Important People and Some Rules to Live By


Apparently there are golden jackals in Tuscany. They are smaller than coyotes but look similar, live in packs of six or so, and generally hunt in pairs. I can hear them in the valley below, yipping and howling like coyotes. Tuscany is actually home to quite a number of species, from poisonous vipers to wild boar, deer, and even wolves in some of the bigger parks. Fortunately, the edible dormouse is a prevalent and foundational staple of the Tuscan food chain.

The circle of life goes on.

Today’s morning has been one of wildlife and cool air. There is an owl with a flutish sounding “who” in a tree nearby. The sun will be rising soon and I wonder what else is creeping below the hedges, vines, and trees all around the hotel terrace. And I thought the large group of German travelers staying at the I Barronci would be the most exotic animals I encountered here.

The Importance of Leisure

Silvia kindly built-in a quiet day for us yesterday and we took the day to relax and enjoy the resort. Understand, I Barronci isn’t a Hilton or Marriott Resort, it has 33 rooms, a restaurant, pool, spa area, a lovely terrace/bar area, and some parking on what is probably 5 or 6 acres. We’ve encountered Romanians living in Switzerland, a few Americans, Italians in for a “holiday”, our German tourists, and any number of other not yet identified nationalities. Our Romanian friends were one of two couple who were enjoying the resort with their two young children.

Blogging, breakfast, and laying by the pool comprised our morning yesterday. Our new Romanian friends, Tony and Corine, have been living in Switzerland for 10 years, named their girls French names (Camille and Amalie), own a home on Lake Como (on the Swiss side), and have an international enough dialect as to make their Romanian accents undetectable. They communicate with their children almost exclusively in English and the two girls are as active, precocious, and talkative as you would expect from a 5 and a 3 year old.

“Mummy, I want to go on an explorer,” was the comment we heard as we first passed them to walk down the paths below the pool area. Sally always makes an explore sound so adventurous. We returned later to enjoy the pool and its very comfortable water temperature. The sun put a little color on us – now we really look like we are on holiday!

Leisure for us included our pool time, a lovely lunch outside on the terrace, complete with Peroni and a spelt salad for me (a barley grain with tuna), a brief nap, a couple’s massage in the afternoon (a seriously indulgent activity), and sunset at a small gazebo nestled in the foliage below. Leisure is not an absence of activity, but it is unhurried and renewing.

Busy Night

There were a number of large groups converging on Tiberio, the hotel restaurant last night. One of the interesting dynamics of the sized of this hotel is have a direct sense of activity – we could see and feel the pace of traffic change throughout the day. We try to do dinner as early as possible, in this case 7:15pm is when doors open. However, one large group was already gathered (I believe the Germans had a wine tasting event) in a back dining area and they were clearly gearing up for a major evening.

Brando was kind enough to treat Sally and I to our apertivo before he left for the evening – he had some kind of racquet sport contest last night – he suggested something with a paddle but I suspected it was not pickle ball. I noticed a woman changing light bulbs and doing some straightening up in the entry area of the lounge – I believe she was the owner. It looked like they were expecting special guests.

Dinner was very nice. Dad ordered Mr. Chianti, which turned out to be a massive hamburger – between his massage and that hamburger, he had a really great day. I’m not sure why they named the dish Mr. Chianti, however, they also have a dish called Mr. Polpo that looks equally out of place on a menu with names like Casarecce Artigianali and Tagliata di Tonno.

The big guests eventually arrived – we only knew because the woman I saw earlier showed up with her husband and children – they looked like they owned the place and they spent a lot of time visiting with the guests of honor, showing them extensive attention. It was all quite something to watch – the service staff was jumping and we saw what appeared to be the chef (Gemma’s boyfriend) and a manager paying similar homage to the special guests. We’re going to see Silvia tonight and I’ll ask her if she knew what was going on.

Back in Gear

After our day of rest, we are ready to dive back into our explorations. Today we will visit a Tuscan winery and a few small walled, medieval villages. Montefioralle will be the first stop, about 25 minutes away.

As we approach the end of our second week in Italy, we’ve got a bit of a groove going. The disorientating culture shock is wearing off and we’re starting to understand how to get around, how to interact with our new community, and what are some of the do’s and do not’s of our host country.

For example, do insert .50 euro to use the bagno, do not walk into the women’s toilets if you are not a woman; do insert the appropriate toll ticket when leaving the autostrade, do not insert the ticket you used for the Assisi parking lot in the toll ticket slot; do take the sharp left turn when Google says, do not go up the one way hill in the wrong direction because Google is confused and you do not know where the heck you’re going; do say “grazie” as “thank you” and not as “hello”; and finally for this round of discoveries: do try strange foods and drinks, do work to use the language you don’t know, and do say “yes” to trying new things; do not be afraid of looking dumb, it’s such a limiter of possibilities.

Hmm, might a few rules for life in there.

Showing 3 comments
  • John

    Great advice,

  • Dawn Sparks

    We just returned from Venice, Florence, and Rome last month and I have to say – your posts are making me miss it terribly! I don’t know how on earth you find time to write, but I’m glad you do. Enjoy!!

  • Gregg Stefanek

    “ not be afraid of looking dumb, it’s such a limiter of possibilities.”
    Love this one!

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