For the past three weeks I've been traveling with friends. Seven of the eight are new friends; the eighth is a friend of 40 plus years whom some of you were introduced to as I helped her through a rough patch dealing with throat cancer. Turns out, as Mark Twain opines, "I do like people " even after we've traveled together.
I thought I'd share a few photographs from my journey with some comments about human nature that grew from our travels.
This is how I looked when we headed to the airport for Italy. For the first time, I didn't check any luggage. And that down vest and down jacket? I wore them almost every day in Italy. They'd had a dry, warm winter but the weather changed the day we arrived to wet, cool spring. Too late for the truffles they tell me. That little cavalier King Charles Spaniel staring at me is Simon, Caesar's brother. He spent the time we were gone with Jerry, chief dog sitter. What are friends for?
We woke up to this view every morning in Umbria except that this morning, the valley was fogged in. It reminded me so much of being on the ranch where we would watch the fog rise up from the John Day River revealing an amazing landscape below. This is a partial view out the same window without the fog. I have to say, I thought when I first saw the landscape that we could have been driving through western Wisconsin where I grew up or in the Willamette Valley between Salem and Forest Grove. The smaller house below is the office. Alpacas wandered in there at will.
Gluten free ravioli
One precious day we visited a family who makes Holy Wine for communion. They prepare about 40 bottles a year, that's all and they make it the way the family has dried and crushed the grapes for 400 years.
In the foreground on the right are Duane and Lee Terry, Sandy Maynard, Jim (spouse of Linda Kirsh our guide and standing at the end with our host), Charlie Cooper and Debbie Holmes, my traveling companions. The woman with the camera next to Jim is our host's wife and a little granddaughter is in the background as well. Such sweet intimacy for traveling, invited into homes and served a meal.
One evening we were treated to a cooking class. They made gluten free ravioli for me! There are entire gluten-free bakeries in Florence.
A picture of David, Michael Angelo's incredible work, has to be included. We got advance tickets so we only stood in line about 15 minutes, well worth the wait. It's said that other artists had rejected the marble because it was too narrow. But Michael Angelo could "see" what was inside the stone and it was David with a sling over his shoulder and the look of a young man who believed he could take on the giant Goliath and he did.
Finally, I leave you with a video of a magical moment in Venice. All my friends are in the video (except the tour guide and her husband) but I would tour with this crew anytime. Compatible, kind, funny, relaxed and open to new ideas that comes with travel. A great journey with friends.