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Hello and welcome to the Passion for Italy Podcast. This is Lindsay, from the Tampa, Florida office. Come with us this week to Sardinia.
It has been a rough few months, has it not? I have to admit, this week I have been struggling. What can we say during these times? Ordinarily we would be giving you travel tips, places to visit, advice on how to navigate the trains. We’ll get there again, and we all pray it will be soon, but right now, we are hurting. Our friends and suppliers are hurting. As Americans are still prohibited from visiting Italy, I found myself this week wondering what to say, what to focus on. It’s so easy to feel lost with everything going on isn’t it?
We turned on the news one evening this week. I sighed my nightly sigh. Here we go again. More fear. More anger. More uncertainty. More isolation.
But then, my husband picked up his guitar and began to play the first few notes of Spunta la Luna Dal Monte, a song we adore by Andrea Parodi and Pierangelo Bertoli. It’s sung in a mix of Italian and Sardinian. As he played, we looked at each other and immediately, my spirit calmed. I realized, this is why we have to keep going. Because no one can distance us from our dreams. No one can take away the love in our hearts. And no darkness lasts forever.
The lyrics I know by heart filled my mind as he played:
Notte scura, notte senza la sera
Per altre vie, con le mani, le mie
Cerco le tue, cerco noi due
Spunta la luna dal monte
Dark night, night without evening
Defenseless night, warrior night
In other ways, with hands, my own
I’m searching for yours, I’m searching for the two of us.
The moon peaks over the mountain
We learned this song, and many others by Andrea Parodi and Tazenda, the band he used to sing with, after our last trip to Sardinia.
As our boat paused for lunch in the sparkling Piscina di Venere on the Golfo di Orosei, the song came on. It was in my head the rest of our trip until we got home and looked it up to learn all the words.
Spunta la luna dal monte. The moon peaks over the mountain.
Sardinia is the most special place in the world to me.
The year we got married my parents gave Matt and I a mini day by day calendar of Italy. One morning around 5AM I stumbled to the counter and pulled off the previous day’s page. The next one took my breath away. Sardinia, it said. The color of the water jolted me awake before the coffee was finished brewing. I ran in and woke Matt up to look at it, and even though he was groggy and a little confused he agreed it was beautiful and that we should go one day. I carried that photo in my wallet for 4 years while we saved the money for our first trip to Italy together.
Completely unaware of what to expect beyond beautiful beaches, Sardegna was the surprise of our lives. The water in the Golfo di Orosei on the eastern coast I can still feel in my eyes like it burned itself into them. Intense, glowing, sparkling turquoise. The beauty is almost incomprehensible.
Sardinia, however, is more than that. Everyone we met was so incredibly kind. They took the time to talk with us that made us feel like cared, like we had something in common, like we were home.
After we returned from the first trip I actually looked up, “what is it about people in Sardinia?” Turns out that hospitality is part of their culture that is ingrained in the people from childhood. The fact that we felt it without ever being told that is a testament to the warmth of their souls.
The more time I spend there, the more I feel this. We have bonded with people there over our preference of red wine, even if eating fish. Our waitress told us she did too and brought us her favorite local red to compliment both my culurgiones and my husband’s seafood.
At a beach bar before high season we sat and talked with the barman for hours. Drawing a lobster on a paper napkin, he taught us the word for lobster is aragosta and helped Matt choose his own for dinner that night. We dined that evening in paradise as the golden sun sank into the iridescent sea.
D. H. Lawrence wrote in his travel memoir, Sea and Sardinia:
This land resembles no other place. Sardinia is something else. Enchanting spaces and distances to travel- nothing finished, nothing definitive. It is like freedom itself.
Nowhere is that freedom displayed like is it on a boat with captain Sergio and chef Salvatore, returning from a magical day in the exquisite Golfo di Orosei. Every shade of teal melts into emerald and deep blue and lavender on the horizon. White cliffs dotted with green shrubs called macchie rise out of the sea proving that God is the greatest architect and painter. As we let the beauty wash over us, seagulls swoop down one by one to take a scrap of fish from the fingertips our chef who prepared it no more for us than for them, and then they soar once more above the island they call home.
The last day we spent doing this boat tour it had been three long and painful years since we first discovered it. I had lost my mom, my dad fought through his own cancer, we had moved twice, but through it we had also learned a lot more about this place, dreamed of it every single day. As I watched it all sailing by, I felt something deep inside my heart. Like God was healing me here and now. I expected to be sad on this return trip, but instead, I felt whole again. Restored.
That evening after dinner Matt and I walked down to the beach at Bari Sardo. There is an old watch tower right there on the beach and rocks surround it. As we did on our first trip, we climbed carefully around the tower and out onto the rocks. We watched the moon as it danced on the water and chatted about what the day had meant to each of us. I’ve never felt more at home, more at one with a place or a person. Siting there, the only line of the song I knew kept playing in my mind, “Spunta la luna dal monte”. The moon peaks over the mountain.
Today, instead of the calendar photo of where I want to visit, I keep a link to an apartment in Bari Sardo looking over that water with me at all times to remind me where I’d love to live one day. To keep my dream alive.
So, while we’re living these strange times, what can we do to soothe our spirits? We can pray. We can listen to music. We can read. We can study. We can learn a language. We can listen to the little voice inside us pulling us to somewhere yet unknown. We can dream. And when the moon peaks over this darkness and shines light on those dreams, there is no telling what impact they will have on our lives.
Spunta la luna dal monte. The moon peaks over the mountain.