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, August 10, 2008

Goodbye and Hello

Yesterday we said goodbye to Fattoria Viticcio and hello to Sant’ Antonio. Coming to majestic Montepulciano and lovely, exquisite Sant’ Antonio is, for us, coming home. The property is a restored 13th century monastery perched on a small hill, offering beautiful views any direction the eye wanders. It is quiet, peaceful, serene and perfect. Brilliant Nico—who speaks six languages including swalihi, beautiful Elena and delightful Sophia and Filippo have been special to us for many years now.

Our history at Sant’ Antonio began in September 2001. We were scheduled to arrive here from the United States on September 12—the day after the day that changed the world. Obviously that didn’t happen; however, on September 18 we flew one of the first planes out of the US, landed in Milan and drove here to begin 7 week travels in Italy.

Being in Europe during that time was special and opened our eyes to the feelings the world had for our country. Because of the trauma in the US, most of the reporting in our country focused inward on our tragedy, confusion and emotional turmoil. Americans were never made fully aware of the outpouring of grief, sympathy and concern being expressed around the globe.

As we sat in the stunned silence that became the atmosphere of the world for a while, we watched candle light vigils from Romania, China, Russia, Rome and many, many other places. Store windows everywhere we went, including Rome, were decorated in red, white and blue. Condolences were expressed in every restaurant, every shop, every where. In Assisi, a large book was set on a podium outside the police building. The book was guarded by “at attention” officers. It was there for people to sign and express themselves to the people of the US. The pages were filled with the many languages of the visitors to that city. The world cared and wanted to show that it did. These were moments that touched our souls; the demonstration of humanities goodness served somewhat as a balm to the atrocities of New York.

So this is when we met Nico and began to appreciate him as a person and his dream of what Sant’ Antonio would become. His goal was and still is to create a place of quality and beauty for his guests. Year by year he adds to the dream. Along with the priceless views God has created here, Nico equips the apartments with high quality dishes, glassware, plush towels, inviting bedtime linens, flat screen satellite TV, a gigantic screen in the common room for watching special events such as the Olympics, World Series, Soccer Cup matches, etc., barbecue grills, pool area, wireless connection and a myriad of services. We have recommended Sant’ Antonio to many friends and acquaintances over the years and, without exception, they have loved it and Nico. Most have returned. In spite of the richness of what it offers, it is simple and unpretentious—quite classy.

We have been here every year since 2001 except 2002. In 2003 we brought Casey and he set eyes on his first girlfriend, Sophia. They have been good friends ever since and, as with Camilla, anticipate days spent together. Casey was in tears when he left Camilla yesterday but found laughter and fun again once with Sophia. Men, even at a young age, seem to have a proclivity for fickleness. No? Or maybe it is just that both Camilla and Sophia share a quality that ensnares young men.


We are in a different unit than we have had before and I think I like it the best; although, Nico, I know, does not see it this way. It isn’t as large as some of the other two bedroom apartments but it is roomy enough and, importantly, as it is on the second level, there are beautiful views from every window. If you have read this blog for long, you know that is important to me. I absolutely love opening shutters in the mornings and seeing Lake Trasimeno in the distance from one side and the golden and green rolling hills covered with olive trees, tall cypress, drying wheat and stone houses out the other side. What more could one ask of paradise? Not much.

Last night we stayed home and had a simple pasta dinner, enjoying the ease of being at home together, talking and laughing. Today we took a drive to two small villages I have wanted to visit—not having been to them before. A friend of mine offers week retreats in the village of Montisi and so I wanted to see where that was. And then, right near Montisi is Borgo Trequanda with a restaurant recommended by dear friend, always reliable when it comes to food, Jerry. It was outstanding in all ways—service, food, presentation, location and views. It is one of those places worth seeking out. Casey had ricotta and melon ravioli with red pepper corns—every bit as good as it sounds. I had lamb with a honey preparation and Ken had boar with a chocolate and pine nut sauce. Yum, yum! We had equally good antipasti. My suggestion: add it to your list of must visit restaurants in this area. Il Conte Matto in Trequando not far from Pienza, Montepulciano and this area.

Now, time to enjoy the echoes of silence that fill the air here. The lounge chair calls and the breeze invites and I’m out the door.



Anonymous said...

What a lovely treat, to turn on my computer this morning and find you are writing about Sant'Antonio. I can visit vicariously via your blog!

We had lunch at Conte Matto a couple of years ago. The food and the views are magnificent.

Say hi to Nico for me.

Palma said...

Oh, yum, Jane. Brad had that melon ravioli, and we all enjoyed our dinner there with Jerry and Paul.

Jerry said...

Jane - I'm so glad that your meal there was a good one. I can't wait to return!

girasoli said...

Hi Jane, I have enjoyed reading about your travels. Ann has also told me about Sant' Antonio. It sounds heavenly!! I was standing outside Malpensa Airport waiting for my shuttle pick up for my last night at an airport hotel the day of that big thunder and lightening storm when you were on Lake Como.

I have also enjoyed reading about your time in Croatia. I did not know about how the world reacted after September 11th. Thanks for sharing that! Enjoy yout time in Montepulciano :)

Jane said...

Thanks everyone! It's so nice to know that we can connect this way--when worlds apart. Have a good one.

Kookaburra said...

Jane - keep on blogging - you've won us over to 2 weeks in Greve in Chianti next year. Via your blog we're already feeling settled and can't wait.

Jane said...

kookaburra--which sounds Australian--is it? You'll love it there. Are you staying at Fattoria Viticcio? We will be there from mid July through mid-August. My e-mail is jane@janeandken.com.

janie said...

Once again, thank you for sharing these wonderful places. I'm trying to figure out when we can get back to Italy and use tour recommendations!

Deborah said...

One of my all-time favorite of your blog entries, Jane. And that is saying a lot considering what great stuff you write all the time.
Thanks so much.

Jane said...

Janie, I'll send some more to you and you'll really come.

Deborah, WOW! What a compliment!! It gave me a glow. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane, I'm checking in a bit belatedly to say hi and to add my happiness in reading about your adventures. I can imagine Casey will have a life which is definitely connected to Italy. It is part of who he is. Everything you write about is vivid and alive. Thank you for sharing. Soak up these moments. It's all so wonderful. Barb Cabot

Anonymous said...

Hi jane - what a moving blog!!!
And Conte Matto is one of our favorite spots!!!

Jane said...

Thank you molto to the last commenter for the nice works---but, who are you? I'm always curious about that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane - I was the last blogger (Harriet Sculley - from Los Angeles and Tuscany). I am rather unfamiliar with responding to blogs - in fact, the only blog that I have ever responded to is yours.
Casey is a lucky boy indeed!!!

amy said...

I LOVE Conte Matto! We discovered it in 2006 when we stayed in Castlemuzio. I had the same lamb dish, and Jamie had the wild boar in chocolate sauce. We went back several times that trip because the food and the views were so good.