Our Italian Year – June

23 Jul

Our time in Italy was running out, and there was still so much to do. In June, we hit the road for an extended tour through the regions that shared our part of central Italy. Both Umbria and Le Marche are less-travelled and lesser-known than Tuscany, yet both regions feature similar rolling and lush landscapes […]

Our Italian Year – May

5 Jun

  One of the coolest things about living in Bagno a Ripoli was that while it was merely a few miles from the city proper of Florence, it was also the northern tip of one of Italy’s most famous wine regions, accessed by one of the country’s most glorious routes. The Chiantigiana highway begins in […]

Our Italian Year – April

11 May

One of the most enjoyable, and frequent, day trips during our year in Italy was a simple trip down from the hills of Bagno a Ripoli into the city of Florence. On average, we made this trip twice a week, and it never felt routine, at any time of year. April was a particularly nice […]

Our Italian Year – March

28 Mar

Eventually in Italy, after five months of acclimating and procrastinating, I got down to some real writing. Pam and Sophia would go off each morning, leaving me to write until lunchtime, but not before I’d take a long walk, think about the writing I had done the morning before and what I wanted to write […]

Our Italian Year – February (A Valentine for Karen)

19 Feb

Instead of delving into the details of a wet and uneventful February, I’m going to share a story from the past and a story from our Italian year that took place in June. The relevance to February will be clear by the end. I had a friend growing up named Robert Ferrari. He was the […]

Our Italian Year – January

22 Jan

Melancholy arrived with the New Year. The novelty of our living in Italy had diminished somewhat. We’d fallen into a routine, and we also happened to be three months into a heavy rainy season. The sound of steady sheets on our terracotta roof had grown increasingly intolerable. Also, we were sick. Sophia had started at […]

Our Italian Year – December

16 Dec

Paolo’s forno billowed wood smoke over the olive grove. The December afternoon smelled of burning pine and rosemary. These were good days. Days when the outdoor oven cranked and Marta and Paolo had invited us next door to their villa for dinner of pizza and misto’rosto (mixed roast). Marta, predictably, was an accomplished cook. Her […]

Our Italian Year – November

24 Nov

The harvest hit its peak in early November. The whole commune buzzed with activity involved in the picking and processing of grapes and olives. In every grove, in every vineyard, men in flannel and denim and tweed plucked ripened fruit. Three-wheeled Apes (or “bees”) zipped along the narrow streets on their way to the mills, […]

The Beginning

31 Jan

In September of 2003, my wife and I and our infant daughter had a trip planned to Italy. We’d arranged to stay in a refurbished barn, behind a villa in the hills south of Florence. A rental car, complete with child seat, was reserved. I’d read books on Tuscany and beyond. I’d studied some Italian. […]

Our Italian Year – September

26 Sep

Arrival I’m usually fidgety on plane rides of any length, and my previous overnight trips to Europe had been disasters of insomnia that left me bleary-eyed and displaced for the first few days on foreign soil. But I slept almost the entire flight from New York to Nice. The exhaustion from all the preparation of […]