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Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Restorative Month of Italy

Chris Brady and his family are chased by sheep, ripped off in Rome, and get lost in Sienna.  They certainly have an adventurous time during their Month of Italy! This entertaining account of a family’s travels in Italy combines a travel diary, an introduction to Italy, and an argument for learning the art of vacation.

Brady writes in a chatty and intimate manner as though the reader is a close friend.  He describes the scenery and art of the most beautiful country in the world in a vivid, but simple way.  I especially enjoyed his tales of his explorations on his motorbike which leads him to unexpected hillside towns which have views over green valleys filled with olive groves and meetings with interesting people.

A Month of Italy is also very amusing at times.  For example, after explaining Italian art to his children and discussing visiting the Sistine Chapel, Brady asks them who painted the ceiling of the chapel.  One of the children answers, ‘Michael Jackson!  with all the sincerity in the world’.

This is an excellent introduction to Italy.  Brady loves learning about history and he explains the history of the places which he visits in a clear and straightforward way.  I especially liked the chapter on St. Francis in which he gives a short, but fast-paced biography of this likeable saint who turned his back on wealth.

Brady discusses the gentle and laid-back way of life of the Italians.  He describes why eating is so important in Italy, the siesta, and the friendliness and kindness of the people.  He also gives tips on how to avoid getting ripped off in Rome, travelling with a family, and using a different currency.

Brady makes a strong argument for relearning the art of vacation.  He thinks that this has been lost recently because there is so much emphasis on hard work and achievement.  The Grand Tour was part of life for aristocrats in the eighteenth century and he thinks that we should learn from them about the importance of rest and restoration.

Brady realises that taking a month off in Italy is difficult for most people.  However, he includes useful appendices on how to save up for such a trip and how to prepare for it.

His trip gives him time for reflection, deep thought, and a good rest.  Brady sleeps well for the first time in years.  The most important part of his trip, however, is that he is able to spend lots of time simply enjoying spare time with his wife and family as well as showing the children the Italian countryside and way of life.    Brady learns about the significance of living in ‘the space between’.  What is this?  Read A Month of Italy and find out!

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