Leaving Lucca was hard. I was sorry to say goodbye to my two decade long, dear old friend Kari and my new found friends from my yoga retreat that I just adored. The estate where we happily made our temporary home was magical, luxurious, and homey all at the same time. I was delighted to have had the opportunity to have an extended stay at such an elegant and scenic spot up in the tippy top of the lush green hills of Tuscany. The staff was warm and friendly and the food was high end restaurant quality with a home cooked feel. I love Italian food and have recently drastically reduced my meat intake. To have home-cooked vegetarian Italian food was just plain dreamy. This parting would have been very sad if my dearly loved husband had not be on a flight to meet me in Florence.
In thirteen years together, Donald and I have learned a lot about each other, about traveling together, and about what works best for us. Our interests both joint and individual mesh very well together. We have found after several different trips together, that we both love boutique hotels in unique spots, off the beaten path. As I type this we are on a Swiss train headed towards Gstaad. We will not stop here but continue on beyond this world famous ski resort to areas off the beaten path, to a smaller destination. Since I’ve left the yoga retreat, I’ve only met 4 American tourists at our hotel in Lugano and 2 in Como. Other than that our time has been spent among locals and other travelers from around the world. Although I struggle with spoken languages other than English, I am very comfortable being the only English speaker in a crowd.. I love wandering around for an afternoon just being present and not speaking with anyone. When necessary I am very well equipped at communicating to order in a restaurant, shop, ask directions, and navigate with a taxi driver with a combination of big smiles, a few local words, written language, and the smiley question “okay?”. Being from New York originally, I can also muster up a very good stay away face and the universal scowly “no” in any language when necessary.
Donald and I started out trip together in Florence and met up with each other in a romantic boutique hotel outside of the tourist area on the other side of the bridges. My childhood friend from Bronxville Alejandro Saralegui is a gardening and travel expert and highly recommended that we visit the estate of Giardino Bardini to view the magnificent gardens. Only on Ale’s recommendation would I climb a gigantic hill to see a garden! Boy was he right on the money! It turns out the Bardini gardens were in close proximity to our hotel and were a divine way to spend the day!
Dinners in Florence were had in tiny family establishments in local neighborhoods where we were the only American tourists. I obviously have nothing against Americans. I do, however, love to people watch in a local spot where I am the only outsider. I can people watch Americans at home whenever I want. I love to spend time sneaking glances at folks and watching their interactions, habits, and especially their outfits. Even though I would absolutely never be called a fashionista, I love studying the customs and attire of women in other countries. As someone who is not particularly interested in trends, or the latest look, or God forbid looking like everyone else in a particular community, I still find fashion fun. It's a love of textiles, craftmenship, and colors. I learn a thing or two from women in other countries. For example, in the Netherlands it’s not uncommon to see a woman riding her bike to or from work in a gorgeous monochromatic outfit - all in a gorgeous shade of lavender, chartreuse, coral, or turmeric. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to wear a blouse, cardigan and scarf all in the same glorious shade, but it’s a fantastic and glamorous look! On a previous trip to Italy I noticed that the trend in the stunning 30 and 40 something tour guides was to wear jeans with a romantic billowy sleeveless blouse with form fitting jacket or blazer, I found this to be both flattering and stylish, and both feminine and professional. In Switzerland I recently noticed women wearing gorgeous high quality outfits in shades of neutrals, with coordinating pop of a unique color which were then coordinated with shoes, purse, and/or a scarf i.e. a black and taupe outfit with a red purse, shoes, and red and taupe scarf. We all know the French are fabulous in their attire. I also recently noted that on the Swiss Riviera there was a lot more color blocking with a statement clothing item like a pair of pants or sweater in fabulous citrus shades and bold shades of turquoise, raspberry, or lavender. Bright and cheerful everywhere!
After 24 hours in Florence we were on our way again, this time to Lake Como. I had always had dreams of visiting this gorgeous lake area of northern Italy. I’ve learned to LOVE lakes. Being married to a midwesterner with strong family roots on Lake Michigan has me convinced there is nothing better! Water, Italian architecture, wooden boats, and the amazing gardens spoke to me. This area has been on the tippy top of my must visit list for quite a while. An interest in George and Amal was not my catalyst for going. however, the paparazzi photos of them there, only encouraged my interest in the waterfront villa architecture. (And no, we never saw their house, nor did we go looking for it.)