When Julia picked me up at Bologna airport she asked, “Do you want to get straight to work, or would you like a surprise?”
We hit the autostrada and she whisked us away for… an afternoon in Venice. Venice! I know it’s been ten years and I should be over the novelty of countries with famous places crammed close together, but when you grow up with endless boring roads of dirt dirt dirt sheep dirt dirt dirt small town kangaroo dirt dirt it’s endlessly exciting to just zap into an iconic place for a wander. Even if your damn TOES get sunburned to little pink stumps, despite being marinated in SPF 50!
After that unexpected adventure my nerves were gone and POW, I was fired up for the Up & Running retreat to begin.
Bologna is a brilliant wee city. I love the porticos and the tortellini and how it’s Italian as f*ck, but not stuffed with must-see sites. So you’re free to roam around, ogling the food and medieval buildings, without that nagging sense you should be doing something worthy.
Here are just a few of my highlights from an unforgettable retreat weekend…
– Drooling over the beautiful fruit for sale.
– Tessa at the boot camp, wearing her brilliant Trust Julia – She Promised I Wouldn’t Die t-shirt. She designed it during her Summer 5K Course in 2011. The Bootcamp was fantastic. I picked up some great tips from the Coach, even as a bumbling walker!
– Just flopping around at the B&B with the retreaters, chatting or dozing or munching on delicious fresh strawberries. I think I cried half a dozen bloody times over the weekend, from conversations deep, intense, heartfelt and/or silly. There’s something so incredible about getting a group of women together like that… I can’t find big enough words to capture it. I feel totally homesick for that feeling of chilled-out connectedness.
– I especially loved listening to Julia talk to the retreaters through video analysis of their running. It was so inspiring to hear how much our veterans have progressed since last year.
– Watching the pink balloons drift over Piazza Maggiore just before the Running Festival race began.
– Thunderstorms were predicted for the race but didn’t arrive until an hour after it finished. Even thunder doesn’t want to mess with Julia! She fashioned herself this emergency cardboard-box-and-plastic umbrella for her dash from the race to the B&B. Resourceful woman!
– After all the tearful goodbyes on Monday morning, we headed back to Casa Julia in Modena… with a pitstop for delicious tigelle. Oh man, I could seriously get addicted to these little fellas.
– Souvenir shopping for Gareth – tortellini, Italian craft beer, balsamic vinegar and honkin’ huge wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano. Hubba hubba!
– Finally, we picked up Julia’s son from school and she asked us, “Do you want to go for ice cream?”. I totally out-cheered Evan on that one.
So, one last gelato (with a flop of whipped cream and a drizzle of warm Nutella on top, whoa) then back to Scotland, already dreaming about Bologna 2014.
Huge thanks to Minna Artimo for use of her fruit and Sara/Julia pics!