My father is from the small town of Lucca. He would try to go back every other year or so with my mom. Sometimes he would go back with one of us 5 kids. Sometimes just the two of them. We could never afford to all go at once. But it was a dream of his to take his American family and bring them to Italy so we could all be there together in his beloved homeland.
My father was getting older and his memory was starting to wane. We knew that we needed to go soon. It was early summer in 2007. The craziness that ensured trying to get this all planned was unbelievable. There were passports, plane tickets, sky miles, side trips and reservations. Somehow we got it all worked out.
My parents didn't go on the side trips with us but we were still a lot of people. Restaurants and hotels are normally pretty small in the towns we went to. So when we'd ask for a table for 19 we would watch them scramble but somehow those remarkable crazy Italians would make it work. Sometimes it was a table in the basement but there was always lots of food and wine. Lots and lots of wine.
We visited Florence, Rome, Venice and Cinque Terre. We packed a lot in to the time that we had. How I wish we had more time. The happiness that was on my father's face was the best part. We had a huge family reunion at my cousin's home in the country. We got to know family members that I hadn't seen since I was 12. I was now introducing my own children to them.
It wasn't long after we got back from this glorious trip that my father's memory worsened. He started to forget that we had all gone on this trip with him. The one thing he had wanted for so long. But we all held on to the memories for him. When my father passed away at the beginning of the year, we knew his dream had come true. So I give thanks to my father's dream of us all being together in Italy. It left us all with memories that we will forever have. Memories of being together with la famiglia. With hopes to go back and do it all over again.