Finally – on the last couple of days of this visit by the Romans, we had beautiful weather. Warm and sunny with a gentle breeze that allowed us to enjoy the terrace. We basked in the sun, napped, chatted, and just relaxed while watching Anghiari go about its business. In typical Mediterranean fashion, however, the second the sun dipped behind a tree or otherwise cast a shadow, it got chilly. How does it do this so quickly? Go from hot to cool in just a moment. You have to have a wrap handy at all times because that bright, warm sun will deceive you.
For our last dinner in Anghiari, we were presented with a challenge. We had turned in the nine passenger van earlier in the day, so we had to be strategic about dinner plans. There are a few things that bewilder me about Italy and one of them is the seemingly random hours of businesses and restaurants. Sometimes they’re closed on Tuesdays and sometimes Wednesdays. I don’t know how Italians keep up with it. It appeared that the restaurants in Anghiari that we had not been to were closed that night. We toyed with the idea of cooking at home, but that was voted down. So we piled six people into the five seat Peugeot and set out for Sansepolcro. It’s a good thing that Ann is both small and agile and could fold herself into Jim’s lap with what appeared to be ease.
We had a bit of a transportation issue getting to the train station in Arezzo for our trip to Rome. We had demonstrated the night before that we could all fit into the Peugeot (Ann may disagree with this), but with all the luggage it would be impossible. So Jim, Ann, Millie and I took the bus and met Mike, Cynthia, and Steve there with all the luggage. We got our tickets only to find out the train was delayed about 45 minutes. This was not a good sign. The train came, we got on with all the luggage and started our journey. When the train got to Orte, an announcement was made that this was the end of the line for this train and we would have to catch another train to Rome. Huh? Not sure why this happened, but it did and we scrambled to find our other train and made it on. This train was packed, however. We managed to snag a few seats and Ann, Steve, and I stood up for the short trip to Rome. As I’ve said many times before, train travel in Italy is great when it works and terrible when it doesn’t. In the scheme of things, this was a minor annoyance, but with all the luggage it was challenging.
By the time we got to the hotel and they got their Covid tests, it was too late to do any of the sightseeing we had planned. So we did the next best thing – sat in the garden and had drinks and snacks.
At dinner that night, we hatched the plan that Steve, Ann, and Cynthia would take a cab and go to the Trevi fountain. That was one of the things on their list and why not do it on this their last night? I walked back to the hotel with Millie, Jim, and Mike and just a few minutes after I got settled in the room, Steve came back. He said they had a great cab driver who took them to the fountain and waited while they got out, then drove them around a few other sights on the way back. It was magical with Rome lit up at night and fewer crowds out than in the daytime. I’m so glad they got to see this and experience a little of what makes Rome such a special place.
From Rome to Rome
Sometimes company can be intrusive. After all, your routine is interrupted and even the most rote things take on extra layers. I don’t know exactly what it was with this group that made everything work so perfectly. A combination of things, I guess. Shared history and experiences laid the foundation for an easy reunion, but there was something more here. The Romans were only with us for about seven days, but it seemed so natural to have them that it was a shock to me when their time was up.
We talked and laughed, listened to music, shared our favorite songs (My Girl, We Will Rock You, and If I Were a Boy were among the tops), petted Millie, and generally had a great time. Now the house is back to just the three of us and it seems so empty. No one is having American coffee in the mornings, Jim’s not taking every opportunity to work on his novel (which sounds amazing and I can’t wait for my autographed copy), Ann’s not working on the beautiful needlepoint stocking for her grandson, Mike’s not navigating us out of tight spots with his incredible Navy skills, and Cynthia’s not using her eagle eye to spot the most fabulous treasures. I’ve been part of groups before that shared some magical chemistry and this was definitely one of them.
Thinking back on this visit, I realize that I didn’t know how starved I was for Southerners. Not just Americans, Southerners. With their beautiful accents and polite manners, Southerners were what I craved. They’re familiar and comfortable and being with them feels right. The South is what I know, where my family and friends are. There’s something about Southerners, like Italians, that’s unique. We love our lives here and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it is so good to be reminded of your roots. Our roots are what allow us to take chances and stretch our branches out far and wide. And our roots got a good watering with this visit. Jim, Ann, Mike, and Cynthia – thank you so much for sharing your vacation with us. Thank you for being such easy guests and thank you for reminding us where we came from and what we’re made of.
We have many more guests coming over the next few months and I look forward to each one. Some of them will allow me to see family that I haven’t seen for almost a year, to reach down and take the soft, small hand of a grandchild, or hear about the first year of college for another. To visit with dear, cherished friends that I haven’t seen in over a year and fall into that natural rhythm that comes with the bond that souls share. I will shed a tear as each one leaves and anticipate the arrival of the next. But I will remember this visit by the Romans as one that surprised me and put many things in perspective.
Our dear friend Myra comes next week and we can’t wait to see her. But I’ll tell you something, Myra – you’ve got a tough act to follow.