Returned from Moderna, Italy (and a detour to Torino) last night – only to find that Mali is on the verge of war and that there was another West African Coup.   Makes me yearn for West African drama and excitement, although I know that coups aren’t really as exiting in country as it seems like they should be.

Travels in Italy made me marvel at the diversity of vocabulary, accents, and food.   Regionalism is so rich.   At the same time, I was reminded of the many connections between Italian and American cultures – and especially food.   It felt very familiar – but at the same time the wine and cheese and little sandwiches were different than any I had ever eaten before. Vineyards are cut differently than those in Switzerland.  The roofs are made differently.   The houses are shaped differently.  The colors have nothing in common.   It all felt a bit like a painting.

I became newly fascinated with the standardization of Italian, and look forward to reading Dante’s Devine Comedy in its original language some time soon, especially the part where he describes those who say si, those who say oui, and those who say oc.  The definition of romance languages.  I am almost on the brink of wanting to pick my latin books back up.  Almost, but not quite.

As we crossed the San Bernard Pass, back into Switzerland, the it was snowy and the wind blew (and hasn’t stopped blowing cold wind).  Switzerland felt so small and homogeneous as we drove back through Sembrancher and Martigny, the places, where just a week before, I felt a similar fascination for the uniqueness of each village and place.  Where I had marveled at the rocks, the chalets, and the old town squares.  Where we had walked on a roman horse cart trail over the mountain.   Where we had discovered ancient secrets in our own backyard.