Place Where You Live:

Polcenigo, Italy

The Gorgazzo River emerges from the mountain’s womb like a glimpse of Eden’s first blue. Joining others on its path, it rushes through a vast plain before the warm seas surrounding Venice embrace its icy water. 

Everyday, the river and I share a portion of this journey. I exit town on cobblestone streets where historic markers highlight centuries-old palazzi. Moss covers the crumbling stone walls. Wild figs, Field Maples, and Chestnuts mingle in the woods and in the spring, orchids carpet the forest floor. When the air grows heavy with Acacia blooms, I wonder how it has the strength to carry the insect chorus warming up in the late morning sun. Here my dog can roam free. On the hilltop is a nature reserve that works at land restoration, sustainable farming, and ecological education. Once, during winter’s last stand, my husband and I bore solitary witness to the birth of a lamb.

On Saturdays, the road to the piazza is blocked for the farmers’ market. Local matriarchs cycle into town wearing aprons over floral dresses. I see the townspeople are not eager to abandon the old ways. They tend their gardens and vines. Their lives teach me that simplicity isn’t a synonym for easy or bland.

Yet, the modern era has touched this place. A concrete building on the river bank is marked with warning signs and sometimes a foul odor drifts to me as I pass. Some visitors litter the grass with their trash, and sometimes they wake me late at night on their scooters.  Although their marks were once chiseled in granite, the renowned stonecutters have vanished.

One of their children remains: a woman of stone guards the south wall into town. She is a mystery; no historical marker explains her watch. Her skirt is hitched up revealing not-too-dainty ankles and her hands rest on her hips. I feel her welcome smile. I belong here, though not forever. But when it is no longer the place where I live, I’ll shut my eyes and I’ll still see the Cerulean pool where the river springs from the mountain.