Finding Respite in a Shepherd’s Journey in Abruzzo

abruzzo, Italywise

A Shepherd’s Journey

As most of you know, I recently had the good fortune to go on a “walkabout” with shepherds in the majestic Apennines in Abruzzo. This is the fourth in a series of photos that chronicle my experience. As I perused the multitude of images to choose one for this post, this one leaped out at me.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time contemplating this special experience in Abruzzo, the area just above the heel of the boot of Italy. It was a dream opportunity for a photographer. And, it was a golden opportunity to escape the madding crowd of relentless digital and media onslaught to which we fall prey on a daily basis. I confess I’ve willingly allowed myself, all too often, to be sucked into this vortex of distraction, and angst. Yes, angst. I believe it would take a supremely enlightened being to deflect the anxiety-inducing effects of the age of information overload. If you’re like me, the world’s events can cloud your thinking, and you forget that vast spaces of quiet, peace and beauty still exist – literally and metaphorically.

Life in Abruzzo, like many raw and unspoiled parts of Italy, can remind you that peace and spaciousness are always there.

At least this is what my journeys there have done for me. Abruzzo is a jackpot in this regard. During my day on the mountain, I was reminded of the importance of balancing a busy, full-of-doing life, with a return to nature. I marvel at the life of the shepherds who allowed me to accompany them on their journey. I often think, this takes a special person – someone who is comfortable in their own skin, and someone whose “group” of friends is composed of vast numbers of sheep, goats, and dogs.

Animals can teach us to come back to the present moment.

I often envy them in this regard. I find being surrounded by animals curative. Unlike me, they’re not looking over their shoulders, being obsessed by the past and influenced by regret. They also aren’t playing out scenes in their head of what the future will entail and being anywhere but in the present moment.

Where is your path leading you?

I ask myself this question almost daily. I’ve been living in Italy for three and a half years now, and my life has changed significantly. I came here with well-laid plans, and most of those have served me well. But, I quickly learned and was frequently reminded, that I benefitted from trusting that the path would open up before me and show me where to go. This is critical, I believe because transitioning to a life in Italy can be full of unpredictable twists and turns.

If anything, life has been teaching me “Let go of your stubborn insistence on manhandling life.”

If you’ve been following my blog for anything length of time, you’ll know this isn’t the first time I’ve written about this. Just when I think I’ve gained some traction in this regard, another whopper of a lesson comes along to teach me otherwise. Funny how life keeps serving up opportunities to build these muscles. I’m also learning not to beat myself up for not being so enlightened.

Life these days is more and more about trusting that Life, God, the Universe – whatever force that connects us all – will take care of me, without my needing constant vigilance to control everything. I’ve spent a lifetime believing I have to be the captain of my own ship. That’s for the birds, and it’s exhausting.

I’m anything but traditional in my beliefs, but one element from my Christian upbringing remains a regular mantra. That’s the 23rd Psalm. Often I replace the word “Lord” with “The Force”, “Life” and even “The River”. Regardless, I find peace and solace in believing that a benevolent universal force, the Shepherd, is guiding my path, and protecting me – if I’ll just let it.

Funny how just one photo can evoke all sorts of feelings, isn’t it? I didn’t quite know, when I began this post, just why I had chosen this photo, but now it’s pretty clear.

I pinch myself every day, being thankful I have a rich life in such an amazing country. But, regardless of where you live, beautiful expansive spaces abound. I encourage you to consider the restorative benefits of stepping away from the usual torrent of living and information overload.

If Abruzzo is a place you’d like to explore…

Sulmona is a great place to make your center of operations in Abruzzo. And, Novelia Giannantonio, who lives there with her delightful husband Peppe, knows everyone. She introduced me to Nunzio and orchestrated my day on the mountain. If you’re looking for a place to stay contact Novelia about her lovely spacious two-bedroom Casa di Cuore, which she rents out ( can put you in touch with her, just send me a note through my contact link). She and Peppe will make sure you’re pointed in the right direction about things to do.

Welcome to SulmonaAnother wonderful resource, which covers so many things about Sulmona (including other options for accommodations) is It’s the best English language resource guide to Sulmona.

I’d love for you to become a direct subscriber to It’s easy. Just enter your email in the upper right column (or bottom of the page on a tablet). You’ll receive a confirmation email, and then future blog posts will land directly in your inbox!






By |2018-06-13T17:31:07+02:00November 15th, 2016|Abruzzo, Black & White, Personal musings|21 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. elizabeth wholey November 26, 2016 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Beautiful post Jed, thank you.

