People are always telling me that a sabbatical is a great opportunity to get a break from your day to day teaching routine to have some time to reflect on what you have been learning. Surely, I am learning a great deal while traveling across the landscapes of Europe, but with such a busy travel schedule there is less time to reflect than I might have imagined. Once I was done with the Landscape and Education Conference in Tropea, we moved up the hill out of town a bit for a week to slow down the pace of travel; to rest and reflect on what we experienced so far as we reach the halfway mark of the journey. The pictures below will give you a sense of this lovely spot to slowdown for a bit and regroup. Three months on the road can be a challenge if you don’t find such places to hold up and recharge from time to time.
While at the conference we stayed in the old part of Tropea in a rooftop apartment overlooking the city. The building itself was built in 1751 and we had the most commanding view in the entire city if we climbed up two sets of spiral staircases to get to the rooftop terrace for breakfast.
A short walk put us on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea at the harbor where an active fleet of small fishing boats and tourist craft came and went each day bringing back fish and patrons to eat them in the many fine restaurants around the town.
The water was amazingly clear and warm enough to swim, you could see so far down into the water and the color was unreal.
Of course we had to go swimming in the sea in the second week of October, so a few days on the beach were salve for the souls of these tired travelers.
The beaches of Tropea, with their clear waters and white sands are consistently ranked among the best in all of Europe and it is easy to see why. I especially liked the view of the beach under the cliffs that the old city was built upon.
The city itself, clinging to the cliffs for so many years in the shadow of volcanoes only 40 km away, is an engineering wonder. There is hardly a flat spot anywhere, and every nook and cranny has been filled over the years with more buildings trying to maximize the beautiful sea-front view.
One of the most iconic locations in Tropea is the Church of Santa Maria dell Isola which is perched on top of a rock outcrop that used to be attached to the town by a giant bridge. The bridge has since collapsed and a series of steep stairs up and down are the only way to get there, but the church itself has stood sentinel for over 400 years guarding Tropea for the sea and storm.
After the conference we retreated up the hill to more “modern” accommodations for a week of catching up on sleep, schoolwork, grading (for Paula) and blogging. The view from the balcony offers you an idea of how ideal a location it was for such activities.
Of course I worked hard from my office on the road, but I found it a better place for reflection than for detail.
We passed through this doorway everyday on the way to breakfast.
And we even had the chance to commune with the local wildlife who were found in abundance all about the property.
In short, the pace slowed down finally, at least for me, although I remain behind on blogging, I am rich on reflection. Life, after all, is about balance. I will leave you, dear readers, with one last picture to remind you to take a moment to appreciate the beauty around you and stop long enough to be grateful for all the many blessings we have no matter how chaotic and busy our lives can become. It is a calming sunset picture with the presence of an active smoldering volcano (Stromboli) to remind us that while this was a time to relax and reflect, it is now time to move on. Back to the road and more adventure. Chao.