I can’t believe it’s been this long … but here I am, in Italy, at last. I finally got over the jet lag and the cold weather and I’m fully enjoying my hometown, Bassano del Grappa, with my family. Last time I was here was over three years ago and I immediately noticed many changes: There are new stores, bars, restaurants, and even a mall which, it’s the perfect copy of any small U.S. shopping center. Even some boulevards and streets have been redesigned and feature elegant roundabouts with flower beds and cyclable pathways. I guess the biggest changes, though, are the ones that I’m seeing in my parents, relatives, and friends — for years, it seemed that everyone was doing the same things, working the same jobs, and living in the same places. This time, though, everything is shaken up; everyone looks a little older, some have babies or are trying to have one, others are about to move to a new house or start a new career. I have mixed feelings of joy, nostalgia, and sadness to realize that I, too, am not getting any younger and the city is growing and becoming a foreign creature that I almost don’t recognize. It’s a somber realization, but also a confirmation that, at the end, people are the ones who make the city and the memories, not the city per se’. My hometown can grow in leaps and bounds, but if my friends don’t change it will always be the same. If my friends change, however, everything will feel and seem different, too.
This doesn’t apply to other cities and towns that surround Bassano: I visited Asolo and it’s just as pretty as I remember it. This charming pearl located on the sweet Trevisian hills, just a few kilometers east of a Bassano, seems unchanged. An enchanting Medieval village with beautiful palazzos and castles, Asolo was built in Roman times and has attracted many artists, poets, and foreign literature personalities throughout the years, including the international acclaimed theatre actress Eleonora Duse (who lived there between 1919 and 1924.) Every time I’m there I discover a new palazzo or architectural detail that I’ve never seen before. This time, I spotted a gorgeous garden on the side of a small road leading up to the historical centre; it’s exquisitely designed with beautiful statues and geometrical shaped bushes overlooking the adjacent rolling hills. Ah, Italy, you never cease to amaze me!