Despite having lived in Umbria for the past 20 years, I remain fundamentally American. Thus, I evoke the father of my country when I declare, “I cannot tell a lie.”
I mean, of course, that I can tell a lie, and often do. It’s just that the truth is often much funnier.
And this is the truth: Spoleto is on my black list. Now, this is probably not the best way to go about winning one of the spots in the Spoleto56 Blogger Contest, which is what I am hoping to do so I can spend the duration of their historic and world famous cultural Festival dei 2 Mondi the first two weeks of July hob-nobbing with artists and writers, eating canapés, and getting culturefied. But the nit I have to pick with Spoleto is a large part of the reason behind why I am so hell-bent on participating in a blog trip which takes me to a destination exactly 42 minutes from my house.
The reason is this: I believe in second chances.
Spoleto blew her first chance with me because I got two unfair traffic fines there. Don’t give me that look. One I could have forgiven…but two?!? The first one I received (in the mail) was for an infraction on a date on which both I and my car were in Florence for a conference. I had a receipt from the hotel and my conference tickets and everything, but when I called the police station I was told the only way I could prove I was in Florence the whole time would be by turning over the tape from the hotel CCTV parking lot security camera. Which seemed like a lot of trouble for €87. And if there’s one thing I learned from a couple of seasons of watching CSI, it’s that I don’t have the cleavage for forensic investigatory work.
So, Spoleto was already on thin ice with me when I got a SECOND fine in the mail. To be fair, this one may have been valid, but who the hell remembers where they may or may not have parked in November of 2011?!? What I do know is that the original €76 was now €167.11 because I never paid the fine. What I also know is that I never received the original fine in the mail. I know this because when I do receive a fine in the mail, I spend at least three days stomping and railing and generally making life miserable for everyone around me, which means that I tend to remember when they arrive. And then, on the fourth day, I pay them.
Now, I don’t know about your town, but in my town €87 plus €167.11 is serious coin, and the insult of injustice added to the injury of more than €200 consumed in the fires of bureaucracy led me to solemnly declare, “Spoleto, honey, you are dead to me.”
This break was not painless. I love Umbria and I love writing about Umbria. I have spent most of the past ten years blogging about this region, publishing articles about this region, editing guidebooks about this region, and making an app about this region. If singing the praises of Umbria were an operetta, I would be headlining the Festival dei 2 Mondi. I also happen to like Spoleto. It is home to perhaps my favorite church in Umbria, has one of the prettiest hikes around, hosts one of the region’s most prestigious festivals, and shakes it up with a little contemporary art in this land of stately frescoes and Byzantine icons. I felt the loss.
Which brings me around to why I am enthusiastically throwing my hat into the ring for the Spoleto56 Blogger Contest. It’s not so much because I dig the party vibe that Umbrian towns get when hosting a festival, or because I’ve only made it to the Festival dei 2 Mondi a handful of times over the years and would love to hunker down for the duration, or because it’s always so stimulating to hang with creative and gifted people, or because Umbria and her towns never fail to delight me with new discoveries, or because one of my favorite Italian bloggers evah will be there and I want a little of her lucky mojo to rub off on me…though all of this is true.
It’s because I’ve made mistakes in my life. Big ones. I’ve epically blown it a couple of times along the way. We all have. But I’ve been lucky enough to have been given second chances, and from those second chances new, amazing, unimagined paths taking me in completely unexpected directions have opened up.
This is why I hope to make it to Spoleto at the end of June. I want to give Spoleto the second chance it deserves, and see where the city and its people take us.
But I’m leaving my car at home.
If you think Spoleto deserves a second chance, help me out by tweeting this post using #e20umbria (yeah, the hashtag kind of sucks…) and come and like it on the contest FB page. The karma wheel will come around to you.