Traveling in Italy; Food, Art & Family HistoryKristen Dettoni
Growing up one of three girls, time alone with my mom was not something that came in big doses; but was always savored. Our interests didn’t always align perfectly, but browsing through dusty antique stores or wandering through museums were always activities we could count on doing together. So when we first started thinking about traveling somewhere together, Italy felt like the natural choice. Traveling with my mom in Italy would have history and culture, as well as family history we wanted to discover.
I’ve always felt like my creativity came from my mom’s side of the family. Her father was a sculptor and my great-uncle a painter. In fact, one of my great uncle’s paintings hangs in my bedroom. It’s a small painting of a narrow street, with a wall on one side and homes on the others. An archway covers the road, with a passthrough on top, connecting the house to whatever is on the other side of the wall. I had recently learned that this same great-uncle had a painting hanging in a small museum in Coreglia, Italy, and I had to see it in person. Thankfully, mom was game for the adventure.
Together, we spent a week exploring Tuscany from a beautiful country villa. We learned how to make cheese at Agriturismo Al Benefizio and tasted wine at local vineyards. Other days I wandered taking photos of Cypress Trees and olive groves. In Coreglia, we found the museum I had researched and looked for my great uncle’s painting. It was there, as we’d hoped. As touching as seeing his art on the walls of a museum, was walking the streets that inspired him. Meandering through the narrow alleys of Coreglia, my mom and I were on a mission. I needed to find the spot from the painting that hangs in my bedroom. We searched for the alley with that arch.
Eventually, we found it. Side by side, we stood in the alley and waited until no people were in view and snapped a photo of the scene. As we stood there, I wondered what was it was about this scene that had inspired him. Was it the quality of the light? The color in the buildings? Did someone he loves live there? I’ll never know exactly, but standing in that spot, I felt connected to him as a fellow artist.
My mom has always appreciated art. Even though she doesn’t make it herself, she consistently fostered my creativity. My imagination ran wild as a kid. While I’m pretty sure she was not always thrilled with my habit of stealing all the tape and scissors in the house for an art project, she still gave me space and time to let my creativity flourish. Sometimes that meant going to a museum together, and sometimes it meant believing in me when I wanted to launch my own business. She indulged me in my insatiable quest for craft supplies as a child and my equally insatiable urge to find that Italian alley as an adult.
She may argue that I don’t get my creativity from her, but she definitely gave me my sense of adventure and need to keep exploring. Traveling with my mom in Italy was an adventure neither of us will ever forget.