Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Returning to Florence after my trip to Matera

Monday, October 1, 2012

One of the things I noticed after one day in Matera was the lack of color and sounds. I had been in Paris for two weeks and then Florence for a couple of days before arriving. In both places, I was inundated with colors and sounds. It was interesting to be in a place that was rather monotonous because I was able to see the beauty in textures, shadows, and the nature surrounding the city. As for sounds, it is now almost shocking now to be back in Florence where sounds encircle me: scooters, buses, and cars pass along the lungarno (street along the Arno river), people talk and laugh in the streets, and the campane (church bells) ring every hour and half hour.

It was the perfect place for the writerís conference because my attention was not diverted by anything else. I was led to feel my way in my new surroundings instead of just seeing them with my eyes. I enjoyed hearing my thoughts more clearly and not being distracted by extraneous noise.

I enjoyed my time in Matera and now that Iím back I almost appreciate it even more. Every day I walked up and down the stone steps, which were at times treacherous because they were slippery. I began recognizing people on the second day I was in Matera. The same vendors would sell their handiwork displayed on tables they set up each morning, the same people frequented the bars we went to, and the same staff was in all the shops and restaurants. It was nice to have such consistency in a new place. Almost as if it were comforting enough for me to immediately feel at home so I could focus on my thoughts and feelings, the conference, and those around me.

The two things I appreciated even more were the sun and the moon. Every morning I watched the sun peek over the other side of the canyon and every evening I looked out for the moon as it rose above the city. Being in Matera for the full moon was absolutely magical. I admired how the sun and moon lit up the clouds and cast different colors on the city. My favorite time to see Matera was at dusk. It had a mystical air about it that sparked something inside of me.

I am, of course, happy to be back in my beloved city, but I enjoyed Matera greatly. Every time I go away, I feel regenerated. Traveling definitely stirs up something inside of me that I thrive on. Itís as if I burst open so that I can experience something new, take what can benefit me, and keep it tucked away inside of me. I definitely returned to Florence with a stronger sense of courage and strength. Not that I lacked either, but a little nudge is always beneficial for me and my life.

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