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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


All good things come to an end—or at least that’s what is said. We are in a Rome airport hotel, alarm set for 7 AM, watching CNN. Tomorrow we return to our other life across the ocean. We are finding it difficult to accept this transition; but, knowing we will return in 320 days, give or take a few, helps. We have 5 weeks scheduled for Italy next summer and are thinking of maybe adding a couple weeks in England as Casey has never been there—what a novelty that will be—an English speaking country—well, sort of.

We ended our time here at a very lovely place with very special people. Friends Mary and Maurizio Tacconi have created an exquisite country inn. Genius Loci, snuggled in little hills above Bevagna in Umbria, is the product of three people, Mary, Maurizio and son Michele, who settle for nothing less than perfection. Every place the eye settles is found an exquisite piece of “old” —furniture, mantel wood from Turkey, pottery, delicate sconces, stone sinks, kettles and cookware, glass, art, books and carpets. Complementing all of this is the lovely art work of Maurizio. Years of collecting old roof tiles for an unknown purpose found their reason on top of this renovated building of the past.

With all of this said, it is not a museum but a wonderful place to enjoy and, maybe, dream of calling home. If you sit quietly, gazing out over the countryside, you eventually sense that you are becoming a part of the picture. The words peace and serenity come to mind.

But, even better than this storybook place was the time we spent with friends of ours who call Italy home. Friends we had not been able to visit this time and so they came to where we were for a “get-together.”

Barb and Art from San Venzano, Umbria, Judith from Città di Castello, Rita and Lino from Chioccio (well, we did see them while we were in Greve) and Mary and Maurizio. We shared a wonderful summer pranzo (lunch) of red, ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, meats, cheese, honeys, salads, some strange egg plant dish by chef Judith, melon and surely more. Barb brought her wonderful brownies and chocolate chip cookies as a gift to Casey who has crowned her the champion cookie maker. What a feast we shared, mixed with laughter and conversation. It was a good day and a good way to cap off the last 8 weeks.

A feature of Genius Loci which I really want to share is the room we had which was beautiful—as far as I am concerned, the best of the best. And…it has the special quality of being fully accessible for people who need extra space for wheelchairs. The bathroom has been designed for such needs as has its location (the best in the house) and the door ways. There is a large king size bed and a separate sitting area with a couch and room for maneuvering a chair. And, I don’t have words to describe the views from this room. I can’t wait to tell my friend Mary (another Mary) about this room and place. I must warn you though,the tariff here comes in at the higher end but it’s worth saving pennies to be here.

Mary has quality pieces of pottery from Deruta displayed throughout the common rooms for guests who are in the market for new pieces but either don’t have the time or the inclination to go shopping. I now have a little more carry-on items than I had anticipated. But the biscotti jar will look so lovely in my kitchen with its matching spoon holder, and then there are the tea light holders and a little something more.

Now it’s time to make sure the alarm is set, turn the lights off and dream of what was and what will be.

Post Script: I did not post this last night and now have a quick update for those who fly from Roma via a US based airlines. Having heard about difficulties using the new T5 process, I can report that it is a breeze and so much better than dealing with the main terminal.

These were the steps:

  1. Shuttle service from the Airport Hilton to T5. (arrange the night before or you may need to push your carts through the long corridors to terminal B and catch the airport shuttle to T5 which would be a real pain. Talk to the bellhops rather than the people at the check-in counter who don't seem to know this service exists.)

  2. Get luggage cart (€ 1) if needed.

  3. Quick confirmation of passport and answering the “did you pack your own luggage?” questions.

  4. Check-in and baggage counter. There are separate lines for business and first classes.

  5. Passport control and security

  6. Shuttle to terminal C
This was so very much nicer than dealing with the congestion, noise and confusion of the main terminals.

Now, 25 minutes until boarding and then wonderful airline food and home.


Gail Hecko said...

Jane, I feel what you are going through. I've been following your trip and know it has been such a joy for you to be there, and always informative for the rest of us to read about it.

I'll return to my Tuscany in October for an extended stay, and I can't wait.

Welcome home!

janie said...

Thanks for writing all summer. What a wonderful ending-we stayed at Genius Loci in April and loved it-I know we'll return there again and again. Safe travels-beautiful weather waiting for you in San Diego.

Anonymous said...

Welcome home Jane, Ken & Casey!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photos on your time in Italy.

Just a few more weeks for us to wait and then we are off.


Ice Tea For Me said...

Thank you for sharing your summer travels, I've enjoyed every view, person, food, etc. that you eloquently described.

I've not been on Slow Travel for a while and I'm not sure what you mean by the 'new T5 process'. Can you elaborate?

anne said...

Oh Jane, how sad that your time has come to leave your beloved Italy already. The way you write of it, I feel certain you are meant to live there permanently! Happy to know the next trip is already past the dreaming and into the planning stages though.
Ciao! Anne

Jane said...

Thanks, everyone--for your thoughts and sympathy. I do envy you that have upcoming trips--but guess I should not be greedy!!

Ice Tea--T5 is the new terminal at FCO (Rome airport) used by North American airlines--UAL, United, Delta, etc. It is a separate structure and was done to help alleviate congestion.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jane - I am thinking about you guys on the plane as I writet his from Los Angeles. I too will be returning to our home in Tuscany in September for 7 weeks. I hope we meet some day - here or better - in Italy!!
Welcome back to California
Harriet Sculleu

Gil said...

I had a feeling that you might extend the trip for at least the first half of the school year. I just based my guess on your posts about KC and the fun he was having.

Welcome back to the good lod USA!

Jane said...

Oh, Gil, I wish! How was your trip?

Gil said...

We had a good time in Naples and in Scauri. The only trouble is that we rented a place in Scauri that was not in walking distance of anything. My wife and daughter are great walkers and if it weren't for the narrow mountain road they probably would have walked to town. We did make a few day trips to nearby places lie Formia and Gaaeta. Most importantly we stopped in Mondragone for mozzarella di bufala on our way from Naples to Scauri!!!