Saturday, June 4, 2011

TUSCANY: The first few days

written June 4 - the same day i'm publishing it for once!

I've been in Italy, Tuscany at my newest helpxchange for two and a half full days now. I'll be here till June 18, when I go and meet a friend in Rome.

– Yes all meals but breakfast have included pasta.

I arrived at Pisa airport in Italy on the 2nd of June. Surprisingly to myself, I felt quite nervous to be here. I love Italy. A lot. I've been here once before, and i've always wanted to come back, so I'm very excited to be spending the next month here. But Spain, the country I just left feels so homey by now. I know the culture, I know the language... well, enough, I know the general lay of the land I guess. Italy... is unknown. How do I ask things in Italian? No clue. I have a translator book, and I've been told that Italian is very similar to Spanish. Spanish people say that if an italian speaks to them slowly, they understand about 75%. So I'm not starting at square one. It isn't like I'm in Japan or something, but still... no clue.

As usual, I find a nice English speaking Information booth person who explains to me how to get to the train station. I get to the train station, I buy my ticket, I get on the train, and watch Tuscan country side and the Mediterranean on occasion go wizzing by the window. Despite my nervousness, this travel really went without a problem. Well, except for the part where I forgot just how strict Ryanair baggage was, forgot I was only allowed one piece of luggage, not one piece of luggage and a backpack, and got charged 40 euros at the airport gate. OUCH! But other than that, all smooth sailing. And I'm very confident that my host for the next two weeks is going to show up to pick me up in Grosetto because I have numerous confirmation emails and a confirmation text. And sure enough she does show up, and with a bowl of fresh picked red cherries from her tree for me to snack on for the ride home. How sweet! What's that saying about a bowl full of cherries again?

We arrive at her country home in the southern Tuscan hills. Liane, my host, is German, blond, and a very warm person (despite the Germaness of her communication). She bought this house in Tuscany in 1996. She moved to Italy in 1994. She lives at the house with her Italian boyfriend Aldo, who I wasn't to meet until that night. The house is cute, quaint, and an acre full of trees and meadows and flowers. She has roses that smell like honey. I love them. I smell them every time I walk by them. Liane has many stories from her life that I've only gotten sentences about so far. For example, she traveled around South America for a year as a teenager. She spent a good portion of her youth lying in a hospital bed because of some leg problem. She lived in Holland for quite some time... the stories keep coming. Today I found out that she is quite knowledgeable in Tibetan Astrology, like she's about to give a conference about it in France. She and Aldo are Buddhist. Their house is full of Buddhist artwork, and literature. Interesting literature too that I plan to peruse while I'm here. Aldo does Tibetan Massage for a living and is studying Tibetan herbs. They are very connected to the temple close by. There are group meditations there, and on June 16 their teacher is arriving, one of those enlightened, reincarnated monk types. Consequently people from all over the continent, all over the world, are coming to their temple right now to pass the summer. They said they would take me. I think that would be really fun.

So far my time here has been very nice and relaxing and warm, despite the fact that it has rained for the last two afternoons. There are small towns close by that I should be able to explore, hiking to do, maybe some biking, and hopefully we'll all go on a trip to the natural hotsprings that are close by, and maybe the sea too! And already my Italian basics are much more up to speed

Italia va bene! Sonno malta bene!

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