These few weeks in Florence are coming towards an end. Tomorrow we head south: one of the high speed trains for a couple of days staying with friends in Salerno (and visiting Napoli) and then a bus across to the Adriatic side to stay in Puglia for a further couple of days, staying with family(!) before flying back to London from Bari. There has been no rapid advance with my Italian language skills – slow and steady – despite being in plenty of Italian speaking environments these last few weeks. So visiting family – should I simply say, Mamma? – where little English is spoken, has a certain challenge about it plus the cultural power that is contained in this word, Mamma, which in my mind still contains some primary power that is rooted in pre-history, pre-verbal in a way that has not been rationalised out of existence by reformation and what is often referred to as the enlightenment, our rational, ‘scientific’ dominant mode of thinking. No wonder you need a plethora of death groups! – with or without a soapbox.
There would appear to be a connection that my mind has discovered or intuited between this Mamma and our old friend Kali. What I mean by this is that I have no way of knowing whether I will be fed or hacked to death. Friends here in Florence express concern at the Pugliese family nexus and dynamics that I will be subjected to. And often it is around food. In this case it could be death by over feeding. How many litres if olive oil will I have to consume in two days? After all, that is why I limited this first visit to such a short time. A sort of flying visit. Not much more than popping in for tea with the family. Except of course they don’t do tea. I suppose, if I attempt to be sort of rational about it, that it’s not so much a question of surviving or not surviving, but rather, what will it do to me, what will be the impact on my inner world. Will I be able to absorb not just the food and wine but the mental/emotional challenges and, how shall I put it, come out on top, firing on all cylinders, emblamatically a bigger person than when I stepped into the ring.
Do you know, I am looking forward to writing my first post for this blog once I am back in Devon. Will I still be shaking?