When people give reasons for travel, one or two usually float to the surface. To visit family or friends. Seek better weather. Discover new cultures. For love. Or, for some, in order to find themselves. Whatever the reason, we leave our homes, our bags packed, with hope and huge expectations that the rewards will reflect our intentions. But for Franca, who was born in Belgium to Italian parents and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of nine, travel has become less about filling every moment with purpose and more about finding purpose in every moment.
“Good morning,” said the little prince.
“Good morning,” said the salesclerk. This was a salesclerk who sold pills invented to quench thirst. Swallow one a week and you no longer feel any need to drink.
“Why do you sell these pills?”
“They save so much time,” the salesclerk said. “Experts have calculated that you can save fifty-three minutes a week.”
“And what do you do with those fifty-three minutes?”
“Whatever you like.”
“If I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked,” the little prince said to himself, “I’d walk very slowly toward a water fountain….”
— The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“There’s a difference,” she says, “in rushing around ticking off a To-Do list of must-see places versus allowing the moments themselves to fill with purpose naturally. Kind of like the Slow Food movement, which we follow with our bakery, but for travel, where the focus is less on all the many things which are possible and more on the few things which are essential.”
I sat down with her recently to explain what she meant by that.