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Slow Travel

I read Kathy's entry about Slow Travel, and got thinking about what a difference belonging to the ST community made in my life last year. I would never have made my October solo "pilgrimage" to Florence had it not been for the knowledge and encouragement of that community. The women who have gone on their own solo journeys and shared their experiences on the ST board, and on their blogs were an especially wonderful inspiration!

Kathy is going to post a single word and photograph that captured, for her, the Slow Travel experience. Those who know me will know that I cannot contain myself to one word when writing! So I will not copy her example exactly, instead I will sort of borrow her idea but adapt it to my own style. What follows are a few words and photos that reflect the difference Slow Travel has made to my travel experience...

I discovered what an incredibly rejuvenating, peaceful, exciting, refreshing blessing it is to stay in one place long enough to have time to simply wander and see what's around the bend with no particular destination in mind:

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I discovered the wonder of solo travel. By ignoring any thought of going somewhere new, instead returning to Florence for the third time, I experienced an amazing and unexpected sense of belonging in that place that draws me and fills my soul with joy and my heart with the beat of its rhythm. And, unlike the city near my home, I enjoyed an amazing sense of feeling safe, as a woman alone, wandering the golden streets of a city far from home:

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Instead of pushing myself to see more, more, more, I simply rambled around at my own pace. I took the time to attend church services every Sunday during my trip. In doing so, I realized how much I have come to love Sunday worship, even if not in my own beloved church. I felt a neat connection at St. James Episcopal church in Florence, when (to my surprise) I found that I was familiar with much of the liturgy. On the last Sunday of my trip, I had been feeling a bit melancholic, but was so uplifted and renewed by the service I attended. I wrote: "I walked back to the historic centre feeling full of the Spirit, full of song, full of joy on this gorgeous day."

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I did not attend worship at this small church in Fiesole, but sat alone for quite a while, feeling a sense of peace and wonder:

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Had I not stumbled across the Slow Travel website a couple years ago, I would never have thought of making a solo journey to Italy. I may not have stopped to appreciate the richness of staying put and beginning to know one place instead of getting glimpses of many. Being somewhat prone to impatience, I may have remained caught up in the excitement of wanting to see it all, instead of choosing just to be...to slow down and soak up the culture, listen to the language, relax into the rhythms. This way of journeying fills my soul, my heart, my mind. Nevermind the rushing around from sight to sight, I am utterly hooked on travelling slow!!

I would also never have met Maria, were we not both members of the Slow Travel family!
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Comments (19)

Your pictures are absolutely glorious! :)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, this is a beautifully written post. I enjoyed reading about those special moments and experiences that you had on your first solo trip last year. I love all the photos of the great places you discovered on your walks, the beautiful churches and the last photo with the two glasses and wonderful view of the Grand Canal shared with Maria. That must have been so special.

It's so wonderful that we all found our way here! Thanks so much for writing this beautiful entry! Have a great day Anne!

Wonderful post! I feel exactly the same way about "relaxing into the rhythms" and coming home renewed and inspired instead of exhausted.

Beautiful photos too. I wish we all were sitting at the Rialto Bridge cafe right now!

You should submit this to ST to publish on the main site!

Love the Pomegranate Phone site too, very cool - thanks for the link.

Anne:

Thanks Leslie :)

Kathy, just read your entry and say well chosen! JOY is the perfect word, and I love your photo (I guessed Campo Santa Margherita in Venice...will check back on your site to see if am right! I love that campo too, it abounds with the joy and energy of daily life.)

Annie, I never thought of submitting to ST, thanks for suggesting that! I agree it would be awesome to be sipping Prosecco under the Rialto right now (well maybe espresso...it is only 10 am after all!)

Beautiful post, Anne! You express so well what Slow Travel does - it really makes us savour a place more. And your trip to Florence seemed to be just perfect! It was fun to "travel along", all the way from when you decided to go till you got back home.

Anne:

Thanks Chiocciola, you're right, my trip was absolutely perfect! One of the benefits of the ST community was the wonderful feeling of knowing that people were, in fact, travelling along with me. :)

Beautiful post, Anne. You said very well what I believe many slow travelers feel.

Gorgeous photos!

Beautiful post, Anne! The photos are gorgeous. I'm intrigued by the second photo. It looks like something out of a fairy tale. I can relate to everything you wrote and would encourage you, as Annie mentioned, to submit it for publication on ST.

I thank my lucky star for the day I came across this wonderful community, almost seven years ago. I hope one day we all meet in the bridge cafe and have a merry time laughing ourselves silly (without being overcharged!). :)

Anne:

Thanks Candi, I am so glad I was able to capture that feeling, and glad also to have stopped long enough to discover how much I love this slower way of journeying!

Maria - without being overcharged OR falling out the doorway ;) The second photo was taken in Boboli Gardens, the path leads down to the pond where the big Neptune statue is. Walking in the dappled sunlight under those leafy arches felt like being in a fairy tale. Thanks for your encouragement too! :)

Tricia:

Such beautiful photographs, Anne.

jgk:

great post--you really nailed so much of why I love Slow travel.

sandrac:

Wonderful photos, Anne -- these are images of Florence (and environs) that I have never seen.

You've captured the essence of Slow Travel so beautifully -- the richness of staying put and getting to know one place rather than glimpses of many.

Anne:

Tricia - thanks so much! :)

Angie, *sigh* says it all about Florence, doesn't it?!

thanks jgk, I'm glad to hear my words spoke to you. How great that we have the ST community to "gather" in and share the love of the slow experience!

Sandra - after three trips to Florence, it seems the more I go, the more I yearn to go back. I think my next Italian journey will be to Rome with my sister and mom, though. We got a 5 day taste of Rome in 2006 are all wanting to spend a couple weeks scratching a little more of that city's surface. But my very next trip will be to Newfoundland this summer, and I am so excited about that I can hardly WAIT!!!!

What a great post.

Jane:

Anne, lovely, beautiful words and the photos are exquisite. Thanks for giving it to us.

Barb Cabot:

So well stated Ann and the photos go straight to the heart of a slowtraveller. Well chosen and beautiful shots. I will have to go back and read about your solo travels. There is something wonderful that happens when you travel slow. It is full of such dimension and depth. Love this post. Thank you.

Loved this post! Beautiful photos and a great description of slow travel as you see it. I am torn between something new or returning to the familiar on my next trip.

Anne:

Cindi, thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Thanks Jane, it was my pleasure. :)

Barb, I will be delighted for you to read my travel entries. I agree about the added depth when travelling slow!

girasoli, I hear ya on the though decision!! In addition to feeling drawn back to Florence, I have a yearning to see so many other places in Italy too!! Naples, Paestum and the south, Padua, Mantua, Ravenna, Cinque Terre, parts unknown...wish I had a few months/years to spend roaming around that country!

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