God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Meeting of Friends

Thursday was a special day for us as we went to what on Slow Travel is called a "get-together" or GTG. These are held frequently in venues all over the US and other countries as travelers find they will be in the same place at the same time.

This one was unusually rich as somewhere over 35 people came--travelers, ExPats and Italians. It was held in a lovely villa on the slopes right below Assisi. While many of us already knew each other, others we were meeting in person for the first time. But, as with all our Slow Travel relationships, we had "known" these others for long periods of time via conversations and sharing on the web.

It was incredible fun to get together with so many friends during our last days here in Bella Italia. We were able to say goodbye to many people we had spent time with here and meet new friends from the United States here on vacation. Many of these we will see again as they pass through San Diego or we go their way--and at future GTG's.

Of course, there was lots of good Umbrian food specially catered for the event--porchetta, prosciutto, stuffed vegetables, grilled peppers, pastas etc. etc. etc.--oh so good. Friends from Naples brought a mountain of bufala mozzarella balls. And then there were the desserts--of course, not a calorie in them.

Being Italy, there was a lot of wine but the day was so terribly HOT (+42ºC/+107ºF) that the beverages of choice were water and juice. The pool served as a welcome diversion for Casey and a few of the "bigger" people but since it was in total sun the rays beat down on the water and bounced right back up causing most of us to stay under the sheltering Italian style large umbrellas-- which, by the way, I would really like for our pool area at home. They would be quite nice with our Italian ceramic table being shipped to us sometime in August.

Casey showed a streak of entrepreneurship as he went around offering to fan people while holding out a hat for contributions--clearly he has seen too many street performers this year. Part of me was amused by his industriousness borne out of his desire to buy more Dragonball Z cards while the other part of me worried that he was being too pushy. When we returned to the hotel that night, I was nonplussed by the fact that he had €5.20 in his pocket. It seems a friend who lives here in Italy explained to him the concept of running a tab and so at the end of the night he went back and collected €3. To Valerie--I offer a public apology!

Grazie mille to Corinna and family for opening up your beautiful villa and providing a wonderful time with wonderful food. It was the kind of day and night which make memories. Thanks also to Janet who was staying at the villa and shared it with us and to Pauline, the brains behind Slow Travel and the person who makes all of this happen.

Because this was so close to Assisi, we went over a day early so Casey could visit the St. Francis Basilica with the Giotto and Cimabue frescos and to see the city where St. Francis was born. Casey has been fascinated by St Francis ever since we went to La Verna, the mountain top sanctuary that he loved. Casey's relating of that trip makes a pretty entertaining read-- My Time at Poppi. Among other things he explains why he does not want to become a monk.

His strange for a 9-year-old attachment to Giotto and Cimabue is a gift given to him by his friends at La Cantinetta di Rignana. At the basilica he particularly wanted to see Giotto's fresco of St. Francis "receiving the stigmata", a concept that has puzzled him since seeing another fresco at La Verna.

This was the final outing for our year in Italy and it was a good one--Casey visited a new place for his memory bank and we laughed, played and ate with friends--what a perfect ending!

My apologies to good friends whose pictures I did not get-particularly, dear Judith.


Jerry said...

Jane it looks as if it was great fun! Your slideshow is well done - I wish I knew how to add one to my blog.

Enjoy your last few weeks in Italy!

Jane said...

Jerry, it really is quite easy to post slides and videos. I use Photoshop Elements to make the slide show and then upload to Google video and to the blog. I can take you through the steps if you would like.

Valerie said...

Jane, it was great to finally meet you in person. No apology necessary...I was a hot and willing recipient of the fan! Note to self...never explain a tab to an entreprenurial kid!

Anonymous said...

Jane, I have gone through most of your website and it is fantastic. My husband and I want to move to the Florence area in December with our three childern ( 2,6 and 8). The International School only has room for my six year old. I was wondering if you could give me some information on the school Casey went to in Greve. It is a dream of ours to do this and we feel now is the time. We live in Westlake Village (near Malibu) and want to show our kids a different life. Tracy (mark@markforhomes.com)

Mark said...

Jane, I have read your blogs and it has been great!!! So fantastic. My husband and I want to take a seven month sebatical to Tuscany with our three kids. At the International School in Florence they have room for our six year old but not our 8 year old. Could you give me some information about the school that Casey went to in Greve. This could be an option for us. We live in Southern California too and want have a life experience. Thank you, Tracy