Drinking It All In

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Italy, Day 9

(Spoiler Alert! You might want to start with Day 1 to follow this trip from the beginning...) 

In case you didn't read the "Italy, Day 8" blog entry, you might not know that Zan is totally smitten with Beppe. While I am admittedly biased, I could sense the feeling was quite mutual.

After we returned from dinner Wednesday night, Beppe surprised us with a knock on our door and a bottle of red and white wine from his vineyard. Zan was completely overwhelmed by the sincere gesture and hugged him at once. Yes, this was most certainly the son of the amiable Jo Maddox.

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While I could appreciate how lucky we were to be able to take such a trip, I am markedly more fortunate to share my life with such an amazing, sensitive man. It was at moment like this, and countless others along the way, that I am reminded how Zan has turned my most dark and twisty parts all warm and fuzzy. 

There is a Maya Angelou quote that goes, “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.” Zan handles everything with grace. Regardless of what happens along the way, he never loses his patience or enthusiasm for the adventure. When other tourists — including myself — complain about rude crowds or tight streets, he meets each experience with a smile.

As we move through Italy, it's as though many travelers expect the world to bend to them. Ironically, they are upset when things didn't look or smell or taste the way they were used to. Not Zan. When he arrived to find showers that were barely large enough to hold him or ceilings that sloped to his chest, he simply chuckled at the challenge.

That morning we sadly said goodbye to Beppe and Ines after breakfast and walked down to the station where we waited for our train to Firenze (Florence.) We boarded then switched in Pisa (as in the "Leaning Tower of...") where met Marc and Kathleen from New Mexico. The couple has been visiting Florence every year for past 10 and where eager to share tips with fellow foodies.

A view from the bridge along the picturesque Arno River.

A view from the bridge along the picturesque Arno River.

We arrived in Firenze and took a wildly overcrowded bus across the Arno River which provided a wonderful view of the city. From our stop we walked a bit to Fabio's and threw down our bags after a quick tour of the home. We hadn't eaten since breakfast so we stopped at a bakery for some snacks to go then ventured back out to the river to people watch as the sun set.

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The city was clearly the historical gem we had been told about and I looked forward to our stay — to meeting people and embracing new experiences. And of course, to recording it all for posterity in this blog. Which brings me back to Zan. His excitement to read these posts, almost as though he wasn't there with me as the moments unfolded, is priceless. As he curls up in bed to scroll through the photos and read these words, I can almost picture him as a boy jumping into bed with his skinny legs and eager smile waiting for Jo to conjure up some fantastic tale...

Years ago when we spoke about traveling to Italy, Jo shared a trip she made with her mother and made us promise to visit this city in particular. And so it is — we are here in Florence, Italy eating gelato along the Arno River, overlooking the Ponte Vecchio. I know that she is watching and that she is very proud... no one could ask for more...