“Life offers you a thousand chances. . .
all you have to do is take one.”
|Our village, Agios Nikolaos at sunset|
Well she did it again. That ne’r-met friend of mine, Frances Mayes, showed up last week in the village and in a subsequent rather wild and crazy turn of events and emails we are off to the place she made famous, Cortona, Italy next week. . .
A Bit of Backstory:
|Under the Grecian Sun|
Long time readers of TravelnWrite know I am enamored with Frances Mayes’ books. I credit her “Under the Tuscan Sun” (that tale written more than two decades ago about having the courage to buy a home, Bramasole, in Italy and making it her own) for planting one of the seeds that has led us to our full-time Greek residency.
Her later, “A Year in the World” has become a rag-tag travel bible of sorts, that has a permanent spot within easy reach on my nightstand (first in the States now next to the Greek bed) In this one she’s set loose the travel bug through her tales of long-term stays in far-away destinations. She’s sung the praises of spending enough time somewhere to really get a feel for a ‘sense of place’.
|Mediterrenean doorways fascinate - Kythira, Greece|
Six years ago her “Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of Italian Life”, a retrospective look at her Italian experiences, offered some poignant observations about the passing of time and life itself. It came along at a time I had just lost a couple of dear colleagues to illness and I too was pondering the fleeting passage of years and relationships.
You long-timers here know I refer to her as a ‘friend’ and do feel that she is a friend – despite the fact we’ve never met and likely never will. Her ‘friendship’ is much like that I have with many of you whose written words have provided both encouragement and understanding; like that of any friend, near or far.
Sometimes among the most encouraging and understanding friends, I am learning, are those I’ve never met face-to-face.
|Staying in touch with long-time friends|
So my comment that Frances 'appeared in the village' really means her latest novel that I had ordered arrived at our mail table in the local taverna.
“Women in Sunlight” is a novel that caught me up in the storyline just as has her non-fiction. Perhaps it is because it involves three women in their 60’s who decided to chuck the safe and sane approach to aging and set off for Italy for a year-long adventure (I can relate.)
The narrative, with its thread of friendships made along life’s way, has an Italian village for its backdrop and is punctuated with her signature references to food, wine, and la buona vita, the good life.
“Women in Sunlight comes from one of the major joys of my life – my friends. On every page, my love goes out to them,” she writes at the book’s end.
|Exploring the world - a 'sense of place'|
The Scout and I have been contemplating a week-long getaway (remember, we moved here so we could explore more of this side of the Atlantic). We could fly to Budapest, or Vienna, or Rome, we said. Or we could go somewhere within Greece. All are rather easy getaways with flights only two or three hours long.
We simply couldn’t decide where to go and were about to give up the idea.
In between pondering travel and reading, I’ve been catching up on long over-due correspondence. One long chatty email was to a friend in Seattle. I’ve been missing my friends ‘back there’ – the lunches and coffees, giggles and conversations. Frances had reminded me again in her book of the importance of those relationships.
Among the topics I told my friend, Sharon, about was the book I was reading.
|A secret spring on a spring day|
Sharon wrote back saying that she and a friend were traveling next Tuesday as part of a group tour to Tuscany and would, in fact, be based for a week in Cortona (the town made famous in “Under the Tuscan Sun”).
And yes, she said, they are both fans of Frances Mayes fans; their decision to join this group was sparked in part by their love of her books.
|Setting off for serendipity|
“Wouldn’t it be fun to write Sharon and suggest if she had a free evening that we go to dinner with her and her friend in Cortona,” I off-handedly suggested two days ago to The Scout. I wrote her and asked for her schedule – luckily there was some free evenings built in to their activities.
“Hmmm. . .said The Scout, “We could catch the train to Florence, spend a few nights there and then head to Cortona for a few nights, a final night in Rome. . .” And hour or so later we were booked!
So that Frances did it again. She appeared at just the time I needed a reminder about friendships and she was again a spark for getting us out to explore a place we've never been before. Just like any good friend, she gave me the nudge when I needed it!
That’s it for this week at The Stone House on the Hill. I’ll be back next week with a report from Cortona and maybe I’ll be a few days late checking in with you all. I might just be busy next week raising a glass with Sharon in toast to Frances and to friendships far and wide ~
Linking up this week with:Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday –
Best of Weekend