When the stars align, especially in life, one must savor the moment and remember to be grateful. Thus has been my experience as I travel by the seat of my pants across Italy.
Travelling with no plans and no restrictions is proving to be spectacularly fun. Okay, maybe I don't know how to buy groceries when everything is labelled in Italian, or distinguish a fire exit when I see one, and sure I may not know how to read an Italian menu, but I have become very good at what I refer to as "language charades. Apparently it is a universal method of communicating. When all else fails, smile and make gestures with your hands. Somehow it all works out.
My final evening in Renaissance Florence is spent with an adorable couple from England that I meet as I am sittin atop the stunning rooftop terrace of the Grand Hotel Cavour. With a small swivel of my head I can see the massive arches of the Piazza del Duomo, the Piazza del Signoria, as well as the Voognana Tower of Palazzo del Bergello, all a mere stones throw away. It is hard not to imagine the executions that once took place in the yard of the Bargello. With so much history surrounnding me it is easy to get swept off into a distant time. But right now I am enjoying the conversation with my new friends, and in no time at all we find ourselves walking the streets of Florence to a nearby restaurant. Dining in what could easily substitute as an airline hangar due to its size, one can't help but be in awe of the establishment's decor. Hanging from the massive ceilings heights are numerous hand woven baskets. Each basket is easily 20 feet tall, and 10 feet wide. Each basket is of a different shape and each houses a soft lighting which is illuminating from deep within its core. The effect is fabulous. The evening equally as memorable.
The next morning I manage to cross the Tuscan countryside in the rental car that I have acquired, and make my way to the medieval village that is to be my new home. The GPS that I purchased in Canada has proved to be highly entertaining.. I have learned two things about her. One, she cannot count, two, she has absolutely no grasp on the beautiful Italian language. She manages to completely mangle each and every word she speaks, but somehow I decipher her strangled instructions and reach my intended destination.
My Tuscan escape is everything I could have hoped for. The warmth and life my new home breaths is perfection. I am situated inside the walls of the village, and I embrace everything about it. I am going to love it here. Over the days that follow I travel from Pienza to Pisa. Each day is spent meandering through little hilltop villages, photographing the breathtaking views. The skyscrapers of San Gimignano, the olive groves of Montalcino, or the rolling hills of D'Orcia. There is no end to this countries beauty it would seem. When I am not sightseeing, my time is spent sipping fine wines, dining on enough pasta, cheese and bread to put me into a food coma, or working on new paintings that have been inspired by the previous days adventures. What once was a cozy little kitchen has now been transformed into a bustling art studio. Thus far I have painted 3 pieces, and look forward to painting more and more.
Tonight I find myself driving back in the direction of Florence. I am going to the home of someone that I have never met before, and I am in no way unnerved about it. Only a sense of adventure bobs about in my mind. I am on my way to the villa of a talented and beautiful sculptor. Somehow I have been invited to attend a very special dinner party. This dinner is going to be filmed by a famous L.A. film producer for his latest movie. In an attempt at keeping the scene authentic, the producer asked that the dinner guests be actual artists. That is why I am going to attend. It certainly won't be due to my acting skills or my ability to speak fluent Italian. I am there solely as an artist. Upon my arival I am met in the gardens of the villa by a tall, stunning woman with a beautiful smile. I will quickly discover her heart is as big as her smile.
The next six hours fly by, and some new friendships have been forged. The scenes are filmed and the entire process is both foreign and wonderful. The traditional Tuscan dinner that was featured in the movie was certainly the best food that I have eaten in Italy thus far. A true feast. By the end of the evening I have been invited back to stay at the villa for as long as I want. "Come stay for the winter" they offer with open arms. Such kindness, thoughtfulness, and love. Their generosity and kindness will never be forgotten and they will forever hold a place in my heart and my memory.
So you see, when the stars align, all we need to do is lie back and watch the wonders unfold. We will not be disappointed. There is much light in the world, all we need to do is allow it to shine on us, and to recognize it and be grateful for it when it does.