Friday, July 15, 2005


I’ve been following the adventures of the Wood family on their BLOG.  Kathy, Charley and twelve year old daughter Kelly are spending a total of fourteen months in Europe. They started off early last summer in the UK, then came over to continental Europe.

Initially they traveled around quite a bit, but always stayed at least a week in each location. Well, except for the time when the walked the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall at the England/Scotland border I guess! Once they had spent some time in Belgium and in Paris, they moved to Provence where they stayed for six months. Kelly attended the local school and they had their first real taste of living in Europe.

After leaving France they headed south to Italy and have been staying for a week or two at various locations. We knew they would be in Umbria at the end of June and had contacted them via email to invite them for lunch in San Venanzo. We were really anxious to meet this adventurous family and to hear more about the trip. Because they’re from Tennessee we felt as if we were practically neighbors in the states!

Kathy and Charley were interested to see what we had done to the house, partly because Charley is in the business of home renovation. Of course we proudly showed off what we had accomplished, and noted the hard lessons we had learned along the way.

Kelly fell in love with a small mosaic picture that we have hanging in the hall. We had bought this mosaic from a man who lives just outside of San Venanzo in the medieval city of Rotecastello. We told Kelly that if she was interested we could take her there after lunch.

We found Kelly to be a very bright and very interesting girl. I know that at her age I wouldn’t have been so open to this adventure, and I’m so happy for her (and her parents!) that she seems to be having a great time.

Kathy and Charley were so friendly and open….we had so much fun hearing about their travels first-hand, and they enjoyed hearing a little about our life here. They’ve made many of the same discoveries that we have about life in Europe…the sacrifices, the difficulties and the many, many rewards.

I had been uncertain about what to fix for lunch. Kathy had said that Kelly was a little picky, but didn’t indicate any major dislikes. Because the weather was still mild I decided to fix a pasta dish rather than something more suitable to an outdoor meal. I planned to have some pasta and a simple tomato sauce if Kelly didn’t like what I had prepared.

I fixed the “Lick Your Plate Pasta” recipe that I posted on the “1000 Recipes” blog. It’s a favorite of Art’s and is simple but still elegant. I made pasta the night before so that I wouldn’t be covered in flour when our guests arrived. I asked Kelly if she would prefer the dish without the sundried tomato pesto in the center, and she said yes. Everyone seemed to enjoy the dish, ESPECIALLY Kelly. She did try a taste of her mom’s with the pesto, but preferred hers without.

For dessert I made chocolate chip cookies and those too were a big hit. One by one they kept disappearing, and before the Woods went home I gave Kathy the few cookies that were left for Kelly to enjoy later.

We then drove the short distance to Rotecastello where our friend Francesco lives and works. He and his son were busy in the basement workshop preparing for a show.  We explained to Francesco’s wife that Kelly had seen our mosaic and would like to have one of her own. Although they had already loaded many of the mosaics into the car, Francesco graciously retrieved some of them for Kelly to see.

As was expected, the choices at first were over-whelming. Slowly but surely Kelly started to get a better idea of what she wanted and even began to ask “quanto costa” for the pieces she was interested in.    They told us that they would make a special price for Kelly, and although tourists probably hear this a lot, I’m sure that in this case it was true. Kelly was really happy with her purchase, and it will be something she can keep forever as a wonderful souvenir of Italy.

We then drove down the road towards Fratta Todina because it has such fantastic views, then we took the SS 317 from Marsciano towards Pila. This, as I’m sure most people know, is one of our favorite drives. We had brought an empty five liter jug and planned to stop by a local vineyard, Cantina Busti in San Enea, so that Charley could get some local wine for the rest of their stay in Umbria. 

It was late afternoon before the Woods left San Venanzo and we wished they could have stayed longer. Their adventure will end on August 11th, but before they return to the states they’ll head north to Switzerland where they plan to do some serious hiking. We hope to see them again…..maybe we’ll stop by if we drive through Tennessee or maybe they’ll return to Italy one day.


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