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Our Travels: A Journey of the Heart

Earlier this week we arrived back home in Asheville after a mesmerizing three-month sojourn in enchanting Italy. The beauty, history, and magnificence of this remarkable country have left an impression on me that will forever hold a special place in my heart. And, as I reflect on my time there, I find myself feeling strangely conflicted. For as much as I loved Italy and what we saw there, I was nagged by this feeling that I was missing something.

As I stood in the heart of Venice I was captivated by its grandeur. I was struck by the intricate lacework of canals, the never-ending winding roads and alleyways, and the echoing laughter from the vibrant piazzas. My eyes drank in the magnificent spectacle, and my mind marveled at the historical splendor. Yet, as awe-inspiring as it was, I found that Venice touched my head but not my heart.

The same rang true as I walked the rustic cobblestone lanes of Florence, admiring the Renaissance masterpieces soaring above me, and when I savored the gastronomic delights in the bustling markets of Bologna. These cities, steeped in history and culture, were undeniably beautiful. But for some unexplainable reason, they didn't enthrall my heart as much as they did my senses.

So, what was I missing?

Travel is often thought of as a journey of discovery: an exploration of the world's wonders that has the potential to leave us in awe. We marvel at architectural masterpieces, admire breathtaking landscapes, and immerse ourselves in cultural spectacles. And while these experiences can be profoundly inspiring, they don't necessarily always resonate on a deeper, emotional level. They certainly engage our minds, but not always our hearts.

There is a stark difference between admiring a place and feeling a connection to it. A connection is something visceral, something that tugs at your heartstrings and leaves a lasting impact long after you've said goodbye. It makes you want to return. It's a sense of belonging that fills you with warmth and makes a place feel like a second home.

Resonance, in its purest form, is an emotional bond - a sense of unity with a place (or person) that transcends physical attractiveness or intellectual appeal. It's when a city's rhythm matches the beat of your heart, or when the local ethos echoes your own. It is an alignment with your inner being.

While one person may find solace in the bustling streets of New York, another might feel at home in the serene mountains of Switzerland. Both are magnificent, but the personal resonance they hold differs from person to person.

Through our travels I have come to understand and appreciate the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler. A tourist admires. . . a traveler connects. A tourist checks off landmarks on a list. . .  a traveler immerses in the local way of life. A tourist captures memories in photographs. . . a traveler etches them in their heart. Carla and I are travelers.

As travelers, we seek more than just to see the sights; we yearn to have experiences that align with our essence. We look for places that, while maybe being new and unfamiliar, feel strangely comforting and welcoming. We seek the resonance that transforms our journey into an experience of the heart.

Our journey through Venice, Florence, Bologna, and the rest of Italy was unforgettable. We relished each moment, marveling at the architectural splendors, soaking in the rich culture, and indulging in the culinary delights. But while we found these cities magnificent, they didn't stir our hearts the way both Spain and Greece did – our “soul” countries. We felt more like tourists.

To love a city is one thing; to have it touch your heart and soul is quite another. It’s easy to feel the magic of a place, to even fall in love with a place, but what I’m talking about goes deeper than that – it’s about having a place touch not just your heart, but every fiber of your being. It’s not unlike love between people that often defies logic and reason. It's no wonder then that when it comes to choosing a life partner, simply ticking off boxes on a checklist isn't enough. You could find someone who aligns perfectly with your list of desired traits, but still fail to fall in love with them. Connection runs deeper than any list of desirable traits. Love is more than just a checklist, and that is true whether we are discussing people or the places we visit.

But still, as I bid arrivederci to this extraordinary country, I carry with me not just the stamp on my passport but a treasure trove of memories that will forever enrich my life's narrative.

Travel, at its core, is a deeply personal endeavor. It's about finding a connection, a resonance that echoes within your soul. It's about places that touch not just your head, but your heart as well. And while every destination may not strike that chord, the quest for it makes the journey worthwhile.

So, here's to the journeys that captivate our hearts and the places that become a part of us. Here's to the magnificence we admire, the resonance we seek, and the unending quest that is travel.

* I will be taking a “blogging break” for a couple of weeks to enjoy family and friends during the holiday. I will resume the blog in mid-January, with plenty more of Italy to write about.

I wish you all a joyous and peaceful holiday season. Whether you're gathering around the Christmas tree, lighting the Hanukkah menorah, celebrating Kwanzaa, or welcoming the Winter Solstice, may your celebrations be filled with love, laughter, and the warmth of family and friends.

Thank you for being a part of our journey this year. We look forward to sharing more adventures with you in the coming year.

Happy Holidays and a Spectacular New Year!

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