On a Bridge Walk

Regulars may recall this past post (when I returned from Italy) opening with a picture of my mother standing on a small bridge in her hometown. I eagerly anticipated walking across that bridge toward the apartment and strolling through the city center, but my cousins kept us busy – besides, I started each morning by visiting my aunt.

It was day 8 and my time was running out, so I declared the morning as mine, and solely mine. I was out of the house by 9 AM for my journey, and after a short walk, the bridge stood before me. I quickly saw the sign for one-way traffic, and noticed drivers using is as a shortcut. Knowing the aggressive nature of many Italian drivers, I carefully watched and waited for a few minutes and recognized that alertness would be paramount after crossing the street.

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Suddenly, there I was – standing on the bridge looking around at the fast-flowing stream, the surrounding hills, the valley, the small town of my grandmother above, and the walk ahead – all with tears rolling down my face.

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I walked down the street toward the old apartment building. Besides asphalt replacing gravel, it was just as I remembered – greenhouses were still there, as were some houses, and a large old factory behind the apartment. Some carnation fields were still present, but olive trees now occupied some of their space.

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In a short time, I arrived at the apartment. Today, the U-shaped structure is vacant and the courtyard entrance is blocked – but the blockade did not hinder my view of the third-floor windows (not the top) where I had images of my handicapped uncle spent much of his day – or where my grandmother lowered a basket to receive something from below.

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I climbed a small wall to see the courtyard where I played and the stone opening that led to the walk upstairs. As tempted as I was, I didn’t go further.

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The house across the street still stands, but the small lot of carnations is now a grove of olive trees.

The emotions of this walk along were many as I thought much about my family. I looked at the small village on the hill knowing that my grandmother, an aunt and uncle were smiling from the cemetery I earlier visited – as were the family members from the city cemetery across town.

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On this day, I came, I saw, and left feeling content. Because I had my peace, it was time to continue my walk away from the apartment toward city center. Ciao!

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63 thoughts on “On a Bridge Walk

  1. question about this line: “As tempted as I was, I didn’t go further.” what was tempting you? why didn’t you go further? looking back, was it the better choice to not go further? would you do the same tomorrow?

    • Rosie,
      I was born in Italy, but came to the US and the ripe age of 3 months. At age 5, I returned with my mother for her first return trip, and we stayed 6 months. As I like to say, I arrived knowing no Italian, and left knowing no English. We return as a family in 1964 for a 3 weeks …. and this was my first trip since.

  2. Going back to childhood places is such a strange experience isn’t it. The memories can be overwhelming. My paternal grandfather was Italian, but it’s not a country I’ve really explored, I’ve been twice, but as a child, I really want to explore it more as an adult. I spent a couple of years living in France as a child, and one of those years was in the French Alps in a completely self-sufficient community, just me and my mother and another family, no electricity or anything. I so want to go back and visit that place! I remember it really well.

    • Vanessa,
      I imagine any foreign country is best appreciated by adults. The oldness of Italy catches my eye a great deal!

      Thanks for sharing your personal story about your time as a child in France. If you want to go, I say go because it will serve you well – although it could be so different now.

  3. Amazing. I can imagine how emotional this visit must have been. Incredible how it’s all still there, just in a slightly less lived-in state. Childhood memories can be so vivid xx

    • Spiced,
      The entire trip was full of a wide range of emotions. I was amazed to see it still standing because I know it’s been vacant for some time. Then again, Europeans don’t tear down buildings as Americans do.

    • Cyclist,
      Interesting perspective. As you say in the other post, the trip was sparked by the fact that I have only one left in the family line before me. Thanks for sharing your insight. .. BTW … another walk on Thursday.

  4. I’m glad you were able to find peace on this morning where you went by yourself to your ancestor’s homes. A touching tribute to those who have gone before and beautiful writing, Frank.

  5. This is great meeting and experience. I am glad you did this travel dear Frank. I can almost feel how it was… Of course so touching, emotional but at the end it is a peace in your heart now. Thanks and Love, nia

  6. I got a little teary-eyed myself reading this, Frank! What an important trip this was, and the opportunity to re-visit memories and be in tune with the past was the perfect experience for your Diamond Jubilee! I am so glad that you found the apartment and surroundings recognizable and that everything hadn’t profoundly changed. I’m truly so happy for you!

    • Debra,
      The surroundings hadn’t changed, so everything was easily recognizable. Nonetheless, thanks for letting me know that my emotion came through! Meanwhile, I have another interesting walk for Thursday.

    • Mouse,
      It is a beautiful area … I especially like the surrounding hills with the small villages dotting the landscape. Thanks for coming along … and I’m hoping for another one on Thursday.

  7. Thanks for sharing such a moving personal experience. It encourages me to seek out opportunities to visit places and people from my past.

  8. I am so glad you declared a ‘me’ day Frank.These harvested memories, the walk and visit to your personal history is clearly something your heart needed. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us, both the journey and your emotional response.

        • I read Chris Cuomo … but who knows. SO is a good journalist, too bad … then again, good journalism doesn’t necessarily get ratings … after all, the top morning show is GMA – which does mostly entertainment.

        • chris cuomo, right. i think SO is fine, occasionally pushy but i like that too. this week, slightly darker lipstick. just happened to notice. saw that leather jacket monday. interesting.

  9. Pingback: Flashbacks: About Me | A Frank Angle

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