  2. David collins November 21, 2016 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Hi Jed
    We leave late January so looking forward to some Abruzzo snow at Christmas?

    • Jed November 21, 2016 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      Lucky you! I’d love to be there to capture the snow. Please take and send photos.

  3. Novelia November 18, 2016 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Ciao my dear friend and FRATELLO. I don’t need to had more than the rest of the comments that I have red in this amazing article, I have loved it because apart what you have written of your experience in walking with the sheperds (and it is incredible how a few hours of this amazing day has been so precious ) . I have loved your thoughts of the life in general, how things and situations change along the path of our life, but this happens only if we are ready to open ourselves unconditionally in making new experiences. You have had the chance to visit an almost unknown part of Italy and this has given you so much, at the same time we have recieved so much from you (and still are), YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL SOUL. Novelia, Peppe.

    • Jed November 18, 2016 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      Ciao Novelia and Peppe! As always I love hearing from you! I’m glad the thoughts about how the experience with the shepherd have reminded me of important things in life – mainly to make room for spaciousness, nature and beauty. It’s hard for me sometime, because I can be so trapped in my mind! I miss you guys! Baci, Jed

  4. Lynn Cureton November 18, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Jed, I traveled to Italy several years ago and your wonderful description of the fabulous countryside just makes me want to return!!! So glad you created Italywise to stay in touch.

    • Jed November 18, 2016 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks for writing Lynn! Italy is always here, always waiting for your return. I am amazed, even though I studied art here in college and even though I’ve lived here for years now, how much I have yet to discover. Hope you are doing well. I am so glad we can stay in touch through Italywise! xoxox Jed

  5. Nicole November 17, 2016 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Your wonderful insight and how you communicate it always comes to me when I need it most. Thanks for being you and sharing your journey -love to you and Simone

    • Jed November 17, 2016 at 7:29 pm - Reply

      Awwww…Thanks Nicole. We all have to stick together and support each other our journeys. I’m struck by just how much I don’t understand, and I’m realizing that’s okay. Allowing space seems to the be the most helpful thing for me at this juncture. Miss you tons, love you…Jed

  6. Michelle November 16, 2016 at 4:25 am - Reply

    Love you, dear Jed. Thank you for continuing to spread your light! ?

    • Jed November 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Grazie Michelle! We have to keep holding one another up these days, don’t we. Miss you tons! Love, Jed

  7. Nancy November 15, 2016 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    Love this picture and post. I agree, the animals can teach us many lessons.

    • Jed November 16, 2016 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Grazie Nancy! We love our animal partners, don’t we? And, the so many more! Miss you and Luther.

  8. Linda Dini Jenkins November 15, 2016 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Waaaaaaaaaah! I’m still in the US and contemplative time is in sort supply these days here! Thanks, Jed, for calming me down a little bit and reminding me that this still exists and that I will get a chance to come back to it in a few months. Will you be back in May? After our tour (ending on the 11th of May) we’ll be back in Sulmona for 10 days. Hope to get to spend more time with you. Linda

    • Jed November 15, 2016 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      Great to hear from you Linda. I hope you’re keeping your sanity amidst all the craziness back in the States. I’ll be in Sulmona for Easter and the running of the Madonna, and I doubt I’ll be back in May. Let me know if you’re up in Veneto. Would love to connect!

  9. Kathryn Smith November 15, 2016 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Jed, what a lovely meditation. I have shared it on my Facebook page.

    • Jed November 15, 2016 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks, my dear Kathryn! Miss you tons!

  10. Penny November 15, 2016 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Jed……This is just what I needed to hear today!
    Sending you love & light

    • Jed November 15, 2016 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks Penny. I always love hearing from you. Sending love and light to you as well!

  11. David collins November 15, 2016 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Great article as ever. In contemplating Sharyn and my life in Italy over the last four years part time (6 months each year) one way I think about things is to compare what we have been doing if we simply lived full time as retirees in our home country, Australia. There is no question our lives have been incredibly enriched by our Italian experience on so many levels (including walking with sheep and goats!). The wonderful friends we have made from many countries is the best aspect of all. We just feel incredibly fortunate.

    • Jed November 15, 2016 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks David. I, too, do a lot of comparison of what life would be like if I had chosen to stay in the U.S. I love seeing my family and friends when I go to the States, but the history, the colors, the textures, and the people here are wonderfully. Whenever I’m away, I’m homesick for my new country!
      When are you heading back?

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