What do you bring back from your travels?
I always bring too many books (as if such a thing existed). This time, that includes The Reluctant Tuscan, by Phil Doran (autographed, as he was one of the speakers in Matera; he is a gifted speaker and his book sounds very funny); Villa Serena, Falling in love, Italian Style, a novel from the UK by Domenica De Rosa, The Gift, by Lewis Hyde, a book about creativity which looked really great and didn’t capture me when I first tried it, and another book about an expat, Remedy, by Anne Marsella, also purchased in the UK, where fantasies of running away to Spain or Italy or Corisca (notice the sunny theme) are very popular. I started Villa Serena and it’s lots of fun, though I had to put it aside until I finish my column for the month.
My father reminded me before I left that his birthday is coming soon. So, I found him something really cool (I can’t tell you what it is yet, but trust me, it’s good). For my mother, it’s always foodstuffs, which this time includes tomato chutney from a roadside stand in Kent. For my boys, I planned to bring back Italian shirts, but since Boy #2 is nearly 6’5" and CR (runner man, remember) is an Italian size Large, there was no finding a shirt for Miles. Ian, however, should go to Italy to buy all of his clothing. He has a hard time finding shirts that fit him properly, but a good visit to Rome or Milan would do the trick.
For myself, I bought dry-cured olives in Matera, and saved the notepad from the hotel, and Christmas cards for my friends that show Vita’s writing tower. Also at Sissinghurst, I bought lavender stuffs and the beautiful wooden apple and pear in the photo.
But by far my favorite souvenir is my teaspoons, the very small spoons you find for stirring tea all over the UK, as ordinary as dirt, but do not seem to be readily available here. I’ve been wanting some for ages, and it was great fun to go into a department store in Maidstone and pick out a dozen, all in different patterns, to bring home. CR’s mother Gina, bemused and amused at my delight, dug in her kitchen drawer and found six more, all given away with tea or coffee (she couldn’t remember) and I brought those home, too.
I also brought back a very touristy thing, a calender with Rome and cats (so sue me–it’s really cute), and we bought a handmade clock with dogs on it for our sitting room.
And here, to document the many, many, many miles we walked: a photo of my very chipped and demolished pedicure the last day while we were waiting for a ride from Sissinghurst. I wish I’d had a pedometer. I’ve walked a lot of miles on holidays in the past, but this one takes the #1 spot for now.
What do you bring back? Earrings? Toys?