Our trip has continued, even though my posts took a hiatus. Power-sources being what they are (for both the computer and myself) and all. And the photos? I've got them, but loading them up requires a team effort from Pops and myself. I'm not even sure why it is so complicated, but such is many things over here!
After our whirlwind days in Rome we called Giuseppe. Giuseppe was the man we hired at the airport to take us to our Rome apartment. He was kind and honest so we asked for his card and he picked us up when our stay was over. -- "It is a dream for you American come to Roma to see everything so old, no? Ahh, and for us in Italia, we dream of coming to America where everything is so new..." Perspectives are so interesting, aren't they? -- Giuseppe took us to the location of our rental car pick-up. Since we needed the car for a good length of time, we actually "purchased" the car through an agency and then will "sell it back" to a corresponding agency in Marseille, France.
I was almost shocked seeing the car there with our name on it ready to go. Somehow it is surprising when the plans we made months ago are actually working out for us in the present. We packed into our little car, armed with maps and plenty of cluelessness and off we went. We managed the autostrada (the rest-stops have full-on delis and espresso bars) and a few hours later we drove to our watchtower in Bagno a Ripoli, a village just outside of Florence.
And watchtower, you ask? Yes. We are staying in the watchtower of a medieval villa from 1146. It is beyond fantastic. I have taken a zillion photos and can't wait to share them. Yesterday evening, we took a cooking class from our hosts who own the villa and learned how to make pasta from scratch and why eggs are not refrigerated in the stores. (If they are fresh, they are fine at room temperature for 3 weeks. Nobody here refrigerates their eggs and you purchase them off the shelf in the grocery. Makes you wonder about our eggs, doesn't it?) Needless to say, we ate very well last night and are feasting on the leftovers this evening.
Florence, the city, is gorgeous. More of an elegance than the gritty, ancient Rome. But mercy. Getting there requires a car-trip down the hill to a park and ride and a bus into the city. Their bus system is highly efficient ... if you can figure it out. We have spent a lot of time on buses, and not always heading the right direction.
And as a keeping-it-real note, I've had one full on melt-down and a mini-melt-down earlier today after a bus/laundry/dinner debacle. (It's a long story) The trip is magnificent and I am so grateful. But life and reality still exist and being exhausted in busy cities with three young children where you don't speak the language ... hard. Plus, I seem to want to feel overwhelmed at the magnitude of our trip. Feeling like I am not making the most of our time or I wasted our time at failed efforts to see/do. Feeling like this trip is a one-shot deal, so I better do it right.
However. Through a couple of encouraging emails and a word from the Lord (seriously), I am resting on this thought: "Don't look at this as a trip of a lifetime, but the trip you are taking now." Somehow, this feels profound to me. And those prayers I cajoled you all into? I'm am coveting them. Thank you.
Our last night in the watchtower. Time to finish off baths and appreciate an evening of calm in the Tuscan countryside. See there, Anna? Moments of blessing abound.