Josh and I first traveled to Italy in 2007 in celebration of our five year wedding anniversary. We had just come out of an incredibly difficult, tearful season of life and we both needed to be reminded of beauty. Of deep rest. Of the simple, meaningful things in life.
It was a whirlwind of a trip. We saw Rome and Florence and stunning Tuscan villages and landscapes. We explored Sorrento and the southern coast, where we first fell in love with the island of Capri. We strolled thru Venice with it's romantic canals and dream-like qualities...
Not only was it precisely the soothing balm we needed, it was love. Italy charmed this romantic to the soul.
Although we had both always loved traveling and exploring, this particular trip enthralled us. Travel became more than a nice thought or occasional goal to aspire to, it became something essential to our growth and purpose. On a final train into Rome to catch our flight home, we looked at each other with a deep knowing that this trip had changed us. God had used it to change us, to open our eyes to possibility and potential. To awaken in us ideas and hopes that would propel us into the future only He could set forth.
It would mean sacrifice and creativity, but we knew innately we would never be the same again. And we haven't been.
Though Europe has continued to draw us back year after year for all of these reasons and more, until most recently we hadn't actually traveld back to Italy. I did meet up with a dear friend in Florence just before getting pregnant with Everyn, but Josh and I hadn't yet been back together.
With a darling girl now opening our eyes to even greater beauty in all things great and small, what better place to begin our adventures as a family than a return to the very place God began birthing this purpose in our hearts?
(sidenote: Though it deserves a post all in itself, I can't stress enough that travel is about far more than simple vacation for us. It changes us, every single time. It shakes out the distraction and busyness and brings incredible clarity to our truest purpose on this planet. Plainly put, it removes us from the day to day and places us in closer proximity, metaphorically speaking, to God. As a couple, we come together and hear Him. See Him. Experience Him. It's an essential compoment to our life and marriage, and precisely the place purpose continues to grow.)
This recent trip was vivid and vibrant, almost alive. We savored deeply and intentionally, drinking in the stunning landscape and warm culture with all it's sights, sounds, and tastes. We moved slowly and deliberately, sleeping late, wandering long, breathing deep. We kept our eyes and ears wide open, being certain to feel every ounce of life pulsing through our veins in any given, simple moment.
We sat long at the waves, long at the table, long on the balcony overlooking the cliffs and islands. We let Ev chase pigeons in open piazzas among smiling passers-by and tolling bells. We smiled as she giggled with little Italians, kicking balls in the shadow of history-soaked cathedrals and feeding fish in ancient fountains.
We delighted in steaming espresso and converastions with locals. We indulged in pastries and gelato to our hearts content, multiple times a day. We asked questions, offered hope, gave thanks. We lived fully present. Fully engaged. Fully alive.
It was humbling. And beautiful.
I'll be sharing specific stories over the next few weeks as I edit thru hundreds and hundreds of photos. Stories that touched me, encounters that wrecked me in the best possible way, travel tips and tricks that make this type of experience possible for anyone, details on the absolutely indescribable B&B where we stayed....
Come along for the journey! I hope you'll find your own inspiration. <3