Dennis sent me new driving directions, and it felt strange to follow a new route to his hilltop home in the Casentino Valley. The new route did avoid some of the congestion near Pontesievve, but there is absolutely no way to avoid the extreme winding road that goes over the Consuma Pass. The twists and turns can make even the most intrepid traveler car sick. The Italian Male Driving Factor adds to the experience. Imagine Highway 17 between Santa Cruz and San Jose on steroids! The addition of a grey haired woman in a Fiat Panda (a car not renowned for speed) made their urge to pass on curves even stronger. Despite it all, Mal and I arrived safely after only 2 hours of driving; and, no one threw up.
My heart started to beat quickly as I approached Ponte a Poppi and the road up the hill. Instinct took over and soon I was bumping down the dirt road to Giagalto. There was Dennis in a sun hat holding a rake and Meredith right behind him. The eight years since we were last together evaporated as we hugged, kissed, and spent the rest of the afternoon working on the garden below the studio house.
During those intervening years, M and D had made lovely changes to both of their houses. A patio and pergola was added to the studio house, opening up the living room to much more light. A pergola had been added to the entrance to the studio, a new bathroom plus the old one remodeled in the big house and most important, a new sorgente (well). There would not be a water shortage again.
Dennis had bought the hilltop property jointly with a friend while they were on their Fulbrights in the late 60’s and had spent the last fifty years rebuilding and building. Today there are 7 lovely stone houses plus a restored chapel in the localita. Most of the residents are artists–people that I have known for over 20 years. This is one of my favorite places in the world–heals the spirit with beauty and friendship.
Laughing. Eating wonderful food. Drinking nice wine. Sleeping late. Dennis working on an edition varie of his Fictive Portraits series. The playful energy of 3 year old grandson James. Afternoon naps. A swim in Sarah and Bruce’s lovely pool. Our dogs wandering about seeking food or patrolling for cats. Back to the city all too soon but with a promise to return in August.