Today we will walk back to Francesca’s, which Francesca and our new Italian friends told us would take about 30 minutes (2.5 kilometres). We suggested it might be wise to allow extra time for us to get lost. “It is not possible to get lost,” said Francesca, and Rosita and Maria agreed. They do not know us well.
We set out from Pieve San Lorenzo at 10:45. Our instructions are simple: Cross the bridge, go right, go straight. We follow them to the letter (we tried to pay attention on the drive home last night, but it was dark. I do recall there being a turn at one point, but recollect little of the specifics and figure it will be obvious to us). The walk is uphill all the way, with many twists and turns. It’s a beautiful day – mid 20s with a slight breeze – so good for walking. After 45 minutes, however, we begin to question the Italians’ sense of distance and time, as there is no indication we are near our destination. At each curve in the road, I am hopeful. Judith is more pragmatic. By the time we’ve been walking an hour, we Francesca texts us: “You lost?” We call her and tell her where we are. “Oh, you are far away,” she says. “Stay there. I will pick you up.”
While we wait, I talk to the goats and sheep in a nearby field.
Within a few minutes, Francesca pulls up. She is laughing. “I cannot believe you got lost!” she says. She explains that we failed to veer left upon leaving the village (we went straight instead, as we thought we were supposed to) and so took an extended route up the mountain. No worries; we are back on track now.
We stop at Francesca and Paolo’s for a drink of water. While we’re there, Judith also waters Francesca’s pansies, some of which are drooping sadly. Later, Judith tells Silvia and Carlo that the plants were dying. Francesca protests: “They were not dying. They were relaxing!”
Francesca, Paolo, Judith and I spend the afternoon at Carlo and Silvia’s farm just a few minutes away. They have prepared a magnificent spread on a long table in their outdoor “living room,” which overlooks their olive grove and gardens, and has a spectacular view of the mountains. We are treated to bread, salami, cheese, wine, a dish similar to risotto but made with spelt (an ancient grain – 2,000 years old, which they grow here on their farm),pastry with spinach, and foccaccia, also made with spelt.
We are surrounded by Carlo and Silvia’s many animals (dogs, cats and hens wander the yard); it is wonderful.
I also get a chance to meet Italo, one of their two donkeys (Francesca tells us that Silvia’s mother was none too pleased when they named the donkey “Italo,” which was her father’s name). Judith asks why they have donkeys. “I like them,” says Silvia, which is surely the best reason of all. Also, she says, whenever anyone comes to the house, the donkeys sound their characteristic “hee haw,” making them more reliable than any alarm system. I ask Silvia if the donkeys are friendly; she says they are. I later approach the fence and Italo comes to greet me (much like a dog would, I can't help but thinking). I scratch his forehead and face and say, “That’s a good donkey!”
We finish the afternoon with coffee, followed by a tour of the nearby homes that Silvia and Carlo rent out to lucky vacationers.
Paolo offers to drive us home, but we insist on walking. Francesca walks with us for the first few minutes to ensure we’re headed in the right direction. We have a leisurely walk home (downhill), and even with several stops to pat horses and take pictures of scenery, we are back in Pieve San Lorenzo in 40 minutes.
Although the clock says it’s suppertime, neither of us can imagine eating for some time yet (those who know me will know how rarely I am in this state). I am full – in belly and in heart.