Showing posts with label Tuscany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tuscany. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Travel Tuesday: When Twitter Tweaks the Trip

This mini-tale began on Monday with a notice that we had a new follower on Twitter; a newcomer, it seemed, to the social media: Podere Assolatina in Tuscany.  I responded by becoming the eighth follower of their handful of tweets announcing their new web site. 

Since we are heading to Italy this fall, I checked their site (link above).  This agriturismo – between Florence and Rome -- looks charming. Their rates, surprisingly inexpensive. San Casciano Dei Bagni, the town they are near is postcard picture-perfect.

“Too bad we’ve already booked a place in Florence,” I thought as I found myself writing them and asking a few more questions about the place.

I showed the web site to Joel, along with the photos they’d sent in a return email within hours of my inquiry. 

“Too bad we’ve got a place in Florence already,” he said. “Wonder if we could cancel those reservations?"

Our plans had been firm: take a train to Florence, spend three nights there, then a train to Rome to board another to its port town Civitavecchia.

By Tuesday evening we’d cancelled our reservations in Florence and booked a rental car that we’ll pick up in Bologna and use for three days en route to Civitavecchia.

The agriturismo folks haven't responded to my rental inquiry yet, but that doesn’t really matter. . .

By tossing our original itinerary we have the freedom to head out and stay where ever we find ourselves. And in case you are wondering, we didn’t take the car’s GPS option.

If You Go:
Map picture

Podere Assolatina, Fraz. Celle Sul Rigo, 53040 San Casciano Dei Bagne, +39 331-447-4328

How about you? Have you ever changed travel plans based on some fluke like we did?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

On the beach with Frances Mayes

‘The journey itself is home’  Frances said, quoting the 17th Century Japanese poet and haiku master, Matsuo Basho.

Actually, Basho’s full quote was, “Each day is a journey and the journey itself is home” -- the first entry of his masterpiece, “Narrow Road to a Far Provence.”

hawaii2012 013 Long or short version -  it works for me. It’s the perfect response to those who say, ‘You are never home anymore.’ 

‘No, The journey itself is home,’ I will answer from now on.

Frances Mayes, the author who introduced the world to Tuscany and its sun, has been a friend and mentor of mine for nearly 20 years:

We both embarked on adventures of home ownership on foreign soil two decades ago. She and her husband, Ed, in Tuscany and Joel and I in Mexico.We had similar adventures along the way – she just had the good sense to write about them and make money – I didn’t.
She and Ed now spend a great deal of time at their homes in Cortona, Italy. Joel and I sold ours in Bucerias, Mexico several years ago.

I should mention Frances and I have never met; probably never will.  But I’ve read and re-read her books so many times that I feel as though we are long-time friends. She’s definitely a mentor.

Before traveling in Europe, I always grab my, now dog-eared, copy of “A Year in the World to see if Frances spent time in any of our intended destinations and if so, what tips she has for me.  She is the one who introduced me to Spanish poet, Lorca, and inspired my search for his ‘duende’, that elusive earth spirit of Andalucia on our recent travels there.


I’ve been reading her, Every Day in Tuscany, Seasons of Italian Life during my lazy afternoons on the beach.  It’s a touching look at  her experiences and life’s lessons learned since she lost her heart to Tuscany.

hawaii2012 017 When I selected her to join me on our Hawaiian holiday, I didn’t realize that my friend Frances would be mentoring me again.

This trip, while providing us post-card perfect  idyllic tropical days has also found us being jolted –  far too many times – with disquieting news about friends. . . a colleague’s death, . . .a friend’s cancer diagnosis. . .another facing surgery. . .with frightening regularity the negative news has arrived.

Is it a sign of our age or could the moon and stars simply be out of alignment?  

We think about our friends. We think about us. How many years ahead will we be able to consider our days as journeys and the journeys home?  Life, like travel itself, is an experience in which we must anticipate the unexpected – but must it be bad?

So having pondering repeatedly those and related questions at seaside, I returned to Frances and as if on cue, she was also pondering similar questions and observed: 

“Life’s little wake-up calls. (Do they have to be so numerous?) Scroll down the list and start to wail – or shout out Carpe diem.”

hawaii2012 036 Carpe diem, seize the day! Once again Frances has given me a phrase. . .one I’ve been repeating all week. 

We must seize the day –  yes, we will plan for next year’s return. . .in fact, we’ve been invited to dance with the the Honolulu Lions I wrote about earlier this week and who in their right mind would want to miss that. . .right? The reservations at Ko Olina, our Pacific paradise home are confirmed. We plan to be here under the Hawaiian sun. . .just as Frances will be under her Tuscan sun.

Carpe diem. . .seize the day.  . .each day is a journey and the journey itself is home.

How have you seized your day? Is your journey itself a home?


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