrace and tried to imprint the view on my brain so that I could remember it back in dreary old England.
Of course you cannot be on holiday forever though I wish you could. I need to incorporate at least some aspects of the trip into my life. I have concocted an ambition to have a little albergo in the hills of Umbria and have people to stay. It would be wonderful. It can be my goal.
Already back in England I can feel the weight returning so I must fight to remember how life can be. I must think of Italy when the shadows come. One day I will get there.