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The Magic of Traveling in Italy

Editors Note: Lake Wales resident Mike Spotswood and his wife Irene are avid travelers. Their frequent journeys through Italy have inspired many of their friends to "get off the beaten path" as well. This short story gives us a hint of the joy they find in travel.

The village of Proceno sits high on a hill removed from the worn and trotted tourist trails of Italy. The winds carry centuries of conversations between the narrow streets as whispers of times past. It is early spring and the morning fog lifts reveling vistas of far away towns perched on the sides of cliffs bathed in streaks of sunlight dancing across thousand year old tile roofs.

I left my watch on the bed side stand as, in Italy, time does not have to be measured in blocks or segments of a hectic working day.

Proceno is a small village of 500 people in the Lazio region of Italy, about 125 kilometers north of Rome. This village is essentially removed from the wired hectic world I have grown accustomed to. Proceno has no significant landmarks or major works of art to attract tourists, yet it is special, as its beauty lies in its serenity, a place were one can unplug and enjoy the sound of silence. It's a wonderful base to explore towns like Orvieto, or Bolsena, a wonderful picturesque lake town less than 30 minutes by car.

Proceno is a favorite with hikers and bikers, who appreciate its raw beauty and authenticity. This whole area is drenched in a rich Etruscan history. We toured Savona's tombs, dating back over 2300 years. Pitigliano, Sorono, Savonoa, and other Etruscan villages and towns lie in rows like shiny medals proudly displayed on the chest of ancient Etruscan warriors.

The owner of this quaint apartment where we are staying told us "Don't worry about the keys, as we are all family here," Her statement codifies why I want to be here. A few decades ago I grew up in a similar town where you didn't lock your doors, as neighbors were like family looking out for one another.

Traveling the back roads of Italy, touring the small towns and villages with their bakeries and small shops, their town squares they call piazze, recreates a sense of community, an echo of a time when I was so young, a time when the summer sun was so strong and bright. My senses were alive with the smell of fresh rain, and youth was a tight white canvas waiting for your imagination to splash it with patterns of vibrant colors.

When I was young I always made sure to watch "On the Road" with Charles Kuralt on CBS. He always closed his show with "I wonder what is around the next bend?" Tomorrow, when I leave Proceno, I will ask the same question.


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