Woke up 6am, my head was about to explode with a terrible headache. In the darkness of the room, I wasn’t sure if I was still in Italy?…Paris? or Palm Springs?…As I turned around and found my daughter Vicki sleeping next to my pillow, I remember it will be another day with my children here in Palm Springs till they both leaving for schools tomorrow.
Though I knew it would be impossible for me at that time to fall back to sleep, but since it was too early for me to get out of bed with the jet-lag start to kick in, so I just lay there and let my mind flying back to the recent past three weeks we had.

On the flight from Zürich to New york, I watched a movie called “Midnight in Paris”, it tells the story of an American writer traveling to Paris with his soon to be wife and her family. During his short stay there, the beauty of the century-old European cultures, particularly French’s literature, and the poetic rainy days in Paris captured his heart. At the end, he decides to part with his American woman and stays in Paris as the closing end showing him and a new friend he made at a street market, a simple young French girl in contrast with his gorgeous ex fiance’, walking side by side in the rain in Paris. It was a very poetic and sensational movie. Not just I like the music, the acting, the beautiful customs, the picturesque and romantic scenes of France, but the morality of the movie reminds me a lot of my emotion and the days we had in Italy.
Yes, it’s true that if you ever have a chance to be in Europe, no matter if it’s France, England, Spain (a friend of mine just came back from Madrid and he absolutely loves it!), or Italy…your heart will melt with the romantic rhythms of life here. You will be surprised how such a simplicity can make your day so loving and worth living for like riding on a bike with a friend to get some fresh breads for that evening’s menu: “Branzino con le Patate alforno” (Baked Seabass with potatoes) and stop by a local stand on the street to buy the morning newspapers. Then, pick some fresh tomatoes, basils, veggies from the garden and chat with a neighbor who happens to have a big local restaurant down the street.

It’s a never ending love’s affair of mine to stroll up and down and around the cities, the ancient villages, the green vine hills, the vast fields of rice, corn and sun flowers…and in between, stop by the bars along the way to catch some gelato, Crodino (a very popular biter sweet drink of the day) chatting with good friends and then shop for the dinners at local markets.
It takes very little here and not too much effort to be happy. Because, everyone here is surrounded with family(s) and friends. And I mean sometime too much of it!…It’s a very closed circle of family environment and well connecting friendships, no matter how busy each life evolves. I have seen sister with sister and their friends going out and dancing together at the weekend, friends supporting and helping friends to win at a local song contest event; Neighbors next doors coming over in the back yard for the afternoon cappuccino and snacks; family getting together at Sundays for the “Pranzo” (huge!) and telling each other the jokes, the stories of the week till the sun goes down…Yes, on the very tiny television set in their very little kitchens they watch the news reporting the economy recession, the up and down market, the wars, the revolutions, the world tragedies…But Europeans still live on with full passion for life and with forever advancing spirits, nevertheless, not too much demanding.

Yesterday, it took us a complete twenty four hours to come back home to Palm Springs from Malpensa, Italy (plus fourteen hours from Los Angeles to Rome)…a very long, long and exhausting journey. But because, each time we visit Italy, it always reminds us of the very short, simple and precious life that we all have. So, yes, we will do it again and again. And may be soon someday, we will make it to London, Madrid and of course, Paris, my dream town since I was a little girl in Vietnam.