I am sitting here in Pisa, after what has seemed like a very long time away from Cornwall. It has only been five days, but because of all the driving I’ve been doing, over 750 miles worth, it has been particularly long and tiring.
As I think back on all the places I’ve been this trip, several of them stand out. In no particular order, they include Sienna, Perugia, Orvieto, Todi, Poppi and Lucca. I didn’t have a chance to spend any time in Todi, Poppi or Orvieto, I only had time to drive through each of them, but they seem worth a return visit. Sienna was more beautiful than I’d imagined, and Perugia more lively and interesting than the tour books would have you believe. And Lucca, which I have visited four times now, seems like it might be the most livable of all.
Which leads me back to the issue of why I’m here in Italy. After our year is up in Cornwall we would like to live somewhere on the European continent. We want to learn a new language, or brush up on one we know (I speak some Spanish, and Rachel speaks passable French); we want to expose the boys to new places and languages; and we want to have some new adventures as well as make new friends. Our choices of countries are currently Italy, France and Spain – and this trip was to take a longer look at Italy.
We were here in June, spending time along the Italian Riviera, which extends from the French border, east past Genova, to La Spezia. We decided after that trip that the Italian Riviera wasn’t a place we wanted to live, so I’ve come back to take a look at Tuscany and Umbria.
One of the places we’ve been concentrating on is around Lake Trasimeno, which is quite close to Perugia. During our June trip we contacted the folks running the See You In Italy web site, and spent two days visiting houses near Pozzuolo with Giancarlo. We found the perfect house, but it was a little out of our budget, so we’ve been concentrating instead on buying a fixer-upper (my specialty), possibly taking a year or so to fix it up, and then turning it into a retreat center (something Rachel’s keen to do as a way to create our own built-in community while we’re away from our family and friends).
But something happened this trip that has made me less positive about living in Italy. I don’t know if it was the traveling alone, or driving so far, or the fact that I speak hardly a word of Italian and didn’t talk with anyone for five days. But I’m wondering whether it makes sense to move the four of us, along with a dog and cat, to some place we don’t even speak the language. And fix up a house at the same time? Some of our friends have wondered whether we’re a little bit crazy, and I might be beginning to see that they mean.
I’m flying back to London tomorrow morning, then taking the train back to down to Cornwall. I can’t wait to get back and see them all – Rachel, Nathaniel and Sebastian. And run along the coast. And have some time to stop and feel, rather than just think all the time.
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