I was born in the beautiful medieval city of Bologna, and I lived there with my family until 1998, when my world fell apart. My mum suffered a severe nervous breakdown after the birth of her second child; she held a demanding job (which occupied her for more than 18 hours per day) as a chief medical officer, employed two babysitters, had no help from her extended family and a lovely husband who worked all around Italy. It was a very well paid job and a comfortable lifestyle, of course, but allowed no time to be truly present and no chance to see her children growing. Some people can be wonderful mums and workers at the same time, and some can’t because they are too sensitive. Too fragile. The pressures of a demanding job on top of caring for a young family turned out to be too much for my mother.
It was summer, and it was hot. My mum was halfway between the house and the hospital when she broke down. She needed to get out of the oppression of the city, but she was not in a condition emotionally that allowed travelling very far. So my parents decided to rent a hut in the Appennini mountains. It was just 50 minutes by car from the city, but it was another world.
We went there, to that hut in the mountains, that summer of my mum’s breakdown, and didn’t move for six years. We lived in 48 square meters, immersed in nature, and we couldn’t have asked for more.
After moving out of the bustling city, my mum’s illness got better and better, and she finally had time to spend with her children – she was able to play with us, to cook healthy food, to read under the sun or in the shade of the cherry tree in our garden. We had time to go out and walk in the forest where the trees tell you that nothing is more important than feeling the connection with Nature. We had time to walk up the hills, where you can see all the clouds that cover the plain, and we had time to walk along the ancient roman streets which linked Bologna with Florence. We had time to remember that we are just little spots in a universe of stories and dreams.
I began to sleep after years of insomnia, and my brother started to enjoy being in the open air again. We were Indians who crossed rivers, explorers who discovered new horizons; we were poets, wizards, and elves of the woods.
I couldn’t be more grateful for that day when my parents decided not to go back to the city. They choose to live a life with less money and less comfort. They chose to wake up at 4 in the morning to clear the path of snow and to renounce unnecessary travel, cinema, restaurants, new clothes. I have memories from my childhood which will accompany and help me for all my life, as I understand now what the important things in life are. And I can tell that the contact with Nature and the choice of a simple life saved not only a life, but also the integrity of a family.
*This post was written by Chiara.
Chiara, if you see this, contact us so we can provide your bio and give proper credit to your work! 🙂