Written June 8 2011
Italy continues to be beautiful. Each day I wake up to birds chirping, and the smell of flowers. My host here, Liane, is very laid back, so I work for maybe 3 hours a day, sometimes more, often less. The weather was really rainy for a couple of days, so that made work even less. I have a lot of free time to read, watch movies, go online, etc. Twice Liane has taken us to the near by village. She even took us to the not so near by natural hot springs, that the Roman soldiers used to use years and years ago (or at least host springs someplace close to those ones. There are many.
Anyway, today, I had a great travel moment. After spending two hours weeding, and two hours making Indian food (really – I now know how to make home made chapati bread! And it's delicious), I decided to go for a run in the Tuscan countryside. It's so beautiful here, lots of golden fields and green hills. Ten minutes into the run, I stumbled up a hill into a beautiful little town I had no idea was there, but has probably been there for oh, ten times longer than I have been alive (or more). Oh it was so neat. So Italian! Windy staircases, cobbled streets, cobbled staircases that were so slanted I thought they may not be stairs. And people really do live there. Even in the smallest of streets, on the strangest of staircases, I'd find tiny colorful doors with flowers on the windowsills. I wandered my way up to the top of the hill town. There I found a lookout over the green hills (some with some other small towns on top) and the ruins of an old church or something. The church had a park bench in it, overgrown with weeds which I thought was a nice touch. On the way back down I went down every strange staircase I could find. I got a little lost. A little brown dog came to keep me company though. It followed me aaallllll the way down the hill, sniffing and peeing on things as we went. But I was on the wrong side of the town, a bit lost. So the dog followed me all the way back up the hill, through another narrow cobbled street, then all the way down to the correct side of the hill. He was sweet company, but then it followed me to the edge of town. I think it would have followed me home if I let it. I told it, Stop! Stay! Didn't work. It kept following me. (the dog doesn't speak English). So I tried the same words in Spanish (which sometimes is the same as Italian). Didn't work. So I tried just yelling “Non! Non!” (no) and pointing. It took a couple of times, but it worked. He went back. And I ran back to my temporary country home. It's hard to explain why, but the whole thing left me feeling elated and full of smiles. A happy travel day indeed.