Time travel. That is what Sicily was with Overseas Adventure Travel, on their trip Sicily: Ancient Landscapes and Timeless Traditions. For me, it had been exactly two years of no international travel due to the pandemic, so this added to my sense of time. In Italy it would have felt like traveling back in time anyway, but there were so many other reasons time played a factor during this trip because of the circumstances.
We traveled back into the ages that helped shape who we are today. There can be no better example of this than the enormous Roman Villa known as Villa Romana del Casale constructed in the 4th century AD. With the greatest number of mosaics in the world, so many were well preserved, but the frescos were less so. Nobody even knows who once lived in the enormous villa. There are not even other ancient sites or any writings that give clues. The room that stayed with me out of all we saw, was the room for ladies to practice their sports. A lady’s gym in 400 AD! And we thought we were so cool working out at Jane Fonda’s back in the 80s.
Yet as we traveled back in time, I also thought about our present time and how long I’d been travelling. It was a month-long trip, and I felt it would be over all over too soon as we were nearing its completion. It was refreshing however, to know that I still have the traveler in me, the person for whom one month of travel is really too short a time. That person hasn’t been lost during the pandemic and shutdown, an integral part of me I feared was lost when I have so many trips on the books for next year. I guess the traveler in all of us has been tested.
When we arrived in Ragusa, it was a continuation of time travel, as travel in most of Sicily tends to be, whether in Palermo, Catania, Cefalu, Etna, or any place else. We took a walking tour of this fascinating ancient city that was built once, leveled by an earthquake in 1693, built again, later abandoned, then later fully populated when people returned. An upper half and a lower half were built, and both halves were united in 1926. With this distinct history of building and rebuilding, Ragusa reminded me of an impressionist painting; from a distance you see the beauty, and up close you see the details more clearly. Some of the details are worn, some are beautiful and charming. All of it combined gives this UNESCO world heritage site it’s charming look and timeless if not mesmerizing appeal. But time travel can mean more than strolling through the ages on an OAT trip and stepping into the home decorated with centuries of art and furniture as we did when we met the owner of the Palazzo Arezzo di Trefiletti in Ragusa.
Time travel can also mean..is it really time to travel? Of course, we all want to know the answer to that. I wondered if the extra time I had afforded myself due to the airline schedules not being quite as they once were, turn into a decision that would lead me into a lockdown that would make it difficult to fly home. I’ve never known such uncertainty on a trip before. With a new coronavirus variant sweeping the world, countries starting to shut down again in Europe, and the rules constantly changing while on the trip, I had no idea what lay in store for me in an attempt to get home. But I was glad to be in the moment and traveling. Group travel rather than strictly independent travel, seems to be the way to go now. We were given updates as they occurred.
But if I’ve been reminded of anything on this trip, it’s that the time to travel is now, regardless of uncertainty. We’ve all lost precious years. Here’s to recapturing our lost travel time, and making it up in whichever countries allow, as long as we can keep our health.