I’m here in Italy to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. He has travelled from Australia with me to travel some familiar paths and to uncover some new ones as well.
My father hails from a small town in the north of Italy, called Recoaro Terme. It’s in the Veneto region, not far from Venice and at the foot of the Piccolo Dolomiti. I’ve been lucky enough to visit his home town several times over the last thirty-odd years, and I love going back there with him, seeing my extended family and walking in the footsteps of where my father spent his youth.
We’ve just spent a week in Rome and Puglia together, sharing some incredible experiences. We stayed in a trullo – a Puglinese conical stone building – which was on both of our travel bucket lists. We also got to sample plenty of local produce, as well as a few bottles of great Italian wine. It’s been a wonderful week together.
Now we are cruising on the Mediterranean for the next week – getting to experience Corfu, Montenegro and Croatia for the first time together is something we are both looking forward to.
As we sailed out of Genoa, my father told me that it is forty-six years this month since he was last in this port city. Unbeknownst to me, this is where my father sailed from in 1971 to start his life in Australia. 38 days on a ship – including 3 days in Durban, South Africa whilst the shipping company went on strike – I’d say it was a little more basic than his 2017 cruising experience!
While I listened to his story, I realised that I had never asked him how he had come to Australia all of those years ago. I’d known why, but not quite how it had eventuated. It turns out that an American company he had worked with in France head-hunted him to come and work on a new project out here in Australia. When they said to my father – even more of an intrepid traveller than I – if he’d like to go to Australia, he jumped at the chance. Incredibly only two weeks later the company had all of his papers in order and my father, aged 34, was sailing out of Genoa, bound for Melbourne.
My father may be eighty years old, but he is still has a strong, curious spirit, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to be able to feed not only my own wanderlust desire but also his and that of my children on this journey through Italy and the Mediterranean together.
Thank you, Dad, for saying “yes” all those years ago to those Americans in Paris, and for sailing half way around the world at the drop of the hat. Thank you also for your intrepid spirit and for passing this passion for travel along to me – long before “wanderlust” was ever a thing.
Here’s to everything that the rest of this journey together has in store for us.
x Sonia x