Thursday, June 19, 2008


Now that I've been back for a week from my family trip to Cortona, Italy, I feel able to write again. Between jet lag and the malaise that extends from the end of one trip to the planning for the next, I am, for once, in the present.

The trip began, as all trips do, with an email. Family trip back to Italy? Of course. When?

Many months followed, with the standard agonizing over the cost of flights. ( Into Florence, Pisa, Milan, Rome... direct, two changes, three changes, class-0 are there any other options?... book now, book later... where did that great ticket price go? should I commit? done...don't look back)

And, then, there we were, in Madrid, waiting for our flight to Pisa. I am all about the planning for the trip. Research, reading, buying guide books, reading recommendations and learning the language. The longer I can do that, the more I enjoy it. Otherwise a trip is a two week blurrr. It's fun to prolong the pleasure. This applies to other things like chocolate and ---, but that's for another post.

In Madrid, we were sitting together in K, waiting for our flight. We had just experienced the Euro for the first time, and were in shock. Drinking our four dollar bottles of water, we sat, tired, happy, a little loopy.

And we saw a suitcase, bound for its connecting flight, bounce off the back of an open truck, land four square on its wheels, kind of like a clothing-filled sentry, awaiting orders.

Airport workers drove by, some in pairs, some alone. Occasionally someone would slow down and look at the suitcase.
All of them kept on driving. At one point two vehicles drove up, the suitcase between them, slowed down to a stop, driver staring at the case, and drove on. What were they thinking as they stared at the lost luggage?.. mostly, I think,"It's not my job-drive on"

Eventually someone stopped, got out and.... took the suitcase to its correct place...?

Moved it over to the side and drove on.

This went on for a 20- 30 minutes and, since we were in the company of many other shell-shocked travelers, drew the attention of everyone nearby in K and so there were pictures taken, thoughts voiced, loud guffaws in many languages, and when still another airport employee bypassed the suitcase and drove on, frank incredulity at the lack of concern for an anonymous traveler's belongings. (Honestly, we were hoping that the security types would show up and explode the thing)

Somewhere, someone's trip was ruined for want of a suitcase and for all we know that suitcase (hardsided, gray) is still sitting on the tarmac at Madrid, but we merry few had a total of six flights without serious delays, crying babies or missing luggage. A record.

Four trains to Camucia/Cortona ( from Airport to Pisa Centrale, to Florence, to Arezzo, to Camucia) Perfect connections- you couldn't have asked for better. Lea and Phillip were delayed, so we took a cab to la Certosa.

Dropped our bags and hopped back into the cab for a ride into town, and were stopped along the one lane road by Amy, the rental agent. Great rejoicing- she had keys- but it meant our driver had to throw the SUV into reverse, and rush along at speed back to the house. One lane road, drop off on one side, hillside on t'other. Suddenly we're back at the house and there's Lea and Philip right behind Amy, and all's well.

I don't remember a lot of details from the first day or so of the trip. Drive into Camucia, shop, cook, walk into Cortona, settle into the house. Listen to the Cuckoo call cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoo cuckcoocuckcoocuckco constantly, and I understand why this bird is connected to insanity.

Breath the rosemary,

wallow in the lavender,

drown in the jasmine.