“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
– John Muir
How did the long-term marriage end? Once the betrayal was revealed, the adulterous affair was the fatal blow to a marriage once filled with hopes and dreams. There was heartbreak and sadness, of course, but I also felt a sense of relief the long and drawn out affair was over.
On the heels of a divorce, and although I had not visited bella Italia for many years, a sojourn in the serene Tuscan countryside beckoned. When the plane landed at Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola, I strangely enough felt I was back at home in Tuscany.
Tucked away in the postcard-pretty countryside, the ancient medieval farmhouse turned into a charming pension surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills was exactly what my body and soul needed. For the next two months I spent most of the mornings walking along narrow meandering cobblestone streets in the village, exploring neighborhoods, churches, farmers markets, boutiques, galleries, bookstores, perusing menus posted outside restaurants, or sitting in a café by the piazza observing daily life and family rituals.
I was particularly drawn to nearby Tuscan towns perched on hills with stunningly beautiful panoramic vistas of the surrounding vineyards and countryside. Public transportation was good and reliable, so I would ride the bus and spend the day walking and exploring hidden treasures off-the-beaten-path to my hearts content.
Exiting the twenty plus year marriage gracefully had taken its toll; so roaming the Italian countryside with colorful flora and fauna, and its medieval streets was the idyllic sojourn for the soul and to heal a broken heart.
On the day I returned home to Davis, California, I sipped Prosecco with my best friend in Café Bernardo, a casual, chic European-style café with award-winning wine list, taste-tempting menu, and a hip vibe.
“Tuscany agreed with you,” said Sue, raising her wineglass. “You look fantastic!” I raised mine in reply, “Grazie mille!”
“You’ve got the look of love,” said my friend, smiling.
Oh, I had to admit that I’d fallen in love all right but it wasn’t with a man, and I wasn’t playing with the other team. I looked at her conspiratorially. “Truth is, I fell in love,” I said. “Can I rely on you to be discreet?”
Sue looked surprised. “It’s okay to confess to your best friend,” she went on, “I’m very discreet. Who was the lucky guy?”
I laughed. “The rustic beauty and solitude of the Tuscan countryside had me under a spell.”
Sue shook her head and looked at me in disbelief. “Really!”
“Yes, I am totally smitten with la dolce vita and there’s little I can do about it.”
There was a silence. In my memories I felt the way I did at twenty-five when, on the spur of the moment, I’d packed my bags, and left for my first romantic tryst with Firenze, combining my passions for traveling, hiking and epicurean delights – good food and good wine.
Then, between laughs, my friend and I raised our wineglasses in a toast.
“Here’s to la dolce vita,” Sue said.
“Cin cin!” I said, clinking my glass of Prosecco against hers.
For a few tantalizing seconds I transported myself to the rugged beauty of Tuscany’s rolling hills where I found solace in nature to grieve and forgive, and the courage to embrace my new life as a single woman with joie de vivre.