Last week we returned from a week-long trip to Switzerland and Italy – with baby in tow – and it was quite an adventure!
We began our trip with two days in Lausanne. My IMD MBA Class of 2008 was celebrating our 10-year reunion, which means I’ve now been blogging for more than 10 years too! The reunion was fantastic with well organized activities – social, professional, and educational – and the weather was idyllic for enjoying the beautiful locale outside of the scheduled events.
~40% of our class (plus families) showed up and it was wonderful to see so many dear friends at the site of the “crucible” where our strong bonds were forged. For the first time, though, the joy of our reunion was tempered by those who could not be there. Our class suffered its first loss this year as a classmate died suddenly and several classmates could not attend the reunion due to treatments for cancer or other afflictions. They were dearly missed and it was a reminder to us all of the fragility of life and the need to prioritize the things that really matter.
The reunion continued for four days but we departed after two in order to visit relatives in Italy. We flew to Napoli, rented a car, and drove to Lucera, the small Pugliese town where my relatives live. When we stopped along the highway to pick up a couple of bottles of water for the road, we were pleased to discover that the gas station was offering extremely fresh mozzarella and locals were coming from kilometers around to purchase some. The father-son team who ran the station prepared a couple of sandwiches for us with that fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and freshly baked bread – not bad for gas station food and definitely #onlyinitalia!
Our three days in Lucera were joyful. We hadn’t seen these relatives since our wedding seven years ago so this reunion was long overdue. Additionally, it was a particular joy to introduce them to the next generation of our family since it had been nearly half a century since the arrival of the most recent addition on their side. Our Italian relatives have always been incredibly welcoming of us but, with a bambino now upping the ante, they went into full-on doting mode! Our kiddo was a little off of his usual schedule but there was no shortage of family members lining up for a turn to hold him and settle him down.
We spent some time touring around Lucera – walking around the castle, visiting local churches, and taking pictures at the house where my father was born – but, frankly, most of our time in Lucera was spent eating. I, of course, wouldn’t have it any other way! It was a short trip but certainly enough to keep the relationship going between our side of the family and theirs.
I don’t know if our son will identify with the Italian side of his family as I have or if he will ever learn Italian; that will be his choice. I am pleased, though, that he spent some days feeling the Italian love and being surrounded by the beautiful, undulating language – not to mention the amazing food – such that the culture will always be at least a small part of him.
We had two full days of travel to return to the States – one day back to Geneva and then the next day back to NC. I’m really, really glad we did this trip, though. It is easy to be intimidated by the prospect of international travel with a little one but we have many friends who, to borrow a popular tag line, just do it. We have been inspired by them (And certainly we have been beneficiaries of their advice!) and now we are pleased to have moved down the experience curve ourselves a bit, hopefully laying the foundations for more adventures in the future! Bon voyage and buon viaggio!!!