La Dolce Vita
ITALY. We went to Sardegna, Italy. The entire experience was worth all the effort that went into it, and we can’t wait to go back again. It really was one of the highlights of my life. It was a beautiful place, but we’ve been to a lot of beautiful places. It was Elena and her family that made it such as special occasion. The ocean was bluer, the sun was brighter, and food was better, the people were more hospitable, and we were treated with all the kindness and consideration in the world. We were there just long enough for the place to become our place, for the people to become our family, and now every day Mason asks if we can go back to Elena’s house. Thanks to Ellen Carlson for traveling with us and bringing her joy and sense of humor to every situation. I couldn’t/wouldn’t have made the trip without her. Ellen started off by over packing and sure enough her suitcase was lost. It took three days for the airline to track it down and deliver it to Siniscola. Our stroller was also lost. And carrying around a toddler for over two weeks was tiresome. However, on our way back home, I found the stroller in the Frankfurt airport. The special agents took me into a locker with row upon row of lost items. Everything seemed to be sorted by date. I could never have imagined so many lost items. Thousands? Over a million? Unbelievable. Our flight went from Minneapolis to Frankfurt, the Frankfurt to Olbia. Once we landed at Olbia, we were escorted by Elena and Pierre Carlo to their country house in Siniscola. We rested a few hours and then went to Elena’s brother’s restaurant, Il Moletto. Everything and everyone we met was just as Elena had described it/them. She loved her family and Sardegna so much, she had spent hours talking to me about each person. All her family members came to the house several times to visit. They would bring fresh fruit, special Italian food, and treats. Elena’s mother, Pina Lutzu, cooked fabulous food. She was working, but she would come home and cook, and took time out of her busy schedule to take us to the beach, La Caletta, Santa Lucia, and Il Moletto. Maria Giovanna Lutzu is an angel. She arranged tours for us, shuttled us around, and facilitated the most unforgettable experience by having her cousins come out and dress Audrey in the Sardegna folk costume. The photos we took of Audrey were fabulous. Mason had a special relationship with Elena’s grandmother, Nona Maria Asunta. She always had pieces of candy with her, and she was able to draw Mason and Audrey in quickly. One of the most memorable moments was when we were huddled on the stairs along a narrow road by the city center waiting for the Procession of San Giovanni to begin. We heard the church bells ringing, and we saw people in folk costumes lining up for the parade. Then out of the church came the people of the parish, and Elena’s grandmother was in the front with the priest. She saw us and walked over and touched us. What a sweet and tender gesture. She spoke no English, and no one in the family but Elena did, still it seemed that we always found a way to communicate. Everywhere we went, we ran into people who recognized us because of the pictures Elena had posted on social media. Audrey was an Instagram celebrity, and really everyone wanted a picture with her. She seemed to enjoy the attention even if it took her a little time to warm up to people. People everywhere found Audrey to be adorable, and people approached her constantly to talk with her and speak with us about America. I even had a woman from Brazil talk to me about adoption in the U.S. We were on a yacht, and she had so many questions for me, she went and found two young girls from Rome to translate for her. Every day in Italy was special. I’ve been asked many times if I had a favorite experience. I do not. I loved eating with Pina and Pierre Carlo. I loved seeing Franca put lotion on Audrey. I loved seeing Anna Laura and Christina playing with the kids. I loved the cocktails and special food and Il Moletto (even though I don’t like sea food). I loved eating pizza with Anna and Eleanora, and I loved to see Ellen shopping and flirty with all the men she met. Mason and Audrey were genuinely happy. They were troopers. I had worried about how Mason would do, but he was great for the most part. He did have it in his mind that we owed him a new toy each day, and he sat down in the street a few times in protest until he got his way or his toy. Audrey doesn’t ask for anything. She plays with whatever she finds. Still she got a new doll, a purse, some hats, a t-shirt, and probably more. My best momentos are my pictures and the little souvenirs given to us by family members. I especially love the ceramic chicken that Maria Giovanna gave to me. She was so generous, and she said she hoped we will always be friends. I hope so, too. And I hope they all come to America. Salute to our Italian family. We love you Elena. We’ll have a crème soda waiting here for you.