I have always believed that I was born in the wrong era. The fast placed lifestyle; the hustle and bustle and the quantity over quality thing just never resonated with me. Although, now that I lived in Orvieto, Italy, I have come to realize that maybe I wasn’t born in the wrong era at all. Maybe I was born in the right era but in the wrong place. Ever since I arrived in Orvieto I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the extreme curiosity I felt the second my foot touched the uneven, cobblestone ground. The curiosity to explore the city. To understand it and its history. I have spent hours wandering every street and alley allowing the city to speak for itself, to tell me its story. To explain to me how it was able to beat time. How it was able to stay a place where time stands still.
It is Neverland, at least my Neverland.
This Etruscan city situated high up on volcanic tuff called “Tufa,” is a place isolated and its own. Although, the ancient landscape of the town doesn’t beat the old souls that call this place home. They all have a sense of wisdom and knowledge for life that is obvious in their grins. They live a leisurely life that is contagious to anyone who takes the funiculore up from Orvieto scallo.
They are happy.
They live simple lives, a life that I have always wanted to live but wasn’t able to. Los Angeles just doesn’t offer simplicity. They appreciate the beauty of everything. They aren’t looking to rush through anything. They enjoy a nice “siesta” in the afternoon and two to three hour-long dinners with good wine and food and appreciate the company they are surrounded with. Everyone knows each other, every shopkeeper and restaurant owner are friends and more elderly women walk the town arm in arm than I have ever seen.
The windy cobblestone streets lead to houses where flowerpots line the window and where clothes still hang to dry. They lead to restaurants that are still family owned. They lead to Caffè Cornelio where the owner not only comes to work everyday but he is the chef, he opens and closes, he waits on tables and he busses them. Restaurants that serve meals made from recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. They lead to stores that sell Orvieto Classico, the best white wine in Italy, which is produced in the rolling vineyards surrounding these cliffs. They lead to stores like Ceramiche Artistiche “Giacomini” that sells hand-made pottery, painted by the women in the Giacomini family and a few of the other enchanting women that embody Orvieto.
They lead to places that have hearts. Places that are different and the same. Places that mean something, that have personal connections to the people of Orvieto. I envy the culture and lifestyle here. I envy it because it embodies everything good from the past and has acquired everything good from today. It is a contradiction of antiquated and contemporary, a paradox of “now and then” and a throwback to lucid times.
I traveled alone to Orvieto but I was rarely lonely. It is near impossible to be lonely in a place with such heart. I did not know much about Orvieto before I came but I will be leaving it in debt from the amount I have grown living here. I am not a believer in chance encounters and every path I crossed in Orvieto taught me a lesson to carry with me on my own journey. There is nothing better than solo travel because it opens you up to meeting people along the way. It takes you out of a life of comfort out of the limits and boundaries you have set for yourself and forces you to do things that you may have never been able to. For the first time, my life, my decisions were fully my own, not based on the influences of my friends or family, and that was the most liberating. If anything you have to put yourself in new, daunting, and uncomfortable situations to truly grow.
Although I was alone in Orvieto, I was rarely lonely. And when I was lonely, it was because I chose to be and that choice I have learned is a beautiful thing. My time has come to an end in this beautiful Neverland, in Italy’s best-kept secret, but I will not say good-bye because in the words of J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan himself said;
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
So I will say this.
I’ll be seeing you.
About the Author: My name is Margaux Reaume and I am currently a senior at the University of Arizona. I am looking forward to receiving my BA in Creative Writing come May and I hope to get a job in publishing.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.