Daniel’s cousin’s cousin, Lucca, met us at Milan airport, his long curls almost shoulder length. We met Lucca and his wife, Sabrina, a few years ago now when they visited Perth and we spent a hot Christmas day in the sun and shade by a swimming pool. There had been a storm last night in Busto Arsizio but today the sun was shining and, as we’d arrived at 8am, the town was slowly waking up. Luca drove us to the train station where he helped translate to buy a train ticket back to Milan then out to Riomaggore. In his car was Luca’s wife, Sabrina, who was very happy to see us again, and his younger brother, Daniele. It’s been 26 years since my last Italian language class so I kept up with none of the conversation, picking up only 1 in 20 words that sounded familiar but weren’t actually. For example, Luca showed us human skulls in a crypt below the town church and Sabrina explained something about “pesti” (pestilence, from bubonic plague etc.) but I heard “pesto” (as in Barilla’s pesto Genovese the most delicious sauce in a jar to pour over pasta but feel slightly guilty in doing so because of the CEO’s homophobic public statements). Daniele explained what looked like profiteroles were called bigne and I got chocolate and custard on my face.
Our 3 hour transit and quickly family catch up ended too soon, and I felt the familiar pang of having to say goodbyes, not knowing when or if we’d ever see each other again. Despite feeling well travelled now (we’ve only packed carry on for the entire two weeks overseas) it never gets easier to have to say goodbye.
We’re on the train to Milan now. The ticket checking person has already gone by and perforated our hardcopy tickets, which had been hand stamped and initialled at the station when we’d left. Daniel is looking very sleepy. I hope when we get to Riomagore in 4 hours that we can check in to our accomodation and succumb to a quick nap. I’ve only had maybe 5 or 6 hours sleep in the past 30 hours. It’s a new country and there is just so much to see.