Mother’s Day, 2017. Orvieto, Italy. I’m alone and missing home.
I awake early and decide not to linger over coffee, but instead head out into the streets to explore and collect photographs for future paintings – hopefully to distract me from my homesickness. When I step onto Corso Cavour, to my surprise, it’s already filled with families at this early hour. And almost every woman I see is dressed up, and is carrying flowers or yellow mimosa branches. After a couple of seconds of confusion, it dawns on me that it’s Mother’s Day in Italy, too – la Festa della mamma!
I join the throng of happy families strolling the main street – kids, parents, nonnas smiling, chatting, arm in arm. The crowds thin out a bit at Piazza della Repubblica as many seem to be turning off towards the Duomo, but I decide to follow another smaller group heading off the main track into the neighbourhoods. As we walk along, many return to their homes, until it’s only me and one family left on the street.
We reach the corner of Via Malabranca and Via della Cava that boasts one of those iconic Italian buildings that seems to defy logic – it’s built both on a steep upward pitch and a steep downward pitch. And this particular one is also very picturesque with its flowered balcony. After I take several photos, I’m left at this crossroads – as the day’s heat starts to set in, do I continue my walk up the hill, down the hill, or back the way I came?
I look for my little family. They are heading up Via Malabranca. They’ve brought me this far so I decide to keep following them up the hill.
Winding higher and higher up through the neighbourhood, we arrive at their destination: the Church of San Giovenale and its piazza overlooking the valley. The family slips inside the church, and seeing that it’s standing-room only, I opt to go to the piazza wall to take in the panorama of the countryside. With the church doors open, the piazza suddenly fills with heavenly music just as I get my first glimpse of the gorgeous valley below. In that moment, I am filled with emotion – wishing my family were here on this Mother’s Day to share this with me, but also so grateful for being gifted with this moment of extraordinary beauty. I’ve got to say, I got a little teary-eyed.
I chose to paint this particular image because it reminds me that often at a physical or emotional crossroads, it pays to trust your gut and take the harder route.
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