Well, at this rate, I will never finish with our story, will I? So do I skip over the details and summarize, or just keep it long and true? Maybe a bit of both. Okay, when we left our heroines (my group and I!), we visited the Giardino Tarocchi.

Wednesday, May 19. We awoke to mist and clouds again, and were grateful we made our decision yesterday to head for the sea and the Tarot Garden. Today’s destination is Montepulciano, and we spent the entire day tromping around this medieval town with our umbrellas up, our feet soaking wet, and our spirits disgruntled. Waited over two hours for an internet cafe to open, because their lines were down, but still managed to find one of our favorite leather and journal stores, a very nice cutting board store, and have a delicious lunch at Caffe Poliziano (I continue to thank Jeanne Carnes’ friend for that recommendation in 2004!). And we went to the store whose name I can never remember, to buy the pasta mixture I love. Five jars of it this time, and I’ll use one of them tonight to make pasta for the women.

We were glad we went to Pienza on Sunday afternoon, because today was no day to gaze out at the countryside over the Pienza wall. Too too wet and gloomy! Home again home again, to the villa for dinner della casa, prepared by Chefina Giovannah Merriman.

Thursday, May 20. A better sky this morning, and we must be doing something right, because as we drove toward Lake Trasimeno, the clouds separated and at least allowed us to see SOME blue. A short boat ride to Isola Maggiore, and a very long wait for lunch, thus not much time to wander this tiny island before getting back on the ferry for the mainland (Passignano) again. But we wanted to spend more time in Cortona today, and that is what we did.

Every time I go to Cortona, I love it more. Under The Tuscan Sun (the book is the factual story, the movie a delightful transmutation of Frances Mayes’ life) tells the story of falling in love with a house and a town, and if I had less pride, I would actually walk the 4K and find the house Ms. Mayes purchased before she wrote her first Tuscan book. Instead, we wandered the streets and shopped.

I’m surprised, but I’m only window shopping this trip. I have enough stuff. More than enough. And will have to be moving all of it in the next three weeks, so I point and smile and watch my fellow Italy women pick up very nice mementos of their trip here.

The requisite cappuccino and a pastry at a sidewalk cafe, a bit of people watching, and more wandering these cobblestone streets for buried treasure. To be a part of a community like this would send my heart soaring! But alas . . . it is not to be.

I met an American woman who has been living in Italy for 40 years, now in Assisi, and she told me she will be in Fort Collins to teach some Italian cooking classes in March. She encouraged me to offer writing workshops in Italy, and we exchanged cards. It always amazes me when these little bits of networking pop up! More of these later in the trip . . .

Friday, May 21. This is our Chianti day, and while Jan and Cyndy opted to stay at the villa, lounging, reading, and doing laundry, Paula and I drove up past Siena, through Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti and stopped for lunch at Badia a Coltibuono (delicious!) before ending our day in Greve in Chianti. Just for a couple of hours, we did what one does in these towns. Look in windows, shop a bit inside, grab another cup of espresso or cappuccino, go to the internet cafe, and back to the car, headed for the villa.

Packing up is our task tonight, as well as finishing the food in the fridge, because tomorrow, we return the car to Florence, meet with our private transportation driver, and head for Cinque Terre, via Pisa for a few hours.

The weather is definitely improving, and we look forward to magnificent skies and temperatures on the Italian Riviera . . . more to come.


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