Tales of a wandering lesbian


It’s day two of my leap.

Day 2

Because of the time change, day two is really two days: yesterday, the day I arrived (which was part of day one, I think) and today, which is about 48 hours after I left the US.

Here’s a recap:

Flight to Amsterdam was good. I got free upgrades for baggage and also my seat (thanks to my seat-mate for that last one).

Amsterdam had great chocolate and cappuccino.

Cap 1

That’s a rhubarb bonbon on the plate. Va bene.

The flight to Florence was good. Lots of turbulence, which I totally prefer on a small plane. Makes me feel like I’m in a car. The hum-drum of the big planes makes me a little nervous, like I’m on some alien aircraft that might not land (am I totally crazy? I might be totally crazy).

When I got to Florence, my friends Deb and Sandra were even there to pick me up! Serious bonus and kind of amazing seeing as we met for one day and communicated over the internet until yesterday. Deb even changed cars with her dad so we could fit all my luggage. Amazing.

We headed to a great pizza place for lunch on the way back to their home. The food was so good I forgot to take a picture until the cecina was almost gone.


Cecina is a kind of breadish thing made out of garbanzo beans. Yummy. Incidentally, while we were eating, I asked, tongue and cheek, if the pig flu was as big a deal in Italy as it is in the US. Evidently, Sandra and Deb’s son, Tommy, had it about a week ago. Sweet. He’s all good now. So, it’s not getting quite the hype here as elsewhere – although we did use a significant amount of hand sanitizer at lunch.


Then we stopped at the store to pick up provisions for that night’s dinner party, and some more hand sanitizer. Sidestory: while checking out, Sandra lost her rewards card when it was sucked backward into the moving belt in the check-out line. After partially disassembling the under-carriage of the counter, I found a card and recovered it. Sadly, after we checked out, Sandra realized it wasn’t hers! Too funny. Well, at least I got to take something apart. Then I used some hand sanitizer, just in case.

When we got to Fornaci di Barga, we dropped off the groceries and headed into Barga, which is up the hill from Fornaci, to switch cars and stop by the castagne festival at the old folks home. “Castagna” is “chestnut” in Italian. The trees grow locally, and are used in construction, and the nuts and flour are used in cooking and baking. We had some lovely castagne snacks, said, “caio” to some lovely old folks, met Deb’s dad, and a couple of Deb and Sandra’s friends who happened to be in town from Chicago. It was good times, for sure.


I asked what I was eating, and the ladies told me whipped cream. I’m telling you, this is not ordinary whipped cream. It was heaven. Maybe it’s changed since I last ate whipped cream, or maybe it was the setting. I don’t frickin’ know, but it was divine.

After the festival, we headed to Deb’s parent’s house to change cars, and say hi to Daisy.


The day, by the way, was beautiful. Warm, clear and lovely.
Once back at Deb and Sandra’s, we had about 30 mins before friends started to arrive. The evening was spent in the company of some fascinating people. First was a wild artist – beautiful and intense – who is known to walk the streets of Barga barefoot, promoting art exhibits. (More to come on her, I think. Deb showed me one of her etchings, and it was quite excellent.)

Next was a string of ladies from Lucca, the walled city down the road a way. It has a fascinating history. One of the women, a nurse originally from Genoa, reminded me strongly of my mother and aunt.

The other two are union organizers, one for the schools, and one for the workers in paper factories in the region. Cool. These two reminded me powerfully of union organizers I know in Oregon.

Dinner Guests

We spent the evening talking politics, figuring out how to build a loft in Deb and Sandra’s place (so that I’ll have a room of my own – can you imagine? These women are amazing, generous people), eating, eating, eating,

Pasta dinner

and eventually singing Beatles songs – learning each other’s languages along the way. Fantastico!

It’s also possible that Tommy and I snuck off for a short time to play some guitar hero. Amazing how easily that translates…

At the end of the night we made a lovely nest for me out of a mattress and sleeping bag. When my head hit the pillow, I was just able to grasp a piece of the enormity of the leap I had made. Today, I am comfortably in Italy. Yesterday (or something) I was in Oregon. Where will I be tomorrow? Probably Italy, but you never know!


This morning, waking late, I packed up my sleeping bag and enjoyed cappuccino #2, made lovingly by Sandra. Truthfully, it is one of the best I’ve ever had. It might have been the setting, or the company, I’m not sure.

Cappu 2Fornaci MorningHolly Walking

I enjoyed breakfast with Tommy and Hollywinter, then headed to Barga with Deb for a photo shoot at the local dog shelter. She’s putting together a calendar to be sold to benefit the shelter. After a short shoot, which included a dog-bite [link] for Debbie, we headed over to her parent’s place, where we met her sister’s family (they’re living with her parents). One of the kids was on his way to a riding lesson, so we took the two boys to the arena.

We spent the next hour in an absolutely beautiful setting, collecting rocks and watching horses.

Andre and DebLuigi and cavallo

Now I’m sitting with Deb, drinking tea and watching Italian TV (Willie Wonka!), after a beautiful lunch with Sandra’s mother, who lives downstairs, and Sandra’s brother, sister-in-law (who is from Chicago) and their kids, all of whom had swine flu earlier this month. Looks like their tails have finally gone, so no worries.

The highlight of the meal was focaccia made by Sandra’s mom. Bellisimo!

Tomorrow, I’ll go pick up a sim card for a cell phone and an internet pen drive. And I’ll likely have at least one cappuccino. I feel like I’ve already had a month’s worth of adventures. I am a lucky, lucky girl to have such beautiful and generous people in my life.

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October 25, 2009   4 Comments