Two years? Not possible! My mind, in vivid colors, conjures up familiar places, friends' faces, favorite tables at favorite trattorias, slopes of green vines, piazzas, art extraordinaire, lagoons, Giotto--so many imprints from so many visits, so much nostalgia for our Tuscan year. And now we are returning after a year's hiatus--how could we have stayed away so long? Ah, I remember, Kenya called and so lions and giraffes replaced David and Leonardo for 2010. And.....I don't regret that excursion at all--it was totally, monumentally spectacular.
But now we go home in 27 days--whose counting, anyway? Casey and I leave on June 15 via United and Lufthansa--San Diego, Chicago, Frankfurt-Rome; Ken follows the next day via United with a by far better routing--San Diego-D.C.-Rome. Why? Because Casey and I used miles for business while Ken has a revenue fare with a business upgrade. He needed the last few ff miles to reach the heady 1,000,000 mile with nice life-time perks. It would have been good to get our free tickets to match his itinerary but no such luck and since free is free we took what we could get.
Casey and I will stay at the Luana B&B near the Rome Airport waiting Ken's arrival the next day and then head on to our most favorite of all places, beautiful and serene Sant' Antonio outside of Montepulciano. This year will mark 10 years since we first arrived at Sant' Antonio and began our friendship with the owners Nico and Elena. Casey and their children have grown up together. We came there days after 9/11/2001 when the world was in mourning with the US. It was a somber time which forged lasting friendships wherever you were.
We love southern Tuscany and have explored it well over the years but..there are always places missed and those to revisit. We will do both during our week there.
From Sant' Antonio we go to Verona for just two nights. We want Casey to see the opera Aida in the Roman Arena there--well, we want to see it, too, actually. The opera season there is world famous and a truly special operatic event. We bought our tickets a long time ago. I understand that the spectacle includes elephants entering down the aisles which will surely captivate Casey if the arias don't. Aida Pictures from the 2009 Season
From Verona, train to Venice-- La Serenissima (the most serene.) We have an apartment there for 6 nights--not long enough but better than our original 3 nights. We've been there before--once just Ken and I in 1999 and then in 2003 with Casey. His memories consist of the pigeons in Piazza San Marco and the gondola ride when he oh so politely told the gondolier "these boats are called canoes in San Diego."
I am totally looking forward to these days in Venice. It is magical there--even with the early summer crowds. I love wandering lost among the calles and canals, admiring the creative vision and genius of building such magnificent structures on water, the food, the Tintoretto and Titian masterpieces, the riding the vaporetto, visiting the islands and the food, again. There is so much we have not seen there that our days will be full.
We pick up our car on leaving Venice, drive to Padua to view the exquisite Giotto frescoes in the Cappella degli Scrovegni. The next morning we will head on to our "home" in Greve-in-Chianti where we will nest for 4 weeks. We already know the first or maybe the second night will find us at Il Portico with Marcella.
Once again Casey will have his birthday there--the 4th time. He will officially become a teenager then--13! Very hard to believe that the little boy who went to 3rd grade there is now almost a grown-up. His teachers and karate instructors will be very surprised by how big he is and by the excellence of his Italian. His tutors here have done a good job with him.
I will take a 3 day vacation-in-a-vacation to Dublin with my friend Rita. Having never been to Ireland, I look forward to this brief, small sampling. Rita has been there so she will be my guru--nice.
While in Greve, the three of us will head to Umbria for 3 nights and take a cooking class from a friend of mine. I will be sure to blog about Rebecca's place where we will stay and Letizia's cooking class. I think this is going to be a blast.
So that is the outline of our plans. The details will be filled in once we arrive and I begin blogging again on a fairly regular basis. It is so much easier when doing something new and different--not like boring at home stuff.
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.