17 February 2006


Why is it that even when you own a movie on DVD and have seen it a thousand times, when it comes on television suddenly, there’s an insatiable urge to watch it simply because it’s on TV? Or maybe I'm the only one who experiences that.

Under the Tuscan Sun is on ABC Family tonight…and it's appropriate because Jeremy and I just this afternoon confirmed our travel plans to Europe. Perhaps that is my real excuse for being sucked into Diane Lane’s romantic tour of Italy once again. She has wide-set eyes like me.

(I just realized that Sandra Oh who plays the pregnant friend Patty, AND her girlfriend in the movie--whose name I don't know--both play doctors on Grey's Anatomy now. I always think that's interesting when that happens. Makes you wonder if one of them got the job on the show and then said, "By the way, I've got this friend who I was in a movie with once who would be perfect for that part." That has to be how it happens.)

So, I can’t believe we’re actually going to be in Italy in a matter of months, strolling through Tuscany, snapping photos at sunflower fields. I can hardly wait to take Jeremy through Rome. He will love the history—the architecture—Piazza Navona with all its cafés and street musicians and abundant charm.

We’ll spend a few days in Paris first…then cross over to Switzerland for a night or two…and finish up most of the trip in Italy. The plan is to begin in Venice because gondolas and Italy seem synonymous in my mind. Then, onto Cinque Terre for a few days on the beach and hiking around the towns. Next, to Florence, and then Siena where my sister lived for awhile, before we head to Rome. And I guess it’s cliché (or maybe just American) to visit places you’ve seen in movies, but I wouldn’t mind a quick stop through Cortona too. Jeremy is most excited about…well…all of it really. But he keeps mentioning Tuscany with great enthusiasm in his voice. It will all be new to him though.

Most of it will be new to me too, with the exception of Florence and Rome, the latter being my favorite. Never have I consumed so much water as when I was in Rome. For three days alone there, I sat and drank liter upon liter of Pellegrino, scribbled out postcards, read Bridget Jones' Diary on a park bench outside Villa Borghese, and chatted in Spanish with a waiter named Joe who drove a moped. On the day I walked to Vatican City from Piazza Navona, my feet were so tired and blistered I had tears in my eyes. I drank at least a half-gallon of water at lunch that day. It was August. The Pope did not come outside to greet me, or even wave at me from a window.

I remember the night my sister and I arrived in Florence. We were meandering near Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) and someone was playing Italian music on a violin. I looked up and the sky was the color of ink. It was so bluish-black and beautiful that I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. There was a breeze that seemed like it could only belong in Italy. Laura and I talked about what a shame it was that, at least for that moment, we were there with each other instead of a boy, because it was truly the most romantic setting you could think of.

I did not know Jeremy yet, and in that moment I could never have fathomed that I would find someone as amazing as him. I know that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine... but sometimes the reality still blows me away.

I remember sitting on the Spanish Steps one afternoon and thinking it would be nice to be in love. So it's amazing to realize that just a few short years later, I’ll be back on those steps with my sweet husband, and my sister will be at home in Los Angeles rocking her new baby Jake to sleep. Two sisters alone together in Florence that summer, we never would have guessed it all. Funny, it’s just like Frances says in the film (which ended a minute ago)…unthinkably good things can happen. And then she says: "It's such a surprise."

[Postscript: If any fellow European travelers have suggestions on places we must visit, or restaurants and hotels to try, please feel free to chime in with your ideas. Grazie!]


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