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Vacation in Italy: Feast and Famine

Posted on October 22nd, 2013

Geri is my guest blogger today as we just returned from our 2 weeks in Italy. The following are her reflections from her blog:

I loved our vacation in Italy. It was my third time and hopefully will not be my last.

It’s a kind of magical place with so much beauty, culture and incredible food at your fingertips. It’s a place I want to return to to introduce others to its magic – pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets, hikes over mountains through vineyards and olive groves high above the sea, stops at ancient villages to rest and sip cappuccino, rolling Tuscan hills dotted with terra cotta villas and cypress trees, a place where wine costs as much as water, where thousands of years of history can be experienced, where our villa apartment has been family-owned for nine hundred years, where fantastic bread and cheese is always a few steps away, and the gelato is indescribable.

But Italy seems to have a double personality. Although rich in history, rich in natural resources, rich in culture, it seems sadly lacking in other very important ways.

Pete and I spent our time in the Ligarian and Tuscan regions – but the sentiments we heard expressed by Italians about the rest of Italy seem universal, “We love our country, rich and gifted in many ways, but we have sleepless nights about Italy’s future.” We too felt something remiss. For us there seemed to be a spiritual deprivation, a lack of connection between this incredible land and its Creator, God.

For years I looked longingly at those magazine pictures of the Tuscan countryside and I too read Under the Tuscan Sun. After having spent most of our vacation among locals, however, the curtain was pulled back removing any romanticized illusions of, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live here?” Our Italian friends’ gripes came from an unstable government and economy that left them feeling very anxious about future economic security, both for them and their families. It seemed liked every person had their regular job plus another job or two on the side, “just in case.”

Additionally, while Italy filled our hearts and bellies with its beauty and food, we could not find any thriving spirituality. I’m aware that there is spiritual vitality in places and among people in pockets in Italy, but our search for a church to attend in the areas we vacationed was disheartening. Also, although Italy has so much RICH Christian art, history and architecture, there seems to be a disconnect between art and spirituality, past and present. This was a tragedy for us. We know experientially how art can bring one to God, yet not one tour we participated in veered from the historical or technical explanation. Each tour left me longing for something more…more connection to the God who the art was about.

Italy, the beauty and the beast, the feast and the famine. I hope to return to enjoy the fruit of this incredible country once again. I also hope for a greater spiritual awakening that enables many more in this country to know God’s purpose for their lives and connect the riches of this land to Him.

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