Today, I turned 25.
It seemed like a twist of fate that my day celebrating a quarter of a century was spent travelling through Umbria. The region of my ancestors, my past. As my life continues, I like to remember, recognise and record where I came from. Otherwise life goes on, and you never get the oppurtunity to appreciate what others have done for you. You are the result of their success.
Umbria is a beautiul site. The landscape is dramatised by rolling, green mountains and old, stone country buildings. Olive trees climb over the landscape whilst rivers flow gracefully in crevaces. Temper Trap’s Down River was playing as we winded our way through the lush plains. I watched the sun slowly peeking its way through the dense fog, shining its rays on the countryside, warming the earth. It’s easy to have a romantised perception of charming Umbria.
Then you think about what Italy was and is. My family used to cultivate this land, working hard everyday, living off pitance, but enjoying every bit of what they had together. Pre World War II, Italy still operated as a feudal system. My grandparents, just like those who came before them, worked on the land as contadini. They didn’t own the land, and had to give half of their produce to the ‘rich people’ every harvest. The other half would be just enough to feed the family.
The government in Italy has certainly changed, but the romantic perception that the picturesque landscape gives us still masks the profound problems in this country. It makes you feel lucky that it was ‘your’ grandparents that decided to make that long, unknown journey to Australia. My Nonna once said to me, ‘I would go to the beach in summer and I would always wonder just what was on the horizon’. Daring, inspirational people, our grandparents. In Australia, we wouldn’t vote in someone who wasn’t heavily engaged in politics, just because they came from a middle-class family, made lots of money through dodgy connections, monopolised the media, and had the gift of the gab. Well, poor Italy is suffering now thanks to Berlosconi. Every young person that I speak to is worried about their future, it’s hard for them. They envy us.
I will never forget this image of Umbria, and the oppurtinties that it has given me in life. Beautiful Umbria.