A Room with a View

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Italy, Day 15

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

We greeted the next morning in our idyllic room which {cough} overlooked the courtyard. The fresh flowers and personal espresso machine were starting to make me worry that we might build up a tolerance to amazingness. I grew certain that I'd soon get hit by a bus as the universe strained to rebalance itself. But instead, and ever grateful, we were encountering more dreamy vignettes and fantastic people than we could manage to keep track of.

At breakfast I met John, the owner, who stays close at hand to be sure everything is running smoothly at the burgeoning boutique hotel. That morning the kitchen was aflutter with the impressive cuts of lamb that were being prepared for the evening's menu. Why did I pair a photo of uncooked meat with yogurt and mueslix you ask? I mean c'mon, are you seriously questioning my curatorial eye here?

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As we were in the midst of a big Italian holiday, John advised us to lay low and avoid traveling anywhere. Yeah, right, as if we were going to try and "look for somewhere better" to spend our time...

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Bellies full, we set out for a shorter run along the same circuit and enjoyed a more casual pace on our way back into town. Moving more slowly we were able to appreciate the outstretched hills filled with vibrant wildflowers and singing birds. As we muttered that 'Disney has nothing on the Val d'Orcia' we had the same conversation I expect most people have as they walk through the area — "But, you know, could you actually live here?" Psshhh...

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Back at the hotel, Zan put his camera through the paces as he clicked his way around the library and bustling town square while I showered. Note: We had made a pact prior to our trip that, instead of standing behind me in the bathroom mirror and asking if I was ready yet, he'd occupy himself with all things photography. So far, this arrangement was working out quite nicely. High five.

Lunch was a rustic sandwich, prosecco and acqua frizzante which we quickly destroyed on the steps of the piazza. The toursits were out in full force but, after visiting animated cities like Milan and Florence, it was actually enjoyable to sit and people watch on this scale.

On our stroll through town we visited a leather shop, the Bottega Artigiana del Cuoio di Valerio Truffelli. Valerio was a photography buff and he and Zan geeked out talking camera gear.

He inquired about Zan's classic looking set up as he was in search of the perfect equipment to 'capture the light in Pienza' which he described as 'golden like no other' and 'not like a glass of water with drop of milk stirred in'. This reminded me of the scene in "Under the Tuscan Sun" where Diane Lane says laughing "That's exactly what American women think Italian men say!"

Trying to avoid any oncoming bus traffic, I searched for something to purchase as a small gesture of our appreciation for his time. With help from his non-English speaking wife, I bought what would be my only souvenir of the trip, a leather bracelet, for a mere 5 euros. (Yup, still winning.)

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That evening we decided that after a couple weeks of indulgent dinners it'd be fun to stay in and pick up a pizza made a few streets over. We chose six different slices to go and cozied up to the bar in the library where Francesca had a bottle of Prosecco chilling for us. Prego!

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Sitting at the bar of the library, we met Mikey from Scotland who recently joined his brother Dave, the Executive Chef, as part of John's amazing staff. We also visited with a couple that made it in after a short trip from London. We talked for a while then headed down the the restaurant for a dessert and a couple espressos.

I could already hear the voices of friends and family asking upon our return "So, did you have a good time? Was it hard to leave Italy?" Never any good at feigning excitement, I  knew it was time to start practicing.