Meet Us in Tuscany: A Memoir of Life at the Villa (Paperback)
Fulfilling a long-time dream, in the summer of 2018 the American author, by design or not, created an unforgettable experience that attending family members and friends will forever mark as a "we-have-to-do-this-again" experience in the beautiful and historic region of Tuscany, Italy. Within the covers of this slim volume, she tells us, dear reader, how she pulled it off and, in the process, gives us an informal "blueprint" of how we too might create our own unique life at a villa in Tuscany.
This Tuscan experience began when the author decided to rent a villa in Italy. This would be an opportunity to get away from a very busy life in California and enjoy time in a beautiful setting surrounded by family and friends. The author, a seasoned traveler, knew she wanted to experience a change of pace from her usual travels. This time it would be a leisurely stay in Tuscany in or near a small village where she could begin to feel like a part of the community. Via the internet, she researched the extensive choices for villa rentals and decided on a very old canonica (parsonage) attached to a decommissioned church on the top of a hill overlooking lush vineyards. Located in the tiny village of Petrifitta just a few kilometers from Castellina in Chianti, Casale la Canonica fulfilled each requirement on her short list (location, character, six bedrooms, pool, etc.) and, as it turned out, was even more beautiful than the pictures of the villa on the Internet. But this is neither a "how-to" book nor a Tuscany travel book though the contents are a must for anyone contemplating a villa rental in Italy or travel in Tuscany. Rather, it is a brisk and witty story of 23 eclectic family members and friends who arrive and depart during a three-week period and, while there, share an extraordinary experience in a very beautiful place in this world.
There are some central themes in the book. Primary is the camaraderie that soon bound this loosely-knit group together. Despite the vast array of things to see and do in the area, the most-treasured experiences were just hanging out with each other at the villa. Early mornings in the kitchen with a cup of freshly-brewed Italian coffee, dinner under the pergola, playing games, swimming in a pristine pool and going for walks were all special times for the group.
Another theme was soccer because, spanning the three-week stay, the Men's Soccer World Cup was in full swing and further because two of the guests were top US soccer players. This is a sports-oriented family but even for a family not much interested in sports, it was impossible not to be swept up by the passion for soccer in Italy.
Of course, visits to the major cities of Florence or Siena or to the smaller Tuscan hill towns was a daily ritual. Finding the perfect spot for a delicious Italian lunch and local wine is a pleasurable task. The guests came and went as they chose and at the pace they desired. Stories of experiences with the local merchants who became close friends are heartwarming.
It is impossible to read this story without simultaneously planning your vacation in a villa in Italy or even in a seaside cottage or mountain cabin just 100 miles away from home. You can capture the joy of family and the spirit of a new adventure anywhere. This story is a promise of good things to come if the reader takes it and develops his or her own special extended stay with family and friends. This short and sweet volume will inspire you to create your own exceptional experience such as the one you find between its covers.