Italy, Day 16
(Spoiler Alert! You might want to start with Day 1 to follow this trip from the start!)
Thursday marked our last full day in Pienza. That morning we moved slowly, trying to ignore the panic that stirred within whenever our thoughts turned to leaving. As we made our way down to the restaurant, I tried to take mental pictures of the space — I felt certain they would come in handy against future bad hair days / fat days / Sundays...
At breakfast, the staff warned us that the weather forecast was calling for rain so we planned a quiet day close to the village. We reveled in the farm fresh eggs and decadent pastries filled with cream and marmalade. Midway through our meal we were joined by Bryan and Elaine, the couple we met the night before from London, and visited with them until the joint cleared out.
We headed out for a stroll in the steady drizzle. Hoping it might be a good opportunity to photograph the hillside socked in low, billowy clouds, we traveled the same route we had run each morning.
After passing by it a couple times on our jogs, we finally took a moment to visit an ancient church whose entryway was decorated in the type of symbolic carvings that filled our art history books in college. Italy was packed with significant relics such as these and I wished I had retained my art history training as much as the bits of Italian taught to me by my Nonny when I was a child. Sigh. No va bene.
While the view did not disappoint, we were quickly covered in a couple inches of mud. We decided we might as well surrender to the day and suit up for another run through the less familiar areas of town.
That afternoon, we ran through more conventional neighborhoods and past soccer fields; along lush trails free from both tourists and townspeople. We followed a small highway as we circled back into town passing by a group of soggy female backpackers who were intently making their way through the rain. It was hard not to feel sort of hardcore opting to go for a jog on a day when most would decide to sleep in. That's got to be worth a lot of points I wondered, like a ton...
On our way back through town Zan decided to ask Valerio to make him a custom strap for his camera. He had been thinking about it since their conversation and was pleased with the notion that he'd leave Italy with both a meaningful and functional momento. I headed back to the room for a head start on showering while Zan double-backed to the shop to explain to Valerio what he was envisioning and ask if he was interested in crafting such a piece.
Less than a half hour later, Zan returned like a small boy on Christmas morning and exclaimed that Valerio was, indeed, very interested in the commission. He took some basic measurements and they chose the leather he would use together. At 7:30 Zan walked back to pick up the strap and asked Valerio if he would "sign it" for him. He returned to the room with his new gear, holding it ever so gently in a brown parchment bag. Oh yes, this was right up there with Beppe's wine, only this time it was a gift he could wear proudly for the whole world to see. Prego!
The day before we made reservations to have our last dinner at La Bandita. We knew Dario would not be in the kitchen but we were excited to see the rest of the staff in action. And, oh yeah, to eat the food. You see where this is going, si?
It was our last hoorah in Pienza and we consoled ourselves with beef carpacio, a puff pastry filled with cheese and pear, grilled asparagus with shavings of truffle and pasta we watched the staff make fresh that morning. For dessert we splurged and each ordered an artful creation of our very own. For all you haters our there, please refer to the aforementioned hardcore run in the rain.
After dinner we joined Bryan, Elaine and Reid in the library to chat as the inevitable night closed in. Which brings me to...
Alert! So I sort of skipped over the part where we met Reid the day before. Like I mentioned earlier about "encountering more dreamy vignettes and fantastic people than we could manage to keep track of," Reid accidentally fell into this category. Long story short, Reid is a screenwriter from L.A. who just happened to pen a little flick called Magic Mike. I could go on for hours here without even trying but, instead, I'll just leave you with a photo of the aforementioned creative genius. Ladies, I give you:
At some point that evening, our conversation ran from electric cars to the exorbitant cost of vacationing in Switzerland to homeless people that sniff glue. It was admittedly a tangential dialog, but yet somehow fitting, and we could have easily talked all night.
What would it have taken to stop time and space and stay in Pienza forever? I would've totally signed up for that experiment...