This is what I read at our final dinner, the last night of our retreat:
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I’ve been surrounded by birdsong both gentle and soothing, raucous and loud. I’ve drunk more wine in ten days than I do in a year. Eaten foods I never consider eating at home and have been rewarded with myriad new flavors, layer upon layer of subtle hints adding up to sublime.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I’ve been welcomed into Rodolfo and Gigi’s home with a gracious generosity that has surprised and delighted me. I’ve felt like a private guest on a wonderful estate with access to ancient stories and hidden places. My heart has calmed surrounded by constant beauty.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany we’ve been served and cared for with loving attention by Luigi, Luis, and Franka. Their brilliant skills and hard work made our stay in Tuscany delicious and full of ease. They took care of us so well.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I’ve been bitten by mosquitos and no see-ums, watched peacocks court peahens with the most unromantic sounds I’ve ever heard, enjoyed a daily city of frogs, and heard wild pigs—or was it a wolf? as I walked along the silent road outside the Villa at night with Karyn, our journey lit only by firefly.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I’ve learned how olive oil is made and why tradition matters. I’ve learned about wine making and wood restoration and once again how a group of mostly strangers can bond over words in a foreign land, creating a loving traveling family. I’ve been reminded that I run these retreats not to teach writing but to build community—thank you to everyone who became part of that community. It’s been so rewarding to watch deep bonds grow. This, more than anything is what makes my heart sing.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I’ve had the joy of observing two sisters work together seamlessly, loving each other with clear delight and pleasure and such deep loyalty. Gigi and Graseilah have shown me what sisterhood is all about, and I am grateful you shared your special bond with all of us.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I tasted cheesecake so light it felt like I was eating a dream, kissing a cloud. I will never forget the soft fluffy not-too sweet smoothness of every bite and how grateful I was that the pieces were huge.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I’ve eaten wild boar twice: here at the Villa, subtly woven into a ragu and then at a restaurant in huge gamey chunks with no vegetables that overwhelmed my palate. I’ve eaten liver pate twice, something I never eat at home, and had the sweetest cherries right off the tree, perfectly cooked green beans, and the finest olive oil in the world leaving its magic touch on everything.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I’ve felt grateful. Grateful that sixteen of us made it here covid free and for the respite we’ve had from the pandemic once we arrived—to live mask free without fear.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I dove into the refreshing blue mouth of the pool and swam underwater until I popped up to find someone reading my book, the book I poured my heart and soul into for ten years—and in that moment, my efforts felt complete.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I’ve been delighted by the wind in olive groves, little treasures of art all over the grounds. I’ve gained appreciation for the relevance of deep history and the restoration of things of value, rather than a culture that throws things away.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany my love and admiration of Graseilah has grown every day. She is a remarkable leader, guide, collaborator, and organizer. Teaming up with her to create this trip is one of the best decisions I ever made.
Since I’ve come to Tuscany, I have been awash in beauty every day, continually surprised and amazed that after three years of trying this dream finally came true.
If you don’t want to wait for the email digest version of my virtual vacation posts, you can follow me directly on social media where you can also find short posts, videos and photographs from Tuscany